Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Dove In Flight: Antique Reproduction

When I was asked to hook a reproduction of the antique rug, A Dove In Flight, I didn't have to think too long or too hard to answer with an emphatic, "Yes!"

I was finishing a rug I had designed called Dove's Song, that features a mourning dove and garden flowers. I was actually familiar with the antique rug, A Dove In Flight, having seen it earlier in the year somewhere on the Internet. It seemed like a great opportunity to experiment hooking a copy of an antique rug, with a subject I was already exploring myself!

This rug seems to be one, folks either love or hate. However, I was fascinated by it. There were so many interesting aspect to this piece that each time I looked, I would notice something different and be pulled back into admiring and wondering about this rug and it's creator.

Take a good long look at the original photos (One photo was taken with a flash. The other without. I used the one without the flash as my color reference.)

Notice, first, it is a wonderful folk art dove in flight with an olive branch. Now that is a happy, hopeful thought! See the white and grays in the dove. Was it originally all white? Are the grays caused by aging, or was it primitively shaded? Note the movement created in the background around the dove. There are a lot of hooking techniques and use of color used to keep your eyes moving about the background. It's a fine balance to keep your interest, but to not be overpowered by this flowing movement. The original rug hooker was no amateur! With the scroll shapes rolling out from all four corners of the rug, or earth, and the the gold and black at the top and bottom of the rug, what was this designer trying to convey? I reserve the right, to blog and post about this rug a few more times in the near future. I have so much to share and reflect upon, that it would be a novel if I tried to do it all in one post.

The original was hooked in wool and cotton on a burlap backing. It's dated between 1870-1890.

As I blogged in an earlier post. I have been hooking only my own patterns for these past 10 year, although I've been hooking for over 30 years and have hooked several rug patterns by other designers. I am no expert on copyright laws. So, if you are going to hook any antique reproduction, be sure to check out what the parameters are concerning copying and if the original pattern rights are owned by anyone.

The version that I hooked of A Dove In Flight, is an antiques reproduction made by The Sampling. The dove has been adapted compared to the original and the overall size of the piece is a few inches smaller than the original. Copyright laws definitely apply to this version of A Dove in Flight.

It truly was an honor to hook this rug. To bring a beautiful, aged antique rug into the present.

I think the original artist of A Dove In Flight would be pleased to know her masterpiece is appreciated into a future that she could barely have imagined. That her subject, the dove with the olive branch, still today is recognized as a hopeful sign of peace, freedom, new beginnings and reconciliation.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Designer in Me, Honors the Designer in You!

These past few months I participated in a rug hooking challenge, presented by Lori Brechlin of Notforgotten Farms. She provided motifs drawn by her, based on antique rugs. Those of us who chose to participate were to use ONLY those motifs in a rug design that WE created. We could use one of the motif, all of them, or whatever inspired us. She had an alphabet, whale, mouse, cats, dog, flowers, scrolls, chicken, squirrel, I think about 26 different choices in all. The rug needed to be at least 17" x 24". We had three months to finish it, that included binding. The challenge began on October 3 and ended by midnight January 3.

For the last ten years or so, I have hooked only my own designs. I guess I had many personal stories and ideas I needed to share and express through my rugs. But, lately, I have tried to say, "Yes," to the Universe, when it comes calling. The idea of using Lori's antique inspired motifs and to be part of a creative group of rug hooking women, seemed like a fun thing to do! And it definitely was!

We were to share our designs and rugs with the Facebook challenge group, as we hooked along from start to finish! I was amazed at how some people had their designs on paper and were transferring them to a backing the next day just about. I am a "ponderer", so it takes me a while to get my designs worked out. It was good for me to see people jump right in with their ideas! Liberating really! And best of all, I thought it thrilling to see how other rug hookers, who may have never designed a rug before, made meaningful beautiful rugs for themselves! They were designers!

So, how did I choose which motifs to use? When my daughter was a little girl and could not fall asleep at night, we would recite the poem All Things Bright And Beautiful, by Cecil Frances Alexander. When I saw the whale and mouse that Lori had designed, a line from that poem, "All creatures great and small" kept popping into my head.

When I initially designed this rug, I was SO FOCUSED on the suggested size, 17" x 24", that I didn't take into account, how the color would flow once I hooked it. (An aside, I was already working on a rug, an antique reproduction, that is 30" x 36", which also had a deadline for finishing... more on this in another post.) So, I was trying to keep the challenge rug as small as possible.

Originally my rug design, ended at the top, with a scroll-like wave just above my lettering... But read on!

As I was hooking my rug, I realized I had a problem with my design, that would bother me unless I fixed the issue. But the "fix" required me doing something I have never done before. I would to need to attach more linen at the top of my rug, in order to adds the flower motifs, above that top scroll, so the colors used in the bottom would flow to the top.

