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Follow the blog

By | About the blog | 45 Comments

To follow the blog by email, open up any blog post, (click on the colored title) and at the end, leave your name and email, a short comment and then, below that, check off the “notify me by email” option. To follow in a blog reader, copy and paste http://www.maryjanesrugs.com/?page_id=3284 into it. As you browse, most photos will enlarge if you touch or click on them!

One by Corot

By | Art, Composition, History of Art | No Comments

We have not looked at much art history lately, so here is a very nice painting I came across yesterday. Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot painted this work in 1851, and it was sold last week at Sotheby’s in London. It is titled La Rochelle: L’Abreuvoir (Watering hole) View taken near the Ramparts, with the Tower of the Lantern.

Does this painting have to do with rughooking? Well, let’s just say that if you spend a little time looking at it, you will absorb the evidence of good composition and design.

Take a look at how Corot created balance in his composition. There is a row of large trees on the left. What balances them out, on the right? How does your eye travel around the canvas, and what leads your eye? And though he painted from an actual (chosen) view of La Rochelle, why do you suppose he placed the figures of the woman and the man on the horse just where he did? Look, too, at the quite limited range of colors he used – virtually no bright colors at all… and that lovely sky! How does he give structure to the sky that enhances the balance of the view below?

I always like to look, when considering a painting, at where all the horizontal lines are, where the verticals and diagonals are, where the curves are.

There is only one master here – Corot. We are nothing compared to him, nothing.” – Claude Monet, 1897

He is still the strongest, he anticipated everything …” – Edgar Degas, 1883

Corot (1796-1875), a native of Paris, was considered a master of Romantic landscapes, but is credited with being a progenitor of Impressionism. His method of painting en plein air (painting in the outdoors, from the actual scene) drew the interest of much younger artists – Renoir, Monet, Degas and Pissarro, all of whom either experimented with Corot’s technique or called themselves his “pupils.” He anticipated the plein-air innovations of Impressionism.

M. Corot has a remarkable quality that has eluded most of our artists today: he knows how to invent. His point of departure is always nature, but when he arrives at the interpretation of it, he no longer copies, he remembers it”. (Du Camp, 1864)

Several decades later, Impressionism would revolutionize art by taking a similar approach — quick, spontaneous painting done in the out-of-doors; but where the Impressionists used rapidly applied, un-mixed colors to capture light and mood, Corot usually mixed and blended his colors to get his dreamy effects.

Corot studied in France and Italy. In northern Europe, the true reality of the actual landscape was considered most important to capture (the “Northern Realism” school), while in the south and Italy, landscapes were painted in an idealized, more romanticised manner. Corot learned from both schools. His notebooks reveal hundreds of precise renderings of tree trunks, rocks, and plants. He learned how to give buildings and rocks the effect of volume and solidity with proper light and shadow, and would place suitable figures in his scenes to add human context and scale, as in the painting above. He considered his best works his “souvenirs” – small, accurately rendered landscapes, but filtered through his emotional reaction to the scenes – his “memories” of the scenes.

Corot was financially independent, so unlike many painters, he could paint what he wanted. La Rochelle was painted in 1851, and, after initial rejection by the Paris art world, Corot’s reputation was established by then. The 1850s was the period when his style became softer and his colours more restricted. In his later landscapes, he employed a small range of colors, often using soft colored greys and blue-greens, with very few spots of strong color, often confined to the clothing of the human figures. Topographical detail was suppressed in favour of mood and atmosphere, above all in his ‘souvenirs’, small works like La Rochelle (which is only about 13″ x 19″), which he considered his mementos of real landscapes.

This painting was sold at Sotheby’s about two weeks ago (June 6th, sale price unstated) but the pre-sale estimate was £100,000-£200,000 (about $130,000-$190,000). This painting was oil on canvas, actual size: 13¼ in. by 18¾ in.

Towards the end of his life, Corot became an elder of the Parisian artists’ community and would use his influence to gain commissions for other artists. He was well known for his kindness and charitable gifts, with large donations to the poor of Paris, other artists, their widows and families, and support of a day care center in his Parisian neighborhood.

