Opening on July 12, in Harrisonburg, VA this exhibit will feature seven international artists. Meet the makers this month on the post below.
Months in the Planning on SusanFeller.com
Opening on July 12, in Harrisonburg, VA this exhibit will feature seven international artists. Meet the makers this month on the post below.
Months in the Planning on SusanFeller.com
There are laws protecting our designs as patternmakers, and creators of original fiber art. They vary within countries although there is the Berne Convention from 1886 with updates that covers all countries which sign onto it (over 180). Speaking specifically as a resident of the United States, here are our rules as of publication (Jan 22, 2022).
Prior to 1924 works are in Public Domain.
After and up to 1978 copyright extends 75 years beyond death.
As of Jan 1, 1978 the copyright is 70 years after death OR 120 years from “publication” which could mean first showing or in print/social media, which ever is first.
IF there is no name attributed to the work – anonymously- then 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation
Canadian Law the copyright extends 70 years beyond death (as of Jan 1, 2023). They are also members of the Berne Convention and thus will honor other countries laws if longer period of time.
These parameters help us as creators know if an object, image or artwork can be copied without receiving written permission from the maker. If it was made before 1924 (in the US) probably ok. There could be some gray area but not necessary for this discussion. That leads us into the topic of ANTIQUE RUGS published in books of historical collections, in public institutions, found at sales. As a patternmaker can a rug be drawn from the image exactly and put into the catalog under a copyright? NO it is in the public domain (older than 1924). But if the designer adds/changes elements to the border, eliminates elements or changes positions, scale that would create a new design ADAPTED from the original. The new design is uniquely that patternmaker’s and can be sold exclusively by them. I would advise addressing the adaptation from an antique in the description when selling the pattern to cover yourself from forgeries. (This has happened recently).
Adaptation vs Inspired by can lead to a full discussion. You see an artwork in a gallery, online, in print and want to replicate the work with rughooking. FIND the artist for permission. When you receive written approval for one time interpretation of the design in fiber you are ADAPTING the work into a new medium. A photograph of mountains reminds you of a hike you went on and spurs a design. You are not looking at the image and copying but a memory was triggered by seeing it. You were INSPIRED to be creative.
Cultural Appropriation vs Appreciation when considering using symbols from other cultures in this age one should always consult with a representative of that group who understands the meaning and community’s connection. This means even graphics which may be in common use.
In my own work as a patternmaker I used a regional resource for motifs – the southeastern Pennsylvania FRAKTUR artists. My research of original works included receiving approval from the collections to use motifs and reference back to the original work, maker, institution. I hand drew motifs and collaged them into new designs under the name of Ruckman Mill Farm.
Here is a quick list of copyright links I compiled in researching a talk with the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild members.
Here are several articles found in Rug Hooking Magazine focusing on copyright in our community. There is one at least every year with a different focus.
A series in 1991 with a lawyer talking about what is copyright – the pattern and what is “fair use”
The article written by Green Mountain Hooked Rugs about Copyright.
AND the article by Tamara Pavich Asking Permission to Adapt Contemporary Art
Bottom line from these articles and many discussions I have had with rug hooking artists ASK FOR PERMISSION from the artist, if you can’t locate them or receive a NO, move on. There are many other opportunities and there is always your own creative skills. Be honest about your source for inspiration or adaptation.
This post was created as the result of an invitation to conduct a workshop for the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild. The discussion was recorded and is available as a members benefit. Click Here to join the Guild
I am available to lead a group in a question and answer period addressing copyright. See the contact page for more information.
Starting 2021 again with zoom groups was very different from a full calendar in 2019 of traveling. To focus on creative growth I began the 100 day drawing challenge on January 30. Thankfully it would be a shorter series than Year Study. With colored pencils, markers, a new journal (which ended up being two) and views outside my windows I decided to document nature. Networking with “friends” via social media each day kept me on track ending on May 10. Along the journey the sketches began to take form as fiber art – paints came out, embroidery threads and the rug hooking materials too. Thanks to that network, when Jamie Miller from Taylor Books Annex Gallery asked, I was ready with a proposal.
