Tag Archives: Susan L. Feller

Craftivism: How the Arts give voice to causes and communities

exerpt from full plenary presentation March 18, 2022 at the 45th Appalachian Studies Association conference, WVU in Morgantown, WV. Theme of the event was Making, Creating, and Encoding: Crafting Possibilities in Appalachia. Delivered by Convenor and panelist Susan Feller, fiber artist, craftivist,

“Our thanks to Natalie Sypolt for the topic, Emily Hilliard who suggested the panelists, and Beth Nardella lining up the tech. The panelists besides myself are Dr. Dolores Johnson, fiber artist and advocate from Huntington; WV, Shaun Slifer, JustSeeds.org, author, printmaker; and Kay Ferguson from ARTivisim Virginia talking about the Water Quilts community activist project.

Craftivisim was coined in the 21st Century.* It combines craft – using one’s hands and simple tools to create useful objects, usually done at home ALONE and activism – policy or action of vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change. This relies on MANY TOGETHER.

Today we will present examples where artists working in their studios and at home contribute to change in the societal issues of the time. (Included in this posting)
How a craft brings makers together in a community adding independent work to become a louder voice.
And how an organization can be formed around an issue encouraging arts and activists from the start.
(panelists described the theme’s work in their community, cooperative and organization. Reports submitted separately to be archived at AppalachianStudies.org/AnnualConference/)

It is important to find a project within an organization for people willing to create messages using domestic crafts. Many are unable to publicly resist but eager to contribute. They become part of the broader grass roots network necessary for an issue to take hold. Remember the simple knitted rectangle sewn up the sides into a pink hat just five years ago. They were contributed by thousands who watched from home during the Women’s Marches.

Carving, drawing, stitching, pulling loops EMPOWERS the maker. One line or stitch becomes two, over time thousands and a visual message for researchers decades later.

tools, materials and design process, Susan L Feller

I represent those makers. My practice is solitary combining the slow traditional handicrafts of rug hooking, embroidery and applique’ to depict human interaction with nature and document my observations on social issues. The tools I use are simple. Needle, threads, hook and strips of fabric. I am drawn to sewing and rug hooking because of the comforting feel of fabric and seeing each loop or stitch adding to my message. Repetition becomes meditative, even cathartic. I approach a design with an idea, an image I photographed or sketched, phrases, the subject or even the view as I travel West Virginia.

2020 Journal, 54 x 24 each, mixed media Susan L Feller

2020 Journal took two months to complete. The process was and is therapeutic. Spending time with issues and thinking through color, techniques and materials begins to separate me from my thoughts and emotions. I know my work will be seen by others today and decades later inspiring awareness and conversations.

Mountains of Energy, 10 x 20, mixed media including plastic straws Susan L Feller

How human impact affects the natural beauty of Appalachia is a thread throughout my work. There are series about the pipelines cutting straight through forests and fields trying to cross waterways. The protests every step of the way are holding the companies back hopefully blocking this extraction of a limited resource being exported again out of state.

17 x 12, quilting, beads, wire, hooking Susan L. Feller

Mountaintop removal has blasted the peaks of over 500 mountains in West Virginia alone to extract what is left of the coal in our state. The process destroys habitats, poisons and reroutes waters, pollutes the air and produces sludge ponds filled with heavy metals all while people live, work and go to school in the valleys. Please consider where the energy is coming from in your daily life.

ICONIC Liberty, ERA, and VOTE 16 x 20 mixed media Susan L Feller

Iconic triptych spans a century of women’s rights leading to 2016 issue of voting rights for all. The neutral coloring representing 1920 and the ratification of the 19th Amendment adds to the history. By 1973 and the ERA passing from Congress for the states to ratify (still not 50 years later) I used my own Girl Scout badges and a rainbow of colors to portray my youthful outlook on the future. The VOTE palette proudly signals the USA. Names of women I voted for are embroidered around the red, white and blue crocheted doily.

Pussycats Pillow Talk #1, 20 x 20 hooked front, embroidered, applique’ reverse Susan L Feller

I began a series titled Pussycat Pillow Talk with hooked images on the front and embroidered messages on the reverse. Themes have been #metoo movement, persistence, gender equality, climate change, Love, and whatever other social issue can be summed up in a few words. The collection is growing.

By taking hooked rugs off the floor and presenting them as art my work has been accepted in exhibitions and become ambassadors for traditional handicrafts speaking about society in the 21st century. Developing a strong social media presence brings awareness, uniting others.

