Sunday, August 11, 2013

Did Someone Make You The Quilt Judge?


Words Matter

This is a long post.  It may not set well with all of those that read it but I have to share my thoughts - I ask your forgiveness from the get go if this offends you.  

 

We quilters are a sharing bunch.  

 

We share tips, ideas, photos, stories, successes and failures.  

 

We share things on facebook, via email, at guild show and tell, in quilt shops while standing in line...with a perfect stranger.


We mean well.  

 

We think we are helping.


We only want the best for each other.


But.....ah yes, there is always a but.  

 

I had a great day today. It started with a dream sleep in. 

 

 

I woke up with two fur babies snugged next to and on me, and the sun was shining.  Hubs had decided to go ride his bicycle for 55 miles and I had the house to myself for several hours.

 

 

 

 

First up, check in on my facebook pals.....oh look at that pretty quilt. Hey what is my friend in another state up to.... I want to make that...oh would you look at that cute quilted purse...  

 

 

You know the drill.

 

I stumbled across a post by a friend that lives in another state (with whom I have had several lengthy conversations about all things quilting and life) saying that she was really upset to see and hear quilters make negative comments about another quilters work!  

 

 

What?  Did I read that right?     Yes. I. Did!

 

 

I didn't immediately post and got busy with my day. 

  

 

As I was weeding my garden beds I did what I always do....think.  

 

I thought about that post.

 


It just kept rolling around in my head.  

 

Words Matter.

 

What we say matters.  I reflected on my own words.  

 

How many times have I said something to a new quilter or maybe even a seasoned one that hurt their feelings?  Or how many times did they misunderstand what I meant?   Probably many more times that I even know about.  I'm sorry for that.

 

Words matter.

 

I'm connected all over the place.  I have a couple thousand pals on facebook, most of whom are quilters, many I do not know. I am in several groups on facebook and a few others on Yahoo Groups.  I share and talk and post with abandon.  When I see something I don't like I just keep moving. When I see something I like I usually tell the person.  My friends would never describe me as being shy.  They might also add that what you see is what you get and that I'm not afraid to be straight forward.

 

When I see someone post something about someone's quilt that is negative I almost always find myself adding:  The great thing about quilting is we each get to do what WE like, what makes us happy.

 

I get messages and emails and the one thing that stuns me and breaks my heart, is when people tell me they are afraid to share their work ~ their passion ~ their creativity.  


These are the words of a fb friend of mine named Brenda: 


...now this is the very reason that I have the hardest time with trying to quilt... once someone tells you how bad it is then your confidence is shot and no matter how hard you try and your family and friends try to convince you of how you are doing a good job... it still hurts...

 

 

And more from another friend who is a newer quilter:   "there is no way I am posting any of my quilts in that group, no way would my work measure up and I would be crushed if someone made a negative comment."

 

And another from a quilter posting a pic of their first quilt:  "I know it is not as good as all of the rest of you but I had fun doing it and I love it.  Don't look too closely as there is a lot wrong with it. But I love it anyway."

 

And then there is the phenomenon that my best friend Karen and I talk about all the time.  It happens often enough that it is cause for conversation between us.  

 

It goes like this:  Someone will post a picture of their recently completed quilt and how excited they were to have it done...and in the same post did not ask for input on the quilt.  Many times some other quilter will feel compelled to add "oh yes that is nice but I am not sure I would have used THAT color for the border" or "well I like the middle but that border fabric is not one I would use."   


Karen and I are seasoned quilters.  We know what we like and we make quilts for varying reasons.  But we both do what WE like and are at the point where we don't need input on the border fabric we have used.  We laugh about it when someone feels compelled to give us that information.  


But we are not all quilters.  We are OK with the fact that someone might not like a quilt we made or think the colors go well together.  


But. Not. Everyone. Is.

 

Words matter.

 

Ever go to a quilt show and stand in front of a quilt and say to your friend what you think about the quilt both good and bad?  Yeah me too.  

