Tag Archives: rug hooking

A morning in Lowell then on the road

Reasons to visit Lowell, MA : 1. Interested in history of industrial revolution and manufacturing impact on communities, economies.  2. Explore the roots of unions and establishment of child labor laws, realistic work hours. 3. The seeds of suffragette movement, and women’s rights. 4. Textile heritage portrayed through one of the first urban National Parks featuring the architecture, lifestyle, and today the craft at New England Quilt Museum, along with the mills in the park. 5. Today’s lively arts and cultural heritage celebrated in festivals, concerts and shops. #LikeLowell   likelowell.com/ 

Climate Change how we can help

 

The signage at the Visitors Center included a display about Climate Change.

 

 

 

The New England Quilt Museum on Shattuck Street near the Visitors Center for the park has a gift shop on the first floor and rotating exhibits on the second along with a reference library. The shows currently include collaborative work from the beginnings of Art Quilts (the early 1970’s). A collection worked by two close friends Molly Upton and Susan Hoffman which are stunning in their simplicity yet rhythmic combination of materials and shapes. Quilted Canvas II

The second exhibit Migrant Quilts of the Southern Arizona Borderlands is a series of quilts using materials found, names of lost people, and chronicling the deaths by years. (a panel for each year)

I only had a morning to spend in the city but look forward to returning with some textile friends to share the emotional experiences I had, discuss the many topics of mutual interest, and support this community.

On the road again heading north, with NO more major cities there was minimal traffic. Montpelier is my home for the upcoming week. The state capital for Vermont, with two major streets : State and Main. You can definitely “park your car” and walk around visiting shops, eating farm to table, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Skinny Pancakes, at the New England Culinary School, pizza, gelato, 802 Coffee, or steak at the Capitol Plaza Hotel.

I am here for the Green Mountain Rug Hooking School (in its 37th year). There are two four day sessions lead by instructors from the US and Canada. Check out this year’s schedule and consider attending in 2019. The listing of classes will be online after this session ends.

My students in Contemporary Celtic Design explored the making of their patterns to be able to colorplan the knots, twists and turns. It is challenging and rewarding to see the lines become shapes.

The next post will drop in on more classes and aspects of the school.

 

Fine artists who hooked Rugs

Rughooking has been chosen as a medium by female fine artists for decades. In honor of Women’s History Month here are some examples.

Black Pig, Marguerite Zorach 1944 hooked rug

Marguerite Zorach (1887-1968) born and educated in California, lived in Maine, New York City married to artist William and mother to Dahlov Ipcar an artist in her own right. Marguerite explored the same subject in different mediums as Blanche using the time consuming techniques of embroidery and rughooking purposefully to promote women’s handcraft to an audience of art viewers. Her designs were not authorized as patterns, yet have been copied from illustrations in books about antique hooked rugs.

In the catalog accompanying exhibit at the Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland 2017, Marguerite Zorach- An Art-Filled Life, Cynthia Fowler suggests “for Zorach, a committed modernist with an appreciation for abstraction as evidenced in her paintings, embroidery freed her to experiment with detail in ways that would not have been acceptable in her paintings.”

Sunflowers hooked rug, Blanche Lazzell design

West Virginian Blanche Lazzell (1878-1956), active in printmaking, painting and decorative arts developed some of the first abstract work in American art in the teens of the 1900’s. She said of her work in textile and pottery it “helps us to do the next thing better”. A woodblock would be interpreted as a painting and again by hooking a rug, each time the design revealed something different to the artist. She contributed five designs to Ralph Pearson’s project “Contemporary American Artists’ Hand-Hooked Rugs” along with fourteen other modernist artists in 1927.

As concluded in Blanche Lazzell: The Life and Work on an American Modernist “By choosing to experiment in, exhibit, and sell her decorative arts alongside her paintings and prints, Lazzell stands as a precursor to the artists of the last half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the 21st who use ceramics and textiles as the primary medium of their fine art, such as Judy Chicago, Faith Ringgold, and Miriam Schapiro.”

