Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The one that I almost didn't blog about...

A few weeks ago I sat down to write about QuiltCon: the people I met, the classes I took, the tattoo that I got (true story!). Then a good friend arrived for a long weekend visit, and I saved what I had written as a draft. While my friend was visiting, my quilts arrived back from the QuiltCon show. I was anxiously awaiting them, as one of them is soon to be shipped off to the International Quilt Festival in Ireland.

I completely forgot that my quilts would arrive back home with the judges' feedback from the show. I won't share the dirty little details, but suffice it to say that the feedback was quite disappointing. Each quilt had 1 positive comment, which I took as the token "we better say *something* nice". The rest of the feedback was not just negative, but completely lacking in direction. I realize that my quilts are not the best, and they are just that....quilts. But, they are also an expression of me as a person, and I took the comments very personally.

I threw a bit of a pity party (complete with a quilt shop trip and several mini cupcakes), but in the end I still love my quilts as much as I did when they were first accepted into the show. I know that my craftsmanship is good (that was even one of the positive comments, ha!!), and design is subjective. I don't love some of the things that the "big name" quilters create, even when many other people do. So, while it did upset me that my quilts were not well received by the judges, I do want to continue to share what I create.

And if you've read this far, here is my "My Tribe" quilt:

"My Tribe" Quilt - front

I originally made this quilt to play with some extra blocks, and once it was complete I thought it looked quite like a totem pole. I named the quilt "My Tribe", referring to the quilting community. Some people really seem to enjoy the online quilting community and develop lasting friendships. Others have a hard time breaking through. My experience has been somewhere between the two...I've made some friends and I do feel that the relationships that I made through the online community have helped me through two cross country moves and countless other life experiences. Having said that, I don't feel that I've really found my place in the online world and I have only a handful of (totally awesome!) friends that I've made in the online community. So I suppose in some ways the negative feedback on this quilt just fit too well?

"My Tribe" Quilt - front detail

I quilted each color with a different pattern. I had a lot of fun with it, and I like the look. The dark sections (kona cotton in pepper) that infiltrate the colored area where quilted with straight lines to flow with the negative space on either side of the colored area. (Colors are various shades of Kona: curry, berry, olive, steel, pomegranate, tomato, and I can't remember the two blues!)

The only printed fabric that I used on the quilt front was the binding, which is a Kaffe Fassett print. I stumbled on this print one day and I loved that it included so many of the colors in the quilt top.

"My Tribe" Quilt - back

The quilt back includes left over solids and a feather print that really seemed to go well with the rest of the quilt.

"My Tribe" Quilt - back detail

On the back you can see some of the quilting a bit better. I almost wish the entire back was this grey color so that the quilting would really shine!

I have to admit, I'm a little nervous to hit "publish" on this post. But really, writing all of this out was quite therapeutic for me. Just about everything that I love about this quilt was criticized by the judges, but I hadn't fully realized that until I actually wrote it down!

And just so that I don't sound like a whiny wimp, I *do* appreciate constructive criticism. I like to hear what people do AND don't like about my quilts. I also realize that it is hard to give constructive criticism, and I'm certainly not the best at it. I guess I just expected a more supportive response, especially when my quilts could have simply not been chosen for the show in the first place. (The other quilt that I had in the show was my solids version of the "9-Patch Puzzle".)

Oh, and because I'm sure someone will ask, here's my tattoo (it's on the inside of my right forearm)!

New Tattoo!

Getting to know my friend Mandy better and spending an entire evening in a tattoo studio together were certainly the highlights of QuiltCon for me!

Oh, and hop on over to Mandy's blog, she has started a "Technique Tuesday"!

34 comments:

Tiffany said...

Love the tattoo!!

emedoodle said...