July 11- August 8, 2021 the collection was on exhibit with fellow Appalachians Chase Bowman, Chris DeMaria, Emma Doolley, Amanda Jane and Mike Ousley at Taylor Books Cafe and Gallery, 226 Capitol Street, Charleston, WV. There is a quick Instagram video showing the work up but seeing textile art in person brings a deeper appreciation for the materials and techniques.
Not being a gallery owner anymore I prepared a catalog of the drawings and fiber art so visitors could leaf through from winter into colorful spring.
These are some of the works on the walls.
A photo came on my screen and I thought…that would be interesting to interpret with my techniques. I reached out to West Virginia potter and Tamarack Foundation For the Arts Fellow Hannah Lenhart for permission. Her response was “I was flattered and very excited! The original image happened because I was sanding and washing pots and setting them out to dry. I found all the “butts” super pretty so I arranged them for a photo. It’s cool knowing that someone else found the image as interesting as I did.” (Hannah and I have both received fellowship grants from TFA, she in 2018 as an Emerging Artist and I as a Master in 2013).
One of her vases became the “pattern” for 4″ circular shapes on graph paper to space them in ordered randomness. When I drew out with pencil, sharpened the lines with magic marker it was ready to use the lightbox and transfer to linen backing as a 24 x 20 design. THEN bags of wools came out, organized in color families with patterns and solids abounding to cut into strips. The variety of black and white squiggles and lines Hannah incorporates in her work were fun to interpret with high contrasting tweeds, plaids and checks. To get the color playing with black I used a technique called “beading” where two high contrasting strips of wool travel along, each contributing a loop in an alternating fashion.
I looked back at the image only once for a reminder on how the bottoms (butts) were decorated. Each has the signature HL and often a pattern of lines with the coloring of the mug evident. How was I going to make my circles unique? Of course my upholstery samples pile served up a wonderful variety to be cut and applique’d. Most were embroidered using Wendy Clark’s thrums to attach the piece with abstract lines enhancing the fabric’s design.
Isolation and time to “visit” the internet has lead to many advertisements being deleted but one came along just at the right time from Renaissance Ribbons. I found a ribbon with squares that could be used as a border and ordered it right away. After stitching the finished work to black cotton and folding the edge as a plain border the ribbon was added and definitely pulled the piece together.
When I sent this photo to Hannah she replied “Audible gasp! (haha). I’m a lover of color and pattern and I love how you played around so much with both! Also there is so much detail. This piece must have taken so many hours! A labor of love, much like ceramics. “ It has been fun knowing I was creating work imagined by someone else yet ending up with a unique signature piece. Here are our monograms in the rug.
The last step will be to see this with some of Hannah’s mugs set on top. When we can get together again that image will happen. It has been interesting collaborating by internet, glad we each have also met in person. Check out Hannah’sClayCreations.com and enjoy a cup of joy with us.
If you are interested in collaborating consider GlobalTextileHub.com and their next exhibition Collaborate/Re-Imagine Call for Entry, one artist needs to work with fibers the other any media…. commitment due Sept 30 and work submitted online by April of 2021. Virtual exhibit premiers in August 2021. See the prospectus here
Part 1 leading up to Dec 4: the organizations
2019 has been a year of anniversaries in the world of rug making – hooking, punching, prodding, braiding, even felting, the techniques practiced for centuries in homes to warm floors, beds, walls and tabletops. Simple tools, treasured fibers, and time was all that was needed to produce the protection. Yet based on the skills of the makers it became decorative art. As the 20th century aged “store bought” goods replaced ‘home made” and the traditions faded.