I can join in the worldwide protests from the solitude of my studio in rural West Virginia.”

I serve on the board of Tamarack Foundation for the ARTS whose mission is to empower artists with business skills and marketing opportunities. We believe their art and economic contributions will help grow the local communities. The organization and several artists exhibited during the conference.

Domenica Zara Queen believes plastic is the 21st Century’s heritage fabric embracing the waste product in her traditional handicraft collection of rugs, mats, plates and vessels.

Robby Moore lives in Beckley, WV and is “inspired by the abstraction of shape, ephemera, tradition and mores; especially those steeped in Appalachia. He tries to express, through his figures, the sadness and confidence that comes from deep thoughtfulness.”

Suzan Ann Morgan is from Buckhannon, WV. She says “my artworks are the result of the examination of my own, often tentative, beliefs. During their creation I am afforded the time to reflect upon my beliefs, note their contradictions, and make manifest their essence. In the end, each piece presents one facet of my truth extending a hand to the viewer hoping to find common ground and a starting place for future conversations.”

We are makers working in our studios but responding to life as we observe it, fitting the definition of CRAFTIVISM.

delivered by Susan L Feller.
*further research Crafting Dissent, Handicraft as protest from the American Revolution to the Pussyhats, edited by Hinda Mandell, publisher Rowman & Littlefield.

WW4 – Workshop Week In the Studio online

Excited to again be part of Workshop Week 4. This series formed in Fall of 2020, answers creatives’ thirst for learning, exploring techniques and thinking. Jumping online we all learned quickly as instructors and students. Look over the descriptions and contact each instructor directly with questions and to register.

Plans are already in motion for October 2022 and February 2023 sessions. Follow on facebook and IG @IntheStudioOnline

 IN THE STUDIO WORKSHOP WEEK 4

Welcome to In the Studio Workshop Week 4 (WW4). We are excited to offer 9 workshops this time around. A couple have proven popular in the past, and the rest are brand new. None will run concurrently so that you may register for as many as you wish.

All classes will be held online via Zoom. The Zoom link will be sent to you by your instructor via email prior to the class. Please read through the class descriptions carefully, and if you have any questions or would like to register, email the instructor of the class directly.

Note that by registering for any WW4 classes, your email address may be shared with all instructors for the purpose of organization and follow-up. You will not be added to any mailing lists.

All workshops will be taught in English.

One paid registration = one participant.

All teachers are standardizing to a NO REFUND POLICY. If you find that you cannot attend a class, you may transfer your registration to a friend. Make sure you contact the teacher before doing so.

BONUS EVENTS
All registered students are eligible for two bonus Workshop Week events: Workshop Week Panel Discussion Join us for a bonus episode of our online series In the Studio in which the instructors will engage in a panel discussion and take your questions. It will be held Sunday, January 30, 2022, at 6:00 PM Eastern. The Zoom link will be sent the day before the panel discussion to all students registered for at least one class. The topic of the panel discussion will be announced closer to the date. Workshop Week Gathering You are cordially invited to join the WW4 instructors and students for an online gathering Sunday, February 6, 2022, at 6:00 PM Eastern for 1.5 hours. This gathering is a place to chat, to show off pieces begun during WW, to work on a piece in progress, or to just sit back and listen to the conversation. The Zoom link will be sent the day before the hook-in to all students registered for at least one class.

WORKHOP OPTIONS

BUILD A BABY BOUCHEROUITE With Laura Salamy

Sunday, January 30 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Course description Boucherouites are having their day! They’re so trendy that you can’t look at a Better Home and Gardens magazine or watch an HGTV show without seeing them.

The Berber tribe of Morocco have been creating Boucherouites, one-of-a-kind, hand-knotted rugs since the mid-20th century. Traditionally, they’re made using old clothes and other textile scraps. They’re a pretty freestyle form of expression often looking as if the weaver started with one color scheme and pattern, got bored, and moved onto something else. They’re fun in a colorful, spontaneous way and are easily adaptable to rug hooking.

In this workshop you’ll design your own hooked “Baby Boucherouite” rug and start to hook it with textile scraps you have on hand be they cotton clothing, old bedsheets, and/or leftover wool noodles. The sky’s the limit! We’ll also discuss how to prepare, cut, and hook with non-wool materials.

Length of class: 2-3 hours

Who should take this course This class is designed for a student proficient at rug hooking basics, particularly the mechanics of pulling loops through a backing.

