Off I went today to a local b&b owned by one of the Quabbin Rug Hookers. We hooked from 11-2 and really enjoyed ourselves at her unique and beautiful house on a gorgeous spring day.
And here are a few of the rugs-in-progress:
Judy was beginning this fabulous Bea Brock pattern and I love the colors she's using. This is going to be a stunning rug.
Next (below), if you've been following the progress of Phyllis's "Zen Sand Garden" rug, here it is as of today. She's almost done! I'm loving this rug. It's Phyllis's original design, and she's been improvising with great success as she's been working on it.
Although we'd brought lunch, Lynda served a wonderful tomato soup and warm bread (yum). So filling. During lunch I had a chance to speak with Jane, a brand-new rug hooker. Here is Jane's maiden voyage (first rug); she was also testing out some frames today to decide which one she wants to buy...
I forgot to say that there were only five of us present today at Lynda's cozy house. I totally enjoyed being there and meeting her dogs Kiwi and Harry.
Here is the progress on Lynda's Peace Pagada rug:
With thanks to Lynda for hosting, for all the "eye candy" at her house, and for inspiration from the other Quabbin rug hookers. Good food, good conversation, and good work today.
A page from my journal today. Not a masterpiece but at least it got me tangling and drawing, and I completely enjoyed doing it.
And speaking of roses, kudos and roses to my buddy Cheryl the Rug Rescuer. She has just completed a commissioned rug rescue for someone she knows who brought her a half-finished rug. As I recall, there was no wool with it, just the unfinished rug, so Cheryl had to match wool as best she could. The pattern, I think, was drawn by a rug hooking teacher who was unable to continue hooking, so I believe it's an original. Anyway, I love this rug (below). Let's first look at the rug on the floor of Cheryl's drop-dead gorgeous Victorian living room; then I'll post a closer view.
That's the rug in the foreground above, but isn't the entire room just so beautiful? And here's a closer look at the rug itself:
What a beautiful design. Very sad that the designer wasn't able to complete it, but at least the Rug Rescuer got it done! Now here's the hard part: She has to give the rug away to the woman who brought it to her. I would have a lot of trouble giving something this lovely away.
Now Cheryl is working on this wide-cut rug below (a real departure for her as she's not enthusiastic about hooking with wide cuts). I don't know whose design this is but it's very pretty: And yes, this is another Rescue Rug, started by someone before it was abandoned and turned over to her.
Quite unusual. I don't recall ever seeing this design before. Go Cheryl!
I haven't seen either piece in person yet; another friend took these photos for me (thank you, Kathleen). I'm hoping to see the actual rugs in person in a couple of weeks.
When I went to my last local rug hooking meeting, I only expected to work on my rug and have fun.
I had NO IDEA what would be waiting for all of us who attended.
We were treated to an incredible show of rugs from Turkey, China, and Iran by one of the members, Elizabeth Vierling. Dr. Vierling is a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, but she is also a rug maker and clearly has a passion for textiles. I took a million photographs...unfortunately my memory of her very informative commentary on the origins and purposes of each piece is fading fast, but here are some of the photos. Enjoy!
I believe this first piece was from Turkey. It is very large and I think Elizabeth uses it as a rug in her home. It is embroidered, using a couching stitch I think (see detail in last photo). Probably circa mid 20th-century.
The color work is just sensational. After ogling the piece (above) for a good long while, we all decided we are not using enough orange in our own designs.
Apologies in advance to Elizabeth for how much I have already forgotten of what she said about each textile. Her commentary on where she located each one, where and how each was created, and what each may have been used for, was fascinating. But in the week since I saw these works, all of her commentary has started to slide right out of my head. Darn!
If memory serves me--which likely it doesn't--below are two clothing panels embroidered by the Miao people of China (one of China's long-suppressed minority groups, now finally beginning to emerge and be recognized for their rich history and cultural treasures).
And if that weren't enough, there was more, and more still...click on each thumbnail to progress through the items, or just hit "Play."
One of the most dramatic textiles was the one below. I loved these tiny aliens. The work is so beautiful, and the colors vibrant. Each thumbnail has a different view (or you can just hit "Play").
Elizabeth travels for academic conferences, and is occasionally able to extend the travel time in order to take in more of the culture of the countries she is in. This is why she has been able to explore and research textiles on some of her trips.
Aren't we fortunate--those of us who were there to see this show? With thanks to Elizabeth for letting me photograph and post the photos, for her lively talk and especially for lugging all the heavy, bulky textiles to the meeting. All of her hard work resulted in a fabulous experience for the rest of us.