Notes on Corot were compiled from the National Gallery of Art, Sotheby’s, and Wikipedia. To look at all of Corot’s work, and a detailed biography, go to www.jean-baptiste-camille-corot.org.

May all your rugs be just as you like, and balanced. Hook on!

A Labor of Love

By | Contemporary rugmakers, Creativity, Design | 3 Comments

Gayle Burton, of West Point, Utah, has been working on and off on this rug for over five years, and now it is done. It is her family story rug, and is pretty large – 48″ x 60″. She wrote that it was a labor of love, and it felt great to have finally finished it.

I have become more and more drawn to personal storytelling rugs in general lately. Yes, we can all enjoy making florals, or holiday rugs with Santas and pumpkins and Easter bunnies, and enjoy them for years to come. But taking your own memories and family stories, and making a rug design around them, as Gayle has, really puts your own experience and spirit into a rug. Let’s look a little closer at how Gayle did it.

She wrote, “Hubby and I moved into our home in Clinton, Utah, as honeymooners, and raised three children and a dog there, over the course of 37 years.

Lesson #1: Don’t stress about hooking people into your rug! It doesn’t have to be a fine-shaded, perfect-rendition portrait of them. If you could draw people when you were in the third grade, you can draw (and hook) them now. Gayle’s are charming, and all the family (the focus of her family rug) is right there and up front.

The Union Pacific Railroad runs right behind the house – the diesel trains aren’t very picturesque, so I hooked an old-fashioned steam engine instead“:

Lesson #2: Adapt as you see fit. “Artistic License” is a wonderful thing, and you own it! You can adapt reality to a symbolic level, to fit your taste and style, and everyone will know exactly what you are representing!

Gayle did the same thing with her little airplane. She writes, “We live near Hill Air Force Base, and F-16 fighter jets fly overhead often.” So she added a simple little red airplane to her design. Who cares that F-16s aren’t red?

“We are LDS (Mormons) so I hooked in the Salt Lake Temple as a symbol of our religion – there are flowers to depict the beautiful gardens that are to be seen in every season at Temple Square. The blue represents the Great Salt Lake.

Again, Gayle did not try to portray the gardens in their entirety, she just put in a few flowers to represent the gardens. Perfect!

Lesson #3: Get started by making a list (and asking family members to add to it) of significant places and features that define your story – both large and small.

Gayle’s list included the very large – the Temple and Great Salt Lake – to a quilt hanging outside, the flag, and what grew in her garden:

She writes, “Our home is surrounded by wonderful shade trees that provided great climbing opportunities for the children and their friends as they grew. We also grow a garden each summer, so I hooked corn and pumpkins to represent that.

Finally, she included the family name and date banner across the bottom, and then two borders on the upper part of the rug, which really give a finished look to the rug (I love the little dabs of hit or miss!) and she added, “The borders were fun to hook, and used up a lot of my worms, too!”

Lesson #4: Just begin. Maybe it took Gayle more than five years to finish this lovely rug, but she has it now, and I am sure it will always be treasured. If your kids had a pet hedgehog, google “drawings of hedgehogs” and then just try drawing one. Gayle drew all of her motifs freehand, and rughooking’s folk art style allows for each idea, place, person, animal or object to be pictured as a motif, not a perfect line drawing. If you need to, draw your hedgehog on newsprint a bunch of times until you get one you like, and then cut that one out and trace it onto your backing. But just begin.

After living in Clinton for 37 years, three months ago Gayle and her family moved to a neighboring town in Utah, and, as she puts it, “We’re starting new stories here now!”

Thanks so much, Gayle, for sharing the story of your wonderful story rug with us! It is a terrific rug, and your labor of love comes through.

This is Gayle’s original work, it’s copyrighted, and used here with her kind permission. Please ask her before you copy, pin or share it on the web. Gayle wrote much of the process of making her rug on her own blog, online at themiddlesister.blogspot.com.