Materials needed Because this is an online workshop, students will supply their own materials. Materials will include those one usually uses to hook a rug as well as a few others. More information will be provided to students upon registration.

For more information/to register, contact Laura@highonhooking.com

Class fee: $50 US

About Laura Salamy Laura Salamy is the hooker behind High on Hooking.

I’ve never been a “traditional” hooker, preferring to color outside of hooking’s more “typical lines.” Instead of limiting myself to wool, I prefer to use most any material I can get my hands on. Often that means cutting strips from old t-shirts and bed sheets. Up-cycling throw-aways to art is a priority for me. Our landfills are filling up. Or they’re already full. While certain projects benefit from virgin wools or other fibers, I like to do my little part to slow that process and make something lovely at the same time.

Laura’s work has been seen in various exhibits as well as Rug Hooking Magazine; ATHA’s Art of Rug Hooking magazine; Karen D. Miller’s book Eyes Open to the World: Memories of Travel in Wool; and Judy Taylor’s T-Shirt Treasures: Creating Heirloom Hooked Rugs from the Humble T-Shirt. She currently serves as President of the Adobe Wool Art’s Guild, New Mexico’s only rug hooking guild. Learn more about her work at https://highonhooking.com.

FINISHING IS AN ELEMENT OF YOUR DESIGN –
CHOOSE THE RIGHT ONE
With Susan Feller

Monday, January 31 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern

Course description How many projects are done but not finished? Learn how to select the technique that enhances your work. Many of us always use one method “to get it done.” The edge or frame should not detract from the artwork, rather integrate its style into the environment.

Students will be asked to send an image(s) of completed work in advance. Instructor will provide suggestions of finishing techniques. Once in agreement, a tools and supply list will be sent. Work will begin in class. The full class will learn a variety of finishing techniques including: crochet; fringe; whip, multi-cord whip; and canvas wrapped for hanging. Handouts along with live demos will be provided.

Who should take this course If you consider finishing to be a chore, haven’t learned any method or use just one, if you want to enter work in an exhibit, gallery, or sale, this class will help. Pick up a few tips and maybe share your own approaches to completing your artwork.

Materials needed Susan will send list after communicating with student.

For more information and to register contact rugs2wv@gmail.com

Class fee is $50 US

Recommended reading: Finishing Hooked Rugs: Favorite Techniques from the Experts (published by Rug Hooking Magazine). The chapter “Framing Art” was authored by Susan.

About Susan Feller Susan has been a custom picture framer for two decades. As a professional artist she brings experiences about being rejected and accepted into juried shows. Willingly sharing lessons culled from these experiences is the purpose of this class. To see more of Susan’s work, visit https://artwools.com.

BRAIDING AS A WAY TO FINISH A HOOKED OR PUNCHED PIECE
With Yvonne Iten-Scott

Tuesday, February 1 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Course description Braiding is a lovely way to finish the edge of your hooking or punching. In this class you will learn how to create the perfect braiding and attach it to your work. The braid will be joined together with a hidden seam. We will then beautifully finish off the back with a padded back and wool or other fabric.

Length of class: 3 hours Number of students: 6-16

Students who have already hooked or punched a small circular piece. Basic knowledge of hand sewing will be helpful.

Materials needed Participants should come to class with a hooked or punched circular work with an unfinished back and 1- to 2-inch border of backing. Also needed: needle, thread, a piece of wool or other fabric for the back of the circle, quilt batting, scissors, and wool for the braid. Optional: braid masters for folding the braid and a rug clamp which can be purchased from the instructor.

Class fee is $50 US


For more information or to register, please contact Yvonne at itenscott@aim.com

About Yvonne Iten-Scott Yvonne credits her Swiss father with instilling the value of handcrafted items. Her love of homesteading and traditional craft has led her to recently return to a rural lifestyle with chickens, guineas, bees, and a large studio to create and teach.

A voracious traveller and lifelong learner, Yvonne has studied with some of the world’s best fibre art teachers. She brings these many influences together in her artwork – notably with a freedom to explore. That means no rules and all fibers and techniques are fair game. It’s about delving into oneself and aspiring to create more sculptural pieces in her practices.

Find more information about Yvonne’s work at https://yvonneitenscott.com

CREATING PERSONAL LANDSCAPES
WITH ALTERNATIVE MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES
With Elizabeth Miller

Tuesday, February 1 at 6:00 p.m.