I'm glad you hit publish on this one. I'm also glad to have met you at Quiltcon! Your quilt posted here is awesome - I'm really loving your quilting on it. Try not to take the comments to heart too much... my quilt didn't even get accepted into the show (and it was my very very favorite quilt). So I guess that just goes to show that we have to keep moving and loving what we do, even if everyone else doesn't feel the same way about our work. :)

PS - I'll always be jealous of your tattoo.

Marla said...

I'm glad you posted. The quilt is really lovely. The brights with the Kona pepper really speak to me. Sometimes the online community is overly positive (at least in my experience) and I am often left wondering - did you really love it? or are you just being nice. Either way, I wouldn't appreciate a strict critique of my work either - I quilt for the fun of it and to gift something from my heart to others.

Lucy @ Charm About You said...

OMG THAT TAT IS AWESOME!!! I was planning a quilting/sewing tat and then got pregnant :/ I will be getting it once I've stopped breastfeeding.
I appreciate your honesty and I doubt I'd ever enter a quilt because I couldn't take criticism but it sounds like they weren't constructive at all.
Do what you love, you do it so well :)
I love the quilting and agree it would looks stunning on the grey. You should do a whole cloth quilt of just that!

Little Island Quilting said...

Still waiting for my critique to arrive...but after seeing this and other posts about it, I wouldn't really mind ifit got lost in the mail ;-)

Great quilt btw.

Laura C @ littleandlots said...

Agree; glad to read this post. Funny how an activity that's supposed to be about creativity, warmth, and love can sometimes be so fraught with yucky stuff and hurt feelings. FWIW I think this is a gorgeous quilt. Very modern, very clean, very bright.

mandalei said...

Aw, Nikki, one of my most favorite things about QuiltCon was that we got to be roommates and hang out!
I'm glad you wrote about your quilt, and I think that it's lovely. Each quilt we make tells a story about us as quilters and us as people, and I think it's great you shared this one and its story for you.

Colleen said...

Thanks for sharing the tat! Too cool! And thanks for sharing about your critique. I also shared mine and would love for you to read what I wrote. A good friend of mine who is an awesome domestic machine quilter got a harsh critique. You are not alone. http://cyarnell.blogspot.com/2013/03/judging-quilts-not-ourselves.html

Kirsten said...

Love your quilt and the tattoos!

moira said...

you're not the only one concerned about the quality of the feedback. it's not good enough. Your quilts rock

Kiera said...

I've never had my quilts judged and after reading your post and a couple of others about QuiltCon...I'm not sure if I'd want them judged. As a formere art student, judges tastes are so subjective and they really don't understand how our art...be it quiting or otherwise...really is an expression of ourselves. I know I would take it too personally. I love your quilt and especially love all the different quilting. You really work outside of the box!! And your tats rock!!

Carla said...

Tha fact that it was at quilt con is something in itself!
I love this. The quilting is wonderful and the colours vibrant.
I'm no judge, but WELL DONE. ; )

felicity said...

I truly love this quilt, and the story behind it. And I am in *exactly* the same boat as you: every single "negative" the judges pointed out were things that I loved about both of my quilts - the things that I believe make them special!

Your tat is awesome and so are you! I consider you part of my "tribe" and that makes me feel happy and lucky. xo

Leanne said...

I love your quilt, especially all the quilting!

LynCC said...

I love this quilt!! The colors are gorgeous between the dark panels, the different quilting motifs for each color give it perkiness and pizzazz. Who cares what some judge with constrained ideas says? Good for you for sharing this at a show, because it undoubtedly added to the magic for the viewers. It's clear by the comments here that I'm not the only one it speaks to! :D

factotum-of-arts.com said...

I love your quilt...I would not let anyone's comments effect you....the important thing is what you think of them.

I got the fabric - love the colors you used....I hope you don't mind but I used some of the solids in a hexie coffee cup sleeve....your colors matched really well to the tsuru fabrics
http://factotum-of-arts.com/2013/03/20/playing-with-hexagons-new-fabric/

Diane E W said...

