Yesterday I made a 5-minute stop at one of my favorite rug hooking shops, just to gather inspiration. Even though I cannot hook at the moment (the broken wrist), I just wanted to connect with color, wool, and creativity. I needed to ogle some rugs. As it turns out, I was so glad I stopped by. I found this beauty on their floor:
I'm guessing it's about 3-4 feet long and 2-3 feet wide. The colors! Oh, the colors. Just wonderful. So vibrant.
About 2/3 of the rug is done, but as you can see there are two major central areas on each side that are still unhooked. The backing looked to be in great shape. When the shop acquired the rug, no wool came with it (no unhooked matching wool). They've had it for some time now. Here is a close-up of one of the to-be-finished areas, which includes the unusual finishing on one side; the original artist just folded over the backing and hooked through 2 layers to finish it.
I couldn't help wondering what happened to the original rug hooker--why did this get set aside when it was so nearly done? I'm tempted to try to finish it myself!
BUT...Cheryl the Rug Rescuer, are you reading this? This has your name all over it! Are you interested in maybe finishing this rug? If so, let me know and I'll put you in touch with the current owners.
Someone needs to finish this; it's on their floor and it's absolutely gorgeous. I don't know how much they would charge for it.
Yes, I am in the back of a police car here. You can see bars on the window (you can actually see them better in the reflection on the left side of the photo).
I was thrilled.
I think--I hope--this is the only time in my life that I will get to ride in a police car. So why was I happy? Because they were rescuing us. Me and my buddy K. We had set out that morning to drive to CT for a meeting of rug hookers at a good friend's house. While leaving Boston we hit a pothole on the Mass Turnpike and shredded the tire on my friend's car. Argh!!! Nasty.
We limped along on the Pike with hazard lights on and got off at the next exit, which was close, fortunately. I'll spare you the details of a long and somewhat harrowing wait for help (over an hour). The tow truck driver couldn't take 2 people in his truck, so a kindly policeman agreed to ferry us to the garage, and did.
I was in the side of the police car that was apparently for the hardened criminals--no door handle, bars on the windows, hard plastic seat (the better to hose off easily in case of unmentionable disgusting substances produced by anyone sitting there). My friend K was in the opposite seat; her door had a handle and her window had no bars on it. Between us (and also between us and the front seat) was a barrier of clear plexiglass, undoubtedly bullet-proof.
I was so interested to see what all this was like! It was the ONLY good thing about this adventure, trust me. Of course I couldn't keep my mouth shut and told the kind officer that he was giving two hookers a ride. Perhaps that is why I ended up on the "wrong side" of the back seat? I wish you could have seen his face, until I explained I was referring to rug hooking.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The short ride was mind-bogglingly uncomfortable as we bounced up and down over every tiny bump. Those hard-plastic seats are really torture.
I totally loved my ride in the Paddy Wagon.
After which we got the repair done and proceeded to CT. We had to--we were bringing lunch. We got to stay for only 3 hours before we had to go home, and had a great time as always, but I was so disappointed because we usually stay all day and the setting is absolutely gorgeous. Oh well, another time.
Yesterday I was able to move out of my studio here, with the help of a very kind friend, and bring it 90 miles west to my new home. We couldn't quite get everything in, but here is all that's left:
It will be a cinch to move these final things and I can just put them in my car.
Here is the most recent picture from my room-packing exploits:
Not too much left besides the kitchen, some clothing, and odds and ends. It's all beginning to become real. I'm curious to see what the next month brings, and how I will react to it. Which reminds me: it's time to meditate.
Lovely snow over the weekend, but oh-so-cold. As I walked through my freezing kitchen this morning I spotted this guy out my back door. I'll be thinking of him as the Snow Buddha from now on. He reminded me to make the best of things, including the chaos I'll be experiencing for the next few months.
I doubt I can live up to his attitude. But I'll do my best.
Meanwhile, in starting to pack yesterday I had to roll up one of the small rugs to make room for boxes. This is a tiny rug I hooked a long, long time ago. I haven't measured it in ages but I'm guessing it's something like 2.5 feet by 18". That's probably way off, but you get the idea--it's small. It's also a long-time favorite of mine. This is just a partial view of it. When I was making it, I was lucky enough to know and live relatively near to Pat Merikallio, a fabulously talented colorist, artist, and rug maker. She now lives on the West Coast, but she was kind enough to help me with the color planning and I am a forever fan of her color instincts and all her rugs. Thank you, Pat!
But alas, just look at the binding. Yikes. I confess I've known for awhile that it was disintegrating and have been too lazy to address it. Once I get myself moved I will make it a priority. I may even have some of the original wool.