Course description Join Elizabeth Miller for an exploration of landscape (or seascape, snowscape, etc.) in both its literal and metaphorical meanings. Students will be asked to provide a landscape image, real or imagined, that has meaning to them and reinterpret it through rug hooking. Key questions will include, “What does this scene mean to you?” ”What do you find most interesting/engaging/compelling about this landscape visually, symbolically, texturally, historically?” “What materials and techniques will best recreate and express the impact this view has on you, as the artist?”

This workshop is for students who want to take their art beyond basic representation of a scene and create a hooked/fiber art image that speaks very personally to them. It is also for students who want to broaden the range of materials and techniques they use regularly in their hooking. The resulting piece may or may not be directly representational of the scene that inspired it, depending on the student’s individual preference and aesthetic. However, each resulting piece will reflect the student’s personal relationship with that landscape.

Materials needed No prior use or knowledge of alternative materials or techniques is necessary. Beth will demonstrate thirteen techniques beyond the basic loop and provide suggestions for materials besides cut wool or yarn. A list of suggested materials and tools to have on hand will be provided prior to class as well as a PDF document describing each technique covered. Assistance in finding sources for any of the suggested materials will be provided.

Class fee is $50 US


For more information or to register, please contact Elizabeth at parrishousewoolworks@gmail.com.

About Elizabeth Miller: Elizabeth Miller is the founder and teacher at Parris House Wool Works in Paris, Maine, a studio promoting traditional skills and all things rug hooking. She is the author of Heritage Skills for Contemporary Life: Seasons at the Parris House, published by Down East Books in 2021. Her work has appeared in Making Magazine and Rug Hooking Magazine and will be featured in an upcoming episode of the television show, Maine Cabin Masters.

More information can be found at https://parrishousewoolworks.com

SHOWING UP FOR YOURSELF – IN ART & LIFE
With Meryl Cook

Wednesday, February 2 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Course description: How can you use your art as a means to really show up for yourself – to heal, to be more fully the person you are meant to be, to thrive, to express what’s inside?

What does it mean to show up for yourself? Using journaling and sketching the class will explore: how to get unblocked; exercises for showing up for yourself; and design methods such as tapping into the body feeling to create abstract designs. Depending on your particular art practice, you will create a design or a series of designs based on what you need right now – to be well, to thrive, to be happy.

Who should take this course Artists and creatives who are ready to dig a little deeper, to practice self compassion and who want to take their art to a new level. All are welcome.

Materials needed A list will be sent upon registration and contact with Meryl.


For more information or to register, please contact meryl@merylcook.ca.

Class fee is $50 US

Recommended reading One Loop at a Time, a story of rug hooking, healing and creativity and One Loop at a Time, The Creativity Workbook both by Meryl Cook. (More info below.)

What people are saying:The writing exercises were insightful. A ‘growing’ experience. I appreciate the work and energy you put into making it both fun & informative … your skilled teaching. Your teaching style is engaging and encouraging and sensitive. You strive to include all the participants with a gentle, encouraging manner. You have a nice calm & soothing way of presenting. I love, love, loved your class and your work and the stories behind your work. Meryl facilitated the workshop in a calm and nonjudgmental way, giving each participant a chance to reflect and express their response to the colours.”

About Meryl Cook Colour, texture, joy and self-compassion define Meryl Cook’s work as an emerging fibre artist, writer and facilitator in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. Her current mediums are rug hooking, spinning, wet felting and journaling. Meryl’s mission is to inspire others to reconnect with their joy and creativity.

At age 58, Meryl turned to journaling and rug hooking as a way of showing up for herself following treatment for breast cancer. Since 2016, Meryl has spoken and taught creativity workshops (in person and virtual) across Canada and in the U.S. She is a juried member of Craft Nova Scotia and was the Craft LAIR resident in 2018. Her work has appeared in The Ice House Gallery and Argyle Fine Art Gallery in 2021, in the Mary E. Black Gallery in 2019 and 2020, and as a special exhibit at Sauder Village Rug Hooking Week in 2018. Her collaborative piece Boundaries/No Boundaries with Linda Rae Coughlin is currently part of the Global Textile Hub exhibit ‘Reimagined’.

Meryl is the author of two books, One Loop at a Time, a story of rug hooking, healing and creativity (2016) and One Loop at a Time, The Creativity Workbook (2017). Her chapter “Journaling and the Reinvention of the Self One Loop at a Time” appears in the recently published (June, 2021) Transformational Journaling for Coaches, Therapists and Clients by Lynda Monk and Eric Maisel. www.merylcook.ca

EXPRESSION THROUGH ABSTRACT RUG HOOKING
With Haley Perry

Wednesday, February 2 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern

Course description Rug hooking is a process that encourages abstraction through the nature of the fabric medium. In this course, we will explore how to use abstraction to create more expressive artwork. We will discuss the formal elements of design in art and participate in drawing exercises to put these theories into action. This class will be a first step in developing your personal visual language, allowing you to build the abstract and narrative rugs of your future.