 

One person on that post from my friend had this to say:  "Be careful what you say at quilt shows because that white glove person may be the maker of the quilt."    Good advise that I personally am taking to heart.

 

Do you belong to a guild?  Do you have and participate in Show and Tell?  Yep, me too....not as much as I could though.  I am a seasoned quilter of nearly 40 years.  I quilt for hire.  I quilt competitively and I have done pretty well over the years as far as awards go.  I enter competitions because it causes me to stretch and try new things.  It has made me a better quilter. I am proud of the hours and hours of honing my skill and love sharing my creations.  And yes I hang every ribbon on my wall in my studio - it makes me happy to see them and while some might look at it as bragging I look at it as confirmation that I am doing good work. It's a wall in my home and very few people in the quilting world see that space.  Adding to that wall every year makes me happy.

 

So imagine how it would make me feel to have someone say as you line up for show and tell "Oh great I have to show my quilt after yours - jeeze I might as well go sit down."   I am certain they think it's a compliment.  They probably are a little insecure about showing their work and are afraid of being compared to mine.  But think about those words.  They have made me want to go sit down and there have been times when I left my show and tell at home because I just don't need the negativity.

 

Words Matter.

 

I for one am going to make it my goal to make sure my words matter. And I am going to continue to encourage everyone I meet in the quilt world to keep trying, keep sharing your creations and be proud of each and every one.  I'm going to remind quilters to just have some fun and enjoy the process.  

 

And I am going to remember that a pat on the back is often worth more than a thousand words.

 


God bless and thanks for sticking with me to the end.   ~ Linda T.

 

 

PS: Any thoughts on the subject please feel free to share.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

41 comments:

  1. Very well said! Thank you very much for caring!

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    1. You were the "last straw" (in a good way) with your post - thanks for that.

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    2. It takes a lot for me to say anything, so I guess that means I reached my last straw also. I will stand up for what is important, but sometimes on f/b and in life we have to pick and choose our battles wisely!

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  2. What a wonderful comment. Words can be so powerful and we do not often realize their impact. It can be very intimidating to belong to some quilt groups because of judgments made. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and if a quilt is warm and cozy and made with love then it is worthy of praise.
    Thank you for speaking these thoughts. I will follow your advice and try to think before I speak. Although sometimes that is very hard to do. ;~}

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  3. Enjoy your thoughts. I agree it can be alienating sometimes to have taken a rise higher than others, or faster than others. I feel as there is always a higher bar, when all I really intend to do is make something that makes me feel happy and skilled. Everyone has different motivations, skills and speed of learning. Embrace them all, everyone. Loving something about a quilt doesn't have to mean it is perfect in every way. ~Margaret Solomon Gunn

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  4. Learning to critique is a refined skill, but worth learning.

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  5. Excellent post, as usual Linda. I so agree that words can be encouraging, heart warming and also cut to the bone. Having been guilty of giving my honest opinion when it is asked for..... "how do you like this color border?" .... or some such. Telling the person that it's beautiful is misleading. So when someone asks for an opinion, are you saying that we should simply lie nicely? I am all for encouraging new quilters to not give up, keep trying and don't let one person's comments or one judge's critique stop anyone from quilting entirely. ...... and here's my BUT...... if someone is asking for an opinion, I think that a lie is doing them a disservice. The passive aggressive stuff that we often see online is disconcerting..... "oh I know you won't like it but I'm going to post it anyway."

    OK....... ducking for cover.

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    1. No need to duck for cover.... the point I was making about the comments is when they are NOT asked for nor wanted. Karen and I see this again and again in groups.

      On the other hand if someone does ask me I am going to tell the truth but no matter my comment I try to add - in the end it is what you like that matters. I won't lie but I won't crush them either.

      I get the passive aggressive stuff....recently I heard: I don't meant to be rude....(oh but wait I am) LOL

      Thanks for the comments and kind words ♥

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  6. One of my absolute passions is teaching. I love encouraging students through the process of learning. The most important thing I do is set the example of how to speak of their work and hopefully how they then speak of others work - to be encouraging.
    In part since becoming a teacher and in part from listening to comments that I've made, I've been much more mindful of my words at quilt shows. Unless I'm asked directly by the quilt maker I do not offer any sort of criticism because my opinion of their work does not matter.
    Good words Linda!

