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Jan '15

Madeline School of the Arts

I got some interesting photos this week from a place I have never been.


This beautiful island retreat, near La Pointe, Wisconsin, is holding it’s first rug hooking retreat and I am going to be their teacher.  Just looking at the photos, I can tell it is a place I will enjoy.


The classrooms are lovely.


The sleeping cabins are cozy.


And I will make sure the instruction is both informative and challenging.  If you are looking for a great rug hooking workshop this summer, why don’t you check out their website –



I understand that they even have the best ever sun tea, which sounds right up my alley.  Let me know if you have questions.

Thursday was a busy classroom day as my studio was a mini School of the Arts.

I had my regular 1st/3rd Thursday students during the day and my beginning rug hookers at night.


Due to a couple of family emergencies, only 5 of my 7 beginners were able to be there.  However, they all came back to class having finished the assignment:  Get the 4″ center hooked.




I can’t remember another beginner’s class where everyone finished their assignment.


I even got personal and checked the backs of their projects.  Happily, everything was tight and ship shape.  Another first!

This allowed us to concentrate on their next assignment -


Design the blank space that will expand the design from 4″ to 12.”  I will have more to report on that in a couple of weeks.


Of course, one of the students had previously attended this class with her children.  She brought her first finished piece for show and tell.


I was particularly interested in how she finished it.  After making a simple wooden stretcher frame, she stretched and stapled the piece on it.  Eye screws and wire made a easy way to hang the piece.  The linen backing, stretched over the wooden frame, was covered by four thin pieces of wood that were nailed onto the sides of the stretched piece.  This created, what look like, a very nice, deep box frame.  I think it is a concecpt that can be adapted for other rugs.


That artist worked on her second piece during the evening class.

Of course, one of the real stars of the night was her son Grayson … who did not even bother to show up.


He did, however, send his current piece (hooked with nylons) for a critique and a little more fiber to get the job done.  I think his piece is  … cool.

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Jun '14

Show and Tell At CPRC 2014


Thursday was Show and Tell at Cambria Pines Rug Camp.


That is when all of the classes take their projects out to the garden for an impromptu exhibition.

Here is a report on what my class did during their week at camp.


Sally and I worked on the color planning for this piece after she got to camp.  She did all the hooking on this pillow as well as the prodded flower in the center.


Although Penny started this project before camp, she hooked half of the flowers and most of the background at Cambria.


This was Debi’s first project – her own design and color plan – all done at camp.  She even did some 3-D embellishments.


Elizabeth began this “Klimt” project with me last year and brought it out for round 2 this week.  We concentrated on “skin,” jewlery and defining the body shape.


June chose to work on a free form mixed media piece utilizing a wide variety of cut sizes of wool, silk, yarn, fleece and nylon with her own hand made glass bead embelishments.


Janice arrived with this huge pattern and bags of blue, pink and light green textured wools.  It took a while to find something that could bring all those elements together but, finally, we did in two very different dump dye pieces.  One was a magenta > hot orange piece and the other was a purple > light blue piece.  Those bits, used for pin stripes and outlines, bring everything together in an interesting way.


Janet decided to spend her week making realistic prodded flowers.  They were so good we had to shoo away the bees.


Dianne worked on this charming roller skating bunny pattern.  We spent a lot of time editing her original wool choices and making sure they would work together as desired.


Debby began this very large Double Cross pattern.  She said she decided to do it after I saw how you were playing around with it on the blog. We worked on this striking dark vs. hot bright combination.

Sandra worked on two rugs.


One was braided.


One was hooked.  Both were started before camp.

She would tell you that she is mainly a braider and only an occasional rug hooker.  Part of her frustration with rug hooking centered on the difficulty she has with hooking.  After watching her, I felt much of her problem came because of her choice of rug hook.  As you might expect, I got her to try a bent hook.   After she got the hang of it she found she had much better success.


Phyllis came with three dog faces hooked.  However, she was most unhappy with the face of the big dog on the right.  Over the week we tweaked that face until we got it looking like the original.  Once that was done, she got the entire body of the dog hooked and added a barn to the design.


I had a great class at Cambria Pines Rug Camp 2014.

