Friday, January 13, 2017

Putting Yourself Out There

Sharing our work really has it's ups and downs.  When we put ourselves out there it leaves us vulnerable to judgment.

Sometimes that judgment leads to compliments and recognition, but just as often it leads to rejection and criticism.

I have experienced both recently.  In December all three of my QuiltCon entries were rejected.  I wasn't shocked.  I took it in stride.  I don't really know that community and I'm certainly not alone.
On Monday I notified that my Alice Payne quilt was rejected by the AQS Lancaster show.  This was tougher and I was a bit heartbroken.  I wanted to share this quilt with the region where the original was created; Pennsylvania.
I'm hoping this means that hand quilting is making a comeback.  The show will display over 400 quilts but only about a dozen will be hand quilted.

On the upside I had a wonderful surprise last year at the Vermont Quilt Show and was awarded Best Hand Quilting for my Jubilee Quilt.  It was a thrill of my quilting career and I couldn't have been more surprised.

Within this past week I heard from two international blog friends that QuiltMania published a photo of this quilt in the latest edition. What a complete and unexpected surprise!
So I've had a good think about how I feel about rejection and recognition.  

Rejection is Painful
Recognition is Nice

Having said that, I feel strongly that putting our work out there is what really matters.  If I hadn't, I wouldn't have made so many special connections and friends through blogging, lecturing, teaching and also through sharing my work in quilt shows.

I have real problems with how quilt shows are judged and by whom (which I may share one day),  but I am always glad to share my work in the hopes that it might inspire someone.   Maybe sharing my recent rejections will make someone out there feel better about putting themselves out there.

So what is this unusual post all about?  To encourage everyone to share their work on blogs, at guilds, and to enter quilt shows.  You never know what effect you'll have on another quilter.  The Vermont Quilt Festival is not a juried show - it has a time deadline and you are not competing against the other quilts, you are judged on your own work.

Put yourself out there.  You will meet with rejection, but you may also be surprised now and then.

I'm adding a couple of polls to see how you feel.

Let me know what you think.

58 comments:

  1. I'm sorry to hear about the rejections; whatever your hopes or expectations for acceptance, it's still a disappointment. On the other hand, I'm always inspired by your quilts and I'm glad I don't have to go to a show to see them!

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  2. Hi Barb, rejection can be a hard pill to swallow especially when you put your heart and soul into a quilt and yes, judging choices can leave a lot to be desired. And a lot of what the? I'm sorry to hear that you received these rejections, I think your quilts are beautiful.
    Ps. I don't think your survey is working properly, I entered yes and it showed up as no.
    Kim

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  3. Oh Barb, where do I start??? I don't think my soapbox is sturdy enough to get into this in the comment section. This is so timely! I will be posting my feelings about the quilt show/judging/marketing issues on my Blog too. My "hand quilted" quilt was rejected for Lancaster too. I truly believe that the larger shows are accepting quilts based on what is marketable. I like to enter my traditional hand work to keep it alive. I particularly like to enter the potholder quilts as it is a method I would like to share with the quilting community. I am anxious to see how many hand quilted quilts will be there. On a good note, my friend's machine quilted log cabin did make it in so I am keeping my fingers crossed for a first time AQS ribbon for her! Thanks for sharing this. And I am totally bummed that Alice will not be there. I WILL see her in VT!

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  4. I'm shocked that Alice was not accepted in the show. It is truly their loss. How wonderful to have your Jubilee quilt was in Quiltmania magazine. You are a STAR in all our books. Hugs

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  5. I agree that there are trends in what you see at the bigger quilt shows. Many years ago, traditional hand quilted pieces were the norm. Baltimore Album quilts often won major awards. Now, not so much. Would have liked to for your Alice quilt to have been accepted. I think it is a very good quilt. Good post today, Barb.

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  6. What an interesting post Barb! Sorry about your rejections -- their loss! I really don't know how I feel about quilt shows -- I love seeing all the quilts, but so often I disagree with the way the awards go -- I would have picked different winners. It's all just one person's opinion -- and what makes that opinion any more valuable than yours or mine. I sometimes wish they'd just have quilt shows for sharing with no awards. That makes me sound like the mom that thinks everyone should get a participation trophy and I am definitely NOT THAT mom -- I'm all for competition. But competition is easier when there's a clear set of rules (like your team physically made it to home plate more times than the other team) rather than subjective "I like that quilt better than the other one."

    I think this is one reason why I love blogs and instagram. Everyone and anyone can share their quilts and projects. If someone doesn't like my quilt they can move on to the next one. No big deal. As long as I love my quilt, THAT is what's important. I can tell from your enthusiasm that you love what you do too -- so does it really matter that QuiltCon decided not to display your quilts? YOU display them and we LOVE it!!! (I hope that made sense -- as Wendy said this is a giant soapbox subject LOL!!!)

