How is Original Work Addressed by the Certified Quilt Judge?
Occasionally, a question arises about the degree of emphasis placed on original quilt designs vs. derivative, copied, or pattern work. How does the certified quilt judge handle this situation? What are the concerns of the judge with regard to Originality?
First, here are some practical considerations:
- The show sponsor may or may not have created a separate category for Original work. Often, categories are defined according to technique used, size, usage, or the number of makers for a quilt. If there is not a separate category, then Original work will be in direct competition with derivative work.
- Judges are provided NO information about the quilt other than its title. The judge is not told who the maker is, or whether the work is original. The purpose of anonymity of the maker in quilt judging is to dispel any suspicion of bias. In this way name recognition is not a factor in the competition.
The more experience the judge has in the judging room and in the studio, the more easily he/she may recognize homage, copying, and pattern-usage. Staying current with trends in fabric and techniques is helpful in this regard. However, because of anonymity, it is not always clear whether the judge is looking at the work of the original designer or derivative work of a student of that designer.
In terms of quilt show judging, originality is not the only decisive factor. If the piece has strong visual impact, engages the viewer for a longer, closer look, and stands up to workmanship scrutiny, it will be a contender for an award. Most of the time these are the attributes of an original, creative quilt. Sometimes, however, depending on the other work in the show, a quilt derived or inspired by a pattern is found to be Best of Show or First Place in its category. It is recognized that Original work involves a greater degree of effort by the maker, but it does not always assure the best overall quality. The best quilt will get the award, original or not.
The way in which original work is judged with respect to all of the other work in the show may be difficult to understand. Just as there is no preference for style, technique, or color, there is also no absolute judging preference for Original work. The winning quilt must be the Best Quilt. The judge makes the fairest choices given the categories, the competing entries, and the rules of the show.