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May '14

Good Fiber … Mostly

From my perspective, all fiber is good fiber and anything associated with fiber production is an interesting thing to blog about … mostly.  Consequently, when visiting the Edwards County Historical Society on a recent trip home to visit Mom, I took along my camera.

Although I grew up 3 houses away from this little historic home/museum and even made my speeding money by mowing the yard 1964-67, I had only gone through the “display” areas one time – about 1963 on a school field trip.  Even so, I had a pretty vivid memory of the things on display, so went looking for certian items.


Since we work with wool fabric and yarn, I went straight to the old spinning wheels.  These were owned by early settlers (1818) of my town and donated long before my birth by their families who no longer used them.


One of the big (litterally) things I remembered, was this old barn loom. Although, after seeing it as a 10 year old I remembered it as being much bigger than it acutally is  (I have a modern one in the room of requirement that is even bigger than this) it is still a big loom by any standard.  Called a barn loom because the construction is similar to that of old barns, families sometimes did keep them in the barn because they were so big.  Terry Harper, the person taking me through said:  We have no idea if it still works or how to use it. I, of course, quickly made some diagnostic tests and pronounced the loom operational but that I was not sure how the string heddles or warping (circa 1948) would hold up.  I suspect, if those where swapped out with new ones, it would function very well indeed.

For me, the really interesting thing about this loom is that it was made by James Sims, the husband of the Mary Ann “Prima” Gill, who was the first baby born in my newly established town in 1818.  There is no documentation as to when he made it for her – if early or late in their marriage – but, easily it could have been made anywhere from  1838-58.  As my family was an original founding family of the settlement, they would have certainly celebrated the birth of this little girl and known her all her life.  I also remembered, when looking at both the loom and spinning wheels, that several of the  various “family wills” in my files mentioned looms and spinning wheels as important possesions.


I could not help but note that the loom, complete with axe and draw knife marks, was made with pegs and tension pegs similar to those used by David Mikoryak when making the wonderful proddy legs that I sell.  When inserted, the pegs hold everything tight.  When removed, everything can easily come a part – a good feature for a loom this big!  In fact, it would not be all that difficult, should the historical society want, to make it an opperational loom that could be moved from place to place for demonstrations.

I am confident that seeing this impressive loom as a 10 year old had a big impact on my interest in weaving – I never forgot it, was always fascinated by looms thereafter, was not satisfied until I got my own and was thrilled to see it again!


Of course, a local museum like this has a few old quilts.  I even found some family names on this one that I recognized.

I was rather surprised, since I had not been in these rooms since 1963, that I remembered several other things and even looked for them.  Once again, that just illustrates why it is so important to expose kids to as many rich experiences as possible.  One never knows the long lasting effect such an experience can have.

After the tour was over, however, I said to Terry:  ”I missed seeing certain things.”  When he told me that the society had never gotten rid of anything , I said “What about the wreath?”


As it turns out, this crocheted wreath had been moved to a different location not on regular display.  Once I told him which wreath I was thinking of, he quickly took me to the right room and I took this photo.

Can you tell the fiber that was used?

Human hair from one family!

Clearly, this family did not have enough to do.  While I think all fiber is special and useful … I sort of draw the line on this one and do not really suggest you start incorporating it into your hooked pieces.


Although this plate is broken, it is in the musuem because it was brought by original settlers when they immigrated for the founding of my home town.  I thought the design and coloration of this piece was stunning.  While my photo does not do justice to the vivid cobalt blue of the leaves and berries, trust me when I say it was a great piece.  That blue against the vivid yellow and orange detail of the leaves was inspirational.  Again, things like this might be the spring board to a full blown rug design some day down the road.  (If anyone knows this pattern, please let me know.)

Finally, here is a report complete with a link to a rug show that you can enjoy.   I really appreciate Laurie (MizT) sending it in and hope you take a look.  It makes me even more excited since I (and you too) will be visiting the Maine Tin Peddlars in September.

