Tag Archives: Ruckman Mill Farm

Contemporary Fiber work at Schwenkfelder

My responsibility as co-curator of the ‘Garden to Table’ exhibit at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center was to collect contemporary work incorporating rughooking.  The pieces contributed by Carolyn Boutilier, Kris McDermet, Mary Jane Peabody and Darlene York  Trout along with several of mine portray a variety of techniques within the traditional rughooking medium.

hooked and sewn pumpkin base, wool stem, stuffed by Carolyn Boutilier

hooked and sewn pumpkin base, wool stem, stuffed by Carolyn Boutilier

 

 

Carolyn Boutilier from Harrisonburg, VA hooked and stuffed a 3-D pumpkin which complimented the wax fruit displays of the 1800’s.  Exhibited under it’s own plexi glass box the humble object receives the respect it deserves.  Candace Perry chuckled with glee when she saw the pumpkin.

 

 

 

 

Luscious Vermont  Kris McDermet 2014  Dummerston, Vermont

Luscious Vermont 
Kris McDermet 2014 
Dummerston, Vermont

 

 

Kris McDermet’s braiding, hooking and felting exemplifies contemporary fiber art using traditional crafts.  Living in Vermont the rug represents her generational family homes in a palette connoting the Green Mountain state. Kris is co-author of Combining Rug Hooking and Braiding published by Schiffer Publishing.

 

Fruit and Flowers, Mary Jane Peabody (pattern by Jacquelyn Hansen)

Fruit and Flowers, Mary Jane Peabody (pattern by Jacquelyn Hansen)

 

Mary Jane Peabody from New Hampshire was inspired to learn an old technique – sculpting or the Waldoboro style. She began this piece in a workshop conducted by designer,  author and expert Jacquelyn Hansen from Maine. The pattern Fruit and Flowers is by Hansen.

 

 

 

detail sculpting technique by Mary Jane Peabody

detail sculpting technique by Mary Jane Peabody

 

The 3-D effect is achieved by progressively pulling the loops higher as the shape is hooked from outline to center.  Then the thin strips are each clipped at the loop and gradually TRIMMED to create the shape. Popularized in Waldoboro, Maine in the early 1900’s on rugs, this piece is beautiful finished in a burled frame.

 

 

 

 

 

Paisley Bouquet by Darlene York Trout

Paisley Bouquet by Darlene York Trout

 

Darlene York Trout from Indiana is a designer willing to use any of the fiber skills she has accumulated to make a piece unique. This work was created specifically as a gift for her friend Patsy Jones which made it even more enjoyable to work on.  I enjoyed a week at Cedar Lakes Rug Camp working with Darlene on the Paisley Bouquet and knew it would reflect the fruit compotes in the Schwenkfelder collection.

Embroidery skills are evident in the detailed cross hatch of the central flower and the quilted, appliqué corners.  She also used beads and hooked in sari silk ribbon to highlight some accents and hand dyed all the wool.

 

 

Haying Stages, Susan L. Feller

Haying Stages, Susan L. Feller

In Haying Stages I used several techniques to create the hay rolls, mowed fields, and scrabble of grasses. The rolls are made using a pin loom and continuous weaving. An addictive satisfying technique popularized in the 1940’s and seeing a resurgence in the crafts wave of the 21st C. The ends are closed with a plaited strip made from the wool I hook with.

 

detail plaiting, weaving by Susan L. Feller

detail plaiting, weaving by Susan L. Feller

I used a ragged approach to the ends, cutting them off higher in many areas to depict the grass. In the area where the rolls are there is hand dyed wool anchored by the same yarn used int the roll.

This piece was juried by Jane Dunnewold into an exhibit at Morehead State University, Kentucky titled 7Stitch.

 

Setting up an Exhibit

Ever wonder how an exhibit comes together for opening day?  Here are some behind the scenes shots as we set up ‘Garden to Table: hooked rugs and art from the collection at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center, 105 Seminary Street, Pennsburg, PA.

Delivery of hooked, sculpted and braided pieces

Delivery of hooked, sculpted and braided pieces

Works from Indiana, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia were collected by me complimenting the theme ‘Garden to Table’.  I brought them into the Fraktur Gallery at the Schwenkfelder on Thursday and the fun began.  The previous exhibit was off the walls but still in the room including a wooden cradle, cases and a cart filled with stuffing.

One exhibit down another going up

One exhibit down another going up

Candace Perry, Curator of Collections showed me items from their archives already on the walls including a flower wreath of feathers in a manner not known to her to be made in the 21st Century.  We discussed adding redware flower pots, hand painted china from early 20th C, an oil painting by Walter Baum, Berlin work and Frakturs representing the 19th and 18th Centuries.  Off she went into the archives and I began to intermingle the fiber work with the objects.

Why did one item end up next to another?  Sometimes it is color, could be shapes, maybe subject perhaps it is traffic flow.  All of these options came into play today.  The following two images show how moving an object slightly to the left and on an angle gives more space to the rug and flower arrangement.

