Jurying Visions

I am truly honored to have been asked to serve as a juror for the upcoming Visions Art Museum exhibition: Interpretations: Celebrating 30 Years!

Interpretations: Celebrating 30 Years is an international juried exhibition presented by Visions Art Museum: Contemporary Quilts + Textiles (VAM). Visions Art Museum is a program of Quilt San Diego, a non-profit organization, established in 1985 to promote contemporary quilts and quilt artists. The jurors will select work that exemplifies innovation in quilting and surface design techniques as well as excellence in composition and craftsmanship. Cash awards will be presented at the Opening Reception, October 17, 2015. A full color publication will accompany the exhibition.

My co-jurors are Alicia Merrett and Noriko Endo, and I am most sincerely flattered to be among them. I do not know Alicia personally, but I have met Noriko on a couple of occasions. I’m sure we’re all going to work hard and have a great time jurying this most prestigious event in the art quilt world.

You all know me, of course, but here’s what Visions had to say about the three of us:

Dena Dale Crain is a contemporary quilter known for her artistic skill, surface design techniques and generous nature, making her a popular teacher at venues such as the International Quilt Festival, Houston, Texas; the Festival of Quilts, Birmingham, England; and the European Patchwork Festival, Val d’Argent, France. She is also the founder of QuiltEd Online.

Raised and educated in the United States, Dena has lived in rural Kenya for the past 25 years. She is a South African Quilt Guild certified quilt judge and has judged both quilt and fine art competitions. She holds advanced degrees in design and textiles and is a Juried Artist Member of Studio Art Quilt Associates.

Noriko Endo has devoted herself to creating quilts for the past 30 years both at her studio in Tokyo and at her home in Chiba, Japan. She has taught classes worldwide in South Africa, Australia, Europe, England, United States, Taiwan, Korea and Japan.

Noriko’s quilts resemble pointillist oil paintings with tiny pieces of fabric caught under a layer of tulle, a technique she calls Confetti Naturescapes. These landscape quilts allow her to capture the play of light and color she sees during walks in the woods. Her quilts have been shown in many national and international exhibitions including Quilt Visions, Quilt National and Quilt Nihon.

Alicia Merrett is best known for award-winning quilts that combine color with line and texture. Her current quilts are about maps and aerial views. She recently completed a commission for a quilted map of the city of York, England, as it was in 1611. Alicia’s quilts have been exhibited internationally and featured in numerous books and magazines. She teaches throughout the United Kingdom and Europe.

A native of Argentina, Alicia originally trained as a photographer. After moving to England, she enjoyed a 30 year career in the arts and craft field as a doll maker and toy maker. She discovered art quilts in 1993, an obsession that continues today.

The Call for Entry is open now, as of July 1, and will continue until July 31. Read all the details in the Visions Art Museum’s site: http://visionsinterpretations.com.

This is a fabulous opportunity, my friends, to submit your art quilts for consideration and possible sale. Don’t miss it! Check out the Call for Entry and pull your photos and information together NOW!

We hope to see YOUR work on exhibition at the Visions Art Museum for its 30th anniversary celebrations!

Art for Peace Judging Continues

Art for Peace 2012

Well, I did it!  I managed to judge 600 pieces of art work by young people from all over the world and I did it in two days, successfully meeting the deadline of Monday.  This was effectively a preliminary round of judging intended to exclude a large majority of pieces that did not properly address the theme:  Imagine a World Free of Nuclear Weapons.  One piece particularly stuck in my mind.  I will be watching to see how far forward it goes!

This is a challenging theme.  Many of the young people illustrated a peaceful world, mistakenly thinking that having no nuclear weapons would mean the end of war.  Oh, that it would!  It will take more than the destruction of existing nuclear weapons and the prevention of their manufacture in future to give us a peaceful world.

The idea of peace seems so simple, doesn’t it?  So attainable?  What would it take, do you suppose, to get everyone to lay down arms, sit down together and amicably resolve their differences of opinion, rather than taking up arms against one another and hurting so many others as they do so?

Anyway, the second round of judging will be coming up in a few days.  Awards and prizes are to be announced by the end of the month.  We have a long way to go yet and not much time left to do it, but I’m confident we will meet the deadlines given by the organizers, Harmony for Peace and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.

