I got the dreaded “no thank you” email recently from Quilt National, so I can share my new Kaleidoscope quilt with you now.

Quilt National is one of the most prestigious art quilt shows and it’s quite competitive to get into. Hundreds of entries pour in every two years when the call for entry goes out.

It’s always a disappointment to get rejected from a show you wanted to get in to, but I’ve gotten a thicker skin about it now–it just means I have a great new quilt to enter into another show!

Kaleidoscope and Confetti on the design wall - Cindy Grisdela

“Kaleidoscope” in Process – Cindy Grisdela

This one was a challenge almost from the beginning when I started it last June. I had an idea I wanted to pursue based on my Confetti quilt, but the composition didn’t come together the way I envisioned–as sometimes happens when I’m working improvisationally. You can read about the Confetti quilt here and here.

Cutting oversized blocks to size for Kaleidoscope - Cindy Grisdela

Oversized blocks for Kaleidoscope – Cindy Grisdela

I kept at it over the summer–arranging and rearranging the blocks. In one sense it was easier than some of the other quilts I’ve designed this way because I was creating oversized blocks that could be moved around without too much problem.


One layout option for Kaleidoscope – Cindy Grisdela

Finally as the deadline approached and I had to finish it so the piece could be photographed in time to enter it into the show, I took pictures of five of the potential layouts. I sent them to my son who works in the theater and asked for his opinion. He and I both agreed on the final choice!

Rejected Kaleidoscope layout - Cindy Grisdela

Another layout reject for Kaleidoscope – Cindy Grisdela

Many times as I’m designing on the wall I get too focused on one particular element or section and have trouble seeing the forest for the trees, as the saying goes. Almost always taking a photo of the options helps to give the necessary distance and makes the decision easier.

I chose the name for this piece because the final layout reminded me of the shifting perspectives of a kaleidoscope. The texture is simple vertical lines, so as to keep the focus on the composition.

Kaleidoscope art quilt - Cindy Grisdela

Kaleidoscope – The final choice – Cindy Grisdela

Although I’m sad that my piece got rejected for Quilt National, I realize that the jurors had to make many tough decisions to put together a cohesive show from the hundreds of entries. I still like my work and I’m thrilled for my friends who did get in this year! I hope I’ll be able to see the show when it opens in 2019. And I’ll try again in 2021.

View a complete list of the accepted artists for Quilt National 2019 here. 






  1. Rachel Biel on October 26, 2018 at 2:56 am

    I really like what you are doing with this series, Cindy. You seem to be getting more comfortable with the format and have more control over the shapes and design. And, from the booth photo I saw on your Facebook page, this new work looks great next to your other pieces!

    With Quilt National, I would love to be able to see it and it is an amazing venue, but it seems to me like many of the same artists get picked over and over… You might just have to wait until some of them retire! Ha!

  2. Gail Pean on November 9, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    I love that you are experimenting with designs and reductionism. As an artist I appreciate your sharing your rejection and frustration. I shared a similar experience recently. They say we remember 10 bad comments to one good one.
    I think your work is beautiful and interpretive of your visions. Congrats on all you do and share!

    • Cindy on November 10, 2018 at 5:29 pm

      Thanks so much Gail–I appreciate that!