So, last Wednesday, I was at the Maryland State Fair, judging the spinning and weaving competition for the third and final year (at least for now.) They will have new judges next year, so if you haven’t liked the way that I or my cohort have judged the contest, you can relax, as next year, you will have someone else looking at your work. (I say that, but no one has ever come back to me with any complaints about the judging.)
No one tried to cheat this year (nor last,) though there is still a problem with people reading the directions on how entries are to be prepared and presented. I guess when people see a lot of lists on the page, they just don’t feel like reading everything.
As for my general advice about entering fairs, it remains the same. I do recommend that if you are going to enter your spinning into competition, that you learn how to form a proper skein with proper ties. Some of the skeins were tied such that examining the entire skein was difficult due to the two “death grips” at either end. Also, take the time to remove the tags from previous fairs that you entered your work in. (Actually, if you are entering the same work in multiple contests, take the time to go over the piece between each contest, as the means of display from the previous fair may distort parts of it where it was tagged or hung.)
As for not judging next year, the reason is to get some fresh eyes in there. This is what most fairs do (or should do.) If you judge the same contest enough times, you get to recognize people’s work, and that can form a bias. Newer entrants tend to be all over the map with entries as they are just learning all of the wonders of a craft, while people start to specialize as they gain experience and find the areas of the craft that they really like. With the experience also comes (hopefully) better results, so the better items in a category (say table linens) tend to come for a certain group of weavers that the judge will eventually come to recognize particular weavers due to their choice of structure, color, fiber, etc.
In all, it has been a great experience. I get to fondle lots of fiber for a day, and it doesn’t cost me anything to do it. Sounds pretty good.
Copyright 2010 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com
Remember the days when we were the ones entering the fairs? I still remember a Rowan sweater that took me two years to knit and I was told that petal was missing (it was not). I’m sure you are a much better judge. Any perks in return for judging?