Hmmm, I appear to be working on a series of posts with titles named after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Yesterday was Grumpy, today Happy.
A good night's sleep makes all the difference (oh no--I can foretell a forthcoming post with the title "Sleepy"). That plus the fact that last year at this time I was still unpacking, and would feel terribly guilty if I tried to find the time to do anything creative when I felt I "should" be working on the house.
If I know anything about myself it's that a day or two without time to do handwork or drawing renders me hyper-cranky and anxious. I'm afraid I'm addicted. It doesn't matter if the result is only mediocre; it's the act of creating that releases stress and puts me nearly into a state of bliss every time.
Today I was able to do some rug punching (for a pillow not a rug) and at the same time practice singing. My singing was absolutely horrible, but who cares? The combination was my idea of heaven. Start of punched pillow is below.
Contrast this punched version with the identical but traditionally hooked pillow (see my post from December 27th) to see the difference between punching and hooking. Both of which sound either violent or sleazy, eh?
But they are the polar opposite. So soothing.
In less than a week, 2018 is done. I'm doing my annual review by re-reading my journal and reflecting. It's always a bittersweet process.
That's not all that's winding up. On the right is yarn I over-dyed yesterday, preparing for my next project. I just finished winding it into this yarn cake.
Here it was in the dyepot just before I nuked it for the final time. And yes, the lighting was different. The color in the photo above is truer. The original yarn, a worsted weight, was beige. When I saw this in the dyepot It looked so much like spaghetti I couldn't believe it.
Also winding up--and now actually finished--is this hooked pillow I put together yesterday. The pattern is from a vintage piece of pottery, and I'm thrilled with how it came out.
The yarn I dyed above is actually going to be used in a twin of this piece--I will punch hook the same pattern, to illustrate the difference between traditional hooking and punch hooking.
Here's another short post on OTHER PEOPLE'S WORK (not mine). My buddy Cheryl is a Rug Rescuer--she takes partially completed traditionally hooked rugs from people who cannot complete them (usually due to age, illness, or unknown reasons) and finds a way to finish them. She's a genius at it!
Here are a couple of her rescued rugs, then a 3rd rug that she hooked NOT as a rescue but just for fun for a grandchild. And finally, a rug in progress from another wonderful rug artist, Cynthia (not a rescue--her own design).
I believe this pattern is an old McGown or Moshimer pattern called "Frost Oriental," (after Edward Frost, an itinerant peddlar in the 1800s who figured out a way to transfer rug designs to burlap). Cheryl rescued this rug and finished it--I've long loved this pattern and have often thought of hooking it, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Love what she and the original artist did with this!
Also by Cheryl the Rescuer. Although I can't remember if she rescued this rug and finished it, or if she decided to hook it all herself and then ran out of wool part of the way through and had to scramble to finish. Either way, I love this rug. Both the pattern and the wonderful difference in values, giving it an antique look.
And last but not least, a rug by Cynthia (another traditional rug hooking artist in our group) of her own design. This isn't the first time I've featured one of Cynthia's rugs--she does all her own designs and dyes or recycles the wool she uses. The added bicyclist (lower right without any wool around it yet) and the boat (lower left center) both have special meaning for her family. She does wonderful work.
I got to see these lovely rugs, and others, at our meeting last Friday. It was hard to tell which was more fun--the rug hooking, the conversations, or the fabulous groan-inducing foods. We met at Cheryl's amazing and stunningly decorated old Victorian house.
"When life gives you hands, use 'em to make stuff."
The beginning today: I began designing another large rug. It's too early by far to show anything, but I am pleased with the start.
The ending today: After endless rain and then multiple overly-early snowstorms, we finally got all the leaves cleaned up. It took all day. Since I'm focusing on gratitude this month, I want to say how relieved I am that I no longer have to do this myself. Because I live in a condo, someone else does it for me, and of course they have all the right tools & equipment, saving my old bones the effort. Thank you, thank you.
Two small tangled pieces today...
Above is a black Zentangle® 3-Z tile with White Gellyroll pen and White General's Charcoal. The tangle is called XLnt and it's by CZT Jody Genovese (you can find it on tanglepatterns.com). This is my first try at it, and wowza, it was not easy for me to figure out. I like it very much though and think I'll be using it a lot. This was done for the "It's a String Thing #271" Challenge on Adele Bruno's website.
And this one is done on a tiny Bijou tile (2"x2") using Gold Gellyroll pen and A bit of White Gellyroll, with colors by General's Chalk pencils. The tangle in the center is Zenith, and that was our assignment for the Gratitangles Project, day 25. I mixed in a Footlites tangle on either side (same project, day 14). Zenith is a tangle I always mean to use, and rarely do.