Gene: I believe you knew that our Maine Tin Pedlars recently had an exhibit of rugs at Bowden College. I thought you might enjoy a video that was put together by our member Debbir Acaro. Get a cuppa something and enjoy some rugs!  MizT


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Apr '14

Brenna Rutherford In Mt. Vernon

When Ann K. Shepherd was planning The Brenna Rutherford Mystery Series, she knew that she wanted all the books to be set in what was, to her mind, the perfect small mid-western town.  After doing a lot of research, she settled on Mt. Vernon, Ohio, my current stop on this road trip.


Mt. Vernon is laid out with  a classic center roundabout right in the middle of town.


The city is full of all sorts of building and ornamention styles that have been popular at the various stages of history since it’s founding in 1805.


Whether it is a memorial to Civil War dead


Or rows of classic old homes on tree lined streets, the place is full of history and iconic charm.

Since I read and reread all my daughter’s books (as do many of you) I wanted to put a physical  ”picture” with the literary images I have in my head about Mt. Vernon.  So, on Wednesday, I set out on my own Brenna Rutherford tour.


Here is the acutal house my daughter chose to be the home Brenna lives in with her uncle.


Since all the books are set during her senior year of high school, I had to drive by Mt. Vernon High School.  Go Yellow Jackets!


To make spending money, Brenna works after school and on weekends at the local bakery.


Although the bakery in the books goes by a different name


The Pink Cup Cake has the right look and feel for the one that Ann writes about.


I, of course, had to do a bit of extra research to prepare for this post and ended up getting a small assortment of things to sample.  How else could one write with authority?


The newest book in the series is The Envy Trap.  Much of that story takes place in the Woodward Opera House, located in downtown Mt. Vernon.


One of the sites that repeadtedly pops up in the book is the local cemetery.  It is the place where Brenna’s mother was buried after the car crash that took her live right as Brenna was born.  I actually ended up spending more time there than anywhere else because I have always found cemeteries very interesting.

I could have spent all day looking at the interesting artisitic markers in the Mt. Vernon cemetery.  However, as it was a cold day, I decided to move on to a place that bright and warm.


The Paragraphs Bookstore


Yes, they do have my daughter’s books on the shelf!  If you are interested in checking out Ann’s books, you can get the at the Paragraph’s book store in Mt. Vernon or by searching for Ann K. Shepherd at Amazon.com.  Volumes 1-4 are “Seeing Red,” “The Haunting of Mitch Hamilton,” “On Ice” and “The Envy Trap.”  All are available in either paperback or Kindle downloads.

Since we are supposed to talk about something linked to our artistic pursuits, I took several photos of design elements that would work just as well for rugs as they do for stone.


It does not take all that much to an interesting flourish on a stair stepped line.



Need a center medallion shaped rug design?


I am still fascinated with metal decorative gates.


One simply cannot get too  many acanthus leaves.


Not Doric, Ionic or Corinthian.  Do you suppose this would be a Citric Colum?


It is all about the shading!


This could be lengthened, made wider, or cropped to a quarter and then flipped to make a new whole design.


This design – a fragile over turned vase of flowers – bothered me quite a lot.  While it is probably a standard Victorian grieving motif, it is not something I ever remember seeing before.  It just seems very sad indeed.


Best to go back to some more leaves and a great shield design.


Although, this sweet little stone is hard to beat for impact.


Whether carved or hooked -




These flowers will last!


I like to think this was a tribute to a week of rug camp where everything went right.


This, unfortunately, might do for a week where the project did not turn out quite as hoped!


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Apr '14

At Russell-Cooper

Good Morning from Mt. Vernon, Ohio.  Although I am really in Ohio for a 3-part rug hooking event that won’t start until Thursday, I decided to come in a couple of days early because it would allow me the opportunity of visting Mt. Vernon, the town that provides the setting for the Brenna Rutherford Mystery Series that my daughter Ann writes.


Since I wanted to soak up as much of Mt. Vernon as possible, I decided to forgo modern trappings and stay someplace historic.


It is hard to get more historic than the Russell-Cooper House.  Built about 1830, the home is family seat of 2 notable Ohioans:  Dr. John Russell and his son-in-law, Colonel William Cooper, attorney and civil war colonel.


Owned by the same family for 5 generations, the home is intimately tied to many major historic events associated with Ohio and the US.  Besides appreciating all that history, I show up, of course, with an eye looking for a little bit of artistic inspiration.


