Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Quilt Shows Rubric


"Critics have a job to do. They do not criticise you without reason."

Abhishek Bachchan


This fall I entered two quilts at the state quilt festival. One of these quilts was selected by Nancy Prince and given the  shows' National Teacher Award. I was surprised and grateful for Nancy’s kind words. 

As an art quilter I have many quilts in galleries and museums that feature fine arts. Those shows are juried by digital image and often judged by digital image or as the juror tours the show.

San Antonio

Quilt shows use a difference process. Although quilts may be accepted by viewing a digital image, they are juried using a specific set of predetermined qualities which are evaluated by close inspection. In teacher speak this is called a rubric.

A scoring rubric is an attempt to communicate expectations of quality around a task. In many cases,scoring rubrics are used to delineate consistent criteria for grading.

Luckily the judges included the completed rubric when my quilts were returned. It was valuable information. Their rubric  used two categories: "Appearance" and "Workmanship". Each judge circled a grade from excellent to fair after looking at the specific attribute. There was also an option of not applicable. The rubric was used for all categories from patchwork to art quilts. 

The appearance category had six attributes: fabric choice, color/value, scale/composition ,border, quilting pattern and condition. Workmanship had seven categories and  eight subcategories: piecing, applique, quilting (even stitches, amount, visible marking or knots, tension) amount of quilting, borders, finishing (binding, corners, filled binding, stitch) and special techniques or embellishments.

My quilt San Antonio, which got the national teachers award ; received no exceptional marks in any category from any of the states judges.  The reason for this is because the judging process was very different. 

It was clear from the rubric that the judges area of expertise was traditional or functional quilts. Judges wrote a note asking if the quilt was a photo or was it painted. Because the judges were unable to read my artist statement to help them fill in the gaps in their knowledge they were at a disadvantage.

Many of the attributes could not be evaluated because art quilts are not bound by the limits of function or the deeply embedded craft tradition associated with the quilt. I did not have a border. The quilt is whole cloth so there were no fabric selections, no piecing or applique. The fabric itself was unique and created with recent technology. Teams of judges assembled to examine quilts had no frame of reference to look at a creative or non functional entry. 

The national judge was not bound by the rubric. She had experience viewing and making quilts that were decorative and not functional. She also was given the freedom to look at the selection of quilts and pick one that spoke her aesthetic sensibilities. She was selecting a quilt in the same way a judge at art quilt exhibition would select a quilt. Their selection is based on visual qualities and not held hostage by a the rubric.

Alamo Gate

When I explain the difference in the judging process  to an audience, I often hear people say, that’s why I don’t enter quilt shows. I don’t need to be judged. 

It's important to remember that judges have a job to do. The are not judging without reason. I am going to use the rubric from the state show to help me select some areas of technique that I can improve.

I am also keenly aware that the selection process at an art venue  is different than quilt show. Finally I am confident in my current abilities and in my ability to constantly grow as an artist.


Until next time...
Margaret

Sharing what I know with others….

For many years I spent my creative time making projects for my students.

I was continuously gathering inspiration at museums, galleries, in books, at classes, online and with other artists. Very little of my energy was devoted to my personal work.

Like many of my fellow art  teachers, when I first retired I had zero interest in teaching. I wanted to take the time to be an artist.

My energy poured into my studio.

Being a fulltime artist was my dream job.

My intense focus has paid off for me. I now am beginning to see the fruits of my studio time. I have pieces traveling in shows around the world. The past year I have begun to win recognition.  Thanks to my new schedule, I am able to travel to places like Art Quilt Tahoe.  where I could study with the master’s in the art quilt world including Jane Dunnewold and Sue Benner.

 

Today I just scratching the surface of what I want to create in the future.

This creative life is a great privilege.

blog October

Recently something odd happened. I started to  think about teaching again.

The desire to share what I have learned and to grow the community of art quilters here in Southern Utah has been on my mind over the past year. Lucky for me I belong to a thriving quilt guild that needed a someone to help serve those quilters who were interested in learning about art.

What is great about sharing what I know with other people, is that I learn as much from group members as I (hope!) they learn from me.

Right now there have been two meetings. At the first meeting I pulled out a design problem that I used in middle and high school. By the next meeting I was looking at several little art quilts that went well beyond my simple instructions.

When you share what you know  you are forced to take a few steps back and think about how much you had to learn.

I pulled out set of watercolors and began to work on some simple landscapes. Sharing with others helps me look at a process and define each step.

For example you have to start with the background first. The next steps are to lay down each part of the landscape from front to back. This process is as true for painting as it is for an art quilt.

 Community helps you grow.

There is nothing like being in a room with creative people to get your mind geared up for studio time.

Until next time.....

Margaret

Studio Redesign

My studio remodel is done. It took a little time, some elbow grease and a little under $1000 to create a wonderful dedicated work space.

Studio Collage

Plan

1. Start with the surfaces. I needed light that filled the space evenly. I painted all the walls with a white with a little sheen (not a flat white). Next I added a solid surface floor in off white. I used “peel and stick” tiles that have a linen texture. I keep the windows curtain free to let in the maximum natural light.

2.Place the biggest pieces of furniture in the room first. I have a large koala sewing table with a leaf extension. I can roll the table around but for the most part I like to use it with the leaf down. I placed this on one side of the room with my back facing the wall and the leaf facing middle of the room. This allows me to open the leaf without moving anything else. My mid arm machine is on the opposite wall. So is my desk and my storage cubby.

