This past Weekend I enjoyed a trip to the Asheville Quilt Show in North Carolina. The Asheville Quilt Guild hosts the event and has done so for nearly as many years as I have been alive. As someone who had just hit send on her Quiltcon entry, and someone whose entry was not chosen last year, the entry of a quilt into a quilt show was fresh in my mind.  I ran into a lot of quilty friends from my area and each asked if I had a quilt in the show. I did not.

Entering a quilt into a show, it seems to me, comes from a number of motives. Perhaps one feels their work might win a ribbon or prize. Perhaps there is a desire to receive feedback from judges for improvement. Perhaps a dare?  Maybe one is just awesome proud of it! Regardless of the reason, I know from my own experience that it I felt very vulnerable to the idea of a judge’s critique. A judge is going to essentially accept or reject your work for entry, and one can’t help but feel that personally.

Being a newbie to the quilt show entry idea, I really only thought about the judges being the harsh or scary ones…this weekend I updated my opinion.

The attendants are the harsh ones. Judges have training to look for technique and skill. Sure there is some subjective thought involved, but there is at least a common starting point. While quilting is fun and I personally find myself leaning more toward the “done” side of the scale, there is a place for learning technique. If you learn technique correctly then you can better determine when to “skimp” on it…(okay, maybe that is just me, but I totally play that card at times.)

Anyway, judges have a place, and if you enter a show, you have to have respect that reality or you may possibly just open yourself up to hurt. Hurt leads to breaks from the thing that once made you feel proud, which leads to no more quilting, which makes the world more gloomy.

So, if you are planning to enter a show, then prepare yourself for that. Have realistic expectations that what you think is A-mazing may not be for a judge.

You should also prepare yourself for the crowd…

This is my real reason for writing this post. As I walked around I was clearly attracted or drawn to some quilts more than others – but it blew my mind to hear folks talking badly about the quilts. I mean, come on folks! It isn’t the same for a show attendant to say, “I don’t like that” instead of “That is just not my style.”

I have said my share of “I don’t likes,” and you know what…shame on me! I should not have done that! Because I realized, walking around this time, that each of those quilts has a place in the life of someone. Each of those quilts was a vision, a design process, an expense, a labor of love…even impatient love…and each brought joy to the maker…on some level…even if it was just… “It is finished finally!” I would hate to be acting like “Thumper” and the artist be standing near me. I was reminded of when I once sold pottery at craft fairs. People say the meanest things sometimes – and I am guilt as charged! I became very aware of my own words part way through the event.

So, I repeat…if you are entering a quilt show, prepare yourself for the reality that not everyone will like what you like!

And, quilty friends…when we attend quilt shows, or craft shows or art shows for that matter, can we vow to be kind? To act like Thumper’s mom is with us… “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?”

I wonder how many more folks would WANT to start quilting if we pointed out the beauty in each quilt we viewed. I say this because…

I was standing near an art quilt at the show and a women who just finished her first quilt was trying to determine how the art quilt was made. The more I listened, I couldn’t help but jump in. She was like a sweet little sponge sucking in all the knowledge. As I explained the process you could literally see her eyes light up with wonder and delight. That gave me a little dig in the gut that I could have been doing that more all along the way. Shame on me.

So, there…sermon over…I guess I just felt some way about this…and if nothing else, this blog post will serve as a reminder to me the next time I enter a show, but also the next time I attend.


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