Tag Archives: Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center

Facetime: Portraits Exhibit

Another opportunity to combine traditions at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center, Pennsburg, PA has resulted in Face Time: Portraits in Hooked Rugs and Selections from the Heritage Center Collection. The exhibit is up through March 17, 2018.

Susan Feller brought a variety of hooked work addressing the theme from self-portraits, friends, animals and a full group of church goers. Curator Candace Perry opened the archives and the two selected framed portraits of founders, animals, Halloween masks, frakturs, china phrenology heads and etched glasses all with faces. Come by to learn about traditions, history and leave with a smile on your FACE.

Thank you to the artists who contributed their work:

Hunter”, Judy Carter, Willow Street, PA

An original design, Judy has studied and instructs how-to portray animals using rughooking.  She is the author of Hooking Animals. Visit www.jcrugs.com.

Susan @ 60″, Susan L Feller, Augusta, WV

Self portrait including motifs which tell about my life in West Virginia, our log home, the mountains, trees (a common motif), orange glasses and gray hair. Working in mixed media adds to the autobiographical design. Frame designed by Jim Lilly. Visit ArtWools.com

“Mona and Me”, Rita Hammock, design Laura Pierce/photo Darryl Hammock, Brighton, MI

Mona was a good friend. Created to preserve our friendship, then she became ill. The rug was worked on during the months prior to her passing. Rug hooking is good therapy and creates memories.

“President Washington”, design by Linda Pietz, CA; hooked by Nola Heidbreder, St. Louis, MO

This portrait of George Washington is traditionally hooked with strips of wool fabric cut in  3/8” strips.  He read his Bible for one hour twice a day. Book available with first 44 “Hooking the Presidents”. Visit NolaHooks.com

“Celebrating in North Bay”, Roslyn Logsdon, Laurel, MD

A birthday celebration with my son in Maine. Value, contrast and shapes are important elements in my work. Visit RoslynLogsdon.net

“Coco the Llama”, Liz Marino, South Egremont, MA

My husband and I have had a llama farm since 1984. The portrait of CoCo Llama was a tribute to our herd matriarch. She represented everything we bred for in a well put together llama and also had the soul and temperament that we stove for in our breeding program. Visit LizMarinoRugHooking.com

“Manservant”, June Myles, Redding CT and Elkins, WV

Image is a serving man during the wedding of “the King of the World”. It was adapted from a Persian miniature of the Wedding Procession of Dara Shiloh.

“Homecoming”, Sarah Province, Silver Spring, MD

The congregation of Fairfield Presbyterian Church, near Richmond, VA 1940 Sarah’s family is in this gathering. She is the blonde girl in red jumper at her mother’s knee on the right. The original photo included about 200 people, with artistic license, 75 are depicted here.

The Schwenkfelder is open Tuesday – Sunday and is located at 105 Seminary Street, Pennsburg, PA. Visit Schwenkfelder.com




2016’s influence

It’s time to look back, review, evaluate and gather inspiration from the people, places and things on my journey of 2016.

With students and friends while gathering for a few days of immersion in our mutual interests…fiber arts on the Puget Sound, retreating in Hampshire County WV and South Carolina, teaching in Maryland and Ohio at Sauder Village and lectures at Schwenkfelder Library, Pennsburg PA inspired me as much as my encouraging their design skills. Working with Alissa Novoselick and Emma Pepper developing an arts conference in WV; participating in an exhibit curated by Roslyn Logsdon in Maryland; promoting the McDonald Sisters of Gilmer County to thousands; and handing off a legacy to Green Mountain Hooked Rugs exposed me to new skills and supportive people.

Big city Seattle, arts filled Asheville, rural Summerville Georgia,  Thomas, WV population 600 and the beauty of nature along trails in Fayetteville, Seneca Rocks, and Harpers Ferry are places remembered in my sketch books and beginning to appear in fibers.

We gather objects to remember places and people especially collecting them from fellow artists. I like to wear jewelry made by artist friends when traveling, it is as much of an ambassador as I am. We often photograph our flowers in the art vases, new artwork hanging on log walls, and even show great food on our trips sharing our experiences with an “extended family”. Thank you to Kate Harward, Ginger Danz, Christine Keller, Norma Acord, Donald Stone, Wendy Clark, Rebecca Wudarski, Mountain Daughter Metalworks, Bruce Wilson and Marilyn Bottjer for your talent we live with daily.

I am planning to explore places, interact with friends and react to artwork daily in 2017, perhaps we will meet up on our journeys and share some experiences.