A few years ago I was fortunate enough to go to a hook-in in Vermont and met Dana Psoinas from New York, one of the most extraordinary rug hookers and artists today. I had already been mesmerized by her "Guardian" rug in a photograph, and suddenly, there was the real thing, right in front of me on the floor in Shelburne Vermont.
And there was Dana herself. A more talented and nicer person you just cannot find. She specializes in rugs that tell stories, usually stories from fairy tales or myths.
I was star-struck. We hit it off and have corresponded occasionally since then. Lucky me.
I am still star-struck by her work, and so will you be. Read on!
She recently showed me three drawings she has done--freehand, mind you!--on linen, to sell as patterns for other rug hookers. One of them is at the top of this post, and the rest are below, along with a sketch she hasn't yet drawn on foundation.
More information about Dana and her process is at the end of this post.
She sold these through her Etsy site--but please be aware that these patterns are NOT FOR SALE now. They were/are one-of-a-kind. She is busy with her own rug making and does not stock or sell patterns all the time. There is a wonderful photo of her finished Guardian Rug on her Etsy site--please have a look to see just how phenomenal her rug hooking is. She works in 2-, 3-, and 4-cuts to achieve her extraordinary rugs.
Check her site from time to time in case she does post something to sell...who knows, you may get lucky!
If you wonder about her creative process and want to know a bit more about her, you can check this recently-written blog post with more photographs of her rugs. Enjoy.
With thanks to Dana for letting me post this!
In reading one of the Zentangle® blogs, I just spotted the most amazing photographs on--of all things--manufacturing pencils. They are in an article written for New York Times.
These amazing art photos were taken at the General Pencil Company (We who tangle love their pencils. And according to the Zentangle blog, the owner of the company is now a Certified Zentangle Teacher, which delighted me).
I cannot show the photos because of course they are copyrighted, but you won't believe how beautiful they are. Check them out HERE.
(Thank you to the Zentangle folks for publicizing this.)
On Sunday I went to my first-ever Quabbin Rug Group meeting. It was just great. No fewer than eleven people showed up--I was impressed. Here are some of the rugs I saw.
I only wish I were better at catching people's names. I'm terrible with names. therefore, I was only able to attribute a couple of these in-progress pieces.
Enjoy the eye candy!
I think this may have been by Judy Jewett (altho I certainly could be wrong)? It is from a pattern she purchased. Love the colors she is using. She was at the binding stage, so it should be done very soon.
Isn't this one just the most fun? I can see the face of the wonderful woman who's making it, but I cannot for the life of me remember her name. Darn. I already want this rug and she's not even finished with it yet.
This rug is by Linda Faye of Amherst and is her own design--it's a tribute to the Peace Pagoda. You can see that she's begun by hooking the many prayer flags flying in the wind there. The Peace Pagoda has a good website here. I'll be interested to see how this rug develops.
Linda also had a wonderful dog rug with her, but I was unable to get a photo of that.
Not sure whose pattern this is but I heard the woman who is making this piece say that the original designer intended for it to be done in a fine-cut. However, she is more of a wide-cut person and is successfully doing it in a 6 or an 8 (probably an 8--I didn't hear that part).
She was making the point to one of the other participants that it's possible to take a fine-cut design and do it in a wider cut. It can be done with many (not all) fine-cuts. The results will look very different, but as you can see here, it still looks great.
How stunning is this??? Wowza. I believe the woman who is making this is named Sue, but I'm not certain. I do remember her saying that this is her first-ever hooked piece. Oh. My. God.
I don't know if she designed it herself or if it is a pattern.
(Hanging my head in shame--my first piece from years ago never looked anything like this one...) I was drawn to looking at this over and over.
Isn't this the cutest thing you've ever seen? I think this maker's name was Rebecca. She was a guest at the meeting, I believe. What really stands out for me about her--other than this truly wonderful folk-art rug which I believe is her own design--is that we were told she is "new to rug hooking." Whaaaa-aaaaat??? I love these cats!
I heard her say that she's only been hooking for 18 months. BUT...this is the 12th piece she has hooked in that short time. So she's certainly not "new" in my book. This is just great.
A talented woman named Penny (argh...I don't remember her last name either--was it Redfern?) sitting directly across from me was working on this rug, channeling Vincent himself. Talk about an ambitious project. I wish I had an off-the-frame photo of this; it's just wonderful.
Last but by NO means least is this really beautiful and striking piece inspired by Japanese rock gardens. Can I remember this woman's name? No, of course not, but I love her work. This is her own design.