I agree, I think with you, why did they accept your quilts if all they had to say was negative. I love all kinds of quilts and quilting, some might not be my personal taste but the same love, time and creativity went into it and because of that I have to respect the quilt and the quilter.

CityHouseStudio said...

Very interesting - and I'm glad that you published this! It must feel awful to get such negative feedback. When I entered 2 quilts into the MN State Fair last year, I remember taking the feedback kind of hard - it's no fun to receive negative feedback! Especially about something so subjective. For what it's worth, I LOVE your quilt! And I almost have my 9-patch Puzzle quilt done - it's basted, just needs to be quilted!

Heather D. said...

Well, you know I agree with you but just wanted to pop in again and say that I support you and consider you one of my quilty friends, and I hope that you continue to post and show your beautiful quilts off!!!

Kate said...

I really like your quilt and love the quilting, it is amazing! I love that tattoo - that is a fantastic quilting tattoo!

Dawn said...

I think you were brave just to enter your quilt at Quilt Con. I could never put myself out there like that.
Your quilt is really lovely and your tats are great.

Charlotte said...

love the tattoo SO MUCH, and I am glad that you still love your quilts and haven't let the judges comments bring you down.

Carmen said...

I love your quilts!! Like any art form, quilts are subjective to taste, and I think the highest compliment possible is that your workmanship is great. I know that I really appreciate my mother-in-laws workmanship and detail, even though I don't particularly like the style of quilts she makes. I wish she would try more quilts like yours!!

CrazyCatLady said...

Love the quilt - very cool tattoo!

Adrienne said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I think you are incredibly brave to submit your quilt for judging, not sure that I will ever be able to do that. Sometimes I feel when I am trying to push myself "out there" with the things that I make I lose sight of why I do it in the first place, to have fun, to relax, to have the simple joy of creating. So keep making beautiful things, we love them!

OrangeBlossom said...

Your quilts are just way too awesome and creative for the judges to understand. Way to get out there and take a chance!!

Love, love your quilts. You inspire me.

Megan said...

Beautiful quilts! I stumbled across this blog because I noticed your quilty email on AMR forum. My BRF also happens to be my BQF and we have often dreamed of somehow finding a 1/2 marathon that coincides with a quilt show...

upstateLisa said...

Oh I am so sorry that the feedback was disappointing. Hope you bring the quilts to SMQG soon... I would love to see them in person!

Domestic Moose said...

My Mom used to paint - this is so long ago that I don't even think I was born yet when she did. One day, she had someone (a teacher perhaps?) tell her she sucked at it. So she quit. I'm not art critic, but I have a couple of her pictures hanging in my house because I love them and I'm sad that she walked away from something she loved because someone couldn't be constructive.

From other blogs I've read, it sounds like you aren't the only one to be let down by the critiques on your quilts. FWIW, I think both look great and deserved more than one positive.

liz said...

I love your quilt and all of the different quilting you did in it. Everything I've read about QuiltCon judging sounds very HARSH! What a disappointment....

Keep on keepin' on and making what you love!

Sarah @ FairyFace Designs said...

I have missed a lot of whats gone on in the quilty universe this last few months but I just want to say that I absolutely adore this quilt. Its simply fab, the colours, the design and the quilting.

Pam said...

Love your quilts, and ditto to what many others have said - I think you should feel good about finishing a quilt and submitting it to the show! Like many others, I was scratching my head about some of the quilts that won, and some that weren't even accepted! It seems way too political, as the quilt that won isn't really original and doesn't even seem to meet the description of modern quilts. Keep at it, and follow your own creative inspiration, not the crowd. Love your tattoo! I want a quilting tatoo too!

Sherri ~ daintytime said...

Thanks for sharing your link. I like using my blog to mark significant insights and reactions, almost like a diary, as a way to mark my growth. I'm glad you posted about your reactions to being judged.

dixie said...

I have to say, I love this quilt. Love it! And I hope all of the comments left here have helped cancel out the judges comments.