Thankfully regions continued making and began to meet sharing the skills, educating young and exhibiting. Celebrating 40 years in 2019 is ATHA, the Association of Traditional Hooking Artists with membership at-large or in chapters, a general meeting bi-annually hosted by a region in North America, and regular newsletters. The youngest group is the Australian Rugmakers Guild, celebrating their 10th anniversary . Out of necessity they have used the internet since the beginning to network groups, exhibits and conferences across the South Pacific. . The Rug Hooking Guild of Nova Scotia also formed 40 years ago in 1979 to educate and preserve the craft and has branches in all parts of the Maritimes. 25 years ago the Rug Hooking Guild of Newfoundland and Labrador officially formed. The organization has funded and conducted an on-going rug registry totaling more than 1000 mats and their stories.
On December 4, 1994 eighteen people from several countries formed The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers -TIGHR, at the end of their conference in Ruislip, UK. Their mission was declared to spread friendships sharing the variety of rugmaking techniques enjoyed around the world, connecting members via hand typed newsletters and holding a general meeting every three years. Fast forward 25 years, TIGHR has met in 8 different countries and broadcasts news, videos and exhibits via the internet to millions – Happy Anniversaries to these groups and thank you to the many volunteers over the decades promoting the skills and social benefits.
Besides landmark anniversaries other long term groups include the annual conference of Ontario Hook Crafters Guild in different locations around the province for 53 years. The National Guild of Pearl K. McGown Hookrafters continues the teaching program begun in 1951. In Japan several teachers exhibit student work in department store galleries. Sauder Village in Archbold, OH is the mecca annually for a week of workshops, shopping, exhibits and networking during mid August at Rug Hooking Week, the 24th will be August 10-15, 2020.
And a big thank you to Ampry Publishing who continues the legacy of Joan Moshimer’s News and Views from 1972 now, since 1989 Rug Hooking Magazine, celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. The only magazine dedicated to all forms of rug hooking – traditional, folk art, realistic, contemporary for the floors to the walls.
Senior year in high school and I am trying to decide what my next academic study path would be. Archeology at the University of Arizona? Granted my mom’s best friend lived in Tucson so I knew people 2300 miles from home but….I was homesick going to Girl Scout camp, could I be that far away? Other career choice was Interior Design, Retail Management and so I went to Newbury Junior College in Boston. That was a five hour drive from home, a city not as intimidating as NYC (my immediate neighbor) and only a two year program. Long story short, I spent 10 years in Boston, graduated from U Mass with a degree in Art and History.
Now in 2019, living in West Virginia, I have had the honor to peel back the layers of a hand stitched rug made by Otha and Blanche McDonald in the mid 1960’s. I felt like that archeologist of my youthful dreams when each element of construction was revealed. Researching the sister’s work for a few years, I have seen many completed pieces. Because they are hand stitched, applique’ and embroidered motifs quilted together to make the heavy rugs we have not been able to see the inner layers. Until a few months ago that is. This rug was on the floor for it’s life, ending up in a summer house guest bedroom but still used underfoot. The wool, thin cotton, and knits did not stand up well to this wear. I was asked to repair and then mount the rug to be hung as art for its next 50 years.
First step was to clean the rug with a vacuum, and inventory the damage. There were four large flowers where the discolored cotton batting showed through and several small centers that had worn out. I studied how the flowers were attached to the rug and realized the random stitching we see on the reverse was the anchoring threads. With some unease I began to snip away, the flowers came off one at a time.
Next was to study the stitches used to edge the motif and separate the petals. I do embroider which helped. Overall they used the blanket stitch around the center motif and outer edges. Couching is the method to detail the petals. After working four of the flowers I got into an efficient rhythm. Begin at the center, get to a petal lay the thread and then couch back to center, continue. Then stitch around the flower. Grandma’s instructions to make my back as neat as front got in the way of channeling Blanche or Otha’s style. My first attempt was evenly spaced about an 1/8 inch away but they worked much tighter and irregularly. I caught on and when the flowers were added to the rug they are not noticed as new. One problem in being authentic was I did not know what thread they used. I matched the color to DMC 844 exactly. But that was 6 separate strands and theirs was one. I went back to the State Museum in Charleston and found a researcher who worked in textiles and coincidentally grew up in Glenville, near the sisters. She suggested a cotton finger weight yarn for making socks! Made sense to me.