Tomorrow we hang the rest of the work, bring in the large display case with four domed wax fruit compotes!, label the objects, sweep the floor and redirect the lighting just in time for the official opening on Saturday.  This exhibit will be up through March 1.  The Heritage Center is open Tuesday through Sunday visit www.Schwenkfelder.com for directions, exhibit descriptions, and hours.

Thanks to Darlene York Trout, Patsy Jones, Kris McDermet, Mary Jane Peabody, and Carolyn Boutilier for contributing hooked work to the collection.

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.”

 

 

Portrait transformation

Realism is the quest in my current studies.  I decided to work a self-portrait close to life size using #3 strips (3/32″ wide) for detail.  A group in Harrisonburg, VA brought instructor Donna Hrkman in for three days and I took advantage of her expertise to start the project.   The lesson which stayed with me was to use line of pronounced value to infer shape, attitude, texture, form. Our brain will finish the picture based on its knowledge.

Susan L. Feller 2014

Susan L. Feller 2014

Lesson 1: PREPARE  I sent this photo to Donna who  created a pattern using a grid to enlarge the details.  I also ran the photo through an app for iPad called uSketch and selected a washed out version with strong main lines.

Sketch for self-portrait

Sketch for self-portrait

This image was enlarged to fit a 12 x 16 format and directly sketched  using a lightbox.  I then drew the portrait by eye (ending up with softer features than the direct sketch.) By drawing the pattern myself several times I was prepared to notice nuances and hook the shapes and lines.

Lesson 2: If the subject is close to you, draw the design yourself.  I used Donna’s pattern and my guides trying to replicate what I was seeing not my mind’s interpretation of the subject.  You will see the first image (worked on for two days) needs severe sculpting to become recognizable to my friends as me.

Day 2 Portrait Susan L. Feller, Donna Hrkman pattern

Day 2 Portrait Susan L. Feller, Donna Hrkman pattern

Lesson 3: Color can draw attention and lead the viewer to a conclusion.  Glasses, hair, and background elements are in strong recognizable colors depicting me in 2014. I had brought along the actual drapery fabric from the photo as background but Donna suggested I use symbols to highlight my rughooking journey.

Personality coming through

Personality coming through

I selected two award winning designs My Mountain State and Mountain Treeline. The abstract hooked blue/purple skyline reproduces the first and the appliquéd colored tree shapes infer the latter and my favorite season. One more element that describes me is living in a log home here in West Virginia.  I decided to take the right third behind the face to show that structure. Simple horizontal lines of dark texture and natural linen became the logs.

Lesson 4: Simplify but complete the story. I almost forgot a major element in Ruckman Mill Farm’s pattern line is FRAKTUR designs. What motifs could I insert into this natural setting that would read PA German folk art? Of course! The circle from Baptism Certificate which has my birth date, parents and my name was printed and laminated to become a pin on the shirt.  I signed the piece and added one more symbol all in one.

Symbols tell story Susan L. Feller

Symbols tell story Susan L. Feller

Lesson 5: If it is not right, fix it.  All along you will notice I got closer to a recognizable rendition of Susan Feller except for the LIPS. Donna said the lower lip usually is lighter because it protrudes slightly.  She suggested using one size larger cut for the lower lip and both larger than the #3 cuts for the face.  I looked at the photo and convinced myself the reverse would be true in my case.  Extreme light and dark values were chosen, wide cuts, narrower, slightly up turned, straight across all not quite right.  I pulled out Anne-Marie Littenberg’s book Hooked Rug Portraits by Stackpole Books and read through it.  There was one image similar to mine that used several different values to portray the light on lips.  Posted that version on Facebook and received accolades.  But it was not until I asked Roslyn Logsdon to critique the lips that I heard the answer: AGAIN—“the lower lip needs to be lighter!!!!!!”

Lesson 6: Use the right tools from your tool box.  My life has involved textiles since childhood. Hand sewing, embroidery, dying fabric and using found objects often shows up in the wall art I create.  No reason to restrict this historical portrait to just rughooking. I added my favorite linen shirt, sea glass jewelry, embroidery and appliqué to enhance the hooked features and intend to finish the piece with a tramp art frame. What fun!

 

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  thhkrugs@altelco.net   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 SauderVillage.org in early November.  I will be teaching several different classes all week.

Susan L. Feller, Ruckman Mill Farm

Susan L. Feller, Ruckman Mill Farm

 

Nature Lessons in Color Planning

When I wanted to illustrate complementary partners in the book ‘Design Basics for Rug Hookers’, Stackpole Books 2011; I chose PURPLE asters and GOLDENrod along the highway near Albany, NY and ORANGE sassafras and a crystal BLUE sky here in WV.

Late summer brings on the subtle changes we glorify as Fall.  These images are good studies in how amount of color and placement affect the motif . They represent RED with its complement GREEN.