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    1. Me too. I can always find something positive to say about a students work - even if it is just that they are showing progress.

      thanks - glad you enjoyed the read ♥

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  7. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Words to live by. Keep showing and sharing your quilts, Linda. We all start somewhere. If there is a beginning quilter in the line behind you for the show and tell, you're showing him/her what's possible, inspiring creativity, maybe giving a goal to work towards. I've been sewing and quilting for 35 years myself, 3 of my nieces have lined up for lessons in sewing and quilting. Plus my 6 year old grandson and I made a quilt together this summer. He designed it, he picked all the fabrics, he did some of the sewing, he did the layout, and he chose the design he wanted quilted on it. He even chose the binding fabric and the name of the quilt. My nieces and my grandson are interested in quilting because they have seen my work, and they want to make those pretty things too :^) Love your work Linda, you are an inspiration to me, and I really appreciate it when you do share it with the public.

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  8. If someone says, do you like this fabric, how about that one, what about this pattern, how about this quilting design - I will venture an opinion (since I was asked) but I always state very clearly, these are MY color likes and dislikes; these are MY choices only. Not better than yours, possibly different, but only a personal preference. And make sure I say, it's about what YOU like and YOUR choices, not mine -- not my quilt. Because we do have the freedom to exercise our own creativity. That's the whole point.

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  9. thank you for those encouraging words. I have experienced some of those things. in fact I am getting my ribbons out and hanging them up again. I had put them away because of the comments from ladies in my sewing circle. I have stayed away from guild after the quilt show to avoid comments. I am glad to know there are others who are willing to admit that this sort of highschoolish behavior goes on.

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    1. Display them proudly and don't be ashamed of them ever. You did the work, you earned them and you can display them if it makes you happy.

      When I first started entering and winning I displayed them as confirmation to my customers that I knew what I was doing....now I hang them because doing so makes me happy. I don't have that many local customers so many never see them, but I see them every day. I challenge myself to never let a year go by where I don't add one - even if is only one. At some point that won't make me happy and when that happens I will stop, but in the meantime if the inspiration and the skills move me in that direction, I will follow. My first national show entry was in 2002 and it's been a fun and amazing journey. Hugs and enjoy your accomplishments!

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  10. It never ceases to amaze that we quilters are so hard on ourselves and can also have very fragile egos. It's a habit, perhaps born out of modesty, that we try to point out the bad errors in our quilt BEFORE anyone else can! *sigh*
    Meantime, a critique is for a judged situation and the judge ought to be both tactful and helpful and willing to speak in person if an entrant has a particular question. I love it when people share quilts-period. The part about "Don't say anything bad at a quilt show because the White Glove lady standing there probably made it-" is true! Remember the words of Willie Nelson: What comes around, goes around, it's karma baby! And to anyone who decides to take a potshot at my stuff, fire away--couldn't care less. I made it, I love it.

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    1. I agree....I always tell my students and friends that I don't want to hear what is wrong with it, I want to hear why you love it.

      As for the Karma bit - yep!

      Regarding the judging....I love the comments - I don't always agree but it gives me a different perspective. I took to heart many of them in the early years and my skills improved because I focused on those things. You do still get the negative comments and I just brush those off - it's an opinion, that is all. I have seen quilters crushed by them and in tears at a show so words do matter.

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  11. As quilters we are all different in our taste & likes. I might like a quilt but it may not be one I'd like to make. I hate to see the negative comments posted when you know that person is so proud of their work,as they should be!! I was a teacher,(ceramics,brushsttroke work etc) for years & if I knew one of my students did their very best ,there was no way I was going to be negative toward them. I'd point out all the good points & then suggest things for them to maybe try. "I can't do that' & comments like that were not allowed in my classes. As a fellow artistian we should always uplift the person she is doing something that we & they find enjoyment in. If it brings joy to your heart & life, never let a negative get you down. Just wish others follwed that too. They teach or even comment if you ar e going to do it in a negative way!! Linda ,I love your work & totally agree with your comments on negative post.