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  7. I've been to only one quilt show so far, (will seek more in 2017) and I brought my friend who is a beginner quilter. She has learned a lot by examining those quilts. They don't need to be all master pieces in order to teach a lesson, or to inspire someone. Whom ever decided to refuse Alice Payne removed the joy from their visitors to see a GREAT quilt and the chance to be inspired. It's their lost.
    I'm not convinced the polls work properly. I voted "not yet" in "Enter Quilt Show" and it still shows 0%. Just thought I should let you know.
    Congratulations on being publish in Quiltmania. So happy for you. ;^)

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  8. I am with you all the way. And I love your work!

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  9. Not only are quilts a great deal of work, but entering shows requires a good bit of paperwork along with meeting requirements such as a hanging sleeve. And there is a level of trust when you send off your quilts to a show that they'll be handled properly and kept safe. But with all that said, I do think there is great value in exhibiting quilts. But we do make ourselves vulnerable doing so! You had a mix of emotions with your work. And the best hand quilting award is truly satisfying and a remarkable achievement!

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  10. I'm shocked at the Alice Payne quilt rejection, especially from that show. Their (and all their visitors') loss. I've read so much on the QuiltCon situation over the last year, I'm not surprised there. But I'm totally with you about putting your work out there and even more, applaud you for sharing your experiences, Barb. I think it will encourage others to take a chance and not be so afraid of rejection.
    And yay, Quiltmania!

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  11. Hello Barb !
    I'm sorry for your wonderful quilt Alice Payne...I knew its history and yours with Mary, and I'm sad for you.... I don't know enough about the American rules to enter in a quilt show so I can't help you. But today I'm here to encourage you because your quilts are beautiful, inspired us a lot, and in the quilt world you're a rock star ! So come on my friend, be proud of your work ! Quiltmania made no mistake about your Jubilee quilt !
    Xoxo

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  12. Rejection is tough. But sometimes the comments on quilts are even worse. I entered 3 quilts in a show (non-juried) and each were judged with written comments. The comments were harsh and I think, nasty- like sub-par piecing, quilting distorts fabric, etc. I have not entered any other quilt shows except our wonderful guild one since then. I just give mine away and make more.

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  13. Having never been to a QuiltCon show, I had to look it up. Turns out, it's all about modern quilts! No wonder I've never thought to go! I tend to go to shows that I know will have an antique quilt room or special showing of antique quilts....like the Vermont Quilt Festival does. I spend most of my time in that room, oohing and aahing over the wonderful antique quilts, marveling at the hand quilting, and the use of wonderful fabrics. Shows that focus on modern quilts, or machine quilted quilts (like MQX) have there place, and I'm glad there are those shows out there for the folks who like that.....but traditional quilting needs to have a venue, as well! Maybe one day it will only be through local guilds and blogs that we'll see the traditional quilts, but who knows! I'm just grateful that we keep making traditional quilts, and so happy that we are sharing them as much as we can! Your Alice is beautiful....and congrats on Quiltmania! You rock!

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  14. Excellent post and what a timely topic. We've always told our kids that you can't win/show/participate if you don't enter/give it a try - so you are 100% right that we do need to make the effort to share our work. That is why I started blogging - to focus on the positives and to share my adventures in the world of quilt making. I have learned SO much from others (including you and several of the commenters here) and I am thrilled when someone who reads my blog shares that something I've done has helped them.

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  15. Having been to IQF in Houston I heard scuttle about the judging process. I dislike that immensely, but it's sort of the way of life these days. I'm sure you'll get your wonderful Alice Payne quilt in yet another show (Houston, maybe?)where it can get even more exposure. I love all your quilts!

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  16. Oh, Barb. I am flabbergasted that Alice Payne will not be at Lancaster this year. I was so looking forward to seeing it hanging in the show. I fear that quilt shows are becoming more homogenous with less attention paid to hand quilting and folkart and more attention paid to lavish machine quilting. I think there is room for both. The folks at Quiltmania clearly know a fabulous quilt when they see one--Jubilee certainly deserves to be seen and admired. I suspect our discussions about judging will go on as long as quilters are entering shows, and I agree with you that entering shows is valuable both for the entrant and for the visitors to a show. Thanks for being such an inspiration and for addressing this issue. You are a wonder.