And, for what it is worth, my eye couldn’t get past the dramatic decorative top knots featured prominently in the front design.


They anchor each corner


And bring an extra dash of drama to the front entry porch.


If subtle is more your style, then all one has to do is look down instead of up.  Even the front sidewalk  next to the street provides a stunning feast for the eyes via these old glazed pavers.  I was astonished to find an entire sidewalk made with these.  Appartently, they were made locally and show up at other historic sites all over town.  They are wonderful.


I do believe there is a rug design here …


As one would expect in a “high Victorian mansion,” the downstairs rooms are formal and elegant.


With layers upon layers of design elements typical to the period.  There is a lot to see.


That did not stop me from quickly finding IRgC central, the spot I staked out in the dining room for my computer hookup home away from home.  The only thing needed to make it a little better was a chair with a little extra padding … which I sneaked over from another spot in the room after I got to business.


As expected, the house is full of several period bedrooms.


I decided to stay in the Colonel’s Bedroom.


Each is a little different


But all are full of period pieces, many of which are original to the home.


From an artistic standpoint, I found the downstairs ballroom to be particularly interesting.  Not too long ago, when some work was being done to this room, the original hand painted ceiling was discovered.


Since then, it has been painstakingly uncovered and restored.  I was quite fascinated with the delicate lines and shading in this design.  Of course, as you might expect, I was very happy to see a classic Greek Key design as a prominent feature.  It never gets old … even though the design is ancient.  As is often the case, once a good design gets going …


It starts going off in new directions in order to make things more interesting.


Obviously, the original artist had plenty of tricks up his or her sleeve.


It is a good lesson for us about layering design elements together.  It is also illustrative as to the additional interest or perspective  that can be achieved through the use of values.  Just look at the interior teal “frames.”  By changing values as the artist depeicted those bands of color, it heighten the perspective of the design element.


Take a look at the use of both light & dark sections and light & dark lines in the construction of this Greek Key.  This also brings in that perspective punch.


Aren’t you glad they uncovered this 4 Seasons homage?  I wonder who in the world covered over it in the first place?

The entire home is full of artistic eye candy.

Since you can never get too much eye candy, I will show you a few more examples of things to look at.


Somebody went to a lot of trouble to make this stunning steam bent, curled and woven screen and its counterpart over the next door.




If you look long enough, you are certin to find a style that suits your design fancy.





Here is a simple, yet effective border idea illustrated by the white/red jagged ripple – the colors being divided by a rich gold line.  It is sort of an odd take on the puzzle border I use in Miss Weigle and other dsigns. While I would never do it in red, white and gold, I think the idea has merits.

z24Color –  symmetry mixed with asymmetry – highlights & shadows – it get’s a person’s artistic mind going.


I even liked the curtains!  After all, you just never know what might ignite your design meter down the road.


Lest you think all I am doing on my down time in Mt. Vernon is wondering around looking at things, you would be wrong.  Here is my hooking space at the Russell-Cooper house.  I brought my nylon project along because I intend to have some free time here and because one of my events later in the week is a evening hook-in where I need something to work on and demonstrate.

*** Since I have a new video ready on hooking nylon, I had Buddy put it up on the IRgC today so you can hook along with me if you want to.  To see it, just go to the video section of the IRgC and click play.


While I am not exactly smelling the roses on this trip, I am enjoying the crocuses.  Come to think of it, I don’t even think I have seen real crocuses for 20 years.


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Apr '14

A Lay-In

No, this is not a reference to the fact that I was sick Thursday and Friday, making me unable to have 1st Thursday or 1st Saturday.  It is a reference to something much more unsettleing.  I don’t want to shock you with this behind the scenes look at a tension packed life in the studio but, as I write about what really happens in my fiber art world, I have to share both the good and the bad.

My illness could not have come at a more inopportune time as, besides the 2 back to back scheduled hooking dates, I was frantically getting ready for a road trip this week.  Being sick slowed that all down to be sure.  Still, at one point over the weekend, I was trying to photograph and color plan a pattern for a reader.  So, I laid out the pattern on the floor, as I often do, and turned around to get the camera.  By the time I turned back, this is what the pattern looked like.