It occurred to me as I was writing this that adjusting my attitude and "fixing things" are common themes for me. I was just reading this quote from Jack Kornfield about meditation, which has implications for both these themes: "Part of spiritual and emotional maturity is recognizing that it's not like you're going to try to fix yourself and become a different person. You remain the same person, but you become awakened."
Which I certainly am not. Maybe someday?
The exhibit is active and on the move. "Exploring the Tarot: 23 Artists Hook the Major Arcana" has traveled widely and still has far to go.
On February 4th, the exhibit is opening from 2-4 pm at the Barron Arts Center in Woodbridge Township, NJ.
To see previous posts on these rugs, including photographs and commentary on each, click HERE.
I have indeed been absent from writing for a long while.
It's nothing bad, nor have I abandoned my blog. Instead, life has been overly-full with good things, including two major projects. I'll write about one of them today.
I just returned from a less-than-24 hour trip to Cornwall, VT, where I stayed overnight at the Oxford Rug Hooking School and completed the requirements to become a Certified Teacher Punch Needle Rug Hooking. (!! Hurrah !!)
And as if that weren't wonderful enough, just look at the weather and views I had while I was there (even though I hardly had time to be outside).
There was earthy eye candy everywhere.
Here are some samples, a photo journey for your enjoyment:
Amy Oxford's school is a bit of heaven on earth, one of my favorite places to go and well worth the four-hour drive for me. (Although TWO four-hour drives in 24 hours just about did me in.)
And then there is Amy herself, one of the kindest and most generous people I know. A fabulous artist, teacher and businesswoman. And there is also Heidi the dye wizard, working her magic on both creative and administrative aspects of the school--and just as nice. (Heidi also can repair absolutely anything.)
It is sheer pleasure to be in residence there.
I am ready to collapse for the evening and try to take in the fact that I'm now certified...a fact which just makes me think, "But I have so much more to learn!"
My one regret is that I couldn't stay longer. Anyone who has been to the school and is reading this will know exactly what I mean.
As for the other project I'm involved in: that one is bigger, longer-term, and more disruptive, and may prevent me from writing much for a while.
It's all good. But it's also all-consuming.
To quote the old Beatles' move, Help: "I can say no more."
The Oxford Teacher Certification Workshop lasted seven days this month, and was one of the most rewarding things I've ever done.
It was also one of the most challenging things I've ever done.
For the first three days I wasn't sure I would survive it.
We tucked 60 hours of learning into 6.5 days, working from 9 in the morning until 9 at night, and often later.
When I hit the bed after class ended each day, I would try to read, but was soon fast asleep. It wasn't until Wednesday that I knew I could actually keep up the pace. (And in fact, it was easier after Wednesday. I got used to it.)
Am I making it sound bad? Far from it! It was rigorous--even tough--but it was superbly presented--I and my fellow 6 students were having the time of our lives and learning so much.
Amy Oxford is one of the kindest, most generous, smart, and funny teachers I've ever been fortunate to have. You cannot imagine a more gracious and supportive person. At the same time, she knows exactly how to get the job done and how to keep students motivated and working hard. But somehow, the way she does it, you never feel driven. You just want to produce.
It's a form of magic, I swear.
Here are additional photos from the week--enjoy! There will be more.
(Click on photos to biggify and to see captions)
I will stop here for the day. But consider: this was only the show-and-tell. Much more show-and-tell and much more of the workshop to come.
Long ago and far away...or so it seems...I spent an entire day drawing. Ahhhhhhhh...
In reality, it was recently and not that far away. But I have traveled such a distance interior-ly between then and now.
What I am referring to: I had a chance to sit and tangle for an entire day a couple of weeks ago, and experienced all the benefits: the inner silence, the lovely calm focus, the lack of worry about outcome, and the great sense of peace and timelessness.
All these things can also come from meditation, although since meditation (vipassana) invites us to turn towards and become aware of whatever is present, there are frequent times when meditation asks us to sit with difficult feelings or sensations. A very wise process, though sometimes a turbulent one.
The only difference I find between drawing/tangling and classical meditation is the incredible focus that drawing evokes, and how that focus prevents me from being aware of anything else. Sometimes this is more useful than meditation.
Since that one lovely peaceful day of drawing, life has ramped up and things are, at the moment, confusing and unsettled. I am sitting with this in meditation and just observing that.
But clearly there is a place for both practices in my life, meditation and drawing, during times like this. Both feel as precious to me as breathing, and both lead me to clearer perspective and inner peace. Each method works in its own way.
Every day I meditate.