Matching aged colors and similar fabrics took me months. Finally I came up with a walnut stained pillow case I had made and for the blue flowers a sample piece of discontinued upholstery fabric. The blue needed to be scuffed up a bit. Taking the flowers and stems off and turning them over to see the original bright colors was exciting every time. There are examples in the State Museum of rugs that have not been exposed to wear and light. I actually like the look of these two rugs I have worked with because they tell a story of living with loving family members. Following are some images of the individual elements and their replacements.
Sorry to see this new/old friend leave us. But after making a wooden frame covered with acid free fome core and black cotton twill, I used crochet thread in random all over stitches through the entire rug and fome core to attach the heavy piece. Then added wire to hang either vertically or horizontally and packed it in the car. I got to meet the owner who had purchased the rug from the sisters and we shared the admiration of their skills. So many lessons were learned by delving into the layers and “talking with the ladies”.
Please tell us how and why you create. The work can speak only so loud years later. Photograph, journal, show us the tools and materials and most importantly what inspires you and why you work with your hands. I do it to connect with the people who taught me, whose work I admire, and because of the tactile experience and meditative time each piece takes to speak my visions.
Over the past year my focus in design has been on how to develop the full story. Often, specifically in rug hooking, the motifs receive the attention: selecting colors, values, materials, and even techniques. When they are complete “we” fill in the rest with a quick selection of color and value. Evolving from this patternmaking routine has been conscious, deliberate and rewarding as I devote time and energy beyond a designer to being an artist/craftsperson.
The series ‘Leaves’ used full sized templates of one natural object to draw the audience’s attention. My effort was to create a changing and interesting environment –
grass with evening shadows;
the blue sky poking out of foliage;
a neutral space harkening to another traditional craft, quilting
Satisfied with this exploration I approached a large piece with the same attention. The viewer will be drawn in because of scale (74 x 36), arrangement with the central motif reaching beyond the edges, and presentation (the fiber work is stretched like a work on canvas and hangs on the wall about 2 feet off the floor). The texture of each tree is laboriously portrayed depicting different species by selecting tweeds, herringbones, overdyed wools of varying widths in cuts moving them into bark and shadow shapes. The distant sky is a crisp early spring blue completing the depth. I decided to hand stitch the wool fabric to the backing rather than distract the calmness with a multitude of hooked loops. The forest floor is the anchoring element and the lessons I learned in the Leaves Series were put to test – with enthusiasm and success.
Nature out of the way, the second version of the same design is half the size, colorful, and linear trunks with value changes to reflect bark.
There are two more versions in the works, each smaller by half. One will be fully embroidered and the other worked in collage and embroidery. To finish my exploration I have sketched out just the floor of the forest. This piece will be a runner for the table or floor, taking the viewer to the actual space it depicts.
What fun to stay with a challenge, develop a design that can be explored and tell the story of our natural beauty – the forest.
I talk about the Girl Scouting and handwork skills learned while growing up, the BA in Art and History with photography as my creative medium but until Lillian Vale gave me a 15 minute lesson on how to pull loops I was not confident to proclaim: I am an artist. That session was on January 1, 1994, and rug hooking has lead to an amazing journey over 25 years.
This frame supported hundreds of projects until 2008 when I upgraded to a floor model. I had to pin the backing taught, pulling the push pins out when I needed to move to another part. The first top wore out and Jim made a second one! I logged every project on the wooden base listing size, start, finish, title and if sold to whom.
We do not have many places to store items, but the Pig rug is missing and 1994 was before digital photos. It was a large rounded pig line drawing (no “designer’s name). He was in the center of backing with no other details. However the second rug was my own design – the Spinner. A dream of what we would do when getting into our log cabin. The inspiration was Moravian Pottery mosaics. And rug hooking line drawings lead me to studying fraktur motifs, geometrics, nature and finally the confidence to “paint with wool” as an artist.