No, it is not a realistic pattern of a spotted cocker spaniel.  It is a real life dog staging a lay-in!

I said:  Maisy – Please move.


She looked at me and said:  No.  I am protesting your behaviour with a lay-in.

Me:  Protesting what?  You haven’t been here a week yet.  You are treated like a queen and you are only 2 months old.  If anything, you should be treated like a princess.  You lead a charmed life! What could upset you?

Maisy:  Odd you should use the phrase “Charmed Life.”  Isn’t that just a translation for, as they say in French, “V Sharmay?”  You stopped posts on work by Elizabeth Black’s students and I take offense at that policy for 3 reasons:

1. As they mostly are animal rugs, I say that we need to see all the animal rugs we can – even if they are cats.

2..  Two of the late rugs ARE by the real V. Sharmay!

3.  Anything that supports Elizabeth Black is a cause I get behind because she is the Leonardo da Vinci of rug hooking … with a little bit of James Dean thrown in.  I am staging a lay-in until you agree to show the new reports.

Besides, you did not even show the rugs you worked on with Elizabeth.

I decided a political fight was not wise given my weakened condition, so postponed the color planning discussion until after showing these reports.

The first, by special request from the Queen, are the 2 shots of hooked pieces by the great V Sharmay – a.k.a. Arline Keeling.


Gene:  I wanted to send in the stand up cats and flower pot I made with Elizabeth.  I figured, if she could help me hook my cat’s faces like this -


She could help me hook fine art – My Renoir.  I never dreamed I could do it but with Elizabeth’s talent, I did.  Arline Keeling

V – Glad to get your report for 2 reasons:  They show the great range of topics made by Elizabeth’s students (as well as your ability) and I never get tired of looking at either one.  While I know the last one is a copy of a Renoir, I always have been struck by how much those people look like you and Ted.  Haven’t you worn a red hat like that at Cambria?

Here is another EB report from Abby Chapple –

Indi ruga

Hi – Here is a photo of the unframed piece I did with Elizabeth Black.  When I do get it framed, I intend to have it matted so that the “Elizabeth Back Design 2009″ signature still shows.  By the way, this is my German Shepherd, Indigo Jubilee.   She is a long hair Shepherd.  Abby Chapple

Thank you Abby.  It is a real joy to be able to see so many wonderful projects that devoted students of Elizabeth have done over the years.

Finally, I will make my personal Elizabeth Black report.


The first thing I hooked on my “Fog” rug was the big cat in the center.  Elizabeth had come to Anaheim for a week-long workshop that I attended.  I spent three days on this cat, then moved to a second project.


That project was inspired by my dog Bessie, shown here late in life.


At the time, Good Queen Bess, was less than 2 years old … but already showing signs of being true to her royal namesake.  Therefore, it seemed very appropriate to design a rug with her dressed in the coronation robes of Queen Elizabeth I.  I spent 2 days and got this much hooked.


Here is the visual I made and used for this project with Elizabeth.  As she always says – Get a good visual! The only thing not shown yet in this design is  a latin inscription that I intend to hook around the piece as a frame.  It says “Dogs Rule With Athority” or someting similar to that, according to the Latin scholar who wrote it for me.  I stopped working on this after those last 2 days of the workshop so I could concentrate fully on “Fog.”


Of course, it is a much bigger rug and took me several months to hook.  About the time I was done with this I took on the directorship of Cambria Pines and one thing lead to another, keeping the Bess rug on the back burner.  I keep intending to get back to Queen Bess … and I will someday.

Having fullfilled the restrictions placed on me by my studio critic, I was FINALLY allowed to proceed with my original purpose – documenting a conversation with a reader about a project.  However, I will wait until tomorrow to do that.

For the time being, let me just close by saying how much I appreciate all those who sent in reports about their class experiences with Elizabeth Black as well as the Cardins, who provided most of the visuals I used at the beginning of this series.

Should I get the chance to take another class with Elizabeth, I guess you know who the subject will be of that rug!

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Apr '14

Students Report

I hope you have enjoyed all the posts this week about rugs made by IRgC members in classes with Elizabeth Black.  Fortunately, I have one more post to make.


