Tag Archives: workshop

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.


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.


Many Hands Dyeing

Terminology on labels include descriptive words which conjure up action. One we use in textiles is “hand-dyed”. Here are the visuals behind that phrase from a session lead by Nancy Parcels with wool fabric. She included several great team building exercises such as dividing us into three groups to sort the light, medium and dark values and then as we eagerly shared in the dye pot bounty.

wools drying from session by Nancy Parcels

Marrying colors in the dye pot create a palette to enhance strong colors as a background and secondary motifs. Sort and dye up a pot for your next project.

Retreat report

Gathered at the Falls

Wonderful new friends, great outdoors and many steps along our fiber journey are some of the memories we took away from the RETREAT INTO THE MOUNTAINS 2011 at Peterkin Camp and Conference Center. 

Texture, Shapes, Form

 The design sessions were very rewarding.  Many of the 5 inch squares were completed by Sunday afternoon.  Plans are for the 5th RETREAT to be held on April 13-15, 2012.  Registration material available soon, contact Susan for a copy at rugs2wv@yahoo.com.   Sure to fill up quickly.

Results from one of the Dye Sessions with Jim

Four participants worked with Jim Lilly in the Dye Studio and created wonderful ARTWOOLS.

Loyalist Schedule

The summer program for Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario, Canada will be online at www.LoyalistFocus.com on March 25.  My class is listed for the week of July 11-15 and can be found on page 19 of the catalog.  I am thrilled to add that one of my pieces was selected for the back cover also.  Rug hooking on the cover of a college brochure!

Value scale and swatches

The class will focus on VALUE and the other Elements and Principles of design. Bring a work in progress for consultation.  There will be daily exercises using rughooking and we will work up a new pattern for each person.  Expect to incorporate contrast, and values into  your design. Geometrics would be a great way to address this subtle, yet very valuable element.

I will be studying at the McMichaels Collection outside of Toronto the week before and expect to bring these experiences to the class.

I lodge at the College also and am looking forward to spending evening hours with resident students.  We had a great time the last two years visiting Belleville restaurants, eating on campus and going out to the County.

Two workshops with openings

Butterfly detail from Conatined Garden Friends

There are a few spaces left in two great workshops this Spring: Contact the directors quickly to get your deposits in– love to see you and spend time working with you.  Check out the Calendar page to see where else we could meet.

May 1- 5 teaching at Laurel Mountains, Ligonier, PA Design a Rug with Folk Art motifs, Learn the History of PA German Frakturs Shirley Engel director contact Shirley for details at shirlet@zoominternet.net see Barb Carroll’s site for more about Laurel Mountains… http://www.woolleyfox.com

May 8-13 teaching at Cedar Lakes Rug Camp, Ripley, WV
Open class:Folk Art to Design whatever you want to concentrate on this year. In its 46th year this camp is a wonderful relaxed experience. Nancy and Fred Blair directors  email thhkrugs@alteco.net  or call 616-895-6378

Designing Challenges in Indiana

Bev and Susan

The  last week of October took me out to Indiana, and Bev Stewart’s Whispering Pines Designs in Clayton.  Bev coordinated two wonderful classes filled with talent and eager people. In three day sessions they worked through the Basic Elements and Principles of Design.  The classes included three generations of fiber artists, and another mother, daughter pair along with people who were pulling their first 1000 loops to those who had spent thousands of hours enjoying wool.    

Bev and the locals coordinate a very successful hook-in the second Saturday of September, bringing in a wide variety of vendors and over 300 eager rugmakers.  The efforts of this organizing group validates the passions thousands have for pulling loops through backing whether the fabric is wool strips, yarns or plastic bags.

The wonderful Arts and Crafts home of Jim and Bev Stewart welcomed me along with its inhabitants.  Jim was “treated” each morning to a bowl of oatmeal I had prepared and the animals seemed to enjoy another person around. 

