Category Archives: appalachian food

Grocery shopping for designs

Anyone who knows us understands I shop for ingredients but don’t make the meals, that is Jim’s talent. So it is not unusual for me to take photos in the market. Here is my design study of Thanksgiving produce.

The cranberries in open vat intrigued me. Then how the celery were stacked reminded me of my wood pile. The orderly rows of round apples, random small cranberries, and unique shapes of squash are each examples of repeating patterns for design. I liked the long thin carrots bundled amidst the feathery greens, a more casual composition than the balanced celery.

vegetable designs

vegetable designs

Perhaps when shopping with your long list of ingredients for the holidays take a moment to observe pattern, shapes, color, even balance and design a memory piece.

Retreating in the Mountains 2015

The 8th Retreat into the Mountains weekend is over with resounding “YES let’s do this again” from all.  Coming in over the mountains fog slowed the progress into Peterkin Camp and Conference Center on Friday.  Gathering with friends, settling into our nests, sharing the projects we wanted to spend our time on, and learning a variety of finishing techniques were how Friday was spent.  Of course there was food in the dining hall and in-between, all with a healthy approach. Last person left the workroom at 12:30 Saturday morning….

Keri Sue Brunk lead two yoga sessions on Saturday.  The first before breakfast and the second one introducing the practice just before lunch.  She also loosened up the neck, hands and back muscles while we sat in our seats.

The finishing techniques we covered were triple whipping with cording conducted as a hands-on session by Nancy Parcels. Stumbles, success, and appreciation were the compliments we shared with our samples.  Lori LaBerge showed the layering involved to present her work for gallery sales by stitching the hooked work to gray herringbone, stretched onto art board with clean wrapped corners, cloth covering the back all of which is then inserted into a gold rimmed shadowbox frame. A whipped mitered corner was demonstrated from handout by Germaine James of Canada. Debra Smith showed how a picot crocheted edge enhances a whimsical design.

Collection of pin looms

Collection of pin looms

The Falls

The Falls

We played with pin looms ranging in sizes from 2 inch square to 4″ x 6″ and using a variety of yarns and ribbons.  The March/April/May 2015 issue of Rug Hooking Magazine includes an article about continuous weaving incorporating pieces into hooked art. The annual hike to the glen with waterfall and hemlock grove introduced the property at Peterkin to the new attendees on Saturday afternoon.

Jim, Paul, Andy, Rick and Joe

Jim, Paul, Andy, Rick and Joe

Saturday evening we stayed at Peterkin and all of our senses were exposed to a new experience.  Within Hampshire County there are dozens of musicians who jam weekly playing old-time music. I called Paul Roomsburg and he networked with four others. Jim Morris brought instruments made from common objects telling us the history of music. Joe Hypes and Andy Agnew brought along their Rebel Union CDs and played guitar, fiddle and banjo during the evening.  Rick Pegg played the entire three hours standing up with the bass. To say we had a good time would be far from enough compliments to this group of talent.  By the end wooden spoons were tapping away on body parts, our clapping and stomping added to their strings. We all joined in with a rendition of John Denver’s ‘Country Roads‘ and ‘Amazing Grace‘.

Taking photos, studying

Taking photos, studying

2015 attendees

2015 attendees

Sunday was filled with conversations including critiques; suggestions for equipment, material and other workshops; and several successful completed projects.  We “throw down” works onto the wide porch each year and then get together for a group portrait.  Lunch and packing up came too quickly but the dates are set for 2016 and cyberspace will keep us connected until then.

 

Rug Hooking outdoors in Fall

FALL in West Virginia means breezes, sunshine, brittle leaves fluttering, COLOR and no bugs.  As a member of the Plein Air Hooking Artists it was time to get out and enjoy all of the above while creating.

Paw Paw Tree in Fall

Paw Paw Tree in Fall

My attention was drawn to our Paw Paw tree.  The fruit is indescribable in taste subtle like  banana, custard, but something else.  Yet it is memorable and a native to the Appalachians.  There is even a Paw Paw Festival in early September held in Ohio.

Out came the chair, portable frame (Townsend model, Beeline is making a similar style); bags of yellow, green, purple and red wool strips; hook and linen.  I drew a design 7″ x 5″ on a strip of linen with three more of the same size.  One will be used as a Friendship Exchange Mat during the TIGHR Triennial 2015 (Back to Nature is the theme).

I enjoyed working with the elements, they influenced my mood and the work.  Starting with using the purple bag to depict the dark trunk, and limbs.  (The literalist said, “Oh darn I forgot the neutral bag”.  The artist said, “Use what you have and purple is the complement of yellow along with the darkest color”.)

I will admit the sun went in and breeze got colder so into the studio I went after two hours to finish the piece in a total of five hours.

I worked up a second design outside the next day.  This one I wanted to show the smooth leaves, vein colors and layers so hooked some, then cut out leaf shapes in wool and anchored them with pearl cotton embroidery stitching.  I pulled the two together with the same blue, similar purples and crisp yellow greens. Number three is drawn.  These leaves change daily now that the light and temperatures are changing.

Get out and look at nature daily.  You may be surprised what detail draws your attention and says “Capture me in your artwork.”

 

 

Planted the tomato and pepper seeds

Jim and I planted the garden seeds today.  Now we feel like survivalists again.  Looks like much better starter soil than last year, first step.  It will be up to Mother Nature to help us get the plants growing when we put them in late in May.  Until then the kitchen is our incubator.

Put in three dozen pips of RAMPS two weeks ago in the woods.  Got them from Ramp Farm Specialists, the only place selling Ramps as bulbs or seeds.  Although these delicious alliums have a mystique of being only found in the mountains of Appalachia, we have found them growing in New Jersey and learned they are prolific in Colorado and many other areas. 

An acquired taste, one chef we met says a ramp needs to be “tamed” like a colt. Boiling and throwing off the water once takes the extra bite out of them.

To promote our heritage I have branded my jewelry line R.A.M.P.S. “Rag Art Means Personal Style”.