 

Red Tree, Emily Carr by Sunny Runnells

 Emily Carr (1871-1945) from British Columbia, a Canadian national treasure, as author, painter and during a period when extra income was needed, rughooker. An independent spirit she explored and documented the First Nations villages along the coast above Vancouver. Her talent was acknowledged late in life, when invited to participate in major exhibits in Ontario alongside the Group of Seven’s work. The hooked designs incorporate the native designs rather than interpreting her painterly natural subjects. Today several paintings are licensed as patterns and hooked renditions convey her brush strokes.  Visit the Carr House, her family home in Victoria.

 

 

Louisa Calder at work

Louisa Calder (1905-1996) interpreted her husband Alexander’s artwork in hooked rugs using yarn and a latch hook as depicted in ‘Calder’s Universe’ a catalog accompanying the retrospective in 1976 at the Whitney Museum in New York City. Calder worked on or authorized several textile projects and many of his work was also hooked without permission by the public (disregarding or prior to copyright laws).  See this link for a listing of textiles.not all created equal.

To these and my fellow contemporary artists who “paint with fibers” may our audience appreciate the process and experience the tactile rewards from our art

 

Abstract Expression workshop

Broadway Restaurant, Grace Hartigan at Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City MO

Last days of planning for Green Mountain Hooked Rugs School in Montpelier, VT took me to several museums, the most recent was Nelson-Atkins Art Museum in Kansas City, MO. Seeing work in person incorporates all your senses and emotions. To walk into a gallery and witness the curator’s selections enhanced by painted walls, lighting and spacing opens understanding and questions I want to ask of the artists. Their work speaks for them, to me and others. Conversations with fellow museum goers has expanded my appreciation and docents or labels add to the education.

Abstract Expressionists’ elements, interpreted in slow motion (the textile techniques of handwork), will be explored by students willingly reacting to music, verse, street scenes, and their own “homework” sketches. I experienced their unease while working through “Nesting Frenzy”. Illustrated are sketch #1 and mixed media versions #2 and #3. These are works in progress. Expect a final report to be published in the near future. It was an uncomfortable but rewarding experience.

catalog

Artists to explore include those in the traveling exhibit Women of Abstract Expressionism.

Grace Hartigan, Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Perle Fine, Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, to begin the listing reacted to each others work, critiquing, responding to and were driven to express the environment (social and natural) around them at the time.

We continue to use our skills to exhale today’s bombardment of outside and internal influences. Our art speaks.

 

Have you been to San Francisco?

I have and the experience is inspiring. Lines, light, shapes in buildings that remind me of trees, trees with different shapes, wide roads filled with cars and narrow ones surrounded by vineyards and GREEN. It rained and nature is responding with color and profusion.

Water and travel to places means bridges. I have made it across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Wine Country. Hills that are rounded but tall, rolling hills filled with the skeletons of spring vines, a rocky coastline and broiling waves are images I can conjure up from the past few days in Sebastopol and now Walnut Creek outside of San Francisco.

I was 3000 miles from home teaching an eager group mixed media techniques to incorporate into their rughooking designs. We explored the elements and principles of design, experimented with materials and techniques and shared ways we process, design and see. Here are some works in progress. The full class of 15 promised to send photos when completed. The workshop was sponsored by the Wine Country Rug Hookers an ATHA chapter. My compliments to everyone involved in setting up my contract, travel, definitely the evening dinners and enthusiastic participants.

