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Thu
10
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.

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

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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.

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Whether it is a memorial to Civil War dead

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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.

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

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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!

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

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Although the bakery in the books goes by a different name

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

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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?

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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.

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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.

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The Paragraphs Bookstore

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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.

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

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Need a center medallion shaped rug design?

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I am still fascinated with metal decorative gates.

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One simply cannot get too  many acanthus leaves.

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

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It is all about the shading!

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

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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.

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

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

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Whether carved or hooked -

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These flowers will last!

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

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

 

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Wed
9
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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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They anchor each corner

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

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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.

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I do believe there is a rug design here …

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

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

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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.

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

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I decided to stay in the Colonel’s Bedroom.

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Each is a little different

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

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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.

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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 …

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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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Sun
6
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.

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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.

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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.

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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 -

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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 –

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.”

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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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Thu
3
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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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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Wed
2
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!

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“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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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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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Tue
1
Apr '14

Students Report, Part 1

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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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Mon
31
Mar '14

The Artistry of Elizabeth Black

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

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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!

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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.”

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

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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.

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

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

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Whether it is the Kind of the jungle –

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Parrot Tulips, Flying Pigs or

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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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Sun
23
Feb '14

Start Them Young

I had another one of those Saturdays where the studio was full of rug hooking students.   Only this time, they were a little different than my normal crowd.

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I had a great group of 5th and 6th grade kids.  (One 3rd grader had a fake ID that got her past security.)  This class is a part of a multi-week project I am doing called Teaching Kids To Hook Rugs. It’s a multi-week event because it will not conclude until the end of March when we are going to shoot an hour long video called (you guessed it) Teaching Kids to Hook! As I do not want to spend an hour just shooting a bunch of kids who are grappeling with the pulling of their first loops, I had this introductory class so we could get started with the project.   I limited the class to 5th and 6th graders because I find that age group, generally speaking, to be the best age to begin teaching kids.  As I just happen to be a master storyteller for 5th and 6th grade kids at my church (1st EV Free, Fullerton, CA) I had a ready made group of kids from which to draw.

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An initial class will also allow me to find out where each kid shines within the format of what will be covered in the video, show projects at various stages of completion and make it possible for the kids to achieve some comfort level with the topic before the cameras start rolling.

My local ATHA Chapter, the Orange Coast Classics, partnered with me for this beginner’s class.  In fact, they partner with me for any beginner’s class that I can teach, by providing a simple beginner’s kit to anyone who wants to learn.

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Barbara Holden, OCC President, worked all morning as my helper.  Boy, am I glad she did!  While my kids were very well behaved, it was all I could do to teach the 3 hour class. I would have been lost without her.

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The first order of business, of course, was getting down to rug hooking #101.

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I guess I could tell you everything we discussed but then, you would not learn anything new when you see the video for the first time.

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As you can tell, this group was focused on their work.

While the project is about hooking, we didn’t just sit there and hook the whole time.  My goal was/is to provide them with a rich fiber experience and I brought in more big guns to help me do it.

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Since we hook strips of fabric through a woven backing, I always think it is rather helpful for kids to understand a little bit about how fabric is made.  My friend Gretchen happily agreed to stop in with her spinning wheel for a little tutorial on this topic.  As she spun yarn, she talked about all the effort it takes to make a single spool of thread or yarn.

I followed up with the process I go through, using several of those spools of thread, to warp a loom for the weaving of cloth.  Besides building an increased appreciation for the worth of fabric, such a discussion also gives kids a better understanding of rug hooking terms like ditches and holes.

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After our little side tutorial, any kid that wanted, got to have a one on one lesson with Gretchen.

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As she said:  If you can walk and chew gum at the same time, you can spin. I wish I had known this earlier as I would have had lots of gum in the studio for this class.

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While the spinners were spinning, over on the other side of the studio, I was supervising those that were interested in trying their luck at weaving on a foot powered loom.

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When the class started, each kid got a pattern, a hook and enough cut wool to do their piece.  However, I strongly urged them to pick out wool in colors that they preferred.  At the beginning, no one was very interested in doing that. However, about mid-way through the morning, that all changed.

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Whether it was due to the fact that their shyness wore off about that time or that Marsha loosened them up with a platter of rice crispy treats but, all of sudden, each one suddenly seemed to become a color specialist in need of just the right combo of colors & textures for their pieces.  Fortunately, I had loads of beautiful worms – some sent in by IRgC readers.

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However, we did not just hook wool – we also hooked silk, courtesy of neck ties that had been donated by OCC members and my student’s fathers.

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Once Gretchen whipped out her rotary cutter, everyone stood in line with the tie they needed to add that special bit of pazazz to their piece.

At the same time, Barbara was offering advice on values, contrasting colors, amounts needed and nylon selection.

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Not that everyone needed all that much help.  Before you could snap your fingers, they were sorting through worms or cutting up fabric on Bee Line cutters like old pros.

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While the morning was both focused and structured, I kept finding kids off doing the fiber related things that interested them the most.  I consider that a win/win situation.  While it would be nice if every single one became a life-long rug hooker, I would be happy if the project just helped everyone discover some sort of artistic vibe that enriched their lives.  I am pasionate about this because I was 11 when I started watching Miss Weigle hook rugs –  an experiance that ended up making a big impact on my life …  even though I waited 34 years before I got a hook and followed her example.

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This leads me to believe that one of our jobs, as fiber artists, is to just exspose kids to as many rich artistic experiences as we can.  While they may percolate a month or a decade, if put “in” I know that someday they are bound to come “out” in a wonderful way.