While working on these tiles I could not help thinking of things I am grateful for today: For example, safe housing, with great caretakers who moved those leaves efficiently and who also take care of the snow and ice. I'm grateful for the snow tires I had put on my car yesterday. I am grateful that I even HAVE a car and the money for snow tires.
“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.”
I finally finished my "Red & Black" rug today. This piece feels as though it's been underway for years.
It's not a big rug, either; it's probably about 2'x3' at most.
After I finished the binding and then the final steaming, I laid it down on my tile floor to dry and went into my journal to search for the starting date of this rug. I couldn't find it, but it has to be either 2016 or 2017, early in the year*.
So in actuality, I don't know how long it did take me. But certainly over a year. Things got incredibly complicated when I bought the house, packed up after 40 years in one place, moved, started unpacking, and broke my wrist.
There were a lot of lessons in this rug, and good memories too.
I thought when I designed it (yes, it's my design) that I could use up all of my red and black wool. Well, that didn't work out! The wool apparently multiplied itself secretly overnight and I am left with what looks like the same amount of red and black wool as I finish the rug as I had when I began. So one lesson is that wool you want to use up never fully goes away, while wool you are worried about not having enough of will ALWAYS run out in a crucial spot. Guaranteed.
I thought hooking in straight lines would be a cinch. Surprise! Not so easy for me. I learned I am not good at hooking in straight lines at all. But...I kept on truckin'.
I started it while living in one place, and finished it in another. I miss my Woolies so much...and at the same time am forging new friendships out here. I feel fortunate to be making some new friends. (But still wish my other peeps weren't so far away...)
I had to put it down and pick it up about a zillion times, with long delays in between due to packing, moving, unpacking, and my damaged wrist and hand. There was a major lesson in patience and persistence to get it done.
But I got it done. That's the biggest lesson.
"Nevertheless, she persisted."
*Addendum: Checking my photos of this rug, I see that I started it in January of 2016, so over two years from start to finish. Yikes. (I may have put it aside to complete at least one other rug in the meantime, however.)
One of the very kind Quabbin Rughookers invited us all to her lake house in Spencer on Sunday. What a house! And it has a wonderful history (too long to go into here but I delighted in hearing it). Anyway, we sat in a lovely room overlooking a gorgeous lake in beautiful weather--every moment was enjoyable. It was such a fun day. Here are the rugs people were working on (photos by permission, of course). With thanks to Diana for hosting us.
Wow, stunningly beautiful weather this last little while--sunny, warm (but not hot), and no humidity! Today was lovely. I drove to a friend's house for a rug hooking event, and we were able to work outside in her gorgeous backyard. Perfect weather and no bugs! We hooked on her patio while viewing her colorful garden and listening to the din from hungry baby birds and their parents in a birdhouse not more than 4 feet over our heads. The birdy-parents came and went ceaselessly, trying to stuff food into the mouths of the kids. And were those kids noisy and demanding! Parenthood is never easy no matter who the parents are...
Here are some of the rugs I saw (of course I got permission for these pictures--thank you all!):
And now for something completely different...
Diana had just gotten back from babysitting for four days while family members took a short vacation to Aruba (something they had won! What luck!). They brought back this amazing object for her. Even more amazing is the description of the artistic process that was used to create it--it may look painted, but it isn't. See the photograph right underneath it describing how it was done. I have never heard of this art before, but I love this little critter. Isn't he (or she) a beauty?
Truly impressive. I will have to google "mopa mopa," which I've never heard of before now.
I capped off the day by 1) treating myself to a wonderful documentary on David Hockney's 2012 and 2016 exhibitions of landscapes and portraits. More visual delight!
And then came home and finished a tense and good WWII-themed novel.
All in all, a delightful summer day. I am feeling fortunate indeed.
Two of my good buddies have been wanting to learn Zentangle®, so I went over to their place and did a class today. They did great--have a look at these results:
Really well done.
Of course, I forgot the handouts I had carefully prepared and printed before the class. It's been about two years since I have had a chance to teach tangling, mostly because of buying a house, packing, moving, unpacking, and then the Great Broken Wrist Adventure.
So it was truly wonderful to be able to refresh my teaching skills today with kind friends. Mind you, I have NO idea what they thought about it, but I sure had fun, and am delighted with their results. I hope they are also.
