Choosing Jury Slides

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Today’s column is from Karen Christians of Metalwerx in Boston, on choosing your jury slides when entering shows or contests. Thanks for being our guest blogger this week!

I recently juried the Couture Awards for a show in New York and
culled through about 400 images. This is the first time I have been
on the jury side, so it was interesting for me to see exactly what I
have been promoting for my students for all these years.

1) There is no substitution for poor craftsmanship. Even if you have
the best photographer, if the work isn’t there, it won’t make the

2) Inconsistent lighting. Some of the shots in a grouping of five
had perfect lighting with consistent drop shadow which really popped
the work. Then the fourth and fifth image had really poor lighting. I
gave lower marks on these because the grouping did not convey a
professional look. I’m a juror and you need to impress me first.

3) Project based work. I look for style or a personal “look”, not a
series of items that were products of various workshops. I’ve been in
the business long enough to know when a piece was made in a hydraulic
press workshop, and then one with John Cogswell, and then a mokume
gane workshop. Those pieces said nothing about the intent and style
of the maker.

4) Interesting and novel work. There is no substitute for this, even
if the lighting is not perfect, if the work is fresh and well made,
this is a joy for us to jury. If the light is spot on, your mark will
go higher.

5) Textural backgrounds. No. No. No. Your work is not about what it
is sitting on, it is about you. No piece of wood, fabric, black beans
or rice will make your work look better than it is.

6) Details. These can help. Choose only one and make sure that it
has no solder seams, no grit, no dust or cat hairs. One detail is
good; one shot and four details is not.

7) Drop shadow vs. all white backgrounds. My personal favorite is
the subtle drop shadow. It pops the work and it is easy on my eyes.
Reflective shadows are fine, but only if the photographer knows
exactly what they are doing.

8) Progression of skill level. As each of us gets that first amazing
piece fabricated we run out to a photographer. Good choice. But then
we see the persons work change and improve. As a juror, I don’t want
to see your pieces from the last five years as you progress. I want
to see five pieces of your best work.

Get the requisite number of images of your work and that are your
best and that are lit well. It won’t matter what you put out, what
matters is what the judges want for the look at their show. They are
asking, will your work represent the kind of show we are putting on,
will the person’s booth be of the highest professional standard. If
you can answer yes to both, then there should be no problem.

Here is a good example of excellent work.

School for Jewelry and the Metalarts
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
781 891 3854

This article originally appeared on the Orchid list at

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