A Hooker’s Will

By | Contemporary rugmakers | 4 Comments

A while back, my friend Jeni mentioned how much she worried about what would happen to her rugs after she was gone. Since then, I have mentioned this to several rughookers, and every one of them shared Jeni’s concern. The thought of them ending up in a yard sale, in an auction for a pitifully low price, or even tossed away brings sadness and grief.

I am lucky to have a niece who understands my rugs and values the work I put into them. She will be my “rug trustee”, and once family and friends have been given the ones they want, I have told her to donate the others – to our town library, volunteer fire department, church, local conservation group – to raffle or sell off as they wish. At least someone who likes them will bid on or buy them, and for a good cause. That’s the best I could come up with!

But how about the stash? Of course you have heard the good old joke, “Don’t ever let my husband sell my wool for what I told him it cost…”?

A while back, I came across The Hooker’s Will. It was not signed so I really don’t know who wrote it, but I copied it, added names, signed it, and it is now in with other important papers. Here it is:

Hooker’s Will
Being of sound mind and body (a statement that does not bear close scrutiny), I, —————, do hereby record my last stash will and testament. Knowing that ——————, my (husband, sister, daughter, son) has no appreciation, or for that matter knowledge of my extensive wool collection, which by the way is deposited in various places throughout my home for safekeeping (look beyond my wool room, check backs of closets, under the beds, etc.), I make this will.

Knowing that the likely scenario of the relative mentioned above might be to just call the local goodwill store (should I precede him/her to that great hooking shop in the sky) to pick up and dispose of the aforementioned collection, I therefore do will this collection and all other collections of tools, frames, cutters, worms, scissors, sharpies, red dot, linen, patterns, works in process, etc. to my dear fellow wool preservationist ——————-.

It is my wish that she, upon hearing of my death and obtaining clear proof that I did not manage (although goodness knows I tried) to take it with me, will come to my home, before said goodwill store searches it out. That she should rescue said collection and stack it in my hooking studio. After she has done that, she should purchase refreshments for all my friends not yet departed, which friends are also her friends, and every last one of them should be in that room, and they should hold a wake and say lots of lovely, lively and kind things about me until they run out, and then they shall divide my wonderful collection amongst themselves in a highly congenial manner.

Be forewarned – I shall be hovering over that very spot until this is done. Said appointed friend shall then leave this spot and close the door, leaving the car, house, stocks, bonds and other worldly nonsense to those who don’t understand or know any better. This is my wish on the matter.

The spectacular rug pictured at the top will go on sale by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates of Mt. Crawford, VA on June 17, 2017, 9:30am. It’s Lot 1230, described as: AMERICAN FOLK ART PICTORIAL HOOKED RUG, stylized depiction of a long-tailed brown dog set against a striated ground. Professionally mounted for display. Dimensions: 30 1/2″ x 34 1/2″. Late 19th/early 20th century. Estimated price $200-300. Online at www.jeffreysevans.com

Let’s look at some old rugs!

By | Antique rugs, Composition | 7 Comments

It’s been a while since we looked at antique rugs, so let’s jump in and see what can be found in the spring auctions. Above, you see Lot 22, HOOKED RUG WITH DOUBLE CORNUCOPIA & FLORAL DESIGN (33 1/2″ X 65 1/2″) from the Gallery at Knotty Pine, in West Swansey, NH. Price estimate is $200-$300. It will be coming up for sale June 10th, at 11 am. There was no detailed description, but I like the colors, the nice fine shading, and the symmetry of the design.

And now a little side trip relating to this design: I just learned the other day, that this is an example of Point Symmetry, meaning it looks the same upside down… or from any two opposite directions, ie, from the same center point. Here’s an illustration of point symmetry:

Point Symmetry is when every part has a matching part: the same distance from the central point but in the opposite direction. You learn something new every day! Thanks to Ania Knap for this one!

Now here is Lot 77, “Hand hooked vintage rug” which is coming up for sale on June 11th at 11 am, at Denise Ryan Auction House, in Manchester, NH, with a price estimate of $100-$500:

What a sweet scene! I especially like that the maker (unknown, of course) gave plenty of room to the lake itself, confining the near and far shores to (roughly) half of the entire rug – just the feeling you get sitting near a lake, with the vast water reaching into the distance.