Gene – I started this rug with Elizabeth in 2011 and continued 2012 in Woodstock. VA. It is a photo from the British Wool Board in England (with permission) and is a breed of sheep that Beatirix Potter saved from extinction. Tup is the old English word for ram. There were people in the class that say they never hooked better than when they were in Elizabeth’s classes … and I have to agree. Elziabeth has the ultimate patience and helps hookers bring out their best effort.  Marian Hall


Hi Gene  - This hooking of my son’s dog (now the late-great) Tucker was done in a class with EB at Shelburne in (I think) 2004. It was my first attempt at anything remotely “realistic”. Quite a challenge then — but a fun and informative class. I included his tongue, even though EB advised against it. Jeri Laskowski


My first Cambria Rug Camp June 2006. “Joe’s Dog Gang IV”. Elizabeth was wonderful. I had never hooked with a 3 cut before. But by the time I left her class I had all 5 dog heads hooked and the white Jack Russell completely hooked. What a wonderful teacher!  Fran Rendon


This rug, “Wild Baby Bunch” (1 of 200) was designed by Elizabeth Black and hooked by Madonna Shelly in 2005. Some of the wool was dyed by Gail Dufresne.


Hello Gene, I’ve attached 2 patterns I’ve hooked with Elizabeth Black.  The first is “Snack Time.”  A funny note on this rug concerns the carrot, which I sculpted in a bright orange.  She dubbed it the “atomic carrot”!  She did like what I hooked even thougt it was outside the box, so to speak, for her.


The second rug I did with her is “Baby Olivia.”  Elizabeth was there to instruct me on both of these beautiful rugs.  She taught me how to hook animals and in particular animal faces and eyes and not be afraid!

She is a wonderful person and teacher and I valued my time with her while in her class.  I have always admired Elizabeth since she was self taught and an artist. I was basically self taught as well.  She never makes you feel like a hooking project is not possible even if you aren’t a skilled hooker.

I have her “Flying Pig” pattern which I intend on starting this fall.
This rug will honor my Father, who passed away on 3/21/13, who was all about planes, model and full size.

Regards - Joan Wray


Dear Gene, I have known Elizabeth for many years and have had her as my teacher at various hooking camps. She is one of the finest and best persons that I have ever known. I have always enjoyed her dry or should I say wry sense of humor and of course her hooking and designs are superb. I have done three of her designs. Two of them I am sending with this note. The trout was especially designed for me and was in Celebrations XVII (2007) Issue. The moose rug was done in class later at Gail Dufresne’s home in NJ.  Sincerely, Georgia Prosser


Elizabeth helped me capture my best friend on linen. This was my first attempt at fine cut….SCARRY. Elizabeth was the most patient person on the planet. Love her! Love her work!  Martha Reynolds


Hi Gene:  This was started at Cambria in Elizabeth’s class, she drew the pattern of my cat Maya….. I think it was 2012.     It was my 1st time working with her and what a pleasure.  She is truly a class act!

Judith McReynolds

I am sure you will join me in saying a big Thank You to all those who sent in rugs and reports as well as sending a big Thank You to that great teacher – Elizabeth Black.


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Apr '14

Sarah & Elizabeth

The average student report has been coming in with one or two examples that people have worked on in class with Elizabeth Black.  My friend Sarah Province has several more than that!

Gene: Elizabeth Black is one of my favorite teachers.  I like the way she teaches – she inspires, guides, observes, and unobtrusively directs what is inside us to manifest itself on the backing!


“Claudia”s Duck Rug” based on the children’s book “Make Way for Ducklings” made for my granddaughter, was the first time I took a class from Elizabeth, as far as I can remember.  It was sponsored by our ATHA Chapter, Mason-Dixon, as she helped me get started with the mama duck and ducklings.


Next I took a class with her at our Buckeystown, Maryland,  workshop and started my “Rosalie’s Carousel Ride” with her in2001. We worked on the carousel horses and even though they were only wooden horses, she was a great help.

sarah3In 2004, I attended the Cambria Pines Rug School in California, and began a hooking of my neighbor’s dog, Gabriel with Elizabeth.  She is an excellent teacher and helped me to make that dog so real for those owners.  I am especially proud of that hooking because the neighbor is now deceased and his wife finds great comfort with the dog and my hooking!


