I've had the honor of judging most of the large and many smaller guild quilt shows over the last 20+ years of teaching. Today I was at the other end.......as a volunteer helper for the first of two days of judging for the Asheville Quilt Guild's Annual Quilt Show which will be held at the WNC Arborteum - Aug. 7-9, 2009.
It's always a great show and this year is no exception.....the quilts are fabulous!
Most of you have never seen the inner workings of quilt judging, so perhaps you are curious.
Each group/association handles this task differently, in part due to facility availability. Many shows held at large conference venues will have us judge the quilts as they are already hung. Others, like AQG must hang the quilts just prior to the show, which doesn't allow for the two days necessary for the judges to properly view and critique them.
Our guild uses a large, well lighted room at the Arboretum. The day before judging begins, all entered quilts are dropped off by their owners, along with the proper entry forms. Each is assigned a number and placed in its proper category. Since there are over 300 entries in this show, with amateur and professionals separated, that adds up.
As judging begins on the first of the two days, here's a view of the room.......groups of quilts have protective coverings and await the judges.
This is a long view as the two judges begin, viewing and selecting ribbon winners from each category. First the quilts are fanned to give them a quick overview.....next each one is held up by two holders as the judges decide whether to 'hold' or 'release' the quilt. The 'held' quilts are then further examined, one by one as they are critiqued....and the 'release' process continues until the 3 ribbon places are awarded. (Sometimes more if honorable mentions or a other special award is given.) Scribes note the judges comments which will be presented to the quilt's owner at the end of the show.
From all the first place ribbon winners in every category, a BEST OF SHOW quilt is selected....which bumps up the second and third place winners one position in that specific category.
The judges make thoughtful comments, both positive and constructive about the design, workmanship, fabrics etc. Though the maker must remember, it's only the opinion of the judges that day.......it can help to provide guidance for improvement.