Entering Quilling Competitions
Can Be A Rewarding Experience
Entering Paper Quilling into Competitions and Art Shows can be such a wonderful experience. I started quilling in October of 2001, and entered my first major project just 9 months after in July 2002 at The Calgary Stampede Western Arts and Crafts Show. It was a pair of quilled swans from a pattern in one of Malinda Johnston's books. I happily took a blue 2nd place ribbon, and was just thrilled, and could't wait to enter another piece the next year. In 2003, I made another framed piece, again from Malinda Johnston's book. It was the Carolina Wren, and again, I took second place. I soon realized after these 2 second place ribbons, that as long as I kept using non-original patterned designs, I probably wouldn't get more than 2nd place wins.
In 2004, I decided to do some designs that were all my own original pieces. What a difference that made!!! I entered 3 pieces; an 8 x 10” framed quilled peacock, a birthday card, and a friendship thank you card. My peacock took 3 awards (1st in class, 1st in section, and section winner overall medal), my birthday card got a 2nd place, and my thank you card got 2 awards (1st in class, 4th in section). I was so proud of my accomplishment in such a short time, and very pleased at how much I learned a long the way. So earlier this year, I was sent an invitation to compete in the Masters Division (the highest level of Competition), because I had won 2 section awards last year.
I was both excited, and scared, as I didn't really think I was ready to be in the Masters. I did another 3 entries that were all original pieces; A 3D life size Blue Morpho butterfly under a glass dome , in which I cut every strip to 1/16” wide, and painted the underside including all of its markings (1st place ribbon, and a medal), another Thank You card (3rd place ribbon), and a Christmas card. I was so nervous, but I was determined to do well, so was very proud to have won again.
There can be many benefits to entering, and I have learned so much through my experiences. The show I do every year has the potential for almost a million people to see my work! Estimates are between 500& 700 thousand, who go through the exhibits, out of about 1.3 million who attend the Stampede every year. That in itself is very rewarding to know that so many can be potentially exposed to see this art form! Winning the awards is an added bonus, as I can have that on the backs of my cards, and on any business cards, and printed materials. People, who are looking to buy cards, and gifts, seem to be quite impressed when they read about the awards I've won. They then realize, it isn't just a craft, but an actual Art Form, which is part of the reason, I keep competing. Also, it has really helped to stretch my imagination, and grow in an area of designing my own pieces. There may even be various shows that may have prize money involved as well, although I have not been involved in any of these, so can't say much about them. In many competitions, the judges have a set of criteria to follow. So, whether they've heard of quilling or not, they can still judge it according to what their criteria is. Please remember, this is based on my experiences in competing, and although it may be different in other places, here are some helpful tips for entering shows and competitions: Before you register for any competition, contests, or art shows, make sure you are aware of all the rules and guidelines. This is to protect you. Some may want to keep your work after the show, so you may have to decide if you want to make something, that won't be returned. This may also influence the complexity, and size of your entry. So, always check before hand, if they will be keeping entries, or returning them. When you're registering, if you're asked to give a description of your project, go into detail. Tell them how long it took you to make, the sorts of papers you used and how much ( I give them an estimated total of how many feet of paper is in the project), include various techniques, and especially tell them if it is your design or not. The more you can explain about it, the better. Plan your project, and visualize how you want the finished piece to look. If you can, design your own project to keep it original. Designing a project can take longer than the quilling, but it is well worth it.
Judges, will always look for originality first over patterns. Since I first started entering my work I have really seen a lot more entries every year, which is wonderful to see. I recognize work that is from patterns, and note that they are usually given 2nd or 3rd place awards. However, if you are new to quilling, and not comfortable with making your own original piece, don't fret, use a pattern, as it is still a good experience, and if you make a good quality piece, you may still be awarded first place, as the judges may just love how you made the piece. Be as neat as possible, no glue marks showing, and not too much of a crimp in the center of your coils, as they seem to like the small centers, that the needle tool, or hand rolling gives. Also, the type of frames, display cases, and stands may have an effect on judging. If you have a frame that has slight flaws, they may notice this, or notice if your mat is slightly off center. Ask when taking your piece in, if you can have your contact info displayed with your piece. Some will let you, and some won't, but it never hurts to ask. I know from experience, as they never use to let us in the past, but this year they did, and I didn't know, so I didn't have any contact info displayed. Whether you win or not, be very proud that you were able to have your quilling on display, as that is one of the best the best parts of the whole experience. I have had people come up to me at Christmas Craft sales, and tell me they saw my pieces displayed. Wow! What a great feeling!
I hope if anyone has an opportunity to enter a show/competition, they at least do so once. I have learned so much, and gained so much experience by doing show pieces, that is has really helped improve my quilling and show many our beautiful art form.
Reprinted from the September 2005 Custom Quilling Newsletter.