I've debated for days about even writing this post. I hope it is received with my true intent. I do not wish to discredit QuiltCon, the judges, or anyone else involved in quilt shows in general. These are just some thoughts I've had about my own experience. I believe that many of us had no idea what to expect when we shipped our quilts off to the show. This was a first-time show experience for most of us. I recently saw a quote on Pinterest that simply said, "Sometimes you win. Sometimes you learn". I definitely learned from this one.
Over the weekend I received these in the mail. I admit to feeling even more unsettled over the whole of idea of sending my quilts off to be "judged" than when I first sent them, despite the fact that I won two ribbons.
Three of my quilts were accepted into QuiltCon. Unraveled and Broken Diamonds placed 2nd in their respective categories. Only my NY Beauty mini was returned to me. The other two sold at the show. I was quite sad when I learned they sold since I had forgotten I listed them for sale in the first place. That was definitely another learning experience....
I knew on Tuesday from an email that I had placed at QuiltCon. The awards ceremony was Thursday. I obsessively followed Instagram all day Thursday until I learned that two of my quilts placed second. Rather than feel excited I felt pretty discouraged. I started to compare my quilts to every other quilt that came through Instagram that day. Initially I thought, "Well, why didn't I win first?" Of course I would prefer a $500 prize over a 2nd place ribbon. Then the negative thoughts started creeping in. "Why did I even place at all?" "Why in the world did I deserve 2nd?" There were many pictures of impressive quilts. I started picking my quilts apart. We are our own worst critics.
Finally, the voice of my previous agency director crept into my head. She was a woman with very strong opinions and sometimes said those opinions in a less than tactful way. Multiple times she attempted to motivate us by saying our job was like a beauty pagent. "If you don't win, you're just another Also-Ran." Let's just say that statement wasn't motivating at all, but definitely stuck with me. I started feeling like another "Also-Ran".
I was so frustrated at myself for degrading my own quilts in my head, especially when I was seeing the competition in 2" pictures on my phone screen. I finally stopped checking Instagram entirely for the rest of the weekend. I was doing exactly what I always try very hard not to do--comparing my work to others. This was one of the very reasons I wavered on sending my quilts in the first place.
When I received my critiques back on each quilt, I glanced at them and threw them away. The ribbons went in a drawer. I realized something very important through this experience. The critiques of those judges or their interpretation of my work don't really matter to me, nor does their decision that my quilts were 2nd place.
I quilt because I enjoy it. I enjoy sharing them here on my own space. I am thrilled when a reader tells me that something I have created has inspired them to create something unique to them. It honestly makes me feel bad that my quilt was considered "better" than another since I personally don't consider them better than any others. I'm truly grateful for those who have emailed me with congratulations for the ribbons, but what means even more have been the emails from those who simply said they loved my quilts and were inspired by them. The quilts and the people behind them are what matter, not the ribbons.
Two other judges may have just as easily looked at my quilts and made very different determinations. I am not in any way trying to say anything negative about this particular show or those who judged the show--only that this whole judging thing is simply opinion, and it's not for me.
I have no intention to enter another quilt show. I won't say "never" because you don't know what life will bring you, but at this point in my life I will create because it's fun, not because someone is going to look at the back and tell me I have "tension issues".... Obviously my machine needed a tune-up.