I get that "ahhhhhhhh" feeling simply by looking at the sinuous lines of the carefully raked sand, which she's captured beautifully here. This is striking and I am loving the subtle colors.
I was definitely enchanted by all the rugs I saw. We met at the Wool & Dye Works Rug Hooking Shop in Florence, which is a treasure in itself.
I'll finish off with a DRAFT of a triquetra knot, which I tried for the first-time today. This says #3 because it's only my third try. I have a lot to learn about these, that's for sure.
By which I mean to say, this is simply a sketchy practice piece for a free-form, unplanned knot.
I have "knot" been practicing.
Although my holidays were quiet-by-design, my last two weeks have been non-stop guests. Wonderful guests and I was thrilled to have them.
But I haven't had the headspace to draw, tangle, or write and am feeling rusty. Looking forward to starting up again.
Ahhhh! BOOKBINDING Again:
I did manage to sneak away for one day, last Sunday, in order to take a beginning bookbinder class with Peter Cangialosi. He's an excellent teacher and I completely enjoyed myself. Even more impressive: every student (5 of us) left with a handmade bound book. Here's mine:
This is a very small book, but it is a book. I am delighted.
January is apparently "bookbinding" time someplace in my mind. Last year on MLK weekend I did (and blogged about) a prior workshop on bookbinding with Nancy Shepherd in Vermont. We took the whole weekend and began by learning to make paper for the covers; then we used a more sophisticated open binding than the one I learned last Sunday.
However, the day after that 2017 workshop with Nancy I formally "closed" on (legally bought) my new house. ALL the info I had acquired from her flew right out of my head as I entered the whirlwind of finalizing the sale, packing up my apartment of 40 years, and relocating.
What was special about Sunday's workshop was that it was one day and much simpler...but it jump-started my memories of a year ago and I began to recall what I had learned in the more complex 2017 workshop with Nancy. I have progressed from not being able to retrieve anything I learned from her, to remembering at least 90% of it, and I am confident that I can recover the rest. Hurrah! Thank you, Peter.
In Peter's beginner's workshop, everyone finished wonderful books. Many were prettier than mine. He kept things super-simple and was endlessly patient with our million questions.
Here is a slideshow of all five completed books. I can't wait to try my hand at this again. I look forward to being able to make my own sketchbooks.
Two additional views of my book. You can see the simple exposed smyth stitch binding in the photo to the left, and in view below you can see how flat it lies when open. If I use better quality paper for my next book, it would be perfect for sketching.
Uh-oh, there may be yet another obsession coming on...
This easy-to-draw tangle is brand new from the Zentangle® folks, and is named Rumpus. My version today is blindingly bright. Feel free to put your sunglasses on to view it.
This was done with a black Micron PN pen, graphite, and a Rainbow Lead Colored pencil.
I do hope my next version is a bit tamer! I think I'll be using this tangle a lot as it is so enjoyable to draw.
NOTE: If you are a fan of the Trump administration and its policies, you will NOT be happy reading the next section of today's post. It's your choice whether or not to keep reading.
While I rarely comment on politics--it is not what I choose to focus on here--what I'm showcasing below is actually a photograph of a hand-hooked rug which cannot be separated from the current political climate
On the left is Emily K Robertson's hand hooked rug, titled "Trumped." It is her contribution to a superb juried show of fiber art currently traveling across the United States to protest the Trump Administration's actions and policies.
The show is titled Threads of Resistance, and you can view details on its context and its current location by clicking on that title. A wonderfully produced catalog for the show is also available on amazon.
It's well worth your time. If you disagree with this political view, it will make you uncomfortable. BUT, even if you agree, the show will still make you uncomfortable.
It is a very challenging exhibit.
I highly recommend both show and catalog.
Most of the pieces in the show appear to be quilts. I spent time today looking at the catalog, and I see that it's possible Emmy has the only hooked rug in the show.
My only criticism of the catalog, which is beautifully produced and the next best thing to actually seeing the show in person, is that it's not clear to me on a first read what the medium is for each piece. Quilt? Photo? Painting? Hooked rug? The information may be in there, but I didn't see it. However, it's a minor criticism. The full title of the show is: "Threads of Resistance: A Juried Exhibition Created to Protest the Trump Administration's Actions and Policies."
A word about Emmy Robertson: I'm lucky to count her as a friend, having met her at the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild years ago. She's a past president of that guild, and a phenomenally talented rug designer and rug hooker. She's also extraordinarily prolific. When she lived in my area she was kind enough to join our rug hooking group and always served as a source of inspiration. Many of her rugs are designed around political topics. She is an ordained minister who chooses to pursue her ministry via political action. If I had to sum up her spiritual philosophy, it is captured in her favorite motto: "Love Kindness."