This one is a little different, and is coming up for sale at Schwenke Auctioneers on June 14, 2017, at 10:00 am in Woodbury, CT. It is Lot 673:

The description reads “Depicting “White Horse Tavern”. Stains. 27 1/4″ long, 38″ wide. Provenance: Property of a Woodbury CT Estate.”

Well, it is a very nice signage rug, and while it’s not something I would make, I know sign designs have become quite popular. For the right person, it would be a great choice, and the estimated price on this one is $80-$100.

And finally, in the same June 14 sale at Schwenke Auctioneers, is this wonderful rug, Lot 614:

The colors on this lovely hit or miss are so bright, I wonder how old it is, but the only description is “Striped Rug with Floral Center. Use wear, center holes. 36″ high, 40″ wide. Provenance: Property of a Woodbury CT Estate.” And the estimated price on this one is $100-$200.

All photos are shown courtesy of the auction houses. The Gallery at Knnotty Pine is online at www.knottypineantiques.com, Denise Ryan Auctions is online at www.deniseryanauction.com, and Schwenke Auctioneers is at www.woodburyauction.com.

So. Which one would you pick? For me, it would be the little lake scene, reminiscent of many happy childhood days “up at the lake”.

A fine rug, and blessed wool

By | Contemporary rugmakers, Creativity, Making rugs | 6 Comments

At rug camp there was a great display of over 100 rugs, and this one really made me gasp. It is Reflection, by Mary Hays, of Bass Harbor, Maine. Happily, the part of the exhibit with Mary’s lovely rug was hanging in my classroom, so I got to look at it throughout the week at Sebago Lake Rug Camp. There were so many beautiful and creative pieces, but I just could not stop looking at this one. Such a natural landscape… and though I heard many viewers comment on how well Mary caught the trees and mountains reflected again in the water (certainly true!), I just kept looking at the way Mary caught the rocks that gradually disappear as the water gets deeper! What a great effect in wool!

And late in the week, during the show and tell “throwdown”, I found one rug that again made me gasp in appreciation – this time because in the bottom corner of the border of this just-begun landscape, someone had added a small, beautifully rendered hand, hooking. Yes, it was Mary’s current project. I just fell in love with the creativity in adding in that small hooking hand:

Happily, I found Mary and had a chance to talk a bit with her, express my admiration for her rugs. I was also surprised, on her new project, at how sketchy her initial drawing is – she said she just wants a rough outline, and does the rest as she hooks. Here is the whole rug, showing her “outline”:

When I complimented her on the sky in her new project, she said she finds skies easy to do, because in nature, there are so many infinite variations on the sky and clouds, that nothing really will look wrong!

One other thing. Three women, by chance, sit next to each other in their class. All had projects well underway. One of them, a different Mary, decides that she has hooked the vase in her rug in the wrong color. It needs to be lighter – but she does not have the right wool. She looked at all the wool for sale (and there was a lot of beautiful wool for sale) and couldn’t find anything just right. Then the woman sitting next to her, Kathy, glances over, reaches into her wool bag, and pulls out a piece of wool, just the right shade of maroon, with just the right small dots of color. “Try this”, she says, “I don’t need it, I just stuck it in my bag for no particular reason.”

And Kathy’s wool worked perfectly for Mary’s vase. So then Mary has a big pile of the wool that had not worked – the wool she just pulled out from her rug and replaced. And the woman on the other side of her, Diane, looks at the pile of rejected wool, and looks again. She asked Mary if she could use it, and Mary said “Of course!”. And Mary’s pulled-out wool turned out to be the perfect wool for the dragonfly that Diane was working on. I call this a case of blessed wool.

Many thanks to Mary Hays for permission to show her work here. Both rugs pictured are her own creative work, so are protected by copyright. Please do not copy, paste, pin or pass them on, as a courtesy to her. Many thanks to Gail Walden, for running a wonderful rug camp, and to my teacher, Loretta Scena, for her talented guidance! And a quick hello to blog reader Priscilla McGarry, who actually searched me out just to tell me she likes this blog – how nice it was to talk to her!