History at Penn Dry Goods

As one of 11 national speakers this year at Penn Dry Goods Market at the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center, Pennsburg, PA my topic of rughooking was well represented in the antique dealers’ collections.  The lecture presented an overview timeline of rughooking techniques from sailors using their tools to pull yarns through canvas for riggings, handsewn coverings to creations that evolved into rugs as an open weave material in burlap became available in the mid 1860’s. Here is the handout listing the resources I used to create this historical background. History of Rughooking from an Artist’s Frame

Spreading through the Maritime Provinces of Canada and New England where winters were long and wool fabric available, I mentioned the people along this journey from pattern makers, authors, collectors, teachers and the artists in every home.  The talk encouraged all to think of the individuals pulling or poking fabric into designs which pleased the maker and now are purchased (or made) to decorate our own homes. This list is just the beginning referring to fine artists who use the technique of rughooking History People who used technique as art

Look at the variety of rugs, mats, framed work the dealers brought.  Interested in one contact the vendor directly, see this list.   I would recommend this event  May 19-20, 2017 with another lineup of presenters and dealers. Exhibits in the museum are interesting anytime. Featured now is Within and Without: the Art of the Book in the Fraktur Gallery

Ani DiFazio Antiques

Ani DiFazio Antiques – hooked on linen pillowcase novelty yarns early 1900’s

Rug published in Hooked Rug Treasury, by Jessie Turbayne now available

Rug published in Hooked Rug Treasury, by Jessie Turbayne now available

David Tuttle  sold

David Tuttle

Gatchellville Store

Gatchellville Store – Madonna hooked in PA early 1900’s

Cat Lady Antiques

Cat Lady Antiques – Mother and children Esther, Philip probably from New England

Nailor Antiques half of a runner, black is heart design

Nailor Antiques
half of a runner, black is heart design

Neverbird Antiques

Neverbird Antiques – Hannah L Hale, Newburyport, MA 1845-1849 sheered yarn

Rose B. Berry

Rose B. Berry


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.


Garden to Table Treasures

The third exhibit co-curated by myself and Candace Perry, Director of Collections at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center titled: “Garden to Table” will be displayed through March 1, 2015.  As I alluded to in the post Setting up an exhibit, the artifacts from the collection are a special glimpse into decorative skills the Schwenkfelders and their neighbors perfected.

There will be another post with the hooked and braided work intermingled with these pieces but I thought to show you creativity in making flowers and fruit from wax, wool, yarns, feathers, milkweed seeds, painted china, and paintings.

Elements made by hand using wax and sometimes molds by women as glass domed centerpiece in homeMaker unknown. Gift of John Whitenight and Fred LaValley.

Maker unknown, circa 1880’s Gift of John Whitenight and Fred LaValley.

Wax Fruit Arrangements

A popular craft for many women in Montgomery County in late 19th century was the making of wax fruit, and arranging the pieces under glass domes for parlor decorations. The Schwenkfelder Heritage Center has several of these arrangements including three that are from Schwenkfelder families, and one from the greater Philadelphia area.

The arrangements often contained vegetables, and sometimes other types of desserts and delicacies.




detail Floral Wreath in Shadow Box, 1880-1890, Schwenkfelder

detail Floral Wreath in Shadow Box, 1880-1890, Schwenkfelder

Wool Floral Wreath

The making of wool flowers and assembling them in shadow boxes or under glass domes was yet another form of needlework that captured the imagination of local women in the late 19th century. Sometimes – and probably inaccurately – called plushwork, these flowers were constructed by wrapping wire shapes with wool and then matting or felting them. Instructions to make the flowers were available in Godey’s Ladies’ Book, the popular periodical of the mid-19th century.




detail Feather Arrangement

detail Feather Arrangement

Domed Feather Arrangement
Making pictures, personal accessories, and arrangements such as this flower bouquet out of feathers became a popular craft for women in the mid-19th century. Exotic birds’ plumage would be used if available, but for the average American woman such as Lucina Schultz, chicken feathers would do quite well, and were sometimes painted and otherwise manipulated to achieve special effects.

Feather Arrangement credits: ca. 1870-1890
Made by Lucina Schultz
Douglass Township, Berks County
Gift of the Estate of Lucina Schultz

detail Milkweed Wreath in Shadow Box  Maker Unknown ca. 1890-1905 Probably Berks or Montgomery County

detail Milkweed Wreath in Shadow Box
Maker Unknown
ca. 1890-1905
Probably Berks or Montgomery County

Milkweed Wreath

Nature’s seeds were used by the PA Germans creating wreaths for the Holidays and small ornaments.  This image is a detail of a wreath composed entirely using milkweed seeds shaped as small flowers. The tedious work involved to build the depth is hard to imagine but the work fools viewers into thinking they are actual dried flowers. Placing it behind glass in an ornate gold frame raises the craft to a decorative art form.

Hand Painted China collection

Hand Painted China collection

China Decorating

Amateur china painting became a popular Victorian ladies’ craft in the 1870s. Porcelain blanks made by Limoges in France and other factories in Europe were imported in huge numbers to supply the popular hobby. Some women even painted china to earn extra income.

Local china decorator Nora Krauss Schultz began creating her exquisite designs in the early 20th century and continued well into the 1950s, not only with her own work, but by passing on her knowledge to many local women in the communities of the Upper Perkiomen Valley. Nora Schultz’s talent for beautiful decoration can be seen in the group of plates decorated with berries on the left side of this case.



Still Life Painting by local

Still Life Painting by local

 Still Life Painting

Sometimes china decorators applied their skills to the canvas, also; the paintings displayed above this case were painted by local women who also may have painted china.



Below are full views of the works detailed.

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.