Cobourg, Ontario, Canada- A total of 63 hours from farm to event to farm again and what an intense experience. The 44th OHCG Annual Conference “Hooked on the Waterfront” was held in Cobourg, Ontario April 29-May 2, 2010. Attended by 305 of the 863 members from chapters around the province of Ontario and members at large. includind one day workshops, mini sessions, general meeting and an awesome exhibit of over 600 rugs surrounded by thirteen colourful vendors this event was coordinated by five of the chapters along the northern shore of Lake Ontario.
I picked up Deb Smith, Editor of Rug Hooking Magazine early on Friday, just outside of Harrisburg, PA and we continued the easy commute (but long) up I81 crossing the border at 1000 Islands Bridge and hooking up onto the 401 going West to Cobourg. We arrived and checked in to an organized and cheerful group. The evening ice breaker was a mini lighthouse sketched on burlap with precut strips, which we hooked while chatting with Yvonne Muntwylier (Past President of TIGHR 2000-2003) and a brand new member/rughooker Karen. Yvonne is full of creative juices and her excitement along with our encouragement assured Karen she was on a great journey as retirement loomed next year.
There were many familiar faces and the large name tags helped make the personal connections. Deb was introduced to the entire audience the next day, as the members at large were asked to state where we were from.
We were off to the exhibit and vendors by 10:30 entering the show with open mouths and cameras flashing for hours. The display system is cumbersome to assemble using chains dropped from the top rod, and sliding dowels through the links with balanced rugs. The final effect is a great exhibit. This year the backdrop used black drapes, and each chapter was responsible for their section.
I was looking for works which caught my eyeto include in the upcoming book and took many photos to hunt down the artists. Many of the students at Loyalist College last summer had completed their fraktur designs and hung them. It was so much fun to come across each while looking at the full exhibit. Even a design by Nancy Jewett, of Fluff and Peachy Designs was there, and I took a photo to send off to her.
A tribute to Germaine James included almost twenty of her works and a photo collage. Terri James attended the full weekend, talking with friends and enjoying the close friendship.
The vendors were busy all day, filled with colourful wools and supplies.
Andrea Sheppard and I took Patti Armstrong’s workshop “Working with Alternatives” which was an economical dip into the recycled materials way beyond just recycled woolen clothing. Since Patti is allergic to wool, it burns her skin on contact, she tries any item which can be pulled through the backing, from shoe laces to pantyhose (dissecting even the heavy waistband into two strips sometimes). It was a fun quick study for an hour, jumping into the small kit she had assembled for us with plastic bags for the sheep bodies, layers of a jacket, from outside to lining each giving a different effect. And in the end even the shiny candy wrappers ended up peeking through the branches of our trees as fruit. A tiny 5 inch square shadow box for $1.25 at the DollarRama gussied up with a green layer of paint by the disabled community she works with finished the project for under $10!
Keep in mind Patti has been a past recipient of the Rowan Award (Best in Show) using alternative materials. Her work is avant-garde yet set in the traditions of rughooking. This leads me to comment on why I continue my membership and attendance in this group, the respect for tradition is strongly felt, yet in the displays at least 80% or even more are original designs. Beginners are encouraged to use templates or just draw out their own first design. The OHCG Teachers Branch certifies instructors and continues refresher courses annually on a specific topic. As someone from the United States (we who are brought up to believe we are the best) I was humbled last year, at the first annual I attended, to see the heritage, tradition and contemporary art encouraged here in just one of the Canadian Provinces. Wake up “Americans” we are not the only ones in this rughooking world!
Now off my high horse. I really felt welcomed as a fellow member, and look forward to continued friendships, and many more through OHCG, cyberspace and at the next annual in London, ON. Interested in joining the fun visit http://www.ohcg.org