Inspiration explored 50 years later

Blanche McDonald, Letter Gap, WV circa 1965 with mixed media footstool

Blanche McDonald, Letter Gap, WV circa 1965 with mixed media footstool

In a five year research project gathering personal background about Otha and Blanche McDonald from Letter Gap, WV I have been inspired by their textile work. Incorporating collage, embroidery, trapunto and stitching the ladies work embodies traditions, make-do, and balanced composition = art.  This post will describe my approach to making a footstool as they did in the 1960’s.

seven cans for the base of footstool

seven cans for the base of footstool

Materials needed: seven same sized empty cans (I used one pound coffee cans)
batting used in quilting
fabric to wrap the circumference of cans assembled into circle
embroidery threads your choice of colors
variety of heavy weight fabrics or upholstery fabric sample
fabric strips to hook (usually wool but your choice)
foundation backing open weave for hooking and stitching
needles, hook, scissors
mat board cut the shape of circle (two pieces)

Tape the cans together, six around one in center. Trace this shape on paper and use as template for pattern. Draw onto backing and gather your fabrics, threads, tools. This is the time to play. The McDonald Sisters’ compositions all conjure up gardens and nature. They collaged scraps of velvet, brocades and drapery fabric common in the 1960’s in central West Virginia and any rural community in the United States. The shapes were defined with yarns unevenly anchoring the edges of each petal or stem. Some other materials used to embellish were unraveled copper threads from a Brillo pad which have tarnished over the years but still have a twinkle hint of metal.

top of footstool in private collection

top of footstool in private collection

I do not want to replicate their designs for a couple of reasons. One the copyright has not expired, the ladies passed away in 1975 and 1976. Two as an artist I prefer to react and respond. Using a supply of discontinued samples of upholstery fabric acquired from Dillon’s Furniture in Romney (eliminating their dumping them into the landfill), cutting up and rearranging the pieces into a pleasing composition then filling in the spaces with hooked wool fabric and stuffing some of the fabric shapes this footstool cover evolved.

 

Piecing three colors of wool to wrap the cans, I attached the top and put on a bottom of corduroy with mat board buffering the cans and fabric. The sides were embroidered with simple flowers.  I stuffed the two main flowers on the top but stitched the stems with embroidery threads anchoring them lower than the hooked loops.

This footstool will be part of an exhibit at Sauder Village August 17-20 focusing on Otha and Blanche McDonald’s life and their exposure to economic opportunities thanks to President Johnson signing the Economic Opportunity Act in 1964. They and many craftspeople have been honored in exhibits, purchase awards, and sales for the past fifty years.

Susan L Feller with mixed media hassock

Susan L Feller with mixed media hassock

Fifty years later another footstool and craftsman outside of her log home… me.

 

 

 

Stymied with process

I have a good design, pile of materials in a variety of values, and know the techniques I want to use why is this process not enjoyable?

Sketch of Seneca Rocks #2 Susan L Feller

Sketch of Seneca Rocks #2 Susan L Feller

I think the last two ingredients are lacking something….but what?

Check out my decision process so far:  layering fabric, working trees in different values embroidered, hooked and appliquéd, embroidery of leaves and then the rocks.

Decided I need to set this aside and work on another project while researching skills and shopping for supplies.

Ninth Retreat Whitened

Early in April for the past nine years fiber enthusiasts have traveled to Hampshire County, WV for a weekend at Peterkin Camp and Conference Center. Anticipation of renewing friendships, flashes of pinks from native redbuds along Route 50, and pulling loops until midnight energize us.

Snow but no travel on Saturday

Snow but no travel on Saturday

This year the weather included snow! We also had rain on Friday and bright sun on Sunday to travel home. In past years there has been hurricanes, tornadoes, and a full weekend of very warm sunny weather. Mother Nature is fickle in April in West Virginia.

We worked away on a wide variety of rughooking projects. Many of which will be works in progress next year too – they are quite intricate.

Too quickly the packing began and vehicles headed north, south, east and west filled with memories of conversations and visual fun.

Join with a friend or two and pull some loops soon, your mind and work will benefit.

Graphic Realism

I indicated in REALISM INTERPRETED there was a second piece using the same subject. Here is the process and results.  The first work, “Neighbor’s Barn”, used the subject and evokes the natural nuances of 100 year old chestnut boards.  This piece, “Neighboring Barn”, I challenged myself to simplify using straight lines; evoke more drama with higher contrast; and in the end incorporate hardware to emphasize the design origin.

