Hi there! It’s been a long time! In my part of the country (Northeast), the quilt show busy season seems to run from mid-September to mid-November. My season’s done for a while, and while I love judging, I’m ready for things to slow down. (Just in time for holiday madness.)
While I was working this year, I had some interesting questions and comments from the shows I judged. There were some interesting points brought up and I thought I’d share them with you. If one group thought about these things, chances are others have too.
In keeping with our previous discussions about looking at quilts, let’s talk about one of my all-time favorite comments to make: “Something something something invites deeper viewing.”
Why exactly do you want to see this, or something like it, on your comment sheet? Or if you’re judging, why is this a good thing to say about someone’s quilt? I’ll tell you…..
As most of you know, a judge only has a few minutes to spend on each quilt, with a lot of points to evaluate in a short time. Most judges have worked out a system for getting this done; and the judge needs to stick to their system pretty closely to get through the day in a timely fashion. And most of the time it’s doable.
But sometimes a quilt comes across the table that has so much to look at that the judge is sorely tempted to blow past the per-quilt time limit. It could be anything in the creation of the quilt: fussy cutting, embellishment, inking, photos that tell a story or detail a life, piecing variations, quilting designs or details, color interactions, complex design…anything that makes you want to stop and discover all the little treats that the maker has worked into her quilt for you to find.
The quilt might not be a winner, but it has a kind of magnetism that makes it memorable. When this happens to me, I have to drag myself away and force myself to keep moving. It’s a source of frustration for me, but an accomplishment for the quiltmaker. He or she managed to stop the judge in her tracks. That’s a big deal and I like to tell them about it.
But that’s not all.
The viewing of the quilt only starts in the judging room. The quilt will be hung in a show and can, along with all the other quilts, be viewed by many. The bigger the show, the more other quilts that one little quilt is surrounded by and the more viewers troop past the quilts.
Think about the viewers. Maybe they stood in line to get in, to get something to eat and to use the bathroom. They have traipsed through the vendors…sometimes lots and lots of vendors. They may be tired and on the verge of visual overload. And now they’re going to look at quilts. Maybe lots and lots of quilts. Hopefully their foot wear was well-chosen.
We’ve all been there. At some point, studying the quilts becomes viewing the quilts, becomes breezing by the quilts.
Except there seems to be a little knot of people around one. “Wow!” “Look at this!” “Oh my gosh.”
“Something something something invites deeper viewing.”
Stacy Koehler, Secretary, NACQJ
NQA Certified Judge
Qualified to Evaluate Master Piece Quilts
Stacy Koehler became an NQA Certified Judge in 2005. She is a current member of the National Association of Certified Quilt Judges and has served as the new organization's Secretary and Editor of the CJ newsletter. She loves quilts and quilters and believes that a well-judged quilt can be a positive influence in its maker's individual development and contribute to the continued growth of the art of quiltmaking.