 

This is is a ‘Daily Square’ from late October 2013 depicting a blackberry branch. These photos taken today will inspire several squares.

Look around your environment and select a new color plan.

Blackberry Branch, Susan L. Feller painted linen, hooked, embroidered, quilted

Blackberry Branch, Susan L. Feller painted linen, hooked, embroidered, quilted

Collections at Sauder Village

The 18th Annual Rug Hooking Week at Sauder Village, Archbold, OH is over, preserved in memories and digital snaps.  THE event for fiber enthusiasts will happen again August 12-15, 2015.  Bookmark SauderVillage.org and check in early November for schedule of workshops, vendors and featured exhibits.

Thank you to Rug Hooking Magazine and Sauder Village for sponsoring this show and congratulations to Event Coordinator Kathy Wright.  Look forward to old and new friends next year.

These images capture my digital highlights, the mind is overwhelmed by hundreds more.

Jim’s newest installation

There are two artists in this home Jim and Susan.  We bounce inspirations off of each other, asking for critiques or just to think out loud.  The conversation recently went something like :

J  I have all of that colored nylon fabric sitting in the bag, when are you going to cut it into clothing shapes for me?

S  I have been waiting for you to tell me what you want?  and why?

J  Well I am not sure why or where I want to hang the “clothes”.  Maybe on the front porch.

S (too quickly) Oh NO.  (then) Well ok, but why?  That is pretty stereotypical. Is that the statement you are looking for?

J  No I want people to say WHY? and I want to create another installation which you and I will enjoy looking at and smile.   How about those locust trees way down in the grove?  We can see it from the kitchen windows and people will wonder who hangs laundry 100 yards from the house.

S  GREAT!  I will get some of my clothes as patterns and cut a pile for you.

 

February Studies

image The daily square project is moving along slowly visually but the knowledge I have explored is vast.  There are two more squares to be completed for February, one I thought would be a value study in fine cuts since it is made up of “petals” around a center. But as time has progressed I decided to build dimensional shapes using a modified shirred technique.  Fine cut later this year, maybe. Winter lead me to work in the kitchen near to constant free heat from our wood cook stove.  I empathize with people who do not have a dedicated studio space and work within the family living area.  I had to consolidate materials, did not have all the tools available to paint, sew, use wire or sort through the unusual materials for inspiration, and ended up hooking more squares than if in the studio.  Back there this month though.

Red, Green, Purple, Orange

Red, Green, Purple, Orange

Workshops coming up were the topics for several squares.  The session at Green Mountain Hooked Rugs School in June will address color planning with a Mood — happy, sad, in love, sunny.  Red, Yellow, Blue, Orange, Green and Purple are interpreted with lines or motifs and in monochromatic palettes.

Complements, color and value

Complements, color and value

A presentation to With Hands & Hearts Antietam Chapter of ATHA covered relations of colors with values.  Squares address colors on white, black and textured gray backgrounds.

Fabric Studies

Fabric Studies

Just as in home decorating where the drapery fabric or a stunning piece of artwork cues the coloring for a room, I responded to a piece of wool or trim in four squares. March journal entries reflect the studying process.  Nightly a book from the library was reread, notes taken and a design exploring the technique or art style was drawn.

RETREAT 2014

2014 participants at RETREAT INTO THE MOUNTAINS sponsored by Susan L. Feller, Ruckman Mill Farm

2014 participants at RETREAT INTO THE MOUNTAINS sponsored by Susan L. Feller, Ruckman Mill Farm

Seventeen personalities, piles of fibers, loads of tools and 1,400 acres to wander and be inspired means another RETREAT INTO THE MOUNTAINS of West Virginia on the grounds of Peterkin Camp and Conference Center, Romney, WV.

Our topic this year was the Design Process. Karen Larsen of Crows Foot Farm Designs described her approach as a graphic designer —  simplify and tell the message boldly.  As an example she used an organic shaped rug for her granddaughter depicting a fairy village, sharing their mutual memories.  Also her interpretation of the ‘Star Barn‘ outside of Harrisburg is bold while Nancy Parcel’s design evoked days gone by as a charming pictorial.

Karen Larsen explaining design process

Karen Larsen explaining design process

conversations about designing

conversations about designing

Casual learning sessions occurred throughout the weekend.  Lori LaBerge introduced us to working outdoors (Plein Air Hooking) with a few pointers. We do not have to sketch the design; rather locate a scene, arrange shapes of objects in a pleasing composition, draw in shadows and start selecting colors.  Get to work quickly responding to the environment which in our case was a creek rushing, birds singing, people chattering, winds blowing and sun all around.

capturing an inspiration for later

capturing an inspiration for later

 

appreciating friendly critiques

appreciating friendly critiques

Questions on process were exchanged; music inspired conversation and movement; the bell rang and we ate or traveled to visit the studio at Ruckman Mill Farm and enjoy a meal created by Jim.

Amazing how everyone’s talents combined for a wealth of fun, learning and friendship. Same time, same place next year.