Much of what I've been doing in the last month involves embroidery with punchneedle and wool yarns. Unfortunately, I can't really show it here because the designs I'm using, both of which came off t-shirts I own, are not mine and I can't reach the artist for permission. But I'll show a portion of one of them...the back end of a horse. Here it is. I am really in love with working with wool yarns (these are lace weight and/or sock yarns) in my punchneedle.
The pink-ish background is a single ply hand-dyed Malabrigo lace weight yarn. Really the possibilities are endless since sock and lace-weight yarns come in so many colors now.
One of the best things about this is that I can try out rug designs in punchneedle first, before going ahead with the dyeing for a large rug only to discover that the colors or the design are not working. Better to find that out in a small punchneedle piece than after spending money for wool yardage or expensive wool rug yarn.
It seems Spring is scarce as hen's teeth around here. It comes and then goes just as quickly. Fortunately last Saturday we had one glorious spring day, coinciding with our rug hooking meeting in Connecticut at Ann's farmhouse. The weather and sun smiled upon us; all of us were able to attend, and we had a blast.
I have only a few pictures (since many of us have been working on the same projects for quite a long time) but they'll be worth seeing.
Well, of course--those of you who've been reading the rug hooking category of this blog will recognize Cheryl the Rug Rescuer's name and title. Yes, this is ANOTHER rug rescue by our intrepid colleague. I believe the designer's name is Denise Mitchell...see this close-up below:
Apparently Denise (if I have her name correct) was a rug hooking teacher who died recently. Before her death she designed and hooked most of this rug, but was unable to finish it. Another rug hooker who didn't feel able to tackle the job approached Cheryl, asking her to do complete it, and gave her the remaining wool for the rug. Cheryl accepted the challenge and is basically done with the hooking now. Someone else will take care of the binding, and then the rug will go to the woman who asked Cheryl to finish it. Denise, wherever she's currently existing, would be proud to see her rug completed. A better photo is below.
Elizabeth was punching away on this beauty:
And Kathleen had brought along this pattern to work on for the day (K is in the middle of two other very complicated gorgeous rugs, too large to carry around):
That's it for the rug photos, but wait until you see what is coming next. Ann, our hostess, brought out a hand-embroidered tablecloth that had us all drooling down our shirts. One of her relatives (grandmother? uh-oh, I can't remember) had begun this, and I think Ann prevailed upon an aunt to complete it. It is just stunning. I took lots of photos. Here it is:
Here are more photos of various motifs, and some close-ups. What a labor of love.
You may be wondering (but you probably aren't!!!), "Where's your rug?" My rug is so close to done that I've decided to wait until it is done to show the photo. Since I am moving at a snail's pace--too busy to work on it much--that could be another month, but I hope not. I'll try to get it done and on here sooner.
Instead, since Ann had been asking me about punchneedle, I did bring my latest punchneedle project. I finished it this morning. Still debating how to frame it. Below you can see the original tee-shirt I've had for at least ten years, if not more, with this design on the front. And next to it, my punchneedle version. The tee-shirt is fading, and I've loved this redwing blackbird image for so long that I cannot bear to lose it, so I wanted to immortalize it in punchneedle.
The one problem: I cannot find any contact information for the original artist, Rob McClellan. I believe I've traced him to Ohio, and have even found a gallery there that sells some of his work. But the most recent work they have is decades old. I wrote to the gallery to see if they could help me locate him, but they wrote back to say they have no idea how to do that. If anyone--anyone!--knows how to locate him (I suspect he may be long dead--I've found some photos of someone with that name on the internet but they too are decades old), PLEASE let me know. Clearly I did this for myself only and will not be selling or profiting in any way from the piece, but I would love to find him and thank him and credit him even more than I can by doing this.
A happy Spring to all. May it come, and stay for awhile, before the summer.
A lovely ride with new friends this morning to a rug hooking event at a church about an hour away. Very well organized, and 165 people in attendance. I only photographed a few rugs, but aren't these wonderful?
Good people, good food, good vendors. What's not to love? I even won a prize, and I never win stuff at these events. All in all a very satisfying day. We started out early in very cold weather and saw plenty of snow on the ground and gorgeous snow-laden trees. Driving home, all the snow was gone. Spring is on the way...if we can only hold out long enough!
Oh, this was fun to do. It has been a long time since I've done any punchneedle embroidery, and I enjoyed every minute of this. I've done a lot of my own designs but when I saw this pattern by Lori Brechlin of Notforgotten Farm I just couldn't resist.
I recognize this sentiment as being universal to all rug hookers and rug punchers. Here's a shot of the piece before it was framed:
After all, a hooker can never have too much wool.
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.
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!
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.
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:
My next Beginning Zentangle® class is not yet scheduled--stay tuned.
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