Monday, February 06, 2006

All The Fibres All The Time

As you may have noticed, here in Damselfly’s Pond I indulge in many different fibre arts. I flit around. I can’t help myself. I’ve been encouraged to get back to something I haven’t touched in way too long. It all started when yesterday we had a lovely walk on the seawall with about a zillion other people who couldn’t stand to see the sun for the first time in weeks without being out in it.

Then we stopped in at the Silk Purse, the West Vancouver Community Arts Council studio gallery, for the rug hookers’ exhibit. The old house that was donated by the original owners to become the Silk Purse is right on the water in an area where the seawall doesn’t extend through, so you have to walk down the road right by it. It has a studio space and a little gallery area and a deck that’s only feet from the beach. The exhibit’s theme was “Tea and the Art of Hooked Rugs” though not every piece had the theme in mind. There were some spectacular pieces, including a couple that had been published in Rug Hooking magazine publications. There were also some fun pieces including a hooked “cake” and of course a tea cozy. We were just in time to enjoy some Murchie’s tea and coffee and some delicious goodies while we perused the exhibit and chatted with the hookers. (No, not THAT kind of hooker — these ladies are textile artists and many of them are my close friends!) Even T-Man enjoyed a lovely time.

Of course, seeing all those hookers hard at work inspired me to get back to work on my “Dream” piece that’s been languishing for quite some time. This is what it looks like at the moment.

See, it’s almost done! This is going to go on the wall behind our bed which has no headboard. It’s supposed to inspire sweet dreams, get it? I’m not quite sure how to mount it securely but I know the T-Man will figure something out. Now that I’ve got a picture of it to look at, I’m rethinking the upper left-hand corner with my L in it. I think it’s too obvious. Luckily hooking is really easy to pull out. Almost as easy as frogging knitting! Notice the comet? That’s my old buddy Hale-Bopp. I loved that comet! And we often get the moon shining in the high window over our bed. Just last night there was a half-moon smiling in as we went to bed. And of course the stars. The words come from an old Beatles song. Uh-oh, I just realized I got the “me” and “you” reversed. It’s staying that way. I’m going to have to change the date in the corner though. Ought-Three now needs to be Ought-Six. See how long it’s been waiting, poor thing? Will. Finish. It. Soon.

For those who haven’t tried it, rug hooking is really simple to get started but there’s enough to it to keep your interest for a lifetime. All you really need is a backing fabric (burlap or linen are standard), some wool fabric (or yarn) strips, and a hook. It helps if you have a frame or quilting hoop to support the work but there are plenty of hookers who don’t use one at all. I’ve been using a simple hoop with no stand and haven’t yet sprung for a nicer frame, but I might one of these days. I did buy a Bliss cutter to simplify cutting even strips. I’m pretty sure that cutting many strips using an Olfa cutter and mat was the reason my pinched nerve happened 4 years ago. Too much pressing down with my left hand so that the ruler wouldn’t slip.

Coming from a fibre point of view, I find some of the hooking conventions just a bit odd. Such as dyeing using teeny tiny measuring spoons (down to 1/128th of a teaspoon!) and recipes using a huge range of pre-mixed colours to dye “swatches” which are little pieces of wool fabric, usually in graduated shades. An other alternative is to haunt flea markets and thrift stores for wool skirts and jackets that can be recycled. I haven’t yet found anything that’s 100% suitable wool — it doesn’t get cold enough here and people want clothes they can machine wash. I bet the hunting is better in the colder parts of North America! Rug hookers can take classes from certified “McGowan” teachers who can help choosing the right colours for a particular rug pattern. Many of these patterns were designed by professional or semi-professional designers, past and present. Me being the rebel Damselfly that I am, draw my own pictures and use my skills developed from decades of dyeing yarns and fibres to dye most of my wools without any recipes. Of course, my hooking style is a funky bright modern wide-cut with maybe some minimal shading which is somewhat at odds with either the traditional “primitive” style or the “shaded” style in narrow thread-like wool strips. The latter are much like paintings and so detailed! Of course there are many other types of rugs in between these two extremes and lots of people have a distinctive style of their own. Rugs can be practical on-the-floor or hanging-on-the-wall art or it can even be 3-dimensional such as the afore-mentioned tea cozy and cake, or a foot stool, holiday figure, or purse. See what I mean? Simple — but not. I already have lots of other hooking ideas to try.

No comments: