Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Power of Words

Good Saturday morning! I was looking at this little quilt I designed and thought, it's time to say something that I've wanted to say for years. When I first started quilting, I had just gone through a divorce from a very verbally abusive guy (with 2 Doctorates in Psychology no less...but that's another story). I did some designs of my very own (this was in the mid-90's) and was so excited about having a place to express myself....the quilt world! All women, all pretty nice to me! It meant the world.
I designed 4 blocks-one for each season. I thought that this design could be taken in rings, used for quilting or applique using whatever rings one wanted. I designed one for each season. I'm showing you the spring quilt here. I have rings for summer with Uncle Sams, watermelon slices, etc. As you can see, I wasn't a great quilter but I worked really hard to get it square and to quilt around the applique.

Well, a nationally known quilt judge was here at our local quilt show and I was so excited to see what she would say. I thought my designs were innovative and fresh. When I received her written critique, I was devastated. She said (and I quote because I remember it so well), "This is a really ugly idea. No quilter would like this design. The quilting is extremely amateurish (that part I agree with). I suggest this quilter stick with 9-patches and not worry about designing".

The effect of that judge's words caused me to quit quilting for almost 10 years. I was so embarrassed. I have a lot of ideas for quilt patterns but I have never shown them to anyone since. Today I've recovered a lot of my ego and I believe I have a lot more of a sense of who I am as a person and as an artist but I only work in private.

I just wanted to say to anyone who is giving advice or criticism to a new quilter to please be kind. Even if you are just leaving a comment on a blog. You never know what that person has been dealing with in their private life. You never know the power your words might have to encourage and support or to humiliate and squelch. In my "real job" I'm working with a young woman who is much like that quilt show judge. I'm glad I've grown enough to be able to understand that some people are inconsiderate and not take it personally. Sorry this is so long. I just want to say to the quilt experts and the quilting bloggers out there...please be kind. And to the new quilters...please don't let anyone take away your creative joy. For every person like this judge, there are 200 (at least) kind, generous people who will encourage your creative growth. Have a great Saturday everyone! Thanks for letting me share. Cheery wave from Bev

25 comments:

StitchinByTheLake said...

That just makes me spittin' mad when someone does that! How dare anyone think they are the be all/end all of what is good design? Honey, I love your blocks. But more than that I love your attitude. You keep on designing and keep on stitching. If you only work in private you might take away the possibility of embarrassment but you also take away the joy of sharing with others - and those others might benefit so much by what you do. blessings, marlene

Angie said...

Thank you for sharing this. I've been playing at quilting for a lot of years, and would never even think of entering something in a show for this very reason. My self-esteem has never been my strong point :/ so I play with my fabrics and read quilt blogs avidly and drool over everyone's goodies and fall in love with blogs like yours. :D I personally live your seasonal wallhaning A LOT.

Deborah said...

It horrifies me that you went through this! We can never know what motivates such criticism! But it's pure and simple bullying. I think you are a shining star! It comes through in your blog. Quilt away and be proud!!

Maxine said...

I was going to say something about the quilt judge, and then I remembered what my grandmother always said, "If you can't say anything nice, then say nothing at all." Love your design and would like to see all four seasons.

marie said...

I just finished helping at our county fair in the Textile department, so I got to read the judges comments. Some were too judgemental expresssing the judges personal taste, which shouldn't be a consideration. They are suppose to be judging your "work" not your taste in style or color.

LesQuilts said...

Hi! I always feel sooo badly when I hear stories like yours....
I am so sorry this happened to you.
On the bright side, abuse, bullying, whatever it's name, it is about self-esteem, HIS, not yours. I was bullyed by an administrator of a hospital, for 2.5 yrs, and I was the 12th person she did it to.
Bulleying is about they have such a low self-esteem, they will do or say what ever they can, so it make them feel there is something even worse about you, so they can think, say and hear words to make themselves feel better, so they can think, Boy, at least I don't do ....
It took him 2 doctorates to try to feel better about himself vs you, and it still didn't work!
Look how far ahead you are of him!
Here's a Hug, and give one to yourself!
Take care, Leslie

Tina said...

Oh my gosh!! What a nasty lady! Sounds like her life was miserable and she decided to pass on the negativity - we call someone like that a royal B----!! I think your design is wonderful and I wish I had the talent and creativity to design and make something like this! I get my inspiration from folks like you that have the ability to design like this! Wonderful, wonderful job and I hope you keep on designing and sharing with the rest of us that are design challenged!!!

Tina said...

P.S. and I TOTALLY agree with Angie's comment. I think her and I could be twins!

ranette said...

I think your wall hanging is beautiful and I for one would like to know where that judge is now. Pretty sure she was jealous of your obvious talent!

Cozy Little House said...

How terribly unfortunate that, with those words, she took away your joy for quilting and designing for years. Shame on her! I hope bad karma followed that little critique all the way home with her. She was mean-spirited. And the sad thing is, she'd probably just had a fight with a loved one and you were the one she took it out on!
Brenda

Quilt Hollow said...

Ouch! We've sure come a long way in quilting and whatever goes these days! Just because it didn't float her boat! Wow! Disregard that rude comment and make what makes you happy! One reason I do not enter my quilts in shows...I'm happy and could care less what those quilt police have to say.

Frances said...

I just found your blog and my first thought was "how pretty" when I saw the design. Then I read...and how awful that someone made those comments about your project. I am glad that you continued creating and are sharing your beauties with us.

Lisa Cox said...

Just like Frances, I just found your blog. Sweet P Quilting and Creations sent me over.
I love the design. I thought it was great and was wondering where you found the pattern until I read your post. NEVER let anyone put you off of doing something you love, no matter what they say or do.
I too think you should show us the rest of the seasons.

Janet said...

Well I'm not a quilt judge but I think your block is amazing. Colourful, ingenious and innovative. Not to mention very pretty.

Heather said...

Shame on that quilt judge. You clearly have a great deal of creative talent and I for one am a quilter who loves your designs. In fact I only popped over to visit your blog because the photo of your little quilt really caught my eye. Perhaps your design were just ahead of their time!

Sandie @ crazy'boutquilts said...

Yikes~ she must've been having one bad day~ or maybe she felt threatened by your creativity. Either way that was not a critique, it was one bitter person being nasty. I would love to see all four seasons too~ this one is just as cute as can be!

MAD14kt said...

"Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap". People don't realize that their conduct will come back to either BLESS them or BITE them. I am thanking God that you continued in what you loved and didn't allow their behavior to bring you to their level. When people think they can call you everything but a child of God, they will find out that they will become your footstool.
Thanks for sharing!!! I pray you God's speed!!!

***"NEVER look down on a man/woman boy/girl unless you are helping them up"

Sandy said...

One of the truest quotes I know is the one that says "be kind, we're all carrying some baggage" (or someting to that effect) I began quilting when my mom downsized - and I was thrilled to get her goodies!! I liked your design --

Sandy said...

Sorry, this is my second post today -- i just read your "Apology to the UPS man" ! That is too funny -- and I sure can relate to the "crazy old lady" theory..

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

Oh my! I understand that a quilt judge is supposed to "judge" quilts, but I do not think they need to be unkind. This is why I would never put a quilt in quilt show. Too many times it seems to be the judges personal preference.

Mary said...

I came over from Sweet P's Blog. I am glad no one ever told me that about my quilts. I don't blame you for quitting. Glad you came back and feeling stronger. I try to think like "Thumper" 'If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all'.

Shasta said...

Wow, that is a beautiful quilt. What an incredibly rude thing to say. She must have been having a bad day, but she definitely should not have been a judge. She definitely doesn't represent me or have any right to talk about quilters in general.

Anonymous said...

I love your dresden plate quilt and your blog. I read your post regarding the quilt judge and this is one reason why I will not enter any quilt shows. I know my quilts are not perfect by any means but the judges do not need to be so harsh, they should remember when they first stared out and were not judges. I have read various critics by judges and none of them have been kind. I do the best I can and the people who I give my quilts to like them so that is all that counts. Happy Quilting, P.S. I LOVE the fabric in the August giveaway and hope to be the lucky one as many others do. Judy judyquiltz@comcast.net

Lynn said...

The weight of our words is huge! I'm so glad you stuck with quilting. Just think what you could have done in the "lost" ten years. I agree with Deborah, it was simple bullying. The judge must have felt very inferior and had no self esteem. Keep up the great work Bev!

Annette said...

I believe that judging should be constructive and encourage the development of a talent. She was just plain mean. And she really didn't know what she was talking about anyway because your design is absolutely beautiful! It really got my attention when I saw it. I like it.