Sunday, January 14, 2018

Quilt Show Rejection? Win Your Own Awards!

I love other people's quilts, but can be very hard on my own. I haven't made many quilts that I look back on and think,  "Dang, I like it!"

This one, finished last year, comes close. I call it "Eyeshadow," because the blocks look like eyes wide open, with rainbow mascara, an invention which, now that I think about it, could earn someone much more money than making quilts and submitting them to juried shows.
It's just been rejected by QuiltCon 2018, and I was sad until I perused the hashtag "#QuiltConreject" on Instagram, here.  OMG, I am in great company! People are sharing absolutely fantastic, brilliant works of art. You can't help but conclude that being a QuiltCon reject is as much of an honor as getting in, though the latter is emotionally much simpler, and a bit cheaper. (QuiltCon entry is only $15 per quilt.)

(Two more consoling articles about QuiltCon rejections are at the end of this blog post. I submitted four quilts, and one made it in, which I will show in a future post.) 

Let's face it, there is no way of predicting what judges will like. So give it a shot. But meanwhile, maybe the key to appreciating one's own quilts is creating one's own personal awards. I'm giving the quilt above my lifetime award for "Most Block Rotations to Arrive at a Satisfactory Resolution," and potentially even the "It's All Downhill From Here" award. Here are some more categories in which I have pinned invisible ribbons to my sweatshirt:

- Vastest Distance Between Where You Started, and Where You Wound Up - I was determined to make an ethereal, dignified quilt commemorating the August lunar eclipse - but it turned into this piece, remniscent of fruit cocktail:
- Most Psychotherapeutic -Sewing 100 tiny squares together - then sewing tiny toys into each square - was pure psychiatric massage. Which project(s) got you through a hard time?
-Most Unexpected - In which you dared to created something in a genre that was new to you. My passionate hotel room love affair with English Paper piecing  topped this category in 2017. (Since I am the judge and the only contestant, it doesn't bother me that one could drive a small truck through some of those intersections. I later took this apart and started over.)
Best Stash Reduction - The largest quilt(s) that you didn't buy new fabric for. Expecting to make one quilt from my 30-year stash of Japanese fabrics, I made three, and there's another one pending. (I haven't taken any pictures yet.)

- Most Crazy-Making - There's a quilt on my design wall right now, involving aqua and yellow stars, that 's been sitting there for months, and I still can't figure out the colors or background. (I don't want to show you the pictures.) 

- Project Most Likely to Piss Off _______ [politicians, relatives, etc.]
- The Hue & Cry Award - Does the hue make you cry? Tears of joy or regret - those are separate ribbons.)

- Viewer's Choices - Did someone walk through your sewing area, see a quilt, and ask for it? Both my DD and DH did, and that always makes me abnormally happy. Here's one my daughter claimed:
What's your favorite quilt or other creation of the recent past? That YOU made? Pick some personal winners! I'd love to hear about your awards categories! 

And if a QuiltCon rejection still stings, I understand - I hope you find these articles as soothing as I did: 
- A candid article by Christa Watson, who explains that only 25% of submissions get in.
- An article by Jayne of the Twiggy and Opal blog, which showed off her quilts that made it into the show, and those that didn't - and the results are absolutely flummoxing to me!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Creative Time Bomb: Sort your Stash

How do you organize your quilting fabric? Creating categories not only makes fabrics easier to find, but can also jump-start future creations. Here are my categories, jammed into 8 small shelves plus 3 plastic boxes:

1. Human and human-like entities (including cyborgs, smiley faces, plus the occasional human underwear):
2. Food and beverages:
3. Animals, real, extinct and imagined:
4. Inedible, inanimate objects, including florals and geometrics:
5. Blue and green solids and monochrome prints, not including skies, but including lakes, rivers and oceans...
...and green leaves (Unless the leaves are edible - the fabric on the lower right looks like collard greens to me, so sometimes it travels to category 1):
6. Yellow, orange, red and gold solids and monochrome prints:
7. Purples, lavenders:
8. Black, whites, greys & brown prints and solids, and black-and-white prints
9. Batiks, all colors, all patterns, plus all sky prints.
10. Patriotic and American history
11. Judaic prints:
12. Miscellaneous, and polka dots The huge pieces of the fabrics below - vintage housewives and pre-Obama US presidents - that don't fit in my packed "human" shelf, so they're in miscellaneous:
Quite often, when going through my stash, I often will fling a fabric to a different category. Take fish, for example: Animal or food?
If it looks like it would be tasty broiled with butter and garlic, it goes into food, but if it could be in an aquarium or a deep sea, it usually goes with the animals. Same problem with cows:
Just looking at their yearning faces and thinking about where they're headed makes me want to become a vegetarian (at those moments, it goes to animals.) If craving a burger, it travels to food.  And what about this print with dog astronauts - animals or humans?
This fabric has been commuting back and forth between categories for decades.

Jack-o-lantern fabric is even more elusive. Edible, human, animal, or inanimate? I should just sew it into a trick-or-treat bag and donate it to a thrift shop, so I don't have to agonize over it anymore.
The best reason to sort your stash is that you find unexpected relationships, and group  fabrics with common traits together. Even if you don't do something with the groupings at the moment, they can serve as messages to your future self - creative time-bombs - that will save you time and spark ideas.

Like a month ago, when I was looking through my stash for holiday gift ideas. I found the following fabrics grouped together in the "Prints: Non-Human, Non-Animal, Inedible" box.
(I know, that on the upper right looks a bit like hard-boiled eggs, but not enough.) They were piled on top of these, which you saw above:
The fabric on the far left was cut from a beautiful Swiss dress that a friend gave me after her baby outgrew it. The two on the right are fat quarters that my well-trained DH bought me for a birthday.

Plus there was this heavyweight Japanese print:
...which sent me running to the "food" shelf, where I knew I had another piece of heavy fabric purchased from the same quilt show vendor: a pastry fabric that says "petite gateau," which means "little cake" in French, even though the fabric is Japanese:
Now I had an extended family of fabrics, near-pastels with a lot of pink and a happy, air-tossed mood. I did a little improvisational cutting, sewing, and slicing, and wound up with four of these: 
Vintage rick rack made a nice punctuation. The music fabric went on the back.
I used Insul-Bright batting inside. so they can function as real potholders. For hanging loops, I found the following embroidered ribbon in my parents' tablecloth drawer. I am guessing my paternal grandmother, my beloved Bubby, bought it, maybe planning to embellish aprons? She died in 1974, which makes this ribbon over 40 years old. It's in perfect shape, perhaps because it was encased in a long narrow plastic viewing sleeve:
The plastic sleeve says "Shrinkage CONTROLLED" and "Perma-Trim". They were right, 40 years is pretty Perma!

Along with four potholders, I made a couple of table mats:
To the table runner, I added borders of a pastel Liberty of London print (also from "Prints: Inanimate"). 
I like to take a group picture of related creations, so here they are, four potholders, two table runners jammed together. If I squinch my eyes, I can imagine what it might look like if I'd made them into one quilt: 
Meh, it would have been a low-contrast quilt. (Speaking of contrast, can you find Waldo's sock?) Once photographed, I put my shoe back on, broke up the set, wrapped each in festive holographic  cellophane, and distributed them to friends for holiday presents - my daughter asked for one, too - leaving me with the good memories and a little bit more space in my stash! 

Yes, I really would love to hear about how you categorize your quilting fabrics!