Visit the Gallery Entries page and click on any country to see the works submitted from that country.  Kenya has a couple of entries!!

Judging Art for Peace 2012

My name was put forward by Ms. Nancy Campbell, Executive Director of Wayne Art Center, PA (thank you, Nancy!!) as a prospective judge for the United Nations sponsored Art for Peace 2012 International Art Contest for Young People, and I was invited to participate!

I am now, along with about 100 others, judging my share of some 6700 entries.  The works are not quilts, but they are certainly works of art.  The entries have been received from young people, ages 5-17, all over the world.  The range of talent is remarkable, and it is most interesting to see the commonality of themes expressed by Greek, Russian, African, French and Chinese (just to name a few) children.

The theme for the competition is “Imagine a World Free of Nuclear Weapons.”  This topic engages the young people, their parents and their teachers in a global effort to understand the dangers of nuclear weapons and to work to suppress them.  For most of the children and teenagers, this topic resolves itself into a simple expression of a desire for world peace.  World renowned symbols are common:  the dove, the peace sign, and the symbol for radiation.  Images are full of happy, peaceful people living in green landscapes with clean water.  It’s clear to see what our children want and need–why must it so often be impossible to provide for them?

Learn more about Art for Peace 2012 International Art Contest for Young People.

Whole-Cloth Quilts and Mixed Patchwork Techniques in Quilt Competitions

Friends and readers often email me and sometimes they ask questions relevant to patchwork quilters everywhere.  The discussion below is one such correspondence.  If you are interested in competition quilting and whole-cloth quilts, you may find both the questions and my responses informative:

I am trying to find out a few facts about different aspects of quilt competitions.  Can you please help me as you are a judge and experienced in this field?

I’m happy to help.

"Lamu," whole-cloth quilt by Dena Crain
"Lamu," whole-cloth quilt by Dena Crain

For a whole-cloth quilt, can I use a whole fabric which has a theme print on it (flowers, houses, etc.) and quilt it intricately as one piece and enter in this competition?

The beauty of whole-cloth quilts is generally to be found in the quilting design and stitching.  You should consider, as you make this decision, whether your quilting design and beautiful stitching will show up best on a printed fabric or on a solid color fabric.  If you intend merely to outline the shapes that are printed on the quilt top fabric, I fear the element of quilt design will be minimized, and the stitching will disappear into the print.  I would not recommend using a printed fabric as a whole-cloth quilt for competition unless you do something remarkable with it, something that shows you clearly understood the issues at stake and that you are deliberately making a powerful statement with this piece.

"Wanyama," whole-cloth quilt by Dena Crain
"Wanyama," whole-cloth quilt by Dena Crain
"Wanyama," whole-cloth quilt by Dena Crain (detail)
"Wanyama," whole-cloth quilt by Dena Crain (detail)

For the mixed technique category, is there a requirement for minimum number of techniques that have to be used or do any other rules apply to enter the piece in this competition?

I would think this category permits quilt tops that have been executed as both appliqué and piecing, the two forms of patchwork.  A mixed techniques category would be for quilts that go beyond the requirements for either appliqué or piecing by combining elements of both.  It is not a reference to “mixed media,” as defined in the world of fine art, which would permit painting, dyeing, found objects, crayon, pen, etc.

I am flattered that you ask my opinion on these matters.  However, you are well advised to consult with the competition organizers if you have any questions about their requirements, categories or definitions.  They will have specific ideas about what they are looking for, and they will be happy to communicate with you further to help you avoid any misunderstandings.

Thanks in advance.

You’re most welcome.  Good luck, and let’s hope you win!!

If you have questions about patchwork quilting, feel free to email me using the Contact Form.  I will be happy to respond directly to you, and to share our chats here with other quilters around the world.  Thanks!

Change Your Life: Make a Quilt!

As partial requirement for my quilt judge certification through the South African Quilt Guild, I wrote a scholarly paper on “How Patchwork Changes Women’s Lives.”

Download your free copy of How Patchwork Quilting Changes Women’s Lives.  Read it, and then please share your thoughts as comments below.

How Patchwork Quilting Changes Women's Lives by Dena Dale Crain

Hmm, maybe I should write a sequel called “How Women Have Changed Patchwork Quilting?!”