Thanks, Emmy, for letting me showcase your rug!
“The function of the artist in a disturbed society is to give awareness of the universe, to ask the right questions, and to elevate the mind.”
This is a photo of a spirit rock. No, it doesn't refer to the remarkable meditation center in California. But it certainly it relates to meditation. A dear friend made it, covering the tiny stone with her hand-netting and adding those tiny beads She gave it to me as a housewarming gift. Both of us know that doing this kind of work is highly meditative--it's why I'm so drawn to art at this point in my life, along with a daily meditation practice.
Stones have always held a lot of symbolism for me, especially river rocks with their smooth round shapes and heft. They are symbols of wholeness, endurance, and comfort.
I will enjoy this sweet gift for a long time. It is so lovely to connect with much-valued old friends.
"A rugged stone grows smooth from hand to hand."
"Our lives are unique stones in the mosaic of human experience--priceless and irreplaceable."
--Henri J.M. Nouwen
Meanwhile, I cannot decide if I'm enjoying the "sketching and watercolor" course or not. I'm a bit puzzled by why I'm having so much trouble with the watercolor and specifically with the brush (watercolor brush). If it weren't the 2nd brush I've tried--with similar issues--I'd say the brush is leaking. Too much water swishing around, and you can see it's leaking outside the bounds of the apple (yes, apple...not a tomato) above. I could go on and on, but I won't. Let's just say I haven't had this experience before, not that I've had much experience at all. I'll keep going with this and see what happens. It's tough not to just grab my colored pencils, though.
In watercolor, if you are not in trouble, then you're in trouble.
In watercolour, particularly, it's almost always better to chuck than fix.
--Joe Joseph P. Blodgett
...Really? Guess I'll find out.
I hope you will take a careful look at the above piece. It's made from 28 triangular tiles placed together. Each tile is unique, and was tangled by my good friend AE. The overall effect is stunning. And, they can all be moved around easily for a completely different look.
Take another moment to look at each individual triangle and you'll see the level of creativity at work here.
* * *
This afternoon I returned from spending five days with AE.. She's been dealing with a particularly challenging and confusing illness for months now, and coincidentally (or was it...?), she learned Zentangle right around the time that the illness announced itself. For the last several weeks she has been receiving intensive and intrusive treatments, and I can't emphasize how often she has mentioned that tangling has enabled her to cope.
And while coping, she has been producing these mini-beauties. Here are a few more examples (with thanks to her for letting me post these):
The meditative nature of Zentangle has been extremely helpful while she has been in treatment. Tiles are the perfect size for portability and for tangling while waiting to be seen in a doctor's office. One of the things I truly love about tangling is that it is a form of moving meditation, and enables a person to focus completely on the present, line by line, and not get caught up in past or future. This is a huge advantage if you are waiting for a treatment session, a doctor's appointment or any stressful situation. AE has been making the best of her time, as you can see here.
* * *
We have known each other for almost 40 years (how the hell did that happen?) and have a lot of shared interests. We met while pursuing a particular spiritual tradition and soon discovered a mutual love of art and crafts. For years we both did bead work (she focused on loom work, I focused on bead embroidery) and between us we accrued enough beads to open a bead store. Not that that was our intention; as we are both "tool hoarders," we never considered selling our stock and each still have pounds of seed beads. We are constant knitters and each have huge yarn stashes. We both enjoy writing and have blogs; she has also written a novel. We've each accumulated way too many art supplies. We each meditate daily. We both read constantly, and our home libraries have many similar books. I wouldn't even want to speculate about how many books each of our homes contain...too many.
I have to laugh at the similarities--we are each hopelessly determined and obsessive in pursuing our interests. In just a few short months, she's produced as many tangles as I have in all the years I've been tangling. She has taken her tangling kit to every doctor's appointment and treatment session, and used that time well. It's an honor to share some of her work here.
And yet we are also very different, something I also enjoy. I value our discussions, whether we are agreeing or disagreeing.
I am fortunate to have her as a friend, and hope we continue our crazy, obscure, satisfying interests for years to come. She is kind, resilient, talented, hilarious and courageous. A gift in my life.
"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down."
– Oprah Winfrey
"There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate."
― Linda Grayson
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
No immediate group classes scheduled (I'm open to hearing about a good venue in Western Massachusetts. I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.)
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society