Friday, October 30, 2009

And that’s the way it goes.

So. Yesterday I won Best of Show. This morning I woke up to find out that ArtQuilt Elements 2010 had rejected me. Next to my name on the electronic entry form were three big red Xs.

And that’s the way it goes. You win some and you lose some.

I’m mentioning this not to publicly humiliate myself (I could have just kept quiet and not told anyone that I had entered, right?), but to point out something very important. Something I remind my kids of, and myself of, very often. You don’t always win. You don’t always get in. And that’s okay.

I know people who never enter their work in quilt shows. Some of them have confided to me that they are fearful of what the judges might say. Or that attendees at the quilt show will say nasty things (and I have heard some very rude people say amazing things at quilt shows!). I always tell them this story:

When I was a fairly new quilter, and showed my quilts to my mother, a former home economics teacher, she always had lots of nice things to say. In fact, she’s my biggest fan. But she always pointed out that my bindings were, well, crappy. She didn’t say it like that, she was very polite, and her criticism was always constructive.

But of course, since she was my mother, I ignored her.

The first quilt show I entered, I noticed on the judge’s forms that I had mostly plus marks, but my bindings got bad grades. I started thinking that I might have won a ribbon, or a better ribbon, if I had paid attention to what my mother said. (Okay, Mom, here’s where you get to say “I told you so!”) I went home, and that very day, I read books on how to properly bind a quilt. I practiced. I even (gasp!) asked my mother’s advice. I got better. And the next time I entered shows, I got good marks on my bindings.

That’s one reason for entering quilt shows. I enter my small local guild’s show, I enter the Charlotte guild’s show, I enter some big national shows, and I am starting to feel brave enough to enter some high-end art quilt shows, like Elements. With every judge’s form, I am learning what I need to improve. Or at least what that one particular judge on one particular day thinks I need to improve. (And it’s my prerogative to disagree, of course.)

The other reason I enter is that it brings me joy to be part of the event – the fellowship and camaraderie, the laughs, the rejoicing in others’ accomplishments, and our own.

But here’s the biggest reason I enter: Trying counts. Persistance counts. Keep on truckin’.

Life. You must be present to win.

So I leave you today with a few photos of friends with their winning quilts, taken at the setup last night. More tomorrow.

Greta McCrea pins a blue ribbon on her version of my quilt, “Bohemian Bouquet,” called “Susan’s Mystery,” since she did it one block at a time, finished quilt unknown. Greta is a dear friend from my hometown of Pittsburgh. I’ve known her and her family since I was 16, and now we are in the same quilt group! She is a spectacular hand appliquér, and I just love her color choices in this quilt, so different from my version.

DeLane Rosenau started this quilt, “Cold Feet,” in one of our Pandoras meetings more than a year ago. She struggled mightily with it, but persevered and created this amazing work of art. She was especially tickled that she beat me out of the blue ribbon. (“Lepidoptera” took second place in this category, Art/Pictoral.) Hooray for her!