Category Archives: travel

Traveling to Vermont

What designs could come out of a June week in the capitol city of Vermont with friends?

Plenty of ideas for artwork and many personal memories were gathered while enjoying Montpelier, VT and the Green Mountain Hooked Rug School.  Looking forward to returning in 2017 teaching “Working in Abstract Expressionism”. Registration is open at

Travel Sketches-Seattle

Beginning a new series based on my travels. The challenge is to simplify the experience.

I decided a journal approach will help develop style and studies for larger art. Less pressure to “nail it” the first time and as you will see, the exercise leads to my goal… concise yet informative designs. Techniques and materials are not clarified yet, although my new supply of cotton fabric and threads will be tapped into.

Thanks go to the students in my design class at Puget Sound Rug School, who energized my own creativity. The first sketch is a result of one of the exercises. List a topic, describe it in words and motifs.

Initial Sketch

Initial Sketch

Over the past week I have developed three separate designs inspired by the trip to Seattle. The City View has seen 6 versions so far.  Next steps to decide size, techniques, materials and begin with my favorite tools-my hands. Slowly I will communicate.


Exploring Seattle

Two days ahead of Puget Sound Rug School I have immersed myself in Seattle visually and physically. Who knew you could “hike” five miles in a city?  Camera in pocket and rain gear on here are some inspiring compositions.

Okan Arts Japanese cottons

Okan Arts Japanese cottons

First stop was a fiber mecca for me. Patricia Belyea has amassed an amazing collection of Japanese yukata cottons available for  US quilting and fiber artists from her shop in Seattle or online at  I selected bold patterns and intimate repeats of lines to be combined into my art.

Pikes Market produce

Pikes Market produce

Vendors carrying produce, flowers, artisan products, and baked goods entice the tourists at Pikes Market down along the waterfront. The blast of color and natural shapes caught my attention.

The city is filled with contrasting shapes, lines of different strengths, and shots of color in the structures, everyone vying  for attention.

Coffee Beans

Coffee Beans

And then there was the sensual allure of roasting coffee at THE Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room.   Notice the gentle curves of the copper tubes and the warm color of the roasted beans awaiting the personal selection.

All of my senses were heightened. I am sure to end up with some visual artwork from these hours spent in the Emerald City.  Traveling from the West Virginia mountains to a metropolitan area increases the awareness of structure.

Searching for Inspiration

5 inch hooked mats Susan L Feller

5 inch hooked mats Susan L Feller

Granted I have 365 sketches to “inspire” me creatively. But there is something about beginning to do that has eluded me for a block of time. Don’t fret, we are not holed up here in the mountains though rather traveled to new museums and collected inspiring details.



Studying a favorite, Georgia O'Keefe

Studying a favorite, Georgia O’Keefe

The Chrysler Museum of Art is in Norfolk, VA and open (free) every day. Galleries are filled chronologically covering worldwide history. The contemporary exhibits change and a separate Glass Studio includes opportunities to watch work in progress.
Labeling can add to the experience and the information with the artwork enhances our understanding of time and technique. We also found the docents to be the friendliest and most knowledgeable.


Shadows in Contemporary Gallery

Shadows in Contemporary Gallery


At the Michener Museum, Doylestown, PA  color was abundant. Kaffe Fassett presented “Blanket Statements” exhibiting quilts from a British collection alongside the contemporary results through Feb 21, 2016.



Bucks County Impressionist collection

Bucks County Impressionist collection

The Michener collection focuses on regional artwork and features the talent of Bucks County Impressionists hung in a salon manner with labels as handouts not interspersed on the wall.

Inspiration can and should come from traveling. Vancouver, BC was an exciting trip filled with Emily Carr’s vast Pacific Northwest rainforest, city structure, and studio visits. All made extra special by spending with several art friends.

Shapes, texture, color, scale and awe.

Then there are the every day scenes filled with memories that can trigger a design.  I am energized by selecting these scenes and with a snow storm predicted will gather materials and tools for a long weekend of creating.  Hope you too are prepared or will find inspiration in the days ahead.