Who should take this course Students with interest in any textile art are encouraged to register, as the lessons taught apply to a wide variety of mediums.

Materials needed This design class will be a lecture format with drawing exercises, so a sketchbook, pencil, and colored pencils are needed to participate.

Class fee is $50 US


For more information or to register, contact Hayley at loopbyloopstudio@gmail.com.

About Hayley Perry Hayley Perry has been making and designing rugs for years thanks to her family members, who taught her everything she knows about rug hooking from a young age. After earning her graduate degree in painting in 2011, Hayley developed Loop by Loop Studio, a rug hooking design business, taking after her mother and aunt.

More recently, rug making has become a true artistic expression once Hayley started to delve into her own personal narrative. She has shown her rug hooking and painting work in galleries all over the United States. Hayley has been granted multiple artist residencies to share her rug hooking practice and has written articles for Rug Hooking Magazine and Wool Works magazine. Hayley has a passion for teaching art and rug hooking and has taught many different art courses throughout New England.

Learn more about Hayley’s work at https://www.loopbyloopstudio.com.

PET PORTRAITS With Charlie Dalton

Thursday, February 3 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern

This workshop will be divided into two sessions: FIRST Going over Charlie’s portrait process from photo choice to transferring the photo to a backing to starting to hook (approximately 3 hours) AND A follow-up session for trouble-shooting and sharing your work with the class (1-2 hours) will be scheduled during the first session.

Who should take this course Participants should be proficient at rug hooking basics. Please register early enough to talk with Charlie about what makes for a good pet image, your hooking experience, and suggested materials.

Materials needed A high quality photo (or three) of your pet;

A computer with an app to edit and print your image (e.g., Photoshop or Photoshop Express which is free);

  • A wool cutter with a #4 blade OR good fabric scissors for cutting;
  • 2 rug hooking hooks (smaller shank hook for hooking and a larger shank hook for tracing);
  • A sheet of carbon paper (source this early!);
  • Packing tape;
  • Printer;
  • 18” x 16” piece of linen (12” x 10” working space);
  • Sharpie marker;
  • Scissors; and
  • A good selection of wool in the colors that you will need for your particular pet (these wools can be new and/or recycled).

For more information or to register, please contact Charlie Dalton at charlievdalton@gmail.com.

Class fee is $50 US

About Charlie Dalton

Charlie Dalton, aka The Hooking Colonel, is a former Spanish teacher who now lives in Price, Utah. He learned to hook from his mother-in-law, Cass Gannaway, while teaching in Sewanee, Tennessee. He enjoys geometrics and enjoys incorporating his drawings inspired by Alma Thomas into the rugs that he hooks, but his passion is animal portraits. Charlie started creating animal rugs to give to friends mourning the passing of pets, and over time his work developed into the cosmic pups that he hooks today. Charlie credits a close circle of friends with some pretty special pups for being the impetus for his pet portraits. You can learn more about Charlie and see his work on Instagram @thehookingcolonel.

BASICS OF WATERCOLOR FOR THE TEXTILE ARTIST
With Jane Mason

Friday, February 4 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Course description Having a few basic watercolor skills and a journal can help you capture the color and energy of a scene. This is helpful as you use your journal entries, photos, and notes to weave your thoughts and visions into your own textile art.

A goal of this course is to inspire you to grab a journal, wander around in nature, and do watercolor sketches of an element that leads to textile art.

No watercolor or drawing experience is required.

This is a Zoom class. The techniques and processes we discuss are intended to be used for sketching anywhere inside or out. The tools are minimal and can fit in a gallon-size zipper-type bag.

I’ve sketched with watercolor at parks, in airports, and at cafés. It’s an adaptable and portable skillset. And sometimes less intrusive than taking photos of a scene.

What’s included
1. Introduction to watercolor tools: paper, paint, brushes, watercolor pencils, and watercolor crayons.
2. Introduction to basic watercolor and micron pen sketching techniques.
3. How to evaluate a scene and decide what to include.
4. How to create meaningful notes to help you interpret your sketch back in your studio. 5. A checklist of “The Ten Commandments of Watercolor.”

