Thursday, March 13, 2014

Exhibitions and Judging

Award won 2011

March 13, 2014--I've been having a great deal of fun working as a teller* for the judge of this year's Rehoboth Beach Museum's Annual Needlework Exhibit which runs March 15 through May 11, 2014.  Even though it's a lot of work, it is the best way to view each piece and learn directly from the judge.  Her wonderful critiques have taught me so much and below are some recommendations to be aware of when stitching which will move you in the direction of winning ribbons (not a complete list):
  • Be sure the "finishing" is appropriate to the piece and well done.  If it's framed, the frame and matting should not overwhelm the stitching, but instead compliment it.  The canvas or fabric should not be warped or wavy in the frame, but instead be tightly mounted.  If a pillow, it should be firmly stuffed and the ears (corners) should not flop (use extra stuffing in the corners).  Any embellishment (fringe, cording, fabric framing, etc.) should compliment the piece and not distract from it.
  • Maintain the thread "twist" as you stitch (e.g., when using perles, Watercolours, etc).  Once a thread loses its twist, light will reflect differently on it, giving it a flatter appearance.
  • Maintain tension as you stitch.  A judge can see stitches that become tighter or looser causing distortions, bumps, lumps, etc.
  • Use shorter lengths of thread to lessen wear and tear on the fibers.  Threads that are too long will show fraying, fuzzing, lose their twist, etc.
  • When doing stitches where one thread overlays another (e.g., cross stitches), they need to all cross in the same direction.
  • Work stitches in a consistent direction on your fabric or canvas.  Moving diagonally from top to bottom of the canvas then switching from bottom to top in the middle of a section,  or stitching vertically on some stitches, then horizontally on others, will cause the canvas to show through, distort the stitching, change your tension, etc.
  • When stitching with multiple strands in the needle or with ribbon-like threads or metallics, be sure to use a laying tool so the stitch lies flat over the canvas, avoiding surface twisting of the stitch.  Try using the "railroad" method when stitching with two strands.
  • Be careful when pulling the thread tail through stitches on the back of the canvas by not pulling too tightly which can distort the last stitch, or cause a ridge to show on the front.
  • Be sure all tails are properly tucked away in the back so they will not show through the fabric or canvas.
  • Try to not carry thread on the back of unstitched areas of the fabric or canvas to eliminate "show through".
  • Beads should be double stitched, lassoed, etc. so they don't "flop", become loose, etc.
  • Watch out for stray thread bits, lint, animal hair, etc. under the glass when your piece is framed.  Often the framer won't see these things, but a judge will.
  • Always check your work for missed or incomplete stitches--use a magnifying glass if you have to.  The judge certainly will.
I'm reminded that we all sometimes have the same question when viewing pieces in an exhibit--the mystery of why some win ribbons while others do not.   Often enough those that don't get ribbons are the ones we most enjoy, so please don't hesitate to exhibit your work, for they are a joy to the rest of us to see.

PS.  The items I placed in this year's exhibit are listed in the above tab called "Exhibited Pieces".

*A teller is someone who is at the service of the judge--bringing pieces to them for analysis, taking notes, clearing the judge's work area, etc.


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