Monday, September 12, 2016
Outsourcing the quilting 3 -- show time!
I've been commenting on the recent long discussion on the SAQA email list regarding the outsourcing of tasks such as quilting to other people. Last week I wrote about whether this counts as collaboration (my thought was generally no) and whether and how you should give credit to some or all of the people who help you. But some readers may well have read that post and thought SO WHAT?
A few people who commented on this blog and on the SAQA list talked about "giving credit" as a factor of what you write on the label of the quilt. Since I don't put labels on my quilts, that's not a question I engage on. What I mainly think about is entering shows, and that's where it can get complicated.
The first decision is how you fill in the first box on the entry form -- do you put your own name alone, or put two names? Some shows are pickier than others about how to deal with more than one maker. As I mentioned last week, my last Quilt National piece was quilted by somebody else, and I put my own name as the artist and wrote "machine quilted by M J Kinman" in the materials and techniques field.
But some shows have stricter rules. In SAQA shows: "Collaborative work is allowed as long as all individuals (including a long arm quilter) are current SAQA members. The collaborative piece is entered as a separate work under the names of all collaborating artists (a field is included on the entry form)." So if your quilter isn't a member, you either induce her to join or the quilt can't be entered.
Somebody wrote on the SAQA list: "IQF (the Houston show) has a policy of not accepting quilts with work for hire. So if a long arm quilter is paid for their work it cannot be entered into the World of Beauty show. The quilt must be a "collaboration" between the designer and quilter." That has potential problems, too -- such as how you find a quilter who is willing to work for nothing, on the off chance that the work may win a prize. I have trouble understanding what this rule is supposed to accomplish. Seems to me it either encourages exploitation of quilters, or encourages lying. And of course leads to problems if there is a prize, and how it will be split.
Seems to me that we in the art/quilt world retain a lot of the habits of the traditional quilt world, such as our love for shows and prizes. And categories!! Boy, do we love our categories!!
One comment on the list: "Do most shows have separate categories for quilts quilted on domestic machines as compared to long arm? If they don't I definitely think they should have because there is a vast difference in what one can do on a long arm machine compared to a small machine."
Somebody else reported that her local quilt show has different awards for the person who makes the quilt top and the person who quilts it, and the awards are further subdivided by the kind of machine used to do the quilting, such as "Machine Quilting -- Longarm/Computer Assisted."
I think many shows have way, way too many categories, whether the slice-and-dice refers to subject matter -- different boxes for people, pets, nature, architecture, and heaven knows what else -- or to size or to method of execution. Maybe there's a difference in what you can do on a long arm machine compared to a small machine, but why should they be judged separately? Same with hand-quilting compared to machine-quilting.
And there's a long slippery slope ahead of making those distinctions. Should we next have different categories for sit-down and stand-up longarm machines? For machines with a 16-inch harp and those with a 13-inch harp? For machines with a stitch regulator and those simply guided by hand? For quilting with a walking foot and quilting with a darning foot? For hand-quilting in a hoop and in a frame and just pooled in your lap? For cutting with a scissors and cutting with a rotary cutter? For cutting with a rotary cutter with and without a ruler? For quilters who wear bifocals and those who wear contact lenses? For quilters who have a big studio and those who work on the kitchen table? Yes, there's a difference in what you can do with all these binaries, but so what?
Fortunately the shows that I'm most interested in entering don't do this kind of silliness. All the quilts go in the same basket and are judged against one another, no matter how they were made and by whom. And that's where I circle back to after all the discussion about whether you should have somebody else help you with your quilts.
Make a quilt. Get help if you need it. Pay the person who helps you a decent wage. Give credit if it's a contribution that made a visible difference. It's not that hard.