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  17. How exciting to have your quilt in Quiltmania!!! So exciting :0) I can't wait to find a copy to buy. It's disappointing how little attention handquilting gets these days. I'm sorry your Alice Payne quilt wasn't accepted - I know very little about juried shows but I can't imagine why they would turn down such a gorgeous reproduction quilt. I am continually inspired by you - I'm so glad you put your quiilts and yourself out there.

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  18. What a wonderful surprise finding your quilt on the pages of Quiltmania!! : ) Alice Payne screams PA DUTCH to me ...love the colors and style in that and so many PA style quilts. It would be nice if when rejected the entrants were told why but I know nada about entering shows. Our local guild has a show every two years but there is no formal judging..there are viewers' choice awards.

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  19. I'm thrilled that your quilt was featured in Quiltmania--I just a stunning quilt! Keep up the beautiful work you do!

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  20. Congratulations on being featured in Quiltmania (a favorite magazine). That is such an honor. I have a few thoughts on quilt shows. I quilt because I love to work with fabric and create. I feel I should judge my work and if I am happy with the outcome then all is right with the world. I love to share my work with friends and on my blog but I don't need strangers judging what I do. I have heard many people say that the judging process can be mean. As one puts a lot of oneself into the quilt, negative comments can be hurtful. I am not interested in opening myself up to that sort of thing. This is just my view on shows and I am so glad there are braver people out there otherwise we would not be attending all the lovely shows out there. I love reading your blog and love your quilts. You are an inspiration to many.

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  21. I'm not surprised about the QuiltCon rejections at all. They are creating a more narrow view of what they will accept every year. The other though, is a huge surprise. Your Alice quilt seems like it would be perfect for a Lancaster show! Such an well done {gorgeous} quilt and the viewers would be sure to connect to it! I don't have the chance to go to the larger quilt shows, but I really enjoy seeing other peoples work close up and personal so I go to the smaller ones every chance I get. This weekend I'm taking the opportunity to see some of Gwen Marstons quilts at a museum near where we will be traveling. How could I not take advantage of that kind of inspiration!

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  22. I agree Barb. If we aren't willing to share our work, the quilt world won't be much of a community anymore. Seems like there has been an evolution in what the judges consider. I am frequently puzzled by which quilts win the ribbons at shows and which ones don't. Love your Alice Payne quilt! The colors are strikingly beautiful and I have no doubt your workmanship is as careful as in all your other quilts. Looking forward to seeing it in person sometime.

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  23. Just like entering a pageant.....one has to be ready for subjectivity. Also, this old adage comes to mind....If you take a chance, sometimes good things happen, sometimes bad things happen, but, if you don't take a chance, nothing happens. I admire your willingness to share your thoughts here in a public platform, and I always think you produce winning works!

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  24. Barb, would it sweeten the pill to think of it as "not being chosen" rather than "being rejected"? Surely the judges receive many more entries than they have space to exhibit. It wasn't until I'd been a member of my quilt guild for six or seven years until I had the courage to enter my quilts in our biennial show. Why did I wait so long? Dunno, but I've had entries ever since. This past year I entered the Wisconsin Quilt Expo and to my delight my quilt was chosen. I've just completed entries for three quilts for the Quilts Inc. Chicago show. (Too soon to know if any will be chosen.) I realize that the quilt show people are not looking for us and our quilts. We have to go to them.

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  25. Oh could I go on and on....... but I'll just share one story. It took a year to finally get a rejection from a quilting European magazine. Funny, this was the quilt the museum used in their promo flyer to announce my (small) exhibit that is currently running and also the one that most everyone picked as their favorite on opening day! Go figure. Keep quilting, keep sharing and keep the hand work going!

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  26. Ugh! Your Alice Payne quilt is gorgeous! What are they thinking? I feel like in the past few years AQS is going off the rails. More vendors etc than quilts. I feel like the show in Lancaster was not even worth going to last year.
    If anyone in PA wants to see Alice Payne in person, Barb is coming to our guild in April 2017. Calico Cutters Quilt guild in West Chester PA, google it and you will find our site.

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  27. I am as astonished/disappointed as the other comments but so glad you share on the blog. You have been a great source of inspiration for me in hand quilting and I thank you for that! I'm a huge fan of the hand stitched process - whether EPP, applique or quilting - but not keen on the whole judging thing so I avoid it. Opinions and agendas are so variable and rarely transparent. Thank goodness no one judged the antique quilts that are our main source of inspiration - would they have been accepted anywhere?! Love your work - just keep going!

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  28. I always go back to what Gwen Marston says about her work ~ that she doesn't quilt for competition, as if her work would somehow be found wanting. Maybe she just chooses not to play the game. The industry seems to reward an unrealistic level of perfection at the expense of exuberance, whimsy, soul. Your quilts are amazing, Barb! Continue doing what brings you joy.