Length of class: 2-3 hours (Teacher will stay longer for questions, etc.)
Number of students: 6 min., 14 max.

Who should take this course Anyone with an interest in adding to their artistic skill set as a textile artist. It’s perfect for rug hooking, punch needle, quilters, collage artists, and more. Even if you are an experienced watercolorist, I believe this course will add some tips to your current knowledge. All ages: from 9-90.

Materials

  • If you want the least expensive paint set, I recommend a standard Crayola pan of watercolor paints. The brush is terrible in this set. Make sure you get a “real” brush, see below.
  • Or, as an intermediate level, the Cotman Brand by Winsor Newton, the Field Kit “Pocket Box” is a good choice.
  • A more professional (and expensive) set is the Daniel Smith Paint Set, “Essentials Introductory Watercolor,” 6 Tubes. Included: Three cool primary colors: Hansa Yellow Light, Quinacridone Rose, and Phthalo Blue, and three warm primary colors: New Gamboge, Pyrrol Scarlet, and French Ultramarine. If you get the Daniel Smith set, you will also need a small tube of Burnt Siena watercolor paint, and a palette to put everything on. A palette can be a plastic plate, a plastic palette, or a ceramic plate. 2.Basic graphite pencil (#2 is fine), eraser, and optional pencil sharpener.
    3.A watercolor sketch-book journal. At least 5” x7”. Look for one with 140# cold-pressed cotton paper. I prefer wire-bound because they are easy to open flat.
    4.Watercolor pencils. You can buy them individually at your local independent art store. Or a small set, 8-ish, is usually a good collection. Any brand is fine. Note: these are not colored pencils. They are watercolor pencils.
    5.Optional: watercolor crayons. These we use in a similar way as watercolor pencils, so they are not required. But they offer another tool for a variation of techniques.
    6.One of two round watercolor brushes size 6 and 8. Or 6 and 10. Princeton is a recommended brand. Expect to pay anywhere from about $8 to $25 for each brush. Don’t get a crummy brush.
    7.A Micron Ink pen. I prefer a .05 size tip and larger. I find that the smaller tips skip on watercolor paper. 8.Other supplies, such as a cup of water in a container that is exclusively used for art, and facial issues or paper towels. A mister spray bottle is helpful.
  • I recommend registering at least two weeks before the class to allow time for supplies to arrive. Depending on the brand and quantity of supplies purchased, the cost may be between about $50-$90 US. Supplies will not be purchased from me but from retail vendors, hopefully local, independent art stores.
    Students may take the class without purchasing supplies and opt to buy them later if interested. You will still get much out of the class from watching the demonstrations and participating in the discussion, but I recommend acquiring the minimum supplies to work with us in class.

For more information or to register, please contact Jane Mason at janemmason123@gmail.com.

Class fee is $50 US

What people are saying “I’ve got to admit that I was intimidated going into the class. I don’t consider myself a creative person. I am handy and can learn any technique, but I wouldn’t think of myself as an inventive artist. Jane taught me that we are all artists in our own rights. Having her show techniques and different options awakened my creative imagination.” Member, Cream City Rug Hooking Guild

“Jane expertly guided a group of 17 students in a thorough review of the basics, allowing each participant to share their knowledge while skillfully staying on schedule to fully cover the course objectives…. Jane, helped students translate their ideas into a textile design and working textile piece.” Member, Loopy Ladies Rug Hooking Guild

About Jane Mason As a professional watercolorist and textile artist, Jane has been teaching for 30 years. She studied Textiles and Design at the University of Nebraska and completed her master’s degree in Museum Studies at Harvard University.

Her work, including paintings, hooked rugs, quilts, and collage pieces, have been exhibited in dozens of solo and group exhibits across the US and in Italy.

Jane won her first art contest at a museum in Omaha as a five-year old. Ever since that honor, she has considered herself an artist working to maintain her five-year old point of view in her typically colorful and sometimes whimsical work.

She has been a consultant on two occasions to the curators at the Harvard Art Museums on interpreting and analyzing watercolor paintings in their collection. Jane has published many articles in art-related publications including one on how to select a frame for rug hooking in ATHA Magazine.

In addition to teaching, painting, and hooking, Jane enjoys traveling to visit her grandchildren, always arriving with lots of art supplies and textile projects.

Learn more about Jane’s work at https://fromjanemmason.com.

