I’ve entered local agricultural shows for as long as I can remember. First it was with school, then it was with the support of school, and then I was running around entering all of the shows in the area with all sorts of exhibits. I’ve entered many sections from poetry to pottery and even had a few years prancing around the main show ring in full English garb mounted on my beautiful part-bred Arabian horse. We both scrubbed up okay with a bit of make-up and fancy gear, but it was never really something either of us enjoyed.
Entering my craft work, however, is still as big of a thrill as it always was. I’m sure part of it might be the lack of dress code, but for the most part I think it is the excitement of seeing my work displayed and being able to stand near the display during the show and hear what Mr and Mrs Average Local Person think about what I have made. I love it :-) It doesn’t matter to me if the comments are good, bad, or indifferent, or if the person making them knows anything at all about the craft they are looking at. I love the candid way people who are unused to the politeness of arts and crafts shows will speak, and the differing perspectives on a piece can be very interesting indeed. In fact, even the perspective of the judge can be something to think about. More often than not, a handicrafts judge will have an incredibly varied range of entries to judge and they may not have a special interest in the particular craft that you have entered. It doesn’t make them a bad judge, it just means that they might not be seeing the same things that a specialist judge might see. This can be positive or negative, but it is always interesting. I rather like looking at the whole field and trying to figure out what the judge was looking for, or what sort of things they appreciated in the exhibits in each class. It is a little unfortunate that you cannot get the judge’s feedback with craft entries like you can with animal entries, but there is often enough clues for you to get an idea of how you can improve for the next show. Even if you don’t get a ribbon, the experience is well worthwhile.
This year, I waited until the very last minute to decide if I should enter in one of the local shows. I had nothing ready and would only have 12 days – 5 of which would be spent in another state – to design and complete my entries. I ended up putting in three items and, while I was paying my money, I was also roped into being a steward and helping out in the food & crafts sections! Talk about over-committed!
My main entry was a fat little goldfish. He worked up much more quickly than I was expecting and I am really pleased with how he has turned out. I’m afraid this is a lousy picture but he’ll be whisked away to the photo studio very soon so that you can appreciate his full fishy goodness. The best part about this fishy is that EVERYONE wants to look at him and touch him. You don’t often get that with jewellery. I knew he was a bit of a long shot as he is a bit bright and cartoonish to be to everyone’s taste, and he is a prototype design so there are a few (well disguised) niggles that probably didn’t do him any favours in the ribbon-winning department either ;-) I just adore him and am considering writing up a tutorial so everyone can share the fishy love. Any nibbles? :P
Three entries was a bit of a stretch, especially given all the other things that were taking bites at my time and energy, so I decided to finally use some of my beaded beads. The class called for “at least 80% seed beads or delicate beads” and I really wasn’t sure if they meant 80% of the total number of beads (which this is) or if perhaps visually 80% of the piece should be seed beads. This looks to have far less than 80% but it is probably way more if you go by the total number of beads. The sad thing about this piece is that it is way too large for my skinny chicken wrists so it has to be dismantled, but I do just love the look :-) It earned a commendation too!
The final piece I entered was also the final piece I completed, and I was well past enjoying the process. Herringbone rope is tedious at the best of times but this one was worse than most. It was originally straight herringbone but, halfway through construction, I skipped a bead and it started twisting. I saw the twist but I couldn’t find the error until days after and by that time there was just as much twisted rope as there was straight! I decided the twist looked far better and so I frogged the straight section so I could re-use the beads. The rope was constructed in a holiday house, on a plane, and back in my little crafting room at home. By the time I was done I was completely burnt out on chartreuse. The leaf is St Petersberg weave and floppy as anything. I was very close to not entering it because I was pretty disappointed with the way it turned out but, as you can see, it did quite well. I was so surprised that I had a little giggle when I saw it! As they say, it is all down to the judge on the day :-)
Oh, and just because it is totally fabulous and because coming second to a good piece of bead work is never a bad thing, I give you the class winner :-) This piece was incredibly well executed and I sincerely hope the creator of this one is very happy with her win because it was quite deserved! I almost want to give her a medal for all of that fringing alone, that stuff drives me bonkers and look how much of it she has done there, and all with such perfect tension & drape.
It was a fabulous show, and I hope to try my skill again next year. I’m also thinking that I might add chocolate chip bikkies and a tray of fancy iced cupcakes to my list of entries because, you know, I simply have too much time on my hands ;-)