Traveling Inspirations

On the road again teaching, lectures and just because the weather is nice and making a point to visit all the state parks in WV. Coopers Rock State Forest was just three miles off the Interstate on my way to Cedar Lakes last week.

Cooper's Rock State Forest WV CCC construction

Cooper’s Rock State Forest WV CCC construction

A breathtaking view of undeveloped forest and valley atop a massive ROCK.  The CCC program instituted by President Roosevelt employed thousands and left structures built with native materials which decades later are treasured.

Cooper's Rock State Park, WV

Cooper’s Rock State Park, WV

Birch Catkin

Birch catkin


The birds were singing, sun shining and wind blowing trees with bright new leaves and catkins. Picked up a book with trails described, will be sure to return in other seasons.


Arrived at Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley for week long rug camp directed by Tomorrow’s Heirlooms. Always enjoy the early morning fog lifting off water surface and structures. How could this view be interpreted using fiber techniques? The reflecting light is what fascinates me.

early morning light

early morning light

Traveled to Charleston and visited the Capitol Market. Plants in all sizes, colors and leaf shapes.  Inspirations everywhere if you pause to see what you are looking at.

Charleston Farmers Market detail

And finished this stop with lunch at Soho which uses Homer Laughlin Fiestaware (WV company) for serving dishes along with local ingredients for fresh salads.

Fiestaware at SoHo

Fiestaware at SoHo

Inspirations collected depict space, scale, color, value, contrast, depth, texture, nature and history. May I encourage you to experience new visuals and sounds and add them to your work.

Class topics in 2014

I just reviewed photos from workshops this year.  Many lessons were taught, dozens of lessons learned, and plans were made for next year ….  all reasons why I teach.  See the calendar for workshop sites in 2015.

Alta Vista Golf Course, site of workshop

Alta Vista Golf Course, site of workshop


I flew to Mesa Arizona in January right in-between the coldest spells in West Virginia.  People came down from South Dakota to escape the cold and others ‘wintered’ in sunny Arizona.  The projects were colorful and three days went too quickly.



The class at Cedar Lakes Rug School was filled with sixteen eager students.  Some had finally signed up with me after a few years of seeing work by other students and others repeated with new projects and goals.  At the end of the week, I complimented them all, referring to this session as a Masters Class.  I was challenged, they contributed and every project was well on its way to being a great piece.  I am teaching here again next year, email Nancy Blair at   for details.

The topic at Green Mountain Rug Hooking School in Vermont was the Moods of Color.  We did get to hooking designs based on a mood the participants brought  but began the three days with several exercises.  On the blackboard each posted a word under one of six colors.  Before looking farther what would you say about Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Purple?

Manistee Rug School in Onekama, MI is coordinated by a guild rather than a business.  Volunteers for every job join together bringing in the new members and adapting each year to the needs of all.  This was a repeat for me, the first time was in 2011.  I made a point to dine with a different instructor each evening, making new friends and delving deeper into old friendships.  The class included beginners, pattern designers, experimenters, folk painters and abstract artists.  Diverse and challenging, their projects evolved well over the week.

Sauder Village Rug Week is in Archbold, OH is in its 18th year.  Ruckman Mill Farm vended again right next to Dorr Mill Store in the Exhibit Hall where we enjoyed the Celebration rugs and special collection of Esther and Judy Knipe.  The workshop I taught covered a wide variety of ways for Finishing Hooked Rugs, (title of new book by experts in each technique… including a chapter on finishing work for gallery exhibits by me).  We used the exhibit to explore finishes, talked about the appropriate new technique for students work and using a small sample “learned” three techniques.  Response from the students was to offer this again.  Look for class schedules at in early November.  I will be teaching several different classes all week.

Susan L. Feller, Ruckman Mill Farm

Susan L. Feller, Ruckman Mill Farm


Juried into 7Stitch: Kentucky Surface Design Exhibit

Exciting email today, juror Jane Dunnewold, President of Surface Design Association accepted “Haying Stages” into the upcoming 7Stitch: Contemporary Textile Art from Kentucky & the Surrounding States exhibit at Morehead State University, Morehead, Kentucky. 