I contacted a friend and fellow designer, who often hooks large rugs and sews linen together to make the linen big enough for her rugs. She suggested that for this size of rug, I overlap the linen by three inches, using the largest zigzag setting on my sewing machine, so that my hook could fit between the stitches. I was very nervous to try this. I was possibly going to ruin my rug, and all the work I had put into it. I was pleased her approach worked like a charm! It was not difficult to hook through the double layers of the foundation, and once pressed I could not tell where the rug was joined.

(Look closely in the photo below, you can see the zigzag stitching where the linen was joined. In between the TOP zigzag line and BOTTOM zigzag line is the three inches of double overlapped linen that I hooked through.)

My goal was to hook a soft, pastel and muted rug, reminiscent of a vintage valentine postcard. I had recently marbleized batches of wool and thought they could blend in an interesting way for the background to look like the sun sparkling on the water. I also used some textured neutral wool, to blend with the marbleized wool, and to add interest.

For my binding, I often use the technique of a crocheted edge. I had two ideas I wanted to experiment with. One, was to use yarn for crocheting the edge, the other was to use wool fabric strips. I had some beautiful multicolored yarn, that I thought would look beautiful, and it did! However, getting just the right color placement was going to be "fiddly". (This was the weekend before Christmas, and I had yet to wrap presents, or do any baking.) I needed to finish this rug, or risk mutiny by my family!

So, instead of the yarn, I chose to use long wool fabric strips. I had used this same wool in the background and it picked up the lighter and darker tones of the background perfectly. I liked how it did not compete for attention with the overall design of the rug.

Thank you Lori Brechlin for the wonderful motifs and challenge!

Thank you fellow rug hooker and designers for the shared journey.

It was a fun challenge!


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Scout's Observation

It has been 15 years since I reread Harper Lee's acclaimed book, To Kill a Mockingbird. My son was in sixth grade and it was an assigned book for him, but of course, I had to read it too! It is just that good!

One of my girlfriends, recently reread the book, and made me aware of this observation (as seen through Scout's eyes). I thought you would enjoy revisiting this passage too!

"Aunt Alexandra was hooking a rug and not watching us, but she was listening. She sat in her chair with her workbasket beside it, her rug spread across her lap. Why ladies hooked woolen rugs on boiling nights never became clear to me."

It is perfectly clear to me! How about you?

Thank you Harper Lee, for giving a shout-out to us rug hookers!


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

How to Trace a Design to Linen

This is my very low tech approach of how I copy my designs and motifs to linen.

These days there are many talented designers with all sorts of patterns available to you. Some are already printed on a foundation cloth, some are printed in books that give you permission to enlarge and copy those designs to a backing of your choice. Some antique patterns are no longer bound by copyright laws and you want to make a personal copy. Perhaps you want to buy an Epattern online or a PDF, but don't know what to do once the printer has printed the pattern on paper. Maybe you have an idea in your head of some motifs that would look great together, but aren't confident about how to transfer them to linen.

Here is how I go about getting my ideas from paper design to linen. I use both unbleached and bleached linen. The bleached linen helps the ink or pen marks show up more easily I think, thus making it easier to hook the motifs.

I hope you can read what the little cards say in each photo. Did I mention I was low tech?!

Step 1 and 2) Prep your linen. Cut and zigzag or serge your linen edges. Linen should be 3-4" wider than the pattern on all four sides.

Step 3) Make a small dash line, marking the measurement for the edges of your design. Do this on all four sides. I like to use an art pencil, the dark lead shows up better on the linen.

Step 4) Now "drag" your pencil from each of the center marks. First to the left of that center mark, then to the right. Do this on all four sides.

Step 5) Push hard so that the pencil lead stays in the "ditch". This will keep it straight on the grain, making your pattern edges "squared".

Step 6) Now adjust your paper design or motifs under the linen and line up the edges of your paper pattern with the edges that are now marked on the linen.

Step 7) Begin to trace the pattern onto your linen using a fabric marker. A bright lamp overhead helps to "read" the lines more easily.

Step 8) Well Done! Your design has been successfully transferred to linen. If you want, you can retrace over the penciled edges of your pattern with your fabric marker.

Please remember to always check copyright laws etc, before you copy a pattern for your own personal use. These days, it is so easy to copy and print just about any image we see on the Internet. However, just because we can, doesn't mean we should.

My ETSY shop now offers bleached linen for your designing needs. The pattern that I demonstrated with above, is called Pansy Home. Please visit my etsy to learn more about the origins of this pattern and to view my other design, wool etc.

Thank you!