Quilt Judging in South Africa

Jenny Hermans, one of the four quilt judge certification tutors for the South African Quilt Guild, sent me some photographs from the judging room prior to the 16th South African National Quilt Festival in Stellenbosch, South Africa earlier this month.  I share them with you here with Jenny’s permission:

Quilts ready for hanging at the 2011 South African National Quilt Festival in Stellenbosch
Quilts ready for hanging at the 2011 South African National Quilt Festival in Stellenbosch
Taking down the quilt show
Taking down the quilt show
Preparing quilts for collection
Preparing quilts for collection
Scribes for quilt judging
Scribes for quilt judging--me at the back in light blue
New quilt judges certified by the South African Quilt Guild
New quilt judges certified by the South African Quilt Guild on June 26, 2011. Back row, left to right: Collen Thackery from Zimbabwe, Sheila Walwyn from South Africa, Gill Rebelo from Kenya, Annette Zondagh from South Africa, Delphine Dick from Zimbabwe, Alet Davy from Malawi, Dena Crain from Kenya, Roma Dunn from South Africa, Bev Rebelo from Zimbabwe, Doreen Crause from South Africa. Front row, left to right: Shan Day and Frances van Schalkwyk from South Africa.

Thanks, Jenny, for the use of your photos.

To all my fellow judges:  “Congratulations, ladies; well done!”

Quilt Judge Certification–EARNED!

After two years of hard work, I am proud and pleased to announce that I am now an officially recognized quilt judge, certified by the South African Quilt Guild!

My thanks go to the South African Quilt Guild and especially to its judge certification tutors Sue Prins, Elsa Brits, Odette Tolksdorf and Jenny Hermans, who ably guided all the candidates through the homework written and practical assignments and two scholarly papers.

My congratulations go to my colleagues and new fellow judges:  Gill Rebelo from Kenya; Bev Rebelo, Coleen Thackery, and Delphine Dick from Zimbabwe; South African Alet Davy, now from Malawi; Doreen Crause, Annette Zondagh, Shan Day, Sheila Walwyn, Frances van Schalkwyk, and Roma Dunn–well done, everyone!!

Quilt Judge Certification Program

Having completed all of the homework assignments and written two scholarly papers in partial fulfillment of the requirements for my quilt judge’s certification, I now look forward to completing the two-year program by attending the preliminary events leading up to the 16th South African National Quilt Festival.

16th South African National Quilt Festival
16th South African National Quilt Festival

Organized by the Good Hope Quilters’ Guild with sponsorship from Bernina (I am now sponsored by Bernina Kenya, too!), this event is the first of its kind since I was last in South Africa in 2008 for the 15th National Quilt Festival held in Gauteng, outside Johannesburg.  This Festival should have been held last year, in 2010, to keep to the schedule of holding Festivals every two years, moving from one of South Africa’s four (now five) largest cities each time.  Unfortunately for the quilters but fortunately for sports lovers, last year’s Festival had to be postponed until this year to accommodate the World Cup which was played in Cape Town.  This year’s Festival will be based in Stellenbosch, at the Bloemhof Girls’ High School.

The judge certification candidates begin their activities on Sunday, June 26, with a briefing meeting.  Judging of quilts entered in the competitions will take place during the week, with certification candidates serving as apprentices to the judges Jenny Hearn, Marline Turner and Trienie Krugel.  Over the years, I have come to meet and get to know all three of them, so I expect to feel right at home as I assist them in the work that must be done.  Hazelmay Duncan, Margaret le Roux, and Sheila Walwyn will be serving as jurors.

My fellow candidates and I are looking forward to a busy, interesting and fun week before the Festival, helping the judges and working to help hang the quilts on display.  My good friend Gill Rebelo and I will travel to South Africa together and a bit early so as to settle into the Stellenbosch area, do a bit of sightseeing and perhaps a little wine tasting (the region is known for its wines!).  As the week draws to a close, evening social events will help us all celebrate what we hope will be a most positive experience and launching of new career opportunities.  I will stay on for Odette Tolksdorf’s two-day workshop on African quilts, hoping to learn more from one of my colleagues about What Makes an African Quilt “African,” before returning to Kenya. Wish me luck, won’t you?!