It is a very cold snowy day in Denver! A grand day to stay home and hook. I have another project that i am working on, but this is where I am at on Urban Icons. The area under the shopping cart is going to be adjusted to a SHADOW color. On this project, I have been going back and forth between the background stitching and needle felting to the foreground hooking. It has made it more exciting for me to create in this way. I still have lots to do on this big project.
There will be one central figure and several portraits on this work. The figure is hooked high so that the person has dimension. You can see the blue quilt is also dimensional. In the photo below I have placed netting over the hooked contents of the bag just to see how it was going to look. I have now "filled" the bag and sewn the netting in place.
Moving on beyond the sculpted elephant, I have hooked a flat bag and then a dimensional one. For the dimensional bag I actually hooked just the contents of the bag making certain that the elements were hooked to differing heights. I wanted the netting to go over the contents and give the impression that the bag was stuffed with objects. I am working on other aspects of this project and will come back to revisit the way the bag will appear to hang on the cart.
I have been doing a lot of hooking on this project! I want to add a stuffed elephant to the side of the shopping cart and I wanted it to be dimensional rather than just flat. In the first photo it shows what a wild mess the high hooking looks like when you begin a sculpted form.
In this second photo I have begun to do a little clipping to stay in control of the form.
In the third photo at the left I added a bow of old ribbon and will continue to refine the shape of the elephant as I hook on other elements of this project.
Urban Icons is a rug that has been floating around in my head for several years. It is about homeless people, the lack of mental health services and the fact that so many that are in desperate need for these services are living on the streets. Their presence is ubiquitous. . . they are indeed urban icons.
The entire background of this rug is appliqued hand-dyed bricks, graffiti, and splashes of wool paint. I purchased a large 1 yard piece of hand dyed wool from Rae Harrell many years ago. I have just kept it all this time and discovered how fantastic it was to use as the graffiti on the brick wall. Most of the remainder of the rug will be a hooked/mixed media piece.
In this detail of the woman pushing the cart, I have used transistors beads and metal washers to add the bling details to her halo.
Here is a closer shot of the electronic components. I am hooking high and most of this will be sculpted to give a 3-D look to the elements within the rug. I am using fabrics other than wool to create some really cool textures in this rug. These fabrics include gauze mosquito netting from the 40s.
Yahoo! I began the new year by finishing a mat that I began in Vivily Powers' class in November. Her class was wonderful and we use transition dyed wool for the floral elements in this rug. Her dyed transition wools were gorgeous. The pattern is available through Honey Bee Hive and you can see it HERE.
Have you ever thought that a Nationally renowned race car driver was too timid in his aggressiveness to win a race? Probably not. To be anything other than aggressive would win no titles.
There is much to be learned by analyzing their approach to driving as compared to our approach to learning our particular form of art. Do you think that the driver was born with the knowledge of how to drive and win races? Heck no!
That person had to first learn how to start a car, then how to coordinate the gas, brake and master the clutch in order to shift gears smoothly. Then there were no doubt years and hundreds of miles spent racing on flat tracks before they ever got to drive on the banked ovals.
So, you may ask, "What in the world does that have to do with art?"
YES! Race car drivers and artists do have a lot in common. They are both going 100 miles an hour and running around in circles. The point is that there is a learning curve that we all have to master to become conversant with the materials of our particular art form. The uneasiness we feel when we are presented with new materials or situations is one that is universally familiar no matter whether we are striving to become more proficient on the race track or in the dye pots. There is something new that we both have to master. And yet it is only through trial and error that our conversation with any material (or machinery) becomes smooth and in our comfortable control.
When a baby first begins to talk there is a period of learning new words before those words suddenly string together into sentences and then it seems mere seconds before those sentences string into conversation and then they never shut up. Kind of like run on sentences. Now looking back those first conversations may only be meaningful in the context of the time period in that child's development. Why should art be any different? Becoming proficient in the language of art requires a certain amount of desire and a willingness to begin at the beginning and work to master technique - whether it is designing a pattern, pulling loops, finishing or learning to dye wool. Please do not hold back stating that you have no talent, because truly, talent is just a lot of hard work. Sure, I believe many people have an aptitude for art, but unless they are willing to put in the hours it takes to learn the language the conversation can never occur. Success requires effort and while what you see may seem so effortless, you are just not aware of the years of thought and the all effort of taking small steps that built up to what is now referred to as talent.
So fearlessly jump in and start taking those baby steps. Before long you will be the master of all you strive to command. . . well, except cats and husbands.
I am having a little fun with quillies and have done an entire border in them. I was a time consuming project, but results are well worth the time. I also used a twisted wool finish on this rug. Will post more photos in the days to come.