Kit Cat in Studio at Bev Stewart's

I will be back in May of 2012 to teach two more workshops. Interested students should contact Bev ..at Whispering Pines Designs 6583 S CR 400 E, Clayton, IN 46118 or see Calendar under About Susan Feller

Fall Fiesta in Vermont

Stephanie Krauss of Green Mountain Hooked Rugs created a great event: four days in beautiful Vermont during the height of Fall Foliage Season.  The first Fall Fiesta was Sept 22-26 and I advise you mark your calendars for just the same times in 2011.  I was one of three instructors (others were Jane Halliwell Green and Lisanne Miller) along with a store, retreat session and fabulous food prepared and served by the New England Culinary Institute students.  Located on the campus of Vermont College of Fine Arts just up the hill from Vermont’s capitol, Montpelier this event had everyone attending smiling and calling each other friends in no time.

Fraktur Workshop at Fall Fiesta, VT

 Our class stands outside of College Hall, a massive elegant building housing the workshops for the weekend.

Off to St. Louis

After Sauder, I went on to St. Louis to teach for Nola Heidbreder.  Her studio is in a section referred to as The Hill, a charming walkable neighborhood of Italian eateries, grocery stores, cafes and bocci clubs.  This is the second time I have been to St. Louis, and it was enjoyable revisiting some favorite restaurants and eating my way around the Meditteranean.  Spanish tappas at Modesto and great Italian seafood the next night.

St. Louis student's work in progress

The workshop was designing a rug with the folk art influence. Each student created a unique pattern and over the three days we colorplanned and with their efforts, saw the rugs evolve.  This class really applied theirselves and I am looking forward to seeing the finished works. 

My trip back home took me on Interstate 64.  I went through Louisville around 8:00 pm admiring the multitude of bridges and clustered skyline with little traffic to hinder the trip.  Remembering the last visit just a year ago when we hosted the TIGHR tri-ennial in Louisville and the end of three years as host country.  Sorry not time to stop and visit this time.

Loyalist College and Belleville Ontario, Welcoming

This was my second year instructing on the staff of Loyalist College in Belleville, ON, Canada. Again an inspiring group of students, who kept me working them for five full days.  I have enjoyed traveling and seeing how different groups approach rughooking studies.  The Canadian’s are serious and dedicated to improving their skills.

The new director of Continuing Studies is Holly Cockeline, who come to find out hails from Nova Scotia where she was exposed to rughooking by association with Dianne Fitzpatrick.  Seems from her interest during the week she will be pulling a few loops again in her new home.

This workshop centered around the basics : Elements and Principles of Design. We gradually built on these concepts using small 5 inch mats and the same materials.  By mid week the suggestion for next year’s lesson plan was to zero in on VALUE.  Everyone mentioned and showed me with their pieces that the session helped them see, and grow in their art. 

Registration opens in mid February,

Colorful inspirations Hollyhocks

While in Belleville, the residents of the Dormitories (myself included) entertained ourselves with sidetrips.  Pictured are Andrea and Peggy at the honor system seed box for wild hollyhocks. We travelled to the far eastern side of gorgeous, artistic Prince Edward County one evening in search of these flowers.

Stopped along the way in one of the towns for very local ice cream… delicious. Then saw the Lake on the Mountain, an unexplained phenonomen (high above the water line of waterway)… and ended up eating dinner at a Tim Horton’s.

There was a great seafood restaurant in Belleville on Sydney Street just north of the bridge (would be on your right if heading north immediately after coming over the bridge) Name escapes me right now.

Heirlooms Rug School

The Blair’s (Fred, Nancy and extended family) conducted another successful and fun week of rughooking in Holland MI.  Again the site was the hospitable Haworth Inn and Conference Center with 9 instructors and a full house of students. 

The fifteen who enrolled in the Fraktur Design Workshop with me produced (with minimal encouragement on my part) unique and personal designs. With five days to dedicate to the patterns, each evolved before my eyes, satisfying me with colorful motifs.  A big thank you to all, looking forward to seeing the completed pieces on display.

Happy Students and Instructor (center in green)


Next year will be the 5th Annual Heirlooms Rug School and registrations are open now.  Although I won’t be an instructor (two year rotation rule) there are great people to select from. Contact Nancy Blair at thhkrugs@alteco.net or phone her at 616-895-6378