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Aug '16

African American Flesh Tones

Here are some interesting dump dye combos I have been working on for African American flesh tones.

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Aug '15

Celebrating Elizabeth Black Hook In, 11/ 17 &18

A Remembrance of Elizabeth Black featuring Gene Shepherd Coordinated by Colonial Rug Hookers

Reserve your space now for this unique event! November 17 and 18, 2015, at Massanetta Springs Conference Center, Harrisonburg, VA. $25 fee includes the following:

  • Hook‐In Tuesday evening and Wednesday day

  • “Throwdown” and remembrances of Elizabeth Black led by Gene Shepherd

  • Sale of wool and tools from Elizabeth’s private stash

  • Gene Shepherd talks about his many years of friendship with Elizabeth

  • Lunch provided by Massanetta Springs Conference Center

  • Gene Shepherd speaks about “Using Color In Your Rugs”

  • Silent Auction

  • Live Auction

    Tuesday evening, November 17, 7‐10 pm, It’s A Throwdown!

    Bring your Elizabeth Black rug(s), finished or unfinished, and join special guest Gene Shepherd in a “throwdown.” Gene will lead us as we hook, discuss the rugs, reminisce about classes with Elizabeth, share special memories, and honor her contributions to the world of rug hooking.

    Wednesday, November 18, 9 am – 4pm, Hooking, Sale, Lecture, and Lunch

9:00 am 10–10:30 am 10:30–Noon

12:00–1:00 pm 1:30–2:30 pm 2:30–4:00 pm

3:30 pm 4:00 pm

Doors open. Come in, get some coffee or tea, and get set for a fun day of hooking.
Gene Shepherd Welcome and Talk about his many years of friendship with Elizabeth.
Sale begins! You’ll have the opportunity to purchase wool (primarily pieces of Dorr off‐ the‐bolt) and tools from Elizabeth’s private stash, as well as an ongoing silent auction of a few small items hooked by Elizabeth. Cash and checks only. All sale proceeds go to Elizabeth’s daughter, Lisa.
Soup‐Salad‐Sandwich buffet lunch by Massanetta Springs Conference Center.
Settle back in with your hooking and listen to Gene speak on “Using Color In Your Rugs” Continue to enjoy your hooking while Gene auctions any unsold items as well as circulates and visits.
Silent Auction concludes.
Say a fond farewell to friends old and new and head home or stay another night at Massanetta and travel on Thursday.

Admission to the event Tuesday evening and Wednesday is $25 and includes morning tea and coffee and lunch on Wednesday. You’re welcome to bring any additional snacks for yourself or to share. The maximum number of participants for this once in a lifetime hook‐in is limited. Advance registration only.

Overnight Accommodations at Massanetta Springs Conference Center are available as follows per night: Lodge: (hotel style rooms: private baths, 2 queen beds, WiFi, no TV, limited room availability)

Single $89.51 (incl. Tax) Double $110.57 (incl. tax)

Richardson: (dorm suite style room: 2 single beds, 2 rooms share bath, no WiFi, no TV) Single $68.45 (incl. Tax) Double $89.51 (incl. tax)

Registration Form for A Remembrance of Elizabeth Black featuring Gene Shepherd

Complete and return this form with check for total Hook‐In and overnight accommodation fees.

Name ________________________________________________________________________ Address ________________________________________________________________________ Email _______________________________ Phone _______________________________

Hook‐In Fee (required) (Tuesday eve. and Wednesday activities, includes Wed. lunch only) $ 25.00 Overnight Accommodations at Massanetta Springs Conference Center (optional)

712 Massanetta Springs Rd, Harrisonburg, VA 22801, 540‐434‐3829, www.massanettasprings.org

If you would like to stay overnight on Tuesday and/or Wednesday nights, choose your building, indicate which nights you require a room and extend the total to the far right column.
(Do not contact Massanetta Springs directly for reservations. Reservations with this form only.) ___________________________________________________________________________________

Lodge: (hotel style room: private bath, 2 queen beds, WiFi, no TV) VERY IMPORTANT: Number of rooms in the Lodge are limited. If you want a Lodge room you must inquire to see if one is still available before sending in your registration form.
Contact Helen Vance at 703‐787‐8369.

page2image9464 page2image9624

Tues. Nov. 17

Single – $89.51 (incl. tax)  Double – $110.57 (incl. tax) 

(please indicate roommate name)

Wed. Nov. 18

 

Total Room Charge

___ night(s) x $89.51 = ___ night(s) x $110.57 =

$___________ $___________

___________________________________________________________________________________________ Richardson: (dorm suite style room: 2 single beds, 2 rooms share bath, no WiFi, no TV)

Tues. Nov. 17

Single – $68.45 (incl. tax)  Double – $89.51 (incl. tax) 

Wed. Nov. 18

 

Total Room Charge

___ night(s) x $68.45 = ___ night(s) x $89.51 =

$___________ $___________

(please indicate roommate name)  ___________________________________________________________________________________________

TOTAL ENCLOSED $___________

Make your check payable to CRH. Questions: vance.helen@gmail.com or 703‐787‐8369 Mail to: Helen Vance, 11244‐155 Chestnut Grove Sq., Reston, VA 20190.
You will receive a confirmation email for your registration.

Do you need a wheelchair accessible room? Y N Do you need a handicap shower? Y N If you have any dietary restrictions, please describe.

Note: Hook‐In fee includes lunch on Wednesday. All other meals are on your own. Harrisonburg is a college town with many and varied cafés and restaurants.


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May '15

Victoria, BC Workshop, Oct. 8-10, 2015

I am looking forward to doing a post-TIGHR wide-cut workshop when I am in Victoria, BC, October 8-10, 2015.