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    1. I agree with the "unrealistic expectation of perfection" comment! Quilts are handmade things, personal to most of us, and perfection should not be the end-all goal. Yes, some skill needs to be displayed but what if the juried comment is that your points were cut off but they were supposed to be that way? Or that your seams didn't match exactly but you are okay with being 1/8th of an inch off? The problem is that we are really asking "Is my quilt worthy as a piece of art?" and that's something very personal and impossible to judge, so it comes back to even quilting, perfect points, matching seams, etc. So a rejection feels like someone didn't think our quilt was worthy, even if thousands on the internet have oohed and ahhed, pinned and bookmarked it. In the end, you can't let one person's hang-ups over an insignificant detail (seriously, at shows do you look for imperfections or do you just enjoy the composition?) define our artwork. We should not give so much weight to one person!

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  29. What a wonderful post- thank you for blogging and for sharing your quilts. They certainly have been an inspiration to me! I also feel that I have met a new friend! :) So fun that your quilt is in Quiltmania! Kudos!

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  30. Hey, Barb, I congratulate you on getting your quilts out there, and on being in Quiltmania! WhooHoo!! Very cool!
    I am one of those quilters that enters nothing. Quilting is my creative therapy to alleviate the stress of life. Entering shows would eliminate its therapeutic value.
    Have done some shows for local guilds--that is as "out there" as my quilts will probably ever get. : )

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  31. I am very surprised Alice Payne did not get accepted at Lancaster. It is a perfect venue for it. Ah, well, it's loss...but also the attendees. I've taken to showing quilts at a local art gallery which is receptive to fiber arts in addition to normal painting & photography. I was the featured artist there for two months this fall and just got some ink in local paper for current exhibit. I just finished my broken dish from the swap yesterday to meet the deadline this week for a juried fine arts exhibit there. I will be curious if it gets accepted. One of my quilts made it last year. I like having quilts hang there & having quilts viewed as art. It is fun to have people come up to me on the street & say they saw my work. I will post pic of broken dish on FB later today.

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  32. Barb - enjoy the 'high' of the week - CONGRATS on being published in Quiltmania!!! I'm personally amazed that quilts can be selected for exhibit from just three pictures. I'm guessing that can be part of the issue around 'what were they thinking?' Love your blog and outstanding art!

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  33. As far as I'm concerned your quilts are ALL WINNERS! You've inspired so many of us with your creativity :) I went through the entering/rejection/acceptance ups and downs for years. Now I get to share my quilts through my blog which gives me great satisfaction. But surprises await when most unexpected. Love the fact that your Jubilee quilt is featured in Quiltmania. Congrats, Barb!

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  34. I am very, very surprised your Alice Payne was not accepted. It is beautifully made, hand quilted and has the history factor too. I love the simplicity of the holly quilt, that one is inspiring because I look at it and think "I could do that". Thank you for sharing your ups and downs. It does encourage one to try.

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    1. thanks Janet for your comment - you are a non-reply so I hope you see that I really appreciated your kindness.

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  35. Your quilts are beautiful and you are very brave to enter them . They are winners in every aspect to me. Congratulations Barb!

    Mary

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  36. Yes! It takes a lot of courage to enter a juried show. Good for you! I've never done it, but I do put my quilts in my local guild's non-juried show. My quilts would never pass a judge's criteria. They're not made perfectly and they don't fit the modern criteria. I don't care. I like my quilts just fine.

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  37. How wonderful to have your Jubilee quilt in the Quiltmania magazine. It is a far better venue than Lancaster. Congratulations! Kelly's guild meeting is going to overflowing with quilters to get a good look at "Alice".

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  38. Thanks for sharing your experiences. You have given us a great deal to think about.

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  39. I'm so sorry your quilts were rejected, particularly Alice Payne - it's so beautiful.

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  40. Your quilts are beautiful Barb!
    Awesome your Jubilee quilt is in Quiltmania.
    I try to enter at least 1 quilt into a show each year.
    But it's a large non-juries event.


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  41. I would love to read your comments about how shows are judged. Your Alice Payne quilt is simply gorgeous. I try and enter a quilt in our show every year, but something that bothers me is the fact that recently, ( in our biannual symposiums ) unless a quilt is an original it more likely than not, wont be accepted. I wrote and mentioned my thoughts, as without people like me who sew other peoples patterns, the designers would not have a business. It didn't do me any good!
    Congrats for getting your quilt in Quiltmania.

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  42. Well, I'm certainly glad that you have put your work it there! You know you are one of my favorites, and certainly many are in agreement. ThNks for your candid post.