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    1. Thank you! I wasn't looking for confirmation on my work but I appreciate your kind words just the same. I just get so many emails and private messages about the fear and the negativity that I guess I just had to put it out there.

      Blessings my friend ♥

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  12. Thank you for posting “Words Matter” your thoughts and words are so very eloquently stated. This is a good reminder to all of us. As a beginning quilter I am proud of what I have accomplished and strive to better myself every day (some days are better than others). I admire the creations and talents of every quilter. I may or may not agree with color choices but look at each one with a discerning eye for who knows they may not be my choices today but maybe tomorrow they could be. The beauty of quilting is freedom to be creative and to learn from each other. I can relate to one of the comments; when I show my work I do sometimes put my own work down and make excuses. But after the whining I try to check the ego and ask for suggestions on how to correct the mistakes or what to do to make it better for the next time. So do “Words Matter” . . . yes they do, even when you say them to yourself! Thank you Linda for your positive attitude and willingness to share it, you are an inspiration to me.

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    1. Oh Deb you made my day! Thank you my friend, your words made my heart smile!

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  13. I always try to think before I speak or type.
    That is what makes me scared to put quilts in the show. I have over heard people cutting them down at shows & thought that was terrible...........

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    1. Oh Marsha I am sorry to hear that. Everyone should feel the joy that comes from seeing your quilt hanging in a show. I know what you mean though - I teach at plenty of shows across the country and I hear it all the time. Don't listen to the noise - do what makes your heart happy and if you want to put a quilt in a show just do it!! ♥

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  14. Not everyone likes everything, you might dislike my taste in fabrics, I might not like how you quilt something, but we are all still passionate about the same thing, making quilts. Its truly remarkable that quilting draws both men and women from all walks of life and all different backgrounds.

    And I just have to add that my husband is a crazy cyclist too! I have now met several quilters with husbands that are cyclists. I actually kind of like all the extra time I have when he is off on a long ride!

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    1. I agree!!! The best thing about quilting is we each get to do what WE want and what makes our hearts sing!

      Yes he was gone for several hours yesterday - normally I like to ride but my shoulder injury is not too happy after about 35 miles and he wanted to do a long ride getting ready for a three day event we have coming up. He ski races in the winter and I love those weekends too - pure quilting time for as long as I want - bliss! LOL "Don't tell him!" ♥

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  15. I feel compelled to write, as your post covered so many points I make to my quilting students. I am NOT THE QUILT POLICE is one of my favorite sayings. I always try to encourage, not demean. I am also chairman of our local County Fair's Clothing and Textile division. If I do say so myself, we have our fair share of good quilters in my little county in central CA. But the one thing I hear over and over is, I can't enter, the judges will make nasty remarks. I don't know where other counties get their judges from, but ours are so kind to my people's entries. Yes, there is a critique, you entered to grow, but they are so nice, they always have good things to say. (And sometimes it is hard to find a nice comment). Anyway, I continue to encourage people to enter and I always tell them that yes, the judges are critical, but they are there to help you grow as a quilter.

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    1. Thanks Sheila. I agree. I used the comments as a road map to success. If I was weak in an area that is what I worked on. If I had a strength then I leveraged that. I don't get too wound up over them - never have. I make quilts and wearable art I like and for me that is the bottom line. In the 11 years I have been competing I have only had one where I thought the comments were out of line and mean and I contacted the judge and asked her about it. It was an interesting conversation! LOL

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  16. I think as quilters or any other artist form that we expect our work to be perfect we are our own quilt police to some degree we expect our work to be perfect. Trust me speaking as a new quilter I always point out the flaws of my work, because I've had my feelings hurt when someone made a critical comment of one of my blocks when I was first starting it was actually my first class. The person wasn't the instructor she showed me what I had done wrong and I was quite thankful so I could go home and take it apart and do it up again. I thought to myself about what the other person said and I thought, well yes she's right I did bugger that block up but I would never say that to anyone, as I wouldn't want it done to me. That one comment almost made me stop quilting altogether I actually didn't go near fabric for another whole year. My husband told me why don't you try going back and taking the class over again and give it another shot because he's never known me to quit at anything.