When Laura Pierce asked me to hook on of her Caswell Impressions patterns, I thought it would be a great way to try out some various shirring, quillie and other fun techniques. Here is the final product that I call The Goldfinch and the Gray Jay. (It is actually her pattern number 64.)
Martha Lowry has written a wonderful article that will appear in the Dec/Jan 2017 issue of ATHA. In it she gives wonderful instructions for some of these techniques in that Block Party Sampler — Block #8 - a Lesson in Shirring . I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I did! Of course I had already fumbled my way through this rug before I read it! So, NOW, I know the right way to go about it.
I am the director of South Central McGown Teacher's Workshop in Pottsboro, TX. It is an amazing opportunity to get together with other teachers once a year and learn so much about rug hooking. I send out periodical letters to the participants of this camp and have decided to start posting some of those letters here.
Hmmmm, WHERE does creativity come from? A keen sense of observation is the cornerstone to creativity. So many times we become immune to what is happening around us as we look through instead of thinking about and taking in. A sense of curiosity also goes hand in hand with creativity. Well, curiosity AND a sense of playfulness that allows for the mental exploration of ideas and a tactile exploration of materials.
What fun it is to play with concepts in the same way that you might play with clay. There is no end of possibility when you allow yourself the freedom to take an idea- expand it and play with it. These ideas can come from the most mundane observations of people around you, and all it takes is a little day dreaming to create an idea worth remembering.
For example, one day as I was out for a walk I saw a woman reaching for her child who was skipping away with a balloon. The commonality of such a scene became very interesting to me as It made me think of children beginning to move away from a parent . . . or a parent beginning to loosen the tight bond and allow the child a little more independence. As the scene evolved in my mind, so did the concept of freedom, independence, letting go. So how does such a generic scene become interesting enough to make it the subject of a piece of art? All it takes is a bit of contemplation. What if we advance the scene so the child was also letting loose of the balloon? Now we have two layers of the concept of letting go. I did a quick sketch of the mother releasing the child who was letting go of her balloon so that i could remember the concept later, when I had time to give it more thought.
Later on as I continued to think about this idea, it began to mature and take on even more layers. What if the mom was also letting go of something else? Ok, but what? What if she was letting go of some one else too? Now that would be three layers of the concept of letting go.
Good art loves mystery. There has to be something that draws the viewer into the scene - something that not only draws them in but also engages them so that they linger rather than moving on quickly to the next art work. The eye of the beholder- in art it is everything.
How do I portray this concept in such a way that it will make the viewer engage and stay engaged for more than just a few seconds?
Why add complexity, of course! Something that makes the viewer do a bit of visual and mental sleuthing. What if the mother is dressed in black and holding a flag? The flag and dress denotes a funeral or a passing. So what if she has an outstretched arm as if she is trying to hold on to something that is moving away from her? What if I create that something as a spirit and have it dressed as a soldier. Do you see how the layers begin to add up?
Now a viewer will see the red balloon and the child letting go of it. The mother is dressed in black and holding a flag. What does this mean? Where are they? What is the mother reaching for? Oh. . . . there is a spirit. . .a ghost. And he has a helmet and a uniform. . . .
You can see how the story evolves from the way the meaning of the work is revealed.
In another work, HE FEEDS US, a farmer is standing just beyond two bellering cattle. The concept came from a scene I happened upon when driving through my neighborhood. We do have a local farmer who raises two calves every year. He also tends a large garden on his property. The steer follow him around like puppies. One day he was out mending fence and those full grown steer were just crying out at him standing on the opposite side of the fence, just beyond their reach. So, in the art work to follow I portrayed the cattle with the idea of the cows calling for the farmer to feed them, compounded by the idea that the farmer also feeds us (meat, milk, vegetables).
These are just two examples of ways to allow an everyday scene to mature conceptually. As the layers add up the story becomes more interesting and engaging to your audience.
“Creativity exists in the present moment. You can’t find it anywhere else.” (Natalie Goldberg)
This barn was hooked for the Sauder exhibition on Barns. It was designed directly from a photo taken by Bob Kissel of a barn in Gunnison, CO. I loved his photo because it captured a turbulent sky and really exhibited the gold leaves on the trees. For this piece I added found elements such as wire, stones, weathered twigs and even a small piece of barbed wire near the foundation of the barn. I used hand-dyed nylons throughout the piece and love the way they hook and the way they look after hooking. In most cases the nylons add a more matte look. If you look at the ground in shade more closely you will see what I mean. You can, of course, find nylons that shimmer and I have used those to add sparkles of gold to the trees.
I am a fiber artist and sculptor living in sunny, Colorado! I have a home studio where I dye and sell gorgeous wool fabric.