Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bacon's First Quilt Show

Sorry if this is a bit late and you are super sick of Quilt Con posts. But I wanted to include some thoughts on having quilts in the show. 

I had two quilts in the show at Quilt Con. This was the first time I had shown my work in any serious way (not that I don’t love bloggers’ quilt festival, but it is not juried and it is more of a celebration than critical experience).

I didn’t win anything, but I am not disappointed. I honestly feel like seeing my quilts in the show was a great prize. I have also not gotten my feedback from the judges yet, so I don’t know how they did. I am not sure I will share the feedback on this blog. I doubt the judges will be harder on me than I am on myself, so I am not too concerned with what the judges think.

I just wanted to use this space to ruminate on how showing my quilts made me feel.

When I first saw my quilts on the show floor, I got really excited. I made that! It is hanging from the wall! There is a label with my name on it!  It looks like Art! Then I started looking around and comparing my quilt with its neighbors. Is it as good as the other ones? Can they tell that my quilting isn’t even? Do they see the cat hair?

I do not make show quilts. I started these quilts with the intention that they would be mine.  I designed them because I had to. It is hard to explain, but sometimes quilting for me is like reading a really good book. I just can’t put it down until I see the end. I need to know!

I made these quilts with the idea that I would control their narrative. Most quilters do that; we make quilts for people, for charity, for our homes and beds. We quilt because we want to. We know that they will be loved. In a sense, we control who sees our work and where they go. When my quilts got into the show and while they were hanging, I lost control of the narrative. People, anyone who wanted to pay to get onto the show floor, could think anything they wanted about my work. This is not necessarily bad; it just is totally outside my experience as a first time quilt entrant. Strangers could not only judge my craft, they could interpret my work however they wanted.  They could be inspired, disgusted, bored, etc.

I am generally not concerned by the thoughts of others and I don’t think I mind losing control of my quilts for the weekend. I am definitely not fishing for compliments or writing this to be self-deprecating.

I just found it to be a completely disconcerting experience to stand on the show floor and watch people experience my work. These are people who don’t know me. They don’t read this blog. They don’t know I have a neurotic cat and love blue. They don’t know I collect cat fabric and need to sew like I need to breathe. They have no idea what my other work looks like. They are just experiencing this quilt, this collection of cotton fibers that three months ago I was curled up under, as a piece of art. For that moment, it belonged to them.

My quilts arrived at home yesterday. Soon they will be back on my couch. I think I will take off the hanging sleeves that I had to attach by hand. They will both go back on the couch to be cuddled and snuggled under as I always intended.

I also think I will probably enter more quilt shows.

One thing that I know, I will continue to make more quilts. I have to.

Thanks for reading friends. Next post we will be back to our regularly scheduled nonsense.