EXPRESSIVE ART THERAPY THROUGH RUG HOOKING
With Deirdre Pinnock

Saturday, February 5 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Course description This expressive art therapy class will inspire women to express themselves through rug hooking. Expressive art allows participants to show their individual personalities and bring attention to their strengths – their own “normal” – in an environment where there is no judgement, only encouragement. To create and experiment while revealing your inner self, bring your worms and yarns and especially all the materials you were told you shouldn’t hook with.

Who should take this course Any rug hooker who strives to or may find it difficult to embrace their own sense of self and then express that is encouraged to attend. All skill levels welcome.

Materials needed The items you usually hook with to include: scissors, hooks, backing, frame/hoop, and so on. A variety of materials for hooking. Examples include: fabrics, yarns, twine, nylons, wire, pipe cleaners, your own hair, paper, rubber bands, coffee filters, and so on. There is no limit to what you can play with and hook!

For more information or to register, please contact Deirdre at dap1babs@yahoo.ca.

Class fee is $50 US

About Deirdre Pinnock: Deirdre Pinnock is a talented rug hooker, mental health advocate, aspiring entrepreneur, and self- identified “woman of color” based in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is passionate about fusing different materials, vivid colors, and therapeutic qualities into her work with a dash of playfulness.

Deirdre received a grant with well know rug hooker Nadine Flagel to teach youth and seniors in Richmond, BC. She accepted another grant to teach during the East Van Crawl with the “Hooked in the Maples” group in Vancouver. She also teaches at the Britannia Library and other neighborhood locations.

The purpose behind Deirdre’s art revolves around self-healing and empowerment to battle through her grief, pain, and anxieties. She likes to weave the current political climate into her fiber art and confront issues in a whimsical and humorous way.

See more of Deirdre’s work at https://christina7479.wixsite.com/deirdrepinnock.

100 Days sketching now on exhibit

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.

Forest Series update

The blog post One then Two lead to a feature article in the November/December 2019 issue of Rug Hooking Magazine. Seven pages with images of materials and construction steps for the individual pieces informs the niche audience. Since writing the article several more works are finished.

We left off the post with Forest Floor’s pattern, here is the completed runner in its environment and a detail showing the braided branch and pattern sketching.

In the Trees in our Forest series the article mentions smaller versions using mixed media. Two were completed, each 16 x 12. One, studying the shapes and values, incorporates upholstery fabric samples and paint on the linen. The other uses embroidered stitches defining the leaves on ground and sky with outline stitch for the trees. These will be framed and the full collection exhibited together at the Beckley Art Center , Beckley, WV opening August 7-October 17, 2020. I will be working over the winter months to organize the exhibit.

Trees in our Woods at Night, Trees in embroidered environment

The Forest Floor did not stay a runner for long. I kept looking at it and feeling the background did not connect throughout. Although light can be spotty in the woods I seemed to have changed style. Before finishing the runner I decided to cut it into parts. Each section stands on its own and the three can be arranged in a variety of ways for exhibit. They had to be mounted on stretcher bars, backs closed and finished with “dust covers” wired and ready to hang for the Beckley Art Center show.

Archeologist in Fiber Arts

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.

PA/WV rug #2 size 40 x 60

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.

Beige flower needing replacement

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”.

ready for delivery

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.

header for post about process

One then two now a Series

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 –

Chestnut Leaves in grass

 

grass with evening shadows;

 

 

 

Virginia Creeper and sky

 

the blue sky poking out of foliage;

 

 

 

Maple Leaves on quilt

 

a neutral space harkening to another traditional craft, quilting

 

 

 

Trees in our Woods

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.

 

 

Color in our Trees

 

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.

 

 

 

Shadows of the Forest

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.

 

25 Years Creating

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.

First frame

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.

 

 

the Spinner, Susan Feller

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.

Working at home

Looking forward to the next years creating.

Reflecting and Planning

It has been 5 years since I began the Year Study.  My goals were to explore, evaluate and exhibit the results of daily sketching and creating. I did EXPLORE with materials, techniques and composition lessons resulting in a renewed interest in hand stitching, experimenting with brushes and paints, and seeing more simply.

EVALUATING my use of time is an important element as an artist. How to continue networking in one circle while expanding into others; keeping an ear open and helping in different ways needs to be communicated by actions and in conversations. Scheduling studio time and developing themes for the upcoming exhibits rather than creating inventory has been a process. One that with the distractions of nature here in West Virginia is more enjoyable than a commercial speed on the East Coast as I age. Transferring the Ruckman Mill Farm patterns and products to a new generation at Green Mountains Hooked Rugs opened my schedule to more studio time. Now teaching is focused on design and encouragement, others provide the materials.

