Friday, July 22, 2011

Jury Anxiety

Last Monday the 18th I submitted three groups of work to be submitted for the Textile Center's Holiday Sale. It's a juried show, which means that a group of people sit down and look at your work to see if it meets their criteria for show worthiness. Normally, as I submit something, I feel pretty confident. But as I wait, during the days the jury is looking at the work and afterward waiting for the official notice (which will be mailed August 10th), I start feeling increasingly anxious.

I learned about the sale from the MNArtists Newsletter the week before and immediately started drawing out designs and making components for the July 16th (yup, the both dates in this paragraph are correct) deadline.

Other people may be more efficient than I am, but when I conceptualize or sketch designs that feature lampwork beads, I have to add at least three extra days to the production cycle beyond the time I need to plan and put the designs together. That's one day to make the beads, annealing during the night, then cleaning the next day. If those don't work out there's that second evening to recreate the beads, annealing again through the night, and cleaning the new beads on day three. That's assuming I have a clear idea of the beads I'll need and how I'm going to make them. Fortunately in this case I knew exactly what I wanted (borosilicate glass bobbins) and how to make them (I've been practicing disks a lot lately, so creating a smooth tube with disk ends was no problem). So, with six total days my schedule was really tight, but if nothing else got on the schedule (like work or family), I'd be okay.

Being the Textile Center, they were particularly interested in work that, "Honors textile traditions and promotes excellence and innovation in fiber art." Fantastic! I have several designs that (I hope) promote excellence and innovation in fiber art.


Three pieces from my I-Cord Jewelry collection. Notice that they do not match.

The sticky wicket in this case was that knitting up cuffs to felt or knitting I-cord takes time and I wanted to make new, matching, I-cord cables, and several cuffs to go with my new line of lampworked buttons. Did I mention I was on a tight schedule to meet the deadline? Plus, family and work are always on the agenda. Saturday came and I wasn't close to done, so I set the projects aside, making a mental note to work on them more for next year, and started working on other things with upcoming deadlines (like the Lampwork etc. silver glass murrini challenge that I needed to send out Saturday, too). I thought that was the end of the story.

Those of you who know me know that I think voicemail is pretty much the stupidest thing on earth. If you need to get a hold of me, phone is never the best method and voicemail ... you should just know you ought not hold your breath to hear back from me becase chances are it'll get deleted from the system before I check it. So Monday I was at work and Adrianne called for her morning check-in and asked if I got her voicemail Saturday.

Now that you're done laughing, let me just clarify that the answer was "um, no." More background information: The store where I work, Knits & Pearls is a bead and yarn store. As might be expected in a world that is becoming more interconnected every day, one of our fabulous regular customers, Terrie, is very closely acquainted with the manager of the Textile Store. Being that the Holiday Sale at the Textile Center was both beading and knitting related, I had mentioned to the group of ladies that comes to the store for the Wednesday Knitting Clinic that I was working on putting work together for the jury process. When Terrie saw her friend on Saturday (the day of the deadline), she asked if I had submitted my work. I hadn't. However, the Textile Center friend told Terrie that she would extend the deadline to Monday for me. Terrie called Adrianne, Adrianne called me, and if I had seen that she called and checked my messages I'd have had plenty of time. Something else to chalk up as a life lesson.

When someone extends a deadline just for me, I do my best not to totally blow it. Thus, Monday was chaotic. When I told Adrianne on the phone that I didn't have the pieces complete she said, hoping that if I become better known in the community the store will also, I should focus on getting my pieces ready to take in. While I was and am very thankful for that opportunity, doubt was born as I was scurrying to gather old samples and make new ones that would fufill the requirement that we have up to three categories of distinctly different items with a maximum of three examples of each. The I-cord pieces were very close to what I had in mind to submit. The two wire sweater and shawl pins weren't what I had thought I should submit, but it is a good supplement to the theme of fiber products. The wire jewelry wasn't, in the least, what I had invisioned submitting. On top of that, because I was hurrying, I didn't feel like I was producing my very best work. While the already-made pieces I gathered were fine, I had been hoping to have new, matching pieces to submit.

Jurying is based on the following criteria:
• General appeal
• Workmanship
• Price
• Relationship to Textile Center mission (Honoring textile traditions and promoting excellence and innovation in fiber art.)

I feel that, on general appeal and price, that I'm fine. On workmanship and relationship to the Textile Center mission, I'd have to honestly admit that I'm not confident that my work was able to stand up to the kind of scrutiny I'd expect it to and I'm very disappointed in myself for that. Granted, at some point you have to submit what you have and try, and let the competition do its work. But, in the end, I'd like to think I'm capable of achieving goals that are higher than settling for good enough. Is it wrong to hope the jurors thought I accomplished that?


Three pieces from my Wire & Lampwork collection

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