When a Judge wins a prize

by Orkaloca March 9 Judging

This morning, in my mail, I've found a message that sounded something like "At a recent quilt show one of the judges was also a competitor and was awarded a prize. Please can you tell me if this is regarded as acceptable practice"

The writer was worried about the fairness of the judging process and this is understandable if one doesn't know how a serious judging day is held. 
So here's the answer: 

It depends on the quilt show an how the jury is organized. I don’t know about the specific show but I can tell you about the FoQ in Birmingham, where this event can happens and has happened.

If the show is big, like FoQ, with lot of quilts in several categories, there are several judging teams walking the floor, every team judges a category. We know that judges are also quilters and that they usually wants to enter a quilt so we ask to the judges in which category they are entering a quilt. A judge is never assigned to the category where is its quilt.

Moreover, nobody between judges and people in the judge office, knows the authors of the quilts, we only receive numbers from the organizers.
A judge knows how important is the judge role and no serious judge will ever tell to other judges which is her quilt until the judging process is completed and the prizes given.

So, as you can see, it’s possible and fair that a judge enters a quilt in a show where she judges, because she doesn’t judge her quilt and nobody knows she has a quilt in the competition.

Things can become a little more complicated if the show is really small with just one judging team. In these cases usually the judges are not allowed to enter a quilt but sometimes, for some reason, it can happens. In this case the judge judges the other quilts but her own. To the team it will be told something like  “the judge has recognized the work from a friend and is not comfortable judging it” and she will be replaced by another person for that quilt. 

As you see it’s possible for a judge to enter a quilt. Judges take really seriously their job and they usually do everything they can to guarantee a fair process. 

Finally we have to consider that judges are almost always experienced quilters with a sound knowledge about how to design and build a quilt, so it’s not so strange they can win. 

If you want to know more about judges and their work, this year at the FoQ we will give lectures about “what do judges look for” to explain the judging process, If you’re curious about it you can participate :)

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