But so far, I have not mastered the practice of daily drawing or tangling. I see the benefits of both, and I always make time for meditation. But too often I do not make time for drawing. Instead I pay bills, or work, run irrelevant errands, or knit while watching television. Or--although this is nearly as beneficial--I work on designing, dyeing for, or hooking my latest rug. Rug hooking is incredibly meditative. But it still doesn't have the effect on me that drawing does, and the past couple of weeks have proved to me how true that is. I frequently feel I want to draw, but tell myself that other tasks are more important.
But are they?
Life is complicated. Drawing, breathing, seeing, following just that one line at a time, is so very simple. Perspective in drawing...perspective in life.
The viewer of art can go into a kind of meditation, a bit of a different sense or feeling.
- Dorthe Eisenhardt
I believe that painting should come through the avenues of meditation rather than the canals of action.
- Mark Tobey
Woke up early today and by 9.30 a.m. had dyed one final skein of the background and was on my way to the studio. I'm now about 3" x 36" away from finishing. However, I may not get to work on the last bit for another week or two. I have other commitments (all of them wonderful) that will take up my time until then.
Or perhaps it's mystery flowers? Any ideas what plant(s) this rug is portraying? At first I saw what I thought were blueberries...but then I realized that the blue round-and-oval-things were probably flowers, not berries. And I spotted the larger round fruit.
I am mystified. If you think you know, please tell me.
This rug is hand-hooked, but not by me, It's an old rug from Orvis, and is one of the three rugs I spotted on craigslist earlier this week. It was made in China and sold in quantity. Orvis, from what I can tell, doesn't sell hooked rugs any more. It has a tag on it that says, "100% wool, hand hooked. Made in China." (See yesterday's post for more on the adventure of buying this and one other rug)
While I'm sure it was mass produced (hand-hooked but still mass produced), I'm still enchanted with the design and even the soft colors. For $12, I'm happy to have it. I'm only sorry that whoever made it was probably thoroughly exploited...but it was imported and sold here long ago, and now it's in my care.
Those are some hiking staffs on the upper left--I was too lazy to move them.
Look who paid me a visit in the studio today, completely out of season:
I mean, it's April, for heaven's sake. What is he doing around? At least he brought his cat. That was fun.
Ok, ok. What is this about...?
On Monday, I noticed a craigslist ad for three hooked rugs for $12 each. With photos. They were all wonderful. I wondered if they could actually be hand-hooked. If they were, I found the price both exciting and depressing.
Anyway, I am NOT, repeat...NOT...a Christmas or a Santa fan. But I know lots of people who are, and I had one in mind. Plus even I--the original Grinch--thought this Santa-with-an-adorable-obviously-loved-kitty was darling.
I emailed the photos to my rug hooking group and sure enough, Cheryl the Rug Rescuer was interested. And I was interested in one of the other two rugs. So on Monday I drove to a local Costco parking lot which was halfway between the seller's town and my town, and bought two of the rugs. Of which Santa is one. On the way there it occurred to me that I had sadly neglected to ask the most important question: "Are these rugs hand-hooked?" I can't believe I didn't ask that!
By the time I pulled into the parking lot I realized my error and pretty much assumed they were machine-made in China. And that's how it seemed at first. But then...
Here's a closeup of the cutie-pie cat. Who cares if he's not hand-hooked?
Ok, so I meet the seller in the parking lot and my first question is the one I should already have asked. I can see that the three rugs all have a weird backing attached to them. A bad sign. Definitely machine made. Then the lovely and nice seller tells me she bought them from Orvis (she thinks) years ago. Ok, not just machine made but machine made IN CHINA probably. Worse and worse.
But who can resist these rugs? (I'll show the one I kept tomorrow.)
So for $12 each, I buy 2 of the 3 rugs. They are in great shape and totally clean. Well-loved. In the car, I see that the one I'm keeping for myself is "!00% wool, made in China." Definitely not hand-hooked.
I researched hooked rugs at Orvis tonight and found the following statement on an old webpage they had (they no longer sell hooked rugs): "All of our wool hooked rugs are still completely handhooked for an authentic texture, character, feel and coloration. Each depicts a domestic scene that continues the 200 year old tradition of hooked rugs."
No kidding! So while I'm sorry that some unfortunate Chinese laborer, who doesn't believe in Christmas (I get it, neither do I) was likely forced to make this a few decades ago and probably wasn't paid more than 25 cents, the rug IS here, after all, and we may as well care for it and love it for as long as it exists.
Sad. But also, a really wonderful design. And hand-hooked, after all!
So Santa really did come to visit my studio today, and he's sleeping there with his kitty tonight, at least until Cheryl comes tomorrow to take him home.
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