In 2008, I again attended Elizabeth’s class at Cambria Pines and hooked my grandson with his kitten.  In her quiet way, she manages to help a student figure out how to transform the linen and wool strips into life-like images.


In 2009, I hooked “Tai Shan” the panda baby with her mother, in our National Zoo in DC for my granddaughter, Cecilia, in Elizabeth’s class at Cambria.  These two pictures are of the hooking at the zoo with Tai Shan in the background and


This second one is of my granddaughters standing by the truck that was to take Tai Shan on his way back to China.

Dear Sarah – That is a great body of work, noticeable for its variety.  Thank you so much for taking the time to send it in.  GRS

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Apr '14

Students Report, Part 1

At long last, we get to see reports from  some of Elizabeth Black’s students.


Gene – I completed “Cookie” after a 3 day class with Elizabeth in 2011.  I am a wide cut hooker and never thought I could do the #3’s and #4 required for the detail of a lifelike piece.  Elizabeth kept encouraging me with hints (always start with the eyes) and more, and you can see the results.  I gave the finished product to my pastor (who owns Cookie) in honor of the 5th anniversary of her ordination.  Regards, Anne Geiger

Sterling, VA - Member of ATHA Chapters: Goose Creek Ruggers, Leesburg, VA, Colonial Rug Hookers of No. VA & Hornets’ Nest Rug Hookers, Charlotte, NC

Anne – Great job!  Since I have been ordained for 40 years, would that qualify me for a room sized rug?  Cookie looks a lot like my Maisy.  Your piece has a lot of personality.


Gene – I had the privilege of attending Elizabeth Black’s class at Cambria Pines Rug Camp. I was a fairly new rug hooker and I have to admit I was very nervous to hooking in her class. She was kind enough to draw a pattern of my cat BB for me.  She told me exactly where to start and what colors to use to create shading and bring out small details. Her attention to detail is amazing but of course that is evident in her awesome rugs. She was very patient with me and I very much appreciate all she taught me.

Gail Edwards –  Siloam Springs, Arkansas

Gail – I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard students make similar comments.  In fact, I often kid Elizabeth asking what she does to strike fear in the hearts of potential students?  As everyone knows who has studied with her, she is an old softie who works very hard to create a relaxed atmosphere where students of all levels can be successful.  My wife, who has seen a lot of close of camp Show and Tells once remarked that Elizabeth gets more out of her students than any other teacher she has seen. Apparently, that wet noodle she whips everyone with works pretty well!  Good job Gail –  See you soon in Siloam.


Gene – Attached is a picture of the Maggie Sue pillow I did in Elizabeth Black’s class at Cambria.  Carla Jensen

Here is a report from Donna Bleam

Dear Gene,  I have been so blessed with rug hooking teachers who have patiently shared their talents and knowledge. At the top of that list is Elizabeth Black.  First, she taught me to love a four cut.  Then she urged me to fly across the country to attend Cambria Pines.  Both of those things were eye opening to me.


My First Elizabeth project was my dog Bandit’s portrait.  She even encouraged me when I wanted  to use yarn as part of.  I will never forget her telling me that I could “move up to a 5 for the background”  Wee – a treat!    Bandit hangs above my bed.


My Second Elizabeth Project was a piece that she custom designed and drew for me based on a picture I took.   Donna Bleam

Donna – I particularly like the cows and the way you two worked out the vegetation.


Gene:  This is the piece I wrote you about that Elizabeth Black somehow got me to hook and then encouraged me to submit to Celebrations.   It was accepted for this summer’s edition!   I will also be showing it at Sauder Village.  None of this would have happened without her.  Since I don’t have any animals the piece is from a photo of my granddaughter.  Thanks for the ooppertunity of making this report. Elizabeth is a wonderful teacher.  Stephanie Stokes

Stephanie – I am glad you sent in this project report as it illustrates Elizabeth’s broad range of skills.

From Lubbock, TX

Hi Gene – Here’s some pictures of the animals I worked on with Elizabeth Black.  We sure had a fun time.


