Naming A Quilt

… or any other art work for that matter.  In fact, until today, since I know I have some way with words, I had never considered ‘naming’ much of a problem really.  I realised too that I have always considered naming my art works an actual part of the whole process, from initial design idea to last stitch.  The naming process may be a pop-up , the-lightbulb’s-on kind of moment at anystage; I may make little memos to myself at various times to return later; or I may need to do some serious deliberation at the end, even if I have been vaguely thinking about it a while.   To do this, I write lists of words or pairs of words, get help from Roget’s Thesaurus of synonyms perhaps,  and develop a short list of 2-3 titles to try for size against the finished work.  It could take little bursts of activity over hours or several days- sleep on it, etc.  If I still can’t decide I might consult with DH, but by one of these means I do arrive at the final choice, name it by writing the title on the back of the work, and it’s done.

What brought these thoughts to mind is  that today a well known quilt artist, Nancy Cook, asked two or three thousand of her art quilting colleagues on two lists for their suggestions for a name for her most recent work, which she commented is an entry for Quilt National’11 (entries close in a week, she is running against the clock here!)    Occasionally people do this, giving us a blog link to check the piece out and give feedback.  I just had never seen someone openly looking for a title for a QN entry although probably it has been done often enough –  but usually who would know? 

I linked through to the image on her blog.  Nancy said this is not the exact one she was entering but (as many of us know she does work in beautiful series)  contains important elements of her actual entry.   Because of my strong view on this -my readers would expect no less ;-p   on principle I didn’t make any title suggestions, but sent her the possible naming approaches I outlined above – which were probably not new to her, and no doubt people have others.  That QN entry form can cause a bit of panic as we all know.  And, most likely, Nancy probably thought of a great name all by herself as soon as she put the call out.   

In my mind anyway, this raised the following issues:

  1. If  she were to choose a title suggested by someone in the comment section of her blog, ie this is in a very public way, would it then mean she should include this person’s name on the entry form as a collaborator? 
  2. Should the person who suggested the chosen title then expect some % of prize money the maker might be awarded ?

I emailed the kernels of this post to Nancy a few hours ago, before even thinking about blogging on this today – she thanked me for my coments in such a way that I feel sure she will not take this as any kind of personal attack.  So those of you getting up a head of steam to hit me with fiery riposts defending Nancy Cook and her work, please hold your fire, re-read my post and understand this post is not about Nancy and her work, it’s just an interesting entering issue I hadn’t considered before.

And good luck to fellow QN11 entrants!!! – mine’s  already there and processed, according to an acknowledgement email  yesterday.

4 Responses to “Naming A Quilt”

  1. Patty Ashworth says:

    Interesting, because a group that keeps expanding, has been discussing this alot. Not just in titles, but how much can a person help with a quilt before it’s not just done by one person? What if someone else puts on the label, or the binding? Or if they had an idea for something that catches the eye in the quilt itself. I remember when people were first getting quilts machine quilted and not mentioning that when entered into a show. It’s a 2 person catagory now.

    I hand quilt for commission. I have an understanding that I should be mentioned that I did the hand quilting, but I don’t expect any of the prize money. Just like they don’t expect me to help with the entry fee. If I have been paid to work on a quilt, then the buck puts the stop there. It is great to see a piece I worked on get a ribbon. I think of it as advertising, and leave it at that. I don’t think just helping someone find a name or title for a quilt implises that they actually helped with the quilt structurally. It can get sticky when a quilt is entered as a one person constructed piece. In an open art show, a person entered a wall hanging, even though another person quilted it, and a third put on the binding. The artist thought that since he designed the top, it was his…. Not so. The rules said, to be constructed by one person only.

  2. Olga says:

    You have stirred some interesting thinking.

    The name of a piece of work gives us what we take to be a glimpse of the artist, as well as a way of giving us a preliminary viewpoint of the work. So, if someone other than the maker names a piece it gives us a slightly different viewpoint, and provides a veil between us and the maker’s intention.

    In general don’t think it matters who names a piece of work. But having read your post, I am now curious to know how much the name influences judges – probably more when the visual opinion is marginal -? I think that the help with naming could perhaps be mentioned when it is a situation such as a public appeal like this that warrants it – and certainly if the maker did not make any contribution to the naming other than having provided the illustration for which a caption is needed; but that no division of spoils should be contemplated unless it was that very name which secured any prize.

    I suppose I can imagine a situation where an abstract quilt is entered for a themed competition, and it is the name which gets it into the category required. If someone other than the maker named the quilt, then any question of prize or sales money could arise.

    In my own work the title of a piece is an important element of the whole. Titles come easily for the most part, but I find that the longer I am without a title for something, the more ambivalent I feel about what I have expressed or how I’ve expressed it.

  3. dog says:

    What’s up, I read your blogs like every week. Your story-telling style is awesome, keep it up!

  4. Hai Hastert says:

    Outstanding story there. What happened after? Good luck!

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