Here are the patterns being done in that class and a few comments about them:


Large Big Momma rug is 33″ by 78.”  The pattern is  $175 US.

When I hooked this rug, I did all the floral motifs in a #9 cut.  The striped background is a mixture of #10 (dark) and #9 (mixed lighter textures) and the outside border edge is all done with a #10.

If I were hooking any of the following pattern variations, I would also use these same cuts.  While I think these cuts work nicely with these designs, many people have done them with cuts as low as an 8. (I certainly don’t suggest anything smaller.) Usually, since I teach these in a wide-cut workshop, I strongly urge (but don’t insist) people to consider using at least an 8.5, as it looks so much bigger than an 8 and is not much more difficult to pull.


I often encounter people in wide-cut classes who don’t like to pull wide cuts because it hurts their hands and so they come expecting to do these patterns with something small, like a 6 cut.  While it does take a little more “umph” to pull a wide cut, it is not that hard to do IF one uses the right backing and the right hook. It is all about having the right tool.  Consequently, all of these patterns will come on bleached primitive linen – a backing woven on a wide enough set to allow for big loops.

I also stipulate that it is necessary for participants to have a hook with a big shaft – an 8MM is my suggestion.  I offer several 8MM  hooks (straight, bent, fat handle, pencil handle) but like my 8MM bent handle hook the best.


I love the stripy background on this big rug.  It is made with alternating stripes of dark background (Dorr #44) cut in a #10 against a mixture of as is textures cut at a #9.  While it is a very simple approach … it is a little more hard to do than one might expect.  The alternating directions require the early instillation of the border edge so that it can act like a fence to keep the changing direction of the background lines from pushing the edge of the rug out of shape.  One also has to give a little thought as to how and where one will start each section, etc.  While it works well in the big, I usually don’t reccomend it for the smaller versions as there just isn’t as much room for all that activity. However, if a person has their heart set on using it for the small rug, we can make it happen!


Color planning the big and small rug has to start with 2 decisions:  1.  Will the background be light or dark? 2. What color families/pairings will be used for each of the thhree flowers?  Once those decisions are made, the rest of the rug sort of falls into place.

The two smaller projects, of course, only have one flower each.  Still the flower’s color and that of the background has to be determined at the onset.


Amount of wool, of course, depends on the size of the project being done.  Wider cuts take a little more, generally speaking, because they are pulled a little higher.  So, I would suggest at least 5 times the surface being hooked, instead of the usual 4.  However, I would strongly recommend that “multiples” of your color choices be used instead of just thing.

By that I mean, if choosing to do a big purple flower, I would suggest that you use about 4 or 5 different purples in multiple values, with one being a texture.

The same recommendation goes for leaves.  Why hook a leaf with just one color when you can hook it with 4 or 5?

Students can provide their own wool or have me put together kits based on their color prefences.

The Small Big Momma Rug, 28″ by 48″ – $90 US – has nearly all the same motifs as the full sized version.  However, since it is smaller, most students don’t put in the striped background.  It can be done … there just isn’t quite as much room.

The pattern for the Big Momma Table Runner, 14″ by 47,” costs $85 US.  It has been a very popular design for those who don’t want to do a full sized rug.

While this photo makes the Big  Momma Pillow look bigger than all the other designs, it is only an 18″ square design.

All of these patterns are available in my store.  While I don’t advertise wool kits, I am always happy to make them up once I know a client’s color preferences.

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May '15

ATHA Biennial, San Antonio, TX

I will be teaching a class on realistic prodded flowers at the 2015 ATHA Biennial in San Antonio, TX.  Although the class has been full for some time, it never hurts to have one’s name on the waiting list just in case a spot opens.  To check on availability go to ATHArugs and click on 2015 Biennial.

Students in my class can choose from one of three kit options:



“Texas Star” will focus on cluster flowers (Texas Blue Bonnetts) and one big yellow rose of Texas.

Tisket Tasket Basket also has cluster flowers (lilacs) and three other large realistic flowers.  In this example, I have used a dahlia, a country rose and a tea rose.  It is possible to substitue other types of flowers as long as they are suited to the spaces available.

The final choice is the “Prodded Nosegay,” a cluster of 5 large flowers (2 tea roses, peony, dahlia and black eyed Susan) as well as a few padula cluster flowers.  This option will also cover how to make a Waldoboro (sculpted) center.

All kits will be based on an applique “blank” made especially for me by Judith McReynolds, using my hand dyed wool serged onto a bleached primitive linen backing.  Everything, except for the spots needed to prod the flowers, will be expertly covered with that hand dyed wool.  By not having to worry about backgrounds and other design elements in the project, the student will be able to spend 100% of their class time working on the flowers.  While I won’t garuntee that everyone will get their project done before closing time, I expect that most students will.

Colors and textures for the kits will be similar to those used in the examples shown.  I can do a bit of tweaking on both the background and flower colors if I hear from registered students before May 25.  However, basic structure for each blank must be limited to the star, basket and leaf nosegay.  I will have additional wool with me at the class in case students need a different color than I have provide.  Additionally, I will be selling general wool and some supplies in the class during the course of the day.

All kits will cost $90 and have the blank and enough wool to do the project as shown.

Every student in this class will need their own gripper type frame, sharp pair of scissors, needle and thread (thimble if you like) and a straight shaft 8 MM rug hook.  (I will have my favorite 8MM Hartmans for sale that day in case you need one.) We will not be using pincher type proddy tools for this class.

For more information about this project can contact gene@geneshepherd.com

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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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