Away We Go…

By | Art, Creativity, Museums | No Comments

It’s coming up on Memorial Day, kids getting out of school, road trips and, hopefully, some great day trips. I am off to Sebago Lake Rug Camp (in Maine) and since I have never been to it before, there is the excitement of going to a new place as well as the always-wonderful anticipation of going off to any rug camp.

I came across this photo, above, from the Belvedere Museum in Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria, and fell in love with the photo. I’ve never been to that museum, but the image of this little girl encountering that larger-than-life artwork communicates the experience of seeing any museum. The magic of going through a museum is about getting out of your own usual life and experience for a little while, seeing the creations made by artists from different eras of history, how they captured the people, costumes, landscape and milieu of their time and place, trying to grasp the designs and techniques that go into any fine work of art.

Just take a second look at the photo and let it sink in a bit.

As you set goals and think of outings for your summer, do try to work in a museum or two – it is so good for all of us! And try to take a kid or two along. You’d be surprised (or saddened) at how many kids have never been to a museum.

It doesn’t matter that you can’t easily get to Vienna or Rome. New England (and most states) have terrific big-city and regional museums, and most towns have little history museums, or historical homesteads.

Here in New Hampshire, there is the Currier Museum in Manchester, but also the Canterbury Shaker Village, Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, and the wonderful St. Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish. There are railroad museums and town museums, a telephone museum and a great state history museum. It doesn’t matter what sort of museum you pick – they all take us out of our own lives and time, and enlarge our perspective. Look around for a museum, then go and, well, look around.

If you are going on a road trip, google the area and see what sorts of museums are along your route. You don’t have to go nuts, just pick one, and stop to check it out.

You do not have to see the whole museum. It is probably better to slow down and look at a few paintings or exhibits, instead of feeling like you have to rush through in order to see everything. Slow down. If you find yourself walking at a fast clip, giving only a glimpse and a nod here and there, you are probably tired, or have had enough. That is okay.

In each gallery or room, pick one painting or work (like the little girl in the photo) and just stop and look. Absorb what is going on with the lines, the curves, the diagonals – the composition. Why did he put that there? What has the artist done with the use of colors? If you could get to take home just one painting from the exhibit, which one would you pick, and why -that is, would you like looking at it day after day? If you could choose one or two details to make into a rug design, what would you pick?

Take a little notebook with you, just so you can jot down ideas. Once you start looking at creative works, often creative ideas will jump into your own mind. Catch them while you can!

If you are taking kids along, once you get home, ask them to draw a picture about going to the museum, or about something they saw there. See what happens.

Today, the Belvedere Museum houses the greatest collection of Austrian art dating from the Middle Ages to the present day. The home, studio and gardens of Augustus St. Gaudens (online here) in Cornish, NH, offers afternoon concerts, working artists, and plenty of gardens (with St. Gaudens’ wonderful sculptures) for kids to explore. The Currier, in Manchester, has a big Monet exhibit opening July 1st (online at currier.org). And here is a website listing museums of all kinds, state by state:

An important antique rug, re-seen

By | Antique rugs | 5 Comments

My friend Austin just posted this historic antique rug for sale from his collection at Austin T. Miller American Antiques Inc., of Columbus Ohio.

Just looking at this lovely rug is a treat, and for a change, the maker, place and time of its making is known:
“For Sale: An Important Early American Flag Documented Hooked Rug, Executed by Laura Etta Clarke, New Hampshire in 1902. This 46 Star hooked rug was created in 1902 by Laura Etta Clarke of Barrington, New Hampshire, 37 x 29 inches.”

But there is more to the story. This rug was illustrated and discussed in the well-regarded book on American hooked rugs by Joel and Kate Kopp, “American Hooked and Sewn Rugs, Folk Art Underfoot”, first published in 1975 and still available and widely consulted:

But take a look at the photo of this same rug as it appears in the Kopp book (Plate 153):

The caption about the rug in the Kopp book reports that the 46-star rug was hooked in reverse from the way it is normally portrayed, “perhaps as a result of the way she traced it.” But further evidence indicates it was just photographed incorrectly, as it was meant to be viewed vertically. And really, looking at it vertically is the only way the angled blocks with the maker’s initials and date make much sense.