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Tue
7
Jan '14

A Little Winter Color

Siince so much of the country is gripped by bleak winter weather, I thought it might be nice to put up a few colorful pictures of pieces I have hooked or wool I have dyed.

Hopefully, they will brighten your day.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sun
22
Dec '13

New Patterns And Options for 2014

Before I can get into full holiday mode, I have to finish up a few new design options so they will be ready for Buddy to put in the store by the first of the year.  This report is not a list of the things I offer in the store – it is just a tip-off of some new things that will be in the store this January.  If you and I have a rendezvous in a class sometime in 2014, you will want to consider these designs along with the other ones I have in the store.  Even if you and I aren’t going to be in the same room during the coming year, you can still order most of these things.

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Although you may have seen me working on this particular pattern at various times for the past year, I have not made it available to the general public until now.  Lots of times, if developing something for a specific workshop or event, I delay that pattern’s entry into my cataloge for a while, to keep the project special until an event is over.  This 16″ design is such a pattern.  If it looks a little familiar, that is because all the elements in it come from my big, 3′ by 5′ rug design “Miss Weigle.”  As Miss Weigle’s first name was Betty, I call this smaller version the “Miss Betty 16 Inch Square” to keep it seperate from the original rug.   It will cost $50 and can come like this or in an elongated version (16 by 43 for $115) with more geometric squares, all divided with the Greek Key window shash borders.  While the longer version has several different elements from the original rug in the additional squares, I can also leave one or more of the squares blank in case a person would like to personalize the design with a geometric of their own.  Actually, I think that is a good assignment when people are doing this project in a class.  Additionally, Miss Betty can be increased incrementally in length with more squares and key sections.  I can also make it wider by adding a 3″ to 6″ border all around, etc.  I typically would not offer all those options in the store but do such things for students in camps and workshops.  All you have to do is ask.

“Miss Weigle” is the most popular design I have ever made … and it is the bain of my existence because it is such a bear to draw.  In fact, I only offer the full sized rug to people who take me as their teacher in a class or special workshop.  I love it … but my back does not.  However, by limiting it to special situations I can pace myself and stay up with that demand.

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Carnival Paws was designed as a 11” X14” nylon project for the Long Beach Biennial and I kept it under wraps until then.  While I don’t regularly offer hand dyed nylons in the store, I can provide pattern and nylon kit for $95.  Many people, however, just hook the pattern with wool.  I also offer a floor rug size version of this pattern, 26″ by 35.5″ for $85 for those who want to hook it as a normal rug with wool.

You may remeber that I played around a lot with chevron designs in 2013.  Frankly, I still have not got them completely out of my system.

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This particular project, “Bold Chevron,” is a 13″ by 23″ traditional proddy rug that I custom made for my loom bench cover.  In my version made with selvedges, I worked really hard to blend a huge variety of colors to create the gradation of related values in each chevron.  Like many of my other favorite pieces, this piece is all about being creative with color.  Although the approach I used to prod it is not a very easy thing to do, I must admit that I had such a great time doing this design in proddy, I will soon be putting options of a bigger version, with 3 chevron repeats insted of just two (24″ by 40″ – $90), for those who want to do a simple traditional proddy design for their floor.  While I like my version, there are a variety of additional ways that one could approach this design that are much more simple than the way I did it.

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When it was all said and done, however, I actually liked the back of my prodded rug better than I liked the shaggy top.  The back of a proddy rug looks a lot like a very wide cut hooked rug … and this one just keeps coming back to my thoughts as an inspiration for a new rug that needs to be hooked.  However, to recreate this look in a hooked version, it will take really special wool to get all those spots of mixed colors in a great gradation that will simplify the hooking process.

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So, I have been playing around with varous techniques to come up with wool that I think would hook up looking very much like the back of my proddy rug.  I make it in both single value spotted strips and graded value strips.  Each 1/8 yard strip will do one section of a chevron.  So, for a double sided chevron shaped like this –  V – it would take two 1/8 yard pieces.  That means each row of chevrons – VV – would take 4 strips.  This sort of wool is a special order based on my consultation with students who want to do it in a class or in their home.  While I don’t talk about it much, I will happily consult with anyone who wants to buy a pattern and produce the right sort of wool that comes in the colors they like.  In other words, you don’t have to limit yourself to the limited wool I have in the store.  However, IF dyeing specialty wool for you, I will need something concrete (like a fabric or wall paper swatch) to go by.  You can’t just say:  ”I like red.”  There are too many reds from which to choose.  That’s why I need an example.

Back to that chevron design –

When I finally hook my new chevron rug, I want a design that is a little bit differnt than just a simple repetative chevron pattern like the loom bench cover.

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Therefore, I just finished this new pattern, 26″ by 50.” It will cost $110 and be available in the store early in January.  The pattern, at this time, is nameless.  Even so, it is calling out to me in the worst way.  Surely, before the New Year, it will reveal to me what to call it!  I am going to get right to it as soon as the Problem Persian and Pomegrande are all done … unless I need to hook just a section as an example …

For a complete list of patterns, go to my store at www.geneshepherd.com  All patterns are priced for bleached primitive linen.  I can also draw patterns on wide cut friendly cotton rug warp.

PS: There are 3 versions of Big Momma listed and priced in the store but only one that is shown – the big version.  The medium one has a 3 flower center but less “other” stuff than the big one.

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Here is the narrow table runner – a nice alternative for people who want to do a quick wide cut.

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