Somehow, I’m not surprised…

I received a letter from $100,000 Quilting Challenge Magazine yesterday telling me that they were ceasing publication, and giving me a choice of two other magazines, either The Quilter or Fabric Trends, to finish out my subscription. I kind of wondered in the beginning how long the whole “American Idol for Quilters” thing would last, considering how much money they were giving away, and how little they had to be getting back.

The first year, Linda McCuean was awarded $100,000 for her quilt, Bella, which sold at auction late last year for $10,750.00, all of which was donated to charity from what I understand. Seems like a bit of a flawed business model to me, though granted, I’m no business person. You sell a bunch of magazines, lots of companies donate prize packages for the semi-finalists, you give one of those semi-finalists $100,000, and auction the quilt off for charity?

How do the magazine sales and advertising in the magazines pay for the $100,000, in addition to the staff, publicity, shipping costs for the quilts when they are displayed at shows, etc., etc., etc.?? I’m stumped, and not terribly surprised that they’ve already ceased publication, after only the second $100,000 cash award. Bummer, though.

I think the whole thing was a great idea in theory, and probably brought mega publicity to the quilt world and the charity organizations involved, but maybe if they had started with a slightly smaller prize package, the magazine and contest might still be around and going strong. I probably should note here that all of the above, except for the letter I received, is completely supposition on my part, and I haven’t seen anything that really says why they’re ceasing publication.

And, though completely beside the point here, I’m not interested in either of their other magazines that they’re offering, and I think I paid for two years of the Quilting Challenge Magazine. I wonder what will happen when I send their letter back and say I don’t prefer either choice, please send me a check?

2 thoughts on “Somehow, I’m not surprised…

  1. I agree, I still would have entered if the prize was much smaller. I think they should have split the prize among each category. There is no way on earth a crazy quilt can be judged along side a machine sewn quilt. I know they used a point system, but it still isn’t possible when you consider the hand stitching compared to a drawn on pattern stitched by machine. Bella was beautiful, and in no way did I think my crazy quilt was a winner,but quilts cannot be judged fairly in this way. I have made several traditional quilts, and they do not compare to the CQ as far as originality and hand work. I did have fun, and was quite honored just to be a finalist.

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  2. Hi Pat, and welcome! It’s interesting to hear your point of view, being one of the finalists as you were. I agree with the idea of splitting the prize money amongst the categories. However, as I understand the judging system as it’s utilized in large shows today, all quilts are first judged on their own merits, within their style and technique.

    Is a machine quilted quilt the finest example of machine technique and style mastery in the show? Are the quilting stitches and patterning on a hand quilted quilt the best done by hand in the show? When quilts of differing styles are competing for “Best of Show” top honors, much weight is given to whether each quilt is a better and more masterfully executed example within it’s own style and technique than the others. It’s not the actually techniques or style that’s compared, it’s the artist’s mastery of the technique or style. I would say a point system makes this assessment easier for the judges to make that final call.

    Even understanding how it all works, I have never wanted to be a quilt judge, nor do I envy them their task.

    Perhaps the biggest problem crazy quilters face is the same one that art quilters faced years ago: basic acceptance that their work is actually “quilts.” I’m not sure that the CQ community wouldn’t be better served by doing what the art quilt community has done, and start dedicated CQ shows, if there aren’t any out there already (not being a CQ’er, maybe I missed it and there already is one).

    I know there is a huge vendor section at Houston each year called Embellishment (or was? now that I’m looking for it, I can’t see that they’re doing that this year. 😦 ) . I think it would be great to have that show stand on it’s own, with a judged show just for crazy quilts and related art. Having said all that, there will always be quilters and artists producing art that is not mainstream, and tends to get short shrift or fall through the cracks in the average quilt show or contest.

    Thanks for stopping by Pat! Your comments were thought provoking, obviously. Good luck with your crazy quilts, and your book. You do beautiful work!

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