And, re-photographed in its vertical orientation, the mystery is gone, and we can now see the rug in full red, white and blue color: “Old Glory” itself, in bright colors, with stars just imperfect enough to twinkle, the side borders of more muted colors, quilt-block style, and simple red, white and blue lines at the top and bottom.

Thanks, Austin, for giving us another look at this beautiful, historic rug.

Maybe this is a good time to celebrate what we love most about our country by making our own patriotic rugs. Looking at Laura Etta Clarke’s work, made 115 years ago right here in New Hampshire, has just made me decide to do just that.

Photo of the Clarke rug is copyrighted and used here with the kind permission of Austin T. Miller American Antiques, Inc., online at www.usfolkart.com. And the Kopp book (well worth your time to read, both for insight into antique rugs and to ponder their wonderful designs) is still readily available online, here and elsewhere.

A great photo, good friends, and a piece of ugly wool…

By | Creativity, Making rugs, Rug Community | 3 Comments

Look at this great photo, taken by my friend Karen Cooper, of three members of my Tues. morning rug group consulting about a rug. I love this photo! To me, it captures the best part of being in a rug group. Marion, Sue and Mary are deep in conversation, considering Mary’s current rug project. The pattern is Lilac Time, designed by Jane McGown Flynn. The focus of the rug is a bouquet of tulips and lilacs, in a glass vase.

Mary first saw this design at the Hooked Rug Museum of North America, and fell in love with it. She worked on all that fine shading of the flowers with no problem, with guidance from teacher Betty McClentic at rug camp. Here is a close-up of Mary’s project, with just the rest of the maroon background left to hook:

What Mary had problems with was the glass vase. The vase is not the focus of the rug, but it did have to look right. She got the darker maroon of the vase interior, and the flower stems just fine. But that one row of loops, defining the edges of the vase, and the bottom base of the vase… well, let’s say there was more than one consultation with rughooking friends, as in Karen’s photo, above.

Mary tried a number of different wools to hook that base, and the one row of the outside edges of the vase. She tried a light blue, and that stood out too much. She tried light brown. Nope, tear it out and start again. She tried a pale gray and that was better, but…it still did not look quite right.

At one point, she was ready to entirely sacrifice the “glass-ness” of the vase, and the view of the stems inside it, and almost decided to tear it all out and just make the vase a solid color. But with the encouragement of our group members and with her own persistence, she stuck with it.

Fast-forward several weeks and many consultations. One day after rug group, I went into my wool room, and looked around just in case I could see anything to suggest. And there was that one piece of wool I had dyed several years ago, which I thought of as the ugliest piece of hand-dyed wool ever. Every time I saw it on my shelf, its ugliness would make me sigh:

Ugly, yes, but there it still sat on my shelf. It was halfway between a dirty beige and gray, with darker blue/gray blobs. Well, you never know. I brought it down to Mary to try.

The first thing she said was “Oh, it looks like my husband’s dirty oil rag, out in the garage!”. I had to agree – a very good description! But here’s the thing – Mary gave it a try, and it worked! The one-line edge of the vase is defined, without being too dominant, and the base of the vase fits in, and seems to even reflect the colors in the table below it and the flowers above.

The moral of the story: You never know!

That one piece of ugly wool, at least in this case, was just the thing to solve a tricky problem. And, more important, it’s wonderful to have rughooking friends to help you step back, look at your work, listen to what you like and don’t like, make a suggestion, and encourage you to not give up on what you want for your rug. And the rest of us, who watch and listen, week by week, as each rughooking problem is encountered, grappled with and finally is solved, all learn together.

Many thanks to Karen Cooper for the lovely photo, and to Mary Miller, for permission to share her work here.

Breaking boundaries

By | Art, Contemporary rugmakers, Museums | No Comments

The other day I told you a little about the Textile Museum of Canada, and oddly, enough, through a completely separate search, this morning I ended up on the website of the Textile Museum of Sweden. It’s located in the town of Borås. I found a photo of this work, shown above, online, and just had to track down it’s creator.

