I’ve been following the $100,000 Quilting Challenge with interest since I heard about it earlier this year. A bit of background: Quilters enter their quilts in one of ten categories; 40 semi-finalist quilts are published in the $100,000 Quilting Challenge magazine, ten in each of four issues per year. From these 40 semi-finalist quilts, one quilt is chosen to win the $100,000 (partially by public vote and partially by NQA Certified quilt judges). The winning quilt is later auctioned to benefit charity, after all 40 quilts tour the big quilt shows for a bit. Seems like the Miss Universe Pageant of quilting, no? Or maybe American Idol Quilting?
I heard about the whole brouhaha a bit late, and the first 40 quilts had already been chosen and published by the time I got my hands on the magazines. I looked at all the quilts in the magazines, and I couldn’t honestly say that any of them were “the one, the only,” and worth that much prize money. When the winner was announced, I was nonplussed. Don’t get me wrong, Bella is a beautiful quilt, and probably deserving of honors. If Linda McCuean had shown this quilt at the other quilt shows, it might have won ribbons and cash there too. But is it worth $100,000? Is the quilting really that good? Frankly, from the closeups that I’ve seen, there are many other quilts out there that are just as well done, and maybe even better. Obviously, Bella wasn’t competing against those other quilts in this particular venue, but I think the point stands.
When I began to see ads for longarm quilting machines and thread featuring Linda and her quilt, I was reminded of the lucrative endorsement deals that promising sports figures get from companies like Nike and Pepsi when they are “discovered.” I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise, but I was a bit taken aback. Maybe it was only a matter of time before that kind of thing invaded the quiet quilting world.
I also couldn’t help but wonder two things: how was the publisher making any money on this gig, and how much would this “best of all quilts” go for at auction? Read More