Last week when I was telling you about the Midatlantic Quilt Show, I promised a post about an "intriguing" thing that I did at the show. A few days before the show began, I got the usual email sent out just prior to the show detailing all the events, times, etc. As I was reading, I came across a paragraph about quilt appraisals and how they were being offered at the show. To set up an appointment, you were supposed to do so at preregistration, but the idea interested me. I had never considered having any of my quilts appraised before. Hmmm.
I have made probably close to 200 quilts of various sizes, but I will freely admit that maybe only 4-5 I consider to be my "masterworks." Now I'm aware that the word "masterwork/masterpiece" can be a controversial subject and it means MANY different things to different people. For me, I consider them to be pieces on which I have done extensive handwork, applique or quilting; precision, complicated piecing; and/or custom quilting.
I decided that I wanted to get one of these quilts appraised, thinking it may be a good subject for a blog and also because I have a very difficult problem assigning value to my work. I have never really sold anything, I prefer to give my quilts as gifts. I know what I paid for materials, but I have no idea how to value my time. I suspect that I may not be the only person out there with this problem!
But which quilt should I take? I thought it over very carefully. Part of me was very anxious at the idea and that little voice in my head was already telling me that I was silly for getting an appraisal--that my quilts would hardly be worth anything more than the materials. Please tell me I'm not the only one out there with that little voice! Anyway, I decided to choose the one that had the most handwork--my Grandma's Country Album quilt that I recently shared with you here.
When we went to the opening preview on Wednesday night, I inquired and was able to make an appointment for the next day. Here is the most important thing to remember as I'm telling this story: until now I had never been to a major show and had NEVER seen quilts like those ribbon winners closeup before!!! We got to the show that day and looked around at the quilts for an hour or so prior to my appointment and I really got anxious and stressed. I started feeling like a fool for thinking that I could have anything of mine appraised--good grief, what was I thinking! But I was committed, and so when the time came, Dorothy and I went to the car for my quilt and we went to the appointment.
When I was getting the quilt ready to take, I decided that since it had won a ribbon, maybe that fact would impact the appraisal, so I took the ribbon, too.
We were escorted to the room by a charming woman who explained that she was an appraiser-in-training. She informed us that there would also be another appairser there who just passed her qualifying test as well as the primary appraiser. As well, the appraiser's husband was in the room, taking photos and doing the computer work. I handed over the quilt, which they spread out flat on tables and then took photos. I met them all and they were "just regular people" (of course) and nice and professional. I handed the appraiser the ribbon the quilt had won, explaining that I didn't know if it would make a difference to the value. It had won Second Place Best in Show at the Southern New Mexico State Fair and Rodeo. Up until going to Midatlantic, I had been sort of proud of that ribbon. Now I was incredibly embarrassed. For goodness sake, my quilt won a ribbon at a rodeo?!!! I felt like a complete hick and totally out of place. But the appraisal went on...
She asked many questions about pattern, fabrics, dates, places, etc. Meanwhile, the two assistants were measuring and taking descriptive notes about the quilt. At one point she asked if I knew how many hours I spent hand-quilting. Of course I didn't! I was still feeling mighty inadequate at that point so I worked my brain frantically trying to come up with an approximation of time spent quilting. How would I even estimate? I did finish the quilt ten years ago. Hmmm, I looked over at the quilt laying out on the table and I envisioned my quilting hoop. I pictured how many hoops that size would fill the quilt--I figured about 20. Then I thought about how long it took to quilt a "hoopful" and decided that 3 hours was probably a fair estimate. So doing the math, I came up with 20 x 3 = 60 hours. It seemed pretty likely to me. So I told her my reasoning and the number that I came up with and she was very intriugued at how I had estimated the time and so she made me explain it over again to her assistants. That made me feel a little better at least, so I could at least look her in the eye.
And then, just like that with no fanfare, she told me the insurance value. I was stunned! I was hoping it would be worth around $300, maybe $500. The figure she gave me was way, way higher than that! I gulped. I stammered my thanks, took the paperwork and quilt and Dorothy and I left. When we got outside, I started laughing nervously and told Dorothy that my nerves were frayed and I needed.... (well, I probably could have used a drink, but since we were at a quilt show...) ... I needed some retail therapy!!!! So we checked out the vendors.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering: the appraiser told me that ribbons only really matter if they are from Paducah or Houston!
Have a great day!