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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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