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
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!
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.
Color – 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.
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 –
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!
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!
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.