3. Tools and supplies should be easy to reach. Think of creating workstations. I have most of my thread near my mid arm machine.Rulers are pinned on a board above my sewing machine. Cutting matts sit on cabinets with my rotary cutters in cans in arm reach. I have my rack that hold my spoonflower prints, yardage and some finished quilts in the alcove right across from my buckets and bins of scrap.

4. Invest in quality functional storage. I had simple custom cabinets installed. They are a simple white finish. No doors or drawers. Two deep cabinets provide an extended  surface for quilting larger pieces. They also provide storage for all my batting and material. In the alcove I have large tall bookcase which holds all my media, books and miscellaneous materials.

 

Now Decorate!

Create displays of your work and work that you have collected. When someone comes to your studio you don’t want to miss an opportunity to have your style on display.

I want to be inspired when I enter my studio.  I pulled out work that is too old and too small to enter in shows. I created  interesting items like decoupage paint cans to hold trash and floor matts covered with fused scrap  . 


Don’t let money stop you from making your space work for you. Grab a can of paint, rearrange the furniture, create some workstations and put your work up on your walls.

Until Next time.....
Margaret

12 Little Secrets to Becoming an Art Quilter

Image from https://drbillsukala.com

I love Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen’s passion is the study of happiness and habit formation. On her webpage she has long list of “secrets to adulthood”  The secrets are little reminders that help make life more enjoyable and promote good habits.

I began more than 10 years ago working exclusively on art quilts. For past four years I have been increasingly successful. In the past two years my work has been included in over 20 exhibitions.

This year I received two cash awards.  I attribute my current success to consistent work time, setting clear goals, continued education and belonging to the premiere art quilt community - SAQA.

But when I started this journey, I began working blind. I didn't have very many quilting skills. I had no idea there was a professional art community focused on art quilting. I just saw an art quilt on a wall in my doctors office, picked up an issue of quilting arts and went home with an idea for a fabric collage.

 

 

So here are my 12 insights that I hope will help those starting this journey.

Start with small, easy to finish quilts.

Use materials you have and apply the skills you know.

Making a copy is not a crime, it’s a way to learn

Collect images that inspire you

Have a creative space in your home

Find a "tribe" of  people to help you grow as an artist

Visit museums and galleries

Expand your knowledge of composition

Make something that means something

Share what you make

Have a goal

Remember to Play!

BIG Fish in Little Pond or Little Fish in BIG pond

I have been working the last three years on building a portfolio. My process has evolved through SAQA mentorship program, classes, critique groups, professional conferences, journals and my local community of quilters.

Along the way my perspective has changed. I think of this change as a shift from the kind of creative “pond” I am willing to drive into.

Main-Gallery


Once you have devoted the time and energy to making an art quilt you have to decide its’ purpose. Maybe it’s a valuable stepping stone to the next quilt. It may be just right for your home or as a gift.

There is also the possibility of sharing your work with a larger community.


There are two basic categories of display venues specifically for art quilts:

Traditional quilt shows where the quilt is judged on quality of craftsmanship and secondarily on the artist qualities.

Calls for Entry where judging is through the lense of  a visual art audience.   


Most local, county and state quilts shows have categories that accomodate art quilts.

The category may be pictorial,  surface design, non traditional, or some other "descriptive" title. The show usually lasts a week or less and lets participants pickup and drop off quilts which keeps the costs low. These shows may not require you to submit a digital image or may allow you to simply display your quilt. So if you want to dip your toe in the water, this is an ideal event.  

There are also major quilt shows that attract multi state participants.

Out here in the West there is “Road to California” .  American Quilters Society (AQS) has six quilt shows in the east and midwest. Paducah is a show that draws quilters all over the globe.

Quilts Inc. sponsors the largest quilt festival in Houston Texas: The International Quilt Festival. They also have large shows in Chicago and Kansas City.

The Festival of Quilts in Birmingham England is an opportunity to show off to a global audience. 

The second category of opportunities is a call for entry.

This is a request for quilt artists to display their work in an art venue. It may be a gallery or museum. These venues will display your quilt for a longer period of time and will likely attract people interested in art.

SAQA’s call for entry listing currently has 14 opportunities for regional, national and international exhibitions. These shows have a theme. Read the perspective carefully and see if there is something that speaks to you.

There are also venues that have annual or biannual shows like Sacred Threads. This exhibition is a great starting point for those who haven’t entered a quilt into a national competition.

Museums like Quilt Visions in San Diego California  who are dedicated to displaying artists making contemporary quilt art have opportunities for members including online exhibitions  as well as a couple of themed shows.

There are searchable databases that help you find a place to exhibit. My favorite is CAFE.  CAFE is a service for artists to upload images of their work and to search for calls for entry in your local area, your state and beyond. Best of all it's free. 

My advice is to:

  • Plan well in advance (6 months or more) to enter a quilt.
  • You will need a high quality digital image, a description of your materials and technique and an artist statement.
  • You will need to consider the fee for entry, costs of joining an organization and shipping.
  • Some computer skills are needed.  It’s not that hard, but planning and persistence are necessary. 
  • Be prepared to invest in an entry and not get into the first show you enter. 
  • Keep trying.

So what pond are you ready to dive into?

Until Next Time....
Margaret