Monday, August 27, 2007

So Where now?

I've waited a week before posting to give myself time to think, but I feel I should comment on how I got on at the Festival of Quilts. I've just spent some time looking at my judging sheets from this year, last year, and where I can the US judging sheets for the same quilts.

No matter how I cut it, my quality has gone down, substantially from last year. Results I was very disappointed with last year now look positively glowing. Also it appears that the judging at the Festival is a lot stricter than the US judging, that was a big surprise. I assumed it would be the other way around, but we all know what assuming does for you.

So what do I do now? I thought that the quilts I entered this year were a much higher standard than last year. I thought I had got better at techniques and I thought I was a lot more picky about finish. The judges disagree, so do I try and go back to how I was doing things? I've been a lot more careful about squaring up, and burying thread tails, but that has made things worse. I've put a lot more time into design and planning but that has gone down too. I'm stumped I just don't know how I can improve.

The real shock for me was finding out which quilt the judges thought was the best. It wouldn't have been the one I would have expected, and from talking to friends neither did they. Lily was by far the highest scoring quilt. I can see a lot of faults with this quilt, far more than I can find with the others, so is it just that I don't understand how quilts are judged? Do I not understand what is good and what it bad? I would love to take the judging course and find out how it all works, but I can't afford to. I have read every book I can find on the subject, but it looks like there is a lot I've just plain not understood.

So does anyone have any idea how I can learn what is expected, what is good and what is bad?


Feather on a Wire said...

If you find out let me know!
You KNOW your entries were brilliant, they don't that's all.

Anonymous said...


don't pay too much attention to what the judges say. Work for yourself--not the judges.

One of my friends entered two pieces in a show here in US--one of them had the comment about needing to improve her binding, the other noted her nice binding--both of those pieces had identical binding.

So just keep on working.

marion said...

There are two kinds of standards, internal and external. The former are your own, the latter, those of other people (I know it's obvious, but hey...). Generally speaking, the internals are higher than the externals (or at least, they are in my experience), and they're more relevant, because you're the best judge of your own development. I was stunned by the judges comments on my work last year, to the point that I didn't enter FOQ this year, since I suspect that none of the judges had any real understanding of my work and where it sits in the world of quilting (Sally would say it doesn't, I suspect :-))). Just keep doing the work to the best of your ability and try not to take the words of the so called experts too seriously. If you're really worried, get someone you trust to talk about your work with you. But I don't think it's a good idea to take the expressed views of judges at shows with anything less than a bucket of salt.

Anonymous said...

Remember, Fer, next years judges will most likely be different, so a totally new ball game. Once you have reached a certain standard, your work will be in the 'top group' for the category every time, even though you won't know that. The actual winners are then very subjective decisions by the judges. I have seen two tick sheets from last year where all ticks were in 'excellent', and the quilt didn't even get a third place.

Also, these FoQ tick sheets only have four standards for each category. I looked at the sheets for my quilt, and the sheets for Sally Bramald's. Our quilting is world's apart, but we got ticks in the same boxes for quilting. Those of you who know Sally's and my work will find this highly amusing.

You might also consider asking your area of the Quilt Guild to put on a 'Judgment Day' event. They could invite one or two judges, provide them with a range of quilts and let them talk through the process there and then. Could be fun for a lot of quilters, and very useful for somebody like you.

Fer, hang on in there. Questioning your own ability is normal. Keep making the quilts that YOU want to share with other quilters, and also remember that some of the 'competition' have been doing this every day for the last 30+ years. Give yourself a chance to mature.


Anonymous said...

Judging the world over is the same, dogs, cats, horses, quilts, It is dependent upon how the person feels on that day. A quilt is a piece of art, the quilter an artist. There will always be differing opinions on the work. Look at van Gogh and the various opinions of his works, rubbish through to genius. Also judges, certainly in the world of dog shows have their own agenda and preferences. Your work is wonderful and you know it, inside. Give yourself a pat on the back and go forward to bigger and better things. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Ferret said...

Thanks for all the support, it is really appreciated. I am pretty sure I have got better at what I do over the last year, and a lot of people seem to agree with me.

I would still love to know what it is the judges are looking for though. They all seemed to feel my work wasn't as good this year, and I don't want to just write off the work they have put into becomeing qualified. If it was just one or two then yes, it is just an opinion, but when they mostly agreed, there must be something I am missing.

Anonymous said...

The more I hear about FoQ judging, the more baffled I am by it. You work is stunning and I just end up confused/mystified by the judging at FoQ.

You must keep the judges on their toes!

One of the problems I have with FoQ as an event is the way in which it was set up to have such high standards - to the point of virtually (I am choosing my words carefully here!) rubbishing the judging methods and abilities of judges at other national UK shows (I am sure you know which ones I refer to.)

Several years down the line, what seems to become more and more obvious is that FoQs judging system and the cross section of judges that it appoints are no better than any other show. Indeed, the huge number of quilts they are expected to cover during the day, plus the numerous sub categories apparently on the judging form, don't seem to make judging any more consistent. For example, I've heard of people being given high marks for finish by one judge and really low ones by another. Such a wide discrepancy ought to be investigated by the show organisers, as it points to something wrong within the judging system itself or the judges' training.

I am also a bit wary of the "Quilt Angel" assistant at FoQ. Surely judges must not confer? - a rule at many other shows. So the judges don't have time to read the quilter's comments on the entry form (so I've read elsewhere)? Well they should read them, IMHO! If they don't have time, the organisers should appoint more judges and give them a lower workload. The more quilts a person has to judge, the harder it becomes to remain consistent across the show.

Judging needs to be impartial, and judges' personal preferences should not come into the marking system - they are given their chance to pick a favourite with their "Judge's Choice" award, and should keep personal preferences out of the rest of their judging methods. If they can't do that, because of how the judging forms are structured, then there is a problem with the marking system. After all, it is pretty much like doing any education assessment - or it should be. The winners will 2come out in the wash"!

(PS, I find the structure of the Guild's judging course rather bizarre, as it apparently makes no concessions whatsoever to any prior accredited learning - you could hold a DPhil in Design and Theories of Visual Perception and you would still have to do all the design/art history modules. Plus you would take years to earn back your fees working as a quilt judge - not a practical way of improving your work skills, or at least a bank manager would tell you so!)

Looking forward to seeing whatever new goodies you have in store for us. Don't get discouraged by the judges.

koolkatquilting said...

Please don't change your style to suit the judges! You keep going the way you are and they will come to you! Your art quilts should not be judged in a nit-picky way (threads buried, etc) - they stand on their own merit as art pieces and that is all that matters! Do you think Van Gogh would have got good marks? Comments might have read: "Colours not evenly blended, poor reference to actual material" etc. Juding by your youthful appearance in your photo you have many creative years ahead of you - go for it!