Coordinated by the Kentucky region of Surface Design, the collection of 35 fiber works will open on June 1 with a reception from 3-5pm at the Claypool-Young Art Gallery and continues through August 30, 2013.

Design Motif, Memories of New Zealand

The logo for Air New Zealand incorporates two silver fern fronds.  This plant is New Zealand’s visual example of the lush plant life found on the two islands.  Tropical is my recollection of New Zealand, even from the window of our plane we could identify huge ferns reaching out among the hardwood and pines.  It is no wonder then to see the following collection from my photos.  Do you think I am obsessed with the swirl and stem? Expect to see this motif appear in artwork soon.

New Zealand by Air and Foot

A trip of my lifetime began three years ago when the International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers new board was announced to be based in Australia.  As Past-President of course I was going to attend the tri-ennial conference in the Fall of 2012.  My grandfather taught me to save for a goal and the envelope came out for just that… a trip halfway around the world!  Why not explore another country near the destination?  So New Zealand went on the list.  Internet searching made planning a breeze with Maps, and sites to explore from luxury of homebase.  A few emails and even one phone call to New Zealand confirmed all of the lodging and airplane legs.  And we discussed how to pack for two weeks in a carryon weighing no more than 7kg (15 pounds) and one suitcase.

October 8 dawned and the first leg began.  Drive to Frederick, MD and park my car with a friend while Deb Smith and I continued in her vehicle to Dulles Airport.  Check-in at United for cross-country flight to Los Angeles.  The rest was on Air New Zealand… highly recommended and after our 7 flights with them, I agree. FLY WITH AIR NEW ZEALAND if you can.  In Los Angeles we met up with Linda Rae Coughlin and the threesome continued to Auckland, NZ, through customs and dropped off our luggage for a domestic hop to Rotorua.

Deb and Susan in transit

We arrived in Rotorua, one of the most active thermal regions in the world.  On our list to see were the mud pools, geothermal waters, and steamy volcanic forested areas.  The government of New Zealand wisely realized in the early 1900’s that deforestation without replanting would destroy the economy and ecology.  They mandate every tree which is cut must be replanted and the climate creates quick growth especially in the evergreens.  A REDWOOD forest was planted in that period and the trees have grown to hundreds of feet tall already.  Here the three of us are posing on a tree which fell but then sprouted several “limbs” as new trees. 

Linda Rae, Deb and Susan on Redwood

I decided to drink tea on the trip and found ordering “tea for two” was less expensive than two cups of tea.  Deb and I often shared a pot of English Breakfast. 

Tea at the Rotorua Museum Cafe

One observation is the cost of food either in supermarkets or at restaurants, cafes was higher than in the States until we realized there was NO TIPPING, for any service, taxi, guide, and certainly not waiters.  This does not stiffle service.  Our reaction to New Zealanders in general was friendly, helpful and welcoming; we were encouraged to return to visit the South Island (only one week of travel time), and given added advice before asking.  Tourism must be high on the economic impact list but I felt they all truly enjoyed living in New Zealand and being “Kiwis”.

There is a new envelope with a two dollar coin inside, beginning my return trip to New Zealand.



Fall inventory at Tamarack and MountainMade

Fall is the perfect season to visit the Mountain State of West Virginia.  Our foliage colors include rich burgundy, rust, golds from the hardwoods offsetting the evergreen pines and hemlocks.  Two destinations which include great gift shopping are Thomas near the highest peak (Spruce Knob) and Canaan Valley in northern West Virginia and Beckley in the south. 

Several hooked pins ranging in size from a two inch wide bar to 2 x 3 pictorials have been delivered to MountainMade in downtown Thomas. The notecards are available through this shop only or online at

Tree pins 2 x 3


Sets of 5 inch square and 8 x 10 mats are at Tamarack in Beckley.  They will be available as individual items but I do hope some stay together. 

Star Flowers

Every piece I have created was a joy and unique experience.  Selecting the fabrics in colors and values and deciding the direction to hook affects the final look.  I hope the recipients are drawn to look closely and enjoy them for years to come.