    Yes I am quilting now but still I don't like to put my blocks up on the design wall because I'm afraid it will get picked apart again. It's not that I do not like criticism about my work I am always looking for advice and I do seek out the opinions of those that I am close to because it is a constant learning curve. I just hope to be half as good as all of you. With a disability I cannot sew as fast I would like to I'd give anything to sit and sew for hours so I have something to show at the end of the day, but I can only go as fast as my body will allow me to (never fast enough lol), but that's my 2 cents worth of the quilt police, and thank you for actually bringing the issue up and I hope you don't mind me ranting on here.

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    1. Loved that you shared your thoughts - rant away :-) Don't stop creating and doing what makes your heart happy. Over time you will gain new skills and may one day find yourself in the place where you can help a new quilter too. If I can ever help just post on my The Quilted Goose facebook wall - happy to share what little I know. hugs! LT

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  17. Linda, I very rarely do show and tell; primarily because I feel the client needs to see their quilt first. I don't manage my time well enough to make any quilts, so I don't enter shows either.
    I keep my opinions to myself, unless they're complimentary. I've also started telling my friends how good their work is.

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    1. Good for you Eileen, great attitude. Would love to see some of your work! Hugs...LT

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  18. Hey! I loved your post....I can just hear you saying each word too!...and I also noticed on your posts on "how to" do a block does not have comments....I think your blocks are just lovely!!...and such a wonderful tutorial with each!...so yes, words matter....pat on your back!!....

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    1. Thank you! Most of us never get tired of hearing those words. Have a blessed day!

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  19. I agree that there are those who have to get their personal opinions about a quilt in, but you have no idea how this is going to be taken. A new quilter could be devastated to the point of never trying anything new or worse, just quit altogether. There are a vast number of levels for quilters and a new quilter needs all the encouragement they can get. Recently at a quilt group that I am in, a new quilter was so proud that she had finished her first quilt. And there was no way I was going to say anything that she might think was criticism. At this point in her journey, she needed encouragement. She did not ask anyone for help, therefore she should not have gotten it. The group was so encouraging to her and she beamed as she showed us her quilt. Yes, when she improves, this quilt is going to be one of those she may not want to look at often, but, by golly, she finished it! What an accomplishment! There are many who can't say they have actually finished a quilt.

    She knows she has a lot to learn and is eager to learn it. I so love to be around someone who wants to soak up all the knowledge and help they an get.

    Another issue I might add to this is that we are our own worst critics. How many times do we point out our mistakes when we show a quilt? Why do we do that? Why not just keep that to ourselves and if they discover it, they may just keep it quiet too! So the next time you show a friend a quilt, don't point out your mistakes. Take the compliments and enjoy them! It will be difficult but you can do it!

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    1. Exactly!!! I don't point out my mistakes, I just don't focus on that part of quilting anymore - a total waste of time. If it bugs me that much I stop and fix it, if not, it's just part of the quilt. I have had so many positive messages and emails after I posted this where people said thank you for saying what I wanted to say and didn't know how. You are right about encouraging a beginner - when my one friend posted those words (above) it broke my heart. Words matter, thanks for sharing yours ☺

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  20. Words do matter! Thank you for saying so. I appreciate you taking the time to verbalize my innermost thoughts and feelings on this subject!

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  21. Hmm Take that post you made and apply it Life not just Quilts ...good Blog

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  22. As I sat here reading, I realized I'm guilty of several of those mis-speaks.
    I will try to be more conscious of my surroundings and those around me.
    I agree with Mary, apply it to life; not just quilts.

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