Originally I drew out a runner (18 x54), as you will see the concept morphed into a square.  Why?  As the length increased I began to ask myself what was I trying to say?  When “I do not know” came back to me I re-evaluated.  I took out the light line in lower right, inserted a dark copper wire and ended the composition at the base of the door.  This way with the hardware the viewer probably sees a weathered structure and my piece has a story to tell.

November Study Finished

I am thrilled to create this post of the studies created in November 2013.  The variety of techniques include painting canvas, beads, hooking, applique’, using found objects (ceramic mug, twist ties, clothesline), alpaca yarns, proddy, wire.  Styles ranged from realistic, dimensional, abstract to geometric.

Inspired a larger piece

Inspired a larger piece

During the month I created three larger pieces inspired by the studies and like the feeling I had while making two random squares.  They too could become runners at least.  The palette is changing to softer, colder, and more subtle as the seasons change.  I am going to bring out the alpaca yarns in a range of neutrals and softness for winter and the bare woods.  Missing the FALL foliage wools already.  Sure the small sparks of color will be much more enjoyable as our birds, the evergreens and wintry sky become subjects.  But that is for December and into 2014.

I began this journal on October 18 and was literally in the studio or outside working each day.  As November’s weather changed and the work space became a warm corner in the kitchen (with wood cook stove going) my work ethic changed.  In the studio all the toys were accessible adding to pieces easily.  Away from those inspirations more of the squares were just hooked.  Those which I envisioned needed different materials awaited a trip downstairs.

So it took until December 13 to complete November’s squares.  That’s ok with me.  For the year each month will remain as you see on the header image, one large piece of linen divided in a calendar grid.  After that I will divide them out and finish in appropriate manner for the piece.  I have photographed changes, documenting the lessons I am learning.  Considering this year to be my Independant Study.  Self issued certificate at end.

December has each square drawn out but I felt completing one month was important in the new discipline.  These pieces are revisiting some of the subjects with the new high contrast which snow adds.  Tree branches, railings, even a chair are different when defined by a blanket of snow.   Enjoy the Gallery of selected pieces.

Hampshire Highlands Studio Tour 2012

The first full weekend in December for the past 5 years has meant visitors and locals shopping at Hampshire County studios.  DECEMBER 7-9 are the dates this year, and I have just finished some fun items hooked with wool. Hope some of you can come out to Hampshire County on the weekend and visit with us.  This year our log  home is open with my work hanging among the other artist’s pieces we collect, a great opportunity to see Jim’s log house and our working studio. 

IF YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO COME BY BUT SEE SOMETHING INTERESTING, Email me at rugs2wv@yahoo.com and ask if it is still available, we would ship!

PINS which are 2″ x 3″, each titled and labeled are $25 each.

Push/Pull, Up Hill, Shadows in the Valley, Moonlit Hill

Push/Pull, Up Hill, Shadows in the Valley, Moonlit Hill

 

Starry Night, Fall Road, Fall Stream, Coppery Moon

Starry Night, Fall Road, Fall Stream, Coppery Moon

There are several 8″ x 10″ mats for $90. Many with complimentary mini 5″ square mats at $25.

Coloring Box: 8 x 10 mat

Coloring Box: 8 x 10 mat

 

Orange Flame, Geode, Energy Paths, Hayfield and Sumac

Orange Flame, Geode, Energy Paths, Hayfield and Sumac

 

Nature's Beauty, Apple Blossoms in the Valley, Jewel Light

Nature’s Beauty, Apple Blossoms in the Valley, Jewel Light

Fall Leaves 8 x 10

Fall Leaves 8 x 10

Sky Through Honeycomb 8 x 10

Sky Through Honeycomb 8 x 10

We have a new “designer” BOB (the second female tabby cat named Bob) and yes the first one is still around.

Bob with Layers and Celebrate each $165

Bob with Layers and Celebrate each $165