The creator of this piece is Faig Ahmed, and the museum’s new exhibit for the summer highlights the work of Ahmed, who is a rugmaker and sculptor from Azerbaijan, in the South Caucasus. Bordered by Russia, Armenia, Turkey and Iran, it is a region where hand-crafted carpets have been made for centuries.

The catalog from the museum show gives more information about this wonderful work:

Entitled Virgin, by Faig Ahmed. This is a hand-woven carpet with a traditional pattern that gradually transforms into a thick red mass. The work continues on a series of signature textile works by Ahmed and reveals unspoken local narratives on male-female gender relations hidden inside the crafts and artisanal practices. More specifically the work draws from the early practice of unmarried girls producing one exquisite textile as part of the treasure she brings into the marriage. In other words suggesting the transition from a girl to a woman.”

I’m not sure I can get the full gist of the cultural symbolism, but the work itself dazzles me. Talk about breaking borders of a traditional craft!

Here is another work of Ahmed’s that is also in the show, and also dazzling:

“”He doesn’t answer questions, he poses them”, says Medeia Ekner, curator at the Textile Museum of Sweden, of the artist, who is known mostly for his unique way of transforming traditional Azerbaijani rugs into contemporary sculptural shapes. His method of deconstructing conventional patterns and symbols and reshaping them into original compositions often results in new, dramatic expressions.”

Yikes! And here I was thinking “breaking barriers” meant something like using extra-bright colors in a primitive design!

The museum’s web page about this exhibit is here.

Images copyrighted ( copyright enforced), and used courtesy of Faig Ahmed Studio. The artist’s own website, featuring other works, can be found here.

Enjoy the day, everyone, and be brave.

“their history was often lost…”

By | Antique rugs, Design, Museums | 6 Comments

A while back, I browsed through the online collection of hooked rugs at the Textile Museum of Canada, and of course found some beauties. Above, you see a rug dated 1925-1935. The maker is unknown, but it was made of synthetic material on burlap, on Prince Edward Island.

The Textile Museum of Canada is in downtown Toronto, and happily, the searchable collection is online, too. My simple “hooked rug” search brought up over 250 rugs (with photos) for me. And I thought their brief description of hooked rugs was interesting:

Rug hooking is a unique North American tradition that arose in response to the need to cover the cold bare floors of pioneer homes. Weaving cloth required long hours at the spinning wheel and loom, but rugs could be made from scraps of fabrics and fibres that were pulled through a burlap base to produce warm floor-coverings to brighten the home. It is rare to find a hooked rug whose maker is known; unlike quilts, which were treasured family possessions, hooked rugs wore out and their history was often lost.

Here is another rug, made in Ontario, dated 1900-1930:

The museum presents rotating exhibitions, changed throughout the year, drawn from their collection of over 13,000 objects, and the work of local, national and international contemporary artists are featured, both at the museum and in touring exhibits. “This diverse collection includes fabrics, ceremonial cloths, garments, carpets, quilts and related artifacts which reflect the cultural and aesthetic significance that cloth has held over the centuries.”

Here is a sweet rug, dated 1900-1930, from the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario:

You can search the museum’s collection by technique (as I did) or by type (clothing, headwear, etc.), materials, region or time period. Here is a hooked rug from 1940-1960 (maker unknown, region unknown) that I admired – quite an intricate floral design:

And here is another floral, also intricately designed, from much earlier, in the 19th century (dated 1875-1900):

I would say “Road Trip!”, but Toronto is almost 8 hours drive east from Burlington, VT, or just north of Buffalo, NY, and that slows me right down. But when you have a minute, go to the website of the Textile Museum of Canada, and take an “armchair road trip” through the collection. Here is the link:

Oh, and once you get there, look around at other things in the collection beyond hooked rugs. The museum celebrates textiles from around the world, like this intriguing apron from Papua, New Guinea:

All photos courtesy of the Textile Museum of Canada.
Oh, okay, here is one more – you know how I love hit or miss rugs. This beauty was made in 1940, (yes, maker unknown) in Waterloo County, Ontario: