What is Involved in Becoming a NACQJ Certified Quilt Judge?
Working judges seek certification as an acknowledgement of their expertise. Candidates are accepted into the NACQJ Certification Program when they have met certain requirements. The process of becoming a Certified Quilt Judge requires dedication on the part of the candidate to seek out and study information about quilt history, color theory, and composition, as well as all the styles and techniques found in quilt-making. This is only part of the process, however.
Expertise in the evaluation of design is emphasized as an integral part of the process of certification. NACQJ judges are required to have a solid understanding of the elements and principles of design over the widening spectrum of quilts, from traditional, to art and modern.
The Program Candidate must demonstrate ease in commenting on actual quilts. Development of this verbal skill and vocabulary is key to providing the quilt entrant with practical information about his/her strengths and potential areas for improvement. The commentary should be incisive and concise, as time is usually limited in the judging arena.
As the candidate acquires skill with all aspects of quilt judging, it is required that he/she develops a professional demeanor with the ability to politely and authoritatively field questions that could arise. Every quilt in the judging room deserves equal respect and careful study.
Candidates must submit a detailed research paper responding to 31 essay questions and submit it for review by three certified judges. During the entire candidacy period, the Candidate is urged to shadow CJ mentors at a variety of judged shows to gain critical experience. Finally, the Candidate will sit a panel review consisting of an interview and a mock judging.
This Certification Program was introduced in the U.S. in the 1970’s by the National Quilting Association as a response to a common but often flawed approach at the time which was to hire local celebrities who made personal, rather than informed, decisions. The NQA set a priority to certify qualified judges in order to provide meaningful and objective judging of quilts in competition and to raise the standards by which a judge made decisions. The National Association of Certified Quilt Judges (NACQJ) was formed in 2015 to carry on this important contribution to the quilt judging world.