Coming to the end of the Season
I was looking forward to a fun morning in Bourton on the Water yesterday and headed out with my kit bag, prepared for the task in hand. I'd been invited to judge "Domestic Section B" ; a dozen and a half classes of craft entries and I know from previous experience that there are some very talented craftspeople in that neck of the woods. I was in for a treat!
It's lovely to hear a jolly "Hello Gill!" as soon as I step inside the hall and I immediately know I'm amongst friends. Actually that's always true where the WI is involved; I'd just called into the village shop to pick up a loaf of bread, bumping into a couple of friends doing their shopping too. Anyway, with Carol and Rita's excellent stewarding skills, I set to work.
I was correct about those high standards. As soon as I began, I found myself awarding high marks and observing a number of high-level skills in beautifully finished entries. As a judge, I get to handle these lovely exhibits and in doing so, I note that the cushions have empty corners. WI advice is to choose one size larger pad than the cover and to work the filling into each of those four corners too. Nevertheless, these two are beautifully stitched, though on this occasion, the entry showing more techniques gains more points and achieves first place.
Before I began judging, Carol had expressed a worry about one of the soft toy entries. She'd read the schedule which stated "A Child's Soft Toy" and felt that the "family of five toys" was not acceptable, especially since the schedule state that only one entry per person per class was permitted. I agreed and asked her to select one at random for me to judge. I suggested she didn't look too closely at them and just take one from the group, which explained how I came to be cuddling a very cute knitted otter five minutes later! It's a situation which crops up occasionally, where someone enters a group or a set of items when the schedule requires a single one. Of course, I explained to Carol, a pair of socks, gloves or earrings is, for these purposes, a single item, but a family of woodland creatures, however cute, isn't, sadly.
I hate to disappoint anyone who has gone to the trouble of entering their lovely work in a show and have never disqualified anything. But the next class for "An item woven in any medium" presented another challenge. Anyone reading this with a bit of craft understanding will immediately see why. Neither of the entries in this class were woven! Again, lovely things, beautifully knitted, but unfortunately, neither of them could win the class. With the support of the show secretary, we awarded them "Highly Commended" and I left a note to explain why.
By lunchtime, I was coming to the last two or three classes, one of which was the "any other craft" section. There's usually some treasures in this kind of open class and today was no exception. A cheeky little needle felted dog, several beautifully turned pieces of wood, the nicest rag rug I've seen in a while and a great example of dressmaking, not to mention a couple of pretty sugarpaste arrangements, a fantastic painted hatbox and some decorative pottery! But there, folded in an unassuming kind of way at the back of the table was the most spectacular piece of felting depicting a bluebell wood. A consistent thickness throughout, every small detail was evenly felted and securely incorporated into the background. There were absolutely no lumps and bumps, no uneven areas and the whole thing was a masterpiece.
It was a fitting finale to another great village show and having offered my thanks and congratulations to all concerned I left Carol and Rita enjoying the challenge of finding an alternative to folding and replacing it on the table. Here's hoping that visitors to the show will be inspired to enter their own masterpieces next year!