Since color is such a personal preference, how does a quilt judge overcome being biased in their judging?
I have had the opportunity and pleasure to talk to quite a few quilt judges over the years. Most of quilt show judges are certified.
There are several very stringent courses available to those people who would like to be a certified quilt judge. The most popular is the course available through The National Quilting Association. Their course takes 3½ years to complete. It includes a huge amount of paperwork, dedication, traveling and money. One lady who took the course said she had spent over $2,500 and hadn’t completed the course.
To become a certified quilt judge, check out the National Quilting Association’s website or the American Quilter’s Society’s website.
The process of going through the certification eventually teaches a judge to look at quilts (and other quilted items such as garments, accessories and dolls) in a completely different manner.
A quilt is judged first in workmanship. Judging includes assuring that all corners meet, the star points are not cut off, the appliqué is smooth and stitches not visible, the seams are straight, and has wonderful binding with correctly mitered corners.
Then the actual quilting is appraised. Is there enough quilting or too much quilting? Does the quilting enhance the quilt or detract from it? Hand quilting versus machine quilting is a sticky debate. Some quilters consider only hand quilting proper. But machine-quilted pieces have taken over the quilting world, and I don’t think it’s going away.
Then the color of the quilt is considered. Since the certified course is so long, I’m sure by the time a person gets through it they no longer look at a quilt purely for its color.
I like quilt shows that give judges the opportunity to pick their favorite.
Judges’ Choice ribbons show up on quilts that may not be a perfect specimen, but they liked it better than all the other quilts in the show. I’d like to think that’s when they can leave their certification behind and pick a quilt they really enjoyed, and perhaps it was made in their favorite colors.
To me, winning a Judges’ Choice ribbon would be worth as much as a Best of Show quilt.
When you enter quilts in a show, I think it’s safe to say the judges will be unbiased. The critique/judging form usually contains several comments about the good points of your quilt and may include some areas that you can work on in future quilting endeavors.
I have learned so much from entering my quilts for judging. I know my quilts are not perfect, but I like to think each quilt improves just a little when I keep in mind what the judges wrote on my past forms.
Although it still amazes me when I think there is a huge glaring mistake in my quilt and I get my sheet back only to discover the judge never noticed or mentioned it.
Nancy C. Judd of Harker Heights is a member of the Crossroads to Texas Quilt Guild and a Herald correspondent.