Flash through the years, 200 rug patterns, dye recipes, a Design in a Box filled with fraktur templates all as Ruckman Mill Farm are now distributed by Green Mountain Hooked Rugs. I served on boards of national and international rug hooking organizations, vended throughout the US and Canada, wrote a book about Design, sold hundreds of rugs, and exhibited in fine art collections. For the past five years, under a new company ArtWools, I have taught design to fiber artists, advocated for the arts in WV and work in my studio. The best of this journey is my confidence to say I AM AN ARTIST and the many friends I have met along the way.
Looking forward to the next years creating.
Seeing the long, green, 36″ round gasline pipes stacked on trucks slowly climbing the mountains of our state on a daily basis has raised my tension level. When I feel unable to control or change an event or action I create. Slowly a design nudges my consciousness. The visual concept begins to evolve on paper. With a few adjustments the story I want to tell appears as a cartoon (line drawing). My energy changes from lethargic to accelerated and materials are gathered, or made in the dye pots. Pulling loops and stitching with needle and thread, slowly I talk to myself. When finished I can talk to you.
The natural gas-lines, proposed and begun, crisscross West Virginia as they travel East. There are stockpiles in what were hay fields, in abandoned parking lots, even in newly excavated spaces along highways and back roads. They are not hidden from view. The workers migrate from job to job across state lines and take up the hotel rooms built for tourism and business travelers supporting our long term economy.
It is summer and the rhythms of farming continue too. Large round hay rolls cast their shadows in early morning and late afternoon light. Yellow dried grasses are rolled up revealing the fresh new greens of regrowth. This is a sustaining cycle humans developed which truthfully also is destructive and abusive of the soils and land. But that is another visual story. Today I look at haying season as nostalgic which is calming.
My intent in using traditional rug hooking as a medium is to honor the utilitarian purpose of past generations and present my work to a new audience when shown on the wall as visual art. The two pieces were designed as large floor rugs for these reasons and because big gets attention.
Simplifying the landscape images into shapes let me convey the repeating patterns and tension I felt. Circles of the pipe ends viewed by following those trucks and driving past the stockpiles and the innocent hayrolls lined up in rows are surrounded by dark and light depict the feelings I have driving past each subject. The companion piece is Lines: logging, haying and pipes. Using the same wool fabrics as in the Circles piece, with additional pieces for value changes, the logging industry is added to our state’s human impact on nature.
The two partners – Circles: pipes and hay rolls and Lines: logging, haying and pipes were completed in 2018. Ready for exhibit.
Time to work large, the subject warrants attention and big draws people to look.
I cut off a piece of linen 60″ x 80″ which leaves a maximum finished size of 54″ x 74″ or two runners 26″ x 74″ (after excess to put on the frame). The size choice will be the first of many design decisions.
The innocent circle shape can be seen along our country roads during haying season as farmers make huge rolls to feed their animals in the winter. The wide open fields are green then turn tan as the grass dries. Rolled, the new grasses grow back and the cycle continues year after year with care from the caretaker of the land-the farmer. I have been inspired by this cycle since youth when the shape was a smaller rectangle but the colors and care the same.
Now there are different objects along many through ways stacked by the thousands waiting to go underground after the trees have been felled, stripped, and piled ready to be sorted for their end use-barbecue brickettes, lumber, paper pulp, firewood. Or they will be connected under the fields scarred by digging, or under the hundreds of waterways that are home to golden trout, endangered hellbenders and many other species besides our nourishment. This manmade project will transport gas extracted from the land more aggressively than in the past. The pipelines going through West Virginia and many other states are not benefiting the residents. The corporations intimidate our legislature to hold off taxing them so we will be left with roads to repair, lost income to tourism and natural guides yet a wound across our mountains. I have depicted the straight lines for power in Progress into the Mountains. Now comes specifically the pipes and resulting lines.
Coloring comes next, what do I want the viewer to see? Green rings with dark rust centers, tan circles and green background. Will I use the rows alternating the subject? Or twelve inch squares of each pieced like a traditional quilt pattern?
There is a smaller design coming along too using the green plastic straws I save, mixed media is still my favorite studio time.
Do you see shapes, lines or colors daily that could become your visual statement on life?