On a recent trip to Boston, I got the chance to meet up with Pat Delaney of Crab Tree Lane Studios. Pat has won countless awards for her superb quilts, and I asked her about what makes an award winner. Although she is a quilter, I found that much of her advice regarding quality of workmanship and technique mastery can be transferred across media.
Advice from a Master Quilt Maker:
There are so many talented and creative quilters out there making beautiful quilts. A winning quilt must stand out to the judges. As much as the judges will argue that it is not a subjective process, it almost always is so. A quilter has to try something completely new, interpret a known technique in a new way, add something unusual or otherwise create something unique. The judge is definately looking for something never before seen.
Along with the look of the quilt, there must also be superb technique. The judges look at every facet of the work and neatness really does count. The bindings must be straight and filled (enough of the quilt edge fabric to make it stuffed) and sewn on with neat stitches. The corners must be square and the outside edges flat and measuring the same length. A beautifully pieced quilt will not even be considered if the outer borders are wavy and the quilt does not hang straight. Again, all the little details add to the quality of the quilt. A tiny edge piping or couched cord show that the quiltmaker took the time to go beyond the obvious.
The judges expect that there will be a gorgeous color palette with a sense of value contrast etc. Now, again that can be subjective. Even though that shouldn't matter, sometimes there can just be a difference of opinion. For example, my quilt "The Ancient Mariner at Sunrise" won "Best of World" from one show, First Place in a different show, was rejected from two shows, one judge hated the colors, one judge gave me the lowest marks I've ever received, and all in all won seven other major ribbons. Go figure. I think the subject matters less than the total package of all the other factors.
Finally, learn all the skills as well as you can, study art for design and color help and come up with a creative slant to the subject. The more original you can be in any of these areas will make your work stand out.
Stop by Crab Tree Lane Studios to see more gorgeous award winners and learn about Pat's classes.
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