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  43. Just keep doing what you are doing. Some will like it some will not but you are certainly an inspiration to most.

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  44. What a loss to visitors not to see Alice Payne ! Error in their judgement if you ask me. Congrats on the Quiltmania photo, I just received mine yesterday. Wonderful recognition for you. I have issues with how shows are judged. After winning several ribbons for my handstitched pieces at a show here in FL, the following year I entered the same kind of piece (French boutis) and the judge wrote in her comments that it was "excellent machine stitching". Boutis are completely , 100% handstitched and stuffed, I was taken aback at the ignorance of this judge. All matters of taste and preference aside, the least we can expect from a judge is that they can distinguish between hand and machine work. I have not entered anything since. I agree that the trend is towards elaborate machine work, and many of them are wonderful too, but I feel strongly there is still a place for handwork. Keep doing what you are doing Barb, your work and cheerful attitude is an inpiration !

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  45. Take heart, Barb, your Alice Payne quilt is lovely!! Hand quilting is not in fashion right now, and entries are scarce in the Lancaster show every year. It's very discouraging to see extreme machine quilting, with every inch covered, chosen as best all the time when it's only one style of quilting. Quiltmania values hand quilting highly, unlike many American magazines. So, let your own style shine in each of your quilts. Be yourself!

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  46. Fabulous post Barb! Thank you for being so vulnerable, brave and resilient enough to never give up!
    Feedback from a show or a juror or a judge is just a personal opinion and/or a marketing decision.
    You inspire us all with your fabulous work and I hope to see your quilts in person some day :)

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  47. Oh Barb, I so sorry to hear about your AP quilt. It's really mind boggling as to why it was rejected. It's amazing for many different techniques. I love your modern Christmas quilt too. I had my 2 Quilt Con quilts rejected, but then I saw the quilts that had been rejected and like them more than the accepted ones. lol.
    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with this blog post. What you have written is really valuable for anyone who puts their work out there.

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  48. Different people have different tastes, and it is painful when their tastes don't match yours, especially when you open yourself up to rejection. All of your quilts are beautiful. Personally, I am too sensitive to open myself up to that type of rejection, and too cheap to be willing to pay for shipping and a fee for that possibility. If they want to display my work, they should be paying me, not the other way around.

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  49. I can feel your pain about quilt judging and putting yourself out there. I am STILL trying to figure all that out. I hate that it is happening to you...I hate that it has happened to me. I hate that it happens to anyone. My machine-quilting is rubbish, so I usually hand quilt the projects that are special to me. I feel like hand quilting is taking a huge back seat to machine quilting. I mean, really...how do you compare the two...they are like apples and oranges. They NEED to be in separate categories for sure. And what about making something original of your own design compared to making something using someone else's pattern? I have entered the whole spectrum into shows...things I made from someone else's pattern, things I have made from someone else's pattern where I made minor to major changes, and things of my own design. It is a crap shoot and always comes down to the variable judges' opinion. My completely original Baltimore music quilt was entered into 3 AQS shows...Grand Rapids, Chattanooga, and Paducah. Nothing from the judges on either of them, but I won viewer's choice at both Grand Rapids and Chattanooga! I was blown away! Those ribbons from my peers mean so much to me! I know I will never please the judges, LOL! My Sue Garman "All Around the Town" quilt won a ribbon at Lancaster AQS, and that was someone else's pattern, with changes. WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY WANT!?! My take home lesson - quilt to please MYSELF, LOL! I am so inspired by your quilts...your process, all the thought that goes into your decisions on design, fabrics, especially your fun backing fabrics. Quilt to please yourself and you will always be happy...

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  50. I am very sorry to hear that you Alice Payne quilt was not accepted in the Lancaster show. Do they give a reason when they do that? I would think your quilt would be perfect for a show in Pennsylvania. But, then I am not familiar with the "big" quilt shows, and will probably never attend any of them. I did get up the courage to enter some quilts in our local fair this last summer and got some blue ribbons. I mostly entered s because there has been a real drop in entries the last few years and I want to support our guild. So awesome that your Jubilee quilt is in Quiltmania! Basically for me it comes down to the fact that I love to quilt!

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  51. I love your work!!!!! Your message is so important! Life is filled with rejection and recognition. Resilience is key and particularly necessary in our current environment. I wish you well and look forward to your 2017 swap!

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  52. I hope you enter Alice Payne in PNQE, held in Oaks, PA.

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  53. I'm always surprised when I win a ribbon - but my DH says, "I know you don't expect to, but you're sure easier to live with if you do!!! That's probably true of alot of us!! So we keep trying! doni @ Oregon coast

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Thank you for asking questions and making comments - I love to hear from you.