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.