The tea cozy is called “Cambria Kitty”.  The little cat came by every day and fell asleep on my pile of wool.  I took his picture and made a tea cozy out of it.


“Dog and Cat” is the name of this portrait.  They are of Merlin, our Golden Retriever and Watson, our tabby cat.  Both of the pieces are done on rug warp with a #3 cut.

Happy Hooking – Teresa Heinze

Dear Teresa:  Thank you for not going into detail about all the fun that takes place up in the “Tree Top” room where Elizabeth holds court at Cambria.  As we do have that policy What happens at Cambria stays at Cambria, we best refrain from printing the particulars.


Gene:  Here is a photo of a pillow that I made with the course that I took with Elizabeth Black here in P.E.I. This was our cat “Snowy”. I sold this piece at a local art gallery where I demonstrate and sell my rug hooking each summer. Elizabeth was a very patient teacher and often told us to refer to our visual. I really enjoyed learning from a master!

Sue-Anne Jay – Montague, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Sue-Anne:  If I have heard her say it once, I have heard her say it a hundred times:  Get the best visual you can and blow it up to the size of your piece and then look at it all the time! Single color animals are the hardest to do, in my opinion.  This one looks real!  I will continue this student report tomorrow.

Although not about a class with Elizabeth Black, I think you will like this photo and report.

mary lynn

Hi Gene – Completely unprovoked by me, our 2 yr old nephew handed me my glasses and my hook and said, “Do your work, do your work!” He wanted to see what my ‘work’ was, sat in my chair with me and started right in hooking.

I thought this was quite timely considering the age of your current students.

Hope all is well in your world.

Take care – Mary Lynn

Mary Lynn:  My world is always a little better when I get reports from kids who want to hook.   It won’t be long before he will be ready to sign up for one of Elizabeth’s classes.   Great photo.

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Mar '14

The Artistry of Elizabeth Black

One name is sure to make my short list of favorite rug hooking artists:  Elizabeth Black.


I met Elizabeth on the first day of my first rug camp experience at Cambria.  Although she was not my teacher, at the close of that first day, she stopped by my classroom to check out that man who showed up out of the blue. She was personally encouraging to me then and has been so ever since.  Of the 18 years that Cambria Pines Rug Camp has been in existence, she has taught there at least 14 times because her classes always fill.   While I never like to pigeon hole teachers as only being good to do one kind of rug, almost everyone who takes a class from Elizabeth ends up doing some sort of animal.  There is, of course, a good reason for that.  When it comes to animals, she is the consumate pro!

Although the next few posts will be focusing on the work of her many students, I thought it only right to kick off this series with a few examples of her artistry.

According to the Introduction her book, Hooked On The Wild Side, one of Rug Hooking Magazine’s books in their Frameworks series, Elizabeth started hooking in the mid 1960′s when her 18-month old daughter discovered her oil paints during a time when she was talking on the telephone.  Because she had attended a local arts festival and saw an exhibition of rug hooking, she quickly decided that this medium had definite possibilities for her artistic expression.  I think you will agree that she was right!


None of us were surprised when her rug “Inside the Ark” ( 60″ x 36,” #2 and #3 wool on rug warp) was chosen as a  Celelbration winner for 1999, as well as the “Reader’s Choice” for that year.  She told me once that she had thought about doing an ark rug for a long time but did not want it to be the typical thing that everyone else did on this topic.  So, she finally decided that she would just depict them all “hanging out.”


Here is her version of Peaceable Kingdom, 49″ x 35,” #3 cut wool on rug warp, 1997.


Uninvited Guest, 48″ by 36,” #3 cut wool on rug warp, 2003, is another great example of both Elizabeth’s artistry and her subtle sense of humor.


As the Internet Rug Camp Video interview with Elizabeth Black will verify always start with the eyes.


She also spends quite  a lot of time on noses.  In fact, there is a whole section on noses in her book.


Whether it is the Kind of the jungle –


Parrot Tulips, Flying Pigs or


The Girls at the Beach, if it is one of our furred, feathered or coated friends, Elizabeth has probably hooked it … or taught someone how to hook it, at one time or another.

Beginning tomorrow, I will start sharing reports from several of Elizabeth’s students.

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