The EXHIBIT goal was met at Sauder Village Rug Hooking Week in 2015 when all twelve months and a collection of work were featured. Juried into and invited to show in several fine art exhibits validated the direction and I respect my peers recognition. My resume’ lists these venues with the ultimate, an Award of Excellence and purchase by the State Museum from the 20th Bi-Ennial Juried Exhibition in 2017 for Progress in the Mountains. The opportunity to curate the collection Glimpses Inside Appalachia this fall, shown at Raleigh Playhouse, Beckley, WV brought my work before a new audience and opened other exhibit venues.

My five year goal includes developing the themes I identified from the study and exhibiting each in different markets. A new decade will be on the horizon by then and more goals.

Speaking out about current events , Nature’s Beauty and Human Impact, and a Travel Series  where I am developing each sketch several times. 

Hope to meet you on our journey. Happy creating.

Glimpses Into Appalachia

There’s a better way to explore West Virginia’s mountainous beauty and hear about the people living in Appalachia than you have been presented with recently. We are telling our story with art exhibits, serial podcasts and several books.

Fine art and Spoken word collections coordinated by Women of Appalachia Project have opened in Morgantown, WV. (Check the WOAP blue link for schedule of other venues).

As a textile artist I was happy to see several works incorporating fiber were selected along with photography, printmaking, oils, watercolors, ceramics and jewelry. Up through October 29 at the Monongalia Art Center, 107 High Street, Morgantown the project is celebrating 10 years. All women living in or with strong ties to any of the the 420 counties in Appalachia can enter. Their motto reads “ We believe that all women are capable, courageous, creative and inspired. We tell our stories through our art.”

Two of the artists I met told me a bit of their stories. Nancy L Abrams documents life through photographs. Her journalism career lead to The Climb from Salt Lick, a memoir of Appalachia, published this past spring by WVU Press.

Cheryl Ryan Harshman works in clay monoprints, fabric collage, and is an author. An award winning artist she is listed in Tamarack Foundation’s Creative Network. . Our discussion included the process of making clay prints, a medium with wonderful unexpected results.

Marc Harshman is West Virginia’s  poet laureate and married to Cheryl. I have heard his voice on WVPublic Radio reading work and now enjoyed his warm smile and artistic interests in person.

For those of you who can not visit the state soon, tune in and read reports from 100 Days in Appalachia which was born the day after the 2016 election. “Weary of the influx of bus tours and parachuting journalists seeking insights into rural America, we launched 100 Days to push back on the national narratives that had reduced our region to a handful of narrow stories.”

I have promoted the podcast series Inside Appalachia to studio artists in Alaska and Maine because the interviews by host Jessica Lilly bring the neighbors right into your home. On October 20 there will be a live taping of Inside Appalachia at the Raleigh Playhouse and Tavern, Beckley, WV. Two videos featuring broom maker James Shaffer and millman Larry Mustain will be shown and the gentlemen interviewed. I was invited to open an exhibit at the Raleigh through November 12, I have themed “Glimpses Inside Appalachia“. Two dozen of my pieces ranging from views around our home to environmental and social issues will be hung. Looking forward to meeting Jessica and the team and talking about art.

WVPublic Broadcasting has a lineup of podcasts from decades of Mountain Stage to the new Us and Them. Check them out and subscribe.

To finish out our stories here are some more books. Real page turners that you sit with and meet people while exploring the mountains.  Hippie Homesteaders, Carter Taylor Seaton introduces us to the influx of youth in the 60’s and 70’s who came to drop out and learned hand-crafts and life skills. “Forget what you know about West Virginia. Hippie Homesteaders isn’t about coal or hillbillies or moonshine or poverty. It is the story of why West Virginia was—and still is—a kind of heaven to so many.”

The Mountain Artisans Quilting Book, Alfred Allan Lewis is out of print but worth searching for the stories of how a cooperative of marketing women and traditional sewers created contemporary fashion.

The soothing voice of All Things Considered’s, Noah Adams traces the New River from its origins to joining with the Gauley as the Kanawha River heading to Ohio in Far Appalachia. Legends and locals fill the pages as he travels slowly along and often on the river.


I expect you will think of the people and places of West Virginia, and Appalachia with a deeper appreciation after listening and reading. Remember we are “Almost Heaven”. Check out WVTourism.

 

 

 

 

Shapes as Symbols

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.

Pipes for gas line

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.