Textiles – “Traditional Rug Hooking” part one

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Primitive Hooked carpet

In the past textiles could not be readily available to our colonists. The ocean voyages were tedious, long and dangerous. Sailors setting out over ocean became easily bored and took to the hook. textile8They would cut up burlap feed sacks, bend nails, whittle crochet shaped hooks out of wood, tear up old clothing into strips and hook carpets. During turbulent weather, carpets were wrapped around the masts of ships and clinging to it saved many a life. The sailors were also artists and produced primitive designs of mermaids, seashells, whales and exotic animals. Today the primitive rugs are found at museums. Most of our first settlers were faced with not being able to afford luxurious items such as fine china, furniture or carpets. It also took a great deal of time to wait for ships to port. So they too also produced fine hooked carpets using plates as templates to create designs. A family pet, tales of family history, a lost love were also subjects incorporated into the design of a rug. Their treasured carpets decorated the dirt floors at daytime while at night, tossed onto the bed to be used as a warming blanket.  My first introduction to this craft was by a neighbor during the 80’s. I attended a Saturday workshop at a rug hooking gurus farm located at the State of Maryland. It was the perfect environment to learn Traditional Rug Hooking because the Mary Burton studio was a thirty room antique log cabin! There I was inspired to do onion skin dying and over-dying white woolen fabric with Cushing dyes. I designed patterns for Mary, displayed my work at a rug hooking show at Old Sturbridge Village, produced a design for her lecture presentation at the historical society of Portsmouth and had the opportunity to meet Joan Moshimer, owner of W. Cushing & Company, Kennebunkport, Maine. I treasured being able to be an overnight guest, having that personalized tour of the store and the Moshimers shared professional highlights about their magazine!  With time and in-between freelance jobs, I gave private instruction and held my own workshop at the Muscoot Farm, Katonah, NY. My experiences working in this craft will never be forgotten. As an artist the people and professionals within its circles have complimented my lifes journey to explore not only our rich history but the uses of color and materials. I posted a few of my many used carpets. The tiny animal rugs are applied to pillow fronts and can be interchanged. If you have any question about this craft, please feel free to post below. (The oriental carpet is a pattern and the cow with geese carpet – I dyed the wool) (The rest are my originals designs)

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From the Bronx to Wichita Lineman

I remember the days when Sunday was church day. As kids the ritual would be to get all dressed up for mass and then take a walk at the Botanical Gardens or the Bronx Zoo. It was a break from school and focus on the nature surrounding our community. All of that slipped us by when families in droves exited the city life for the suburbs. Childhood friendships abruptly changed and lost connections became the new norm. It also meant going to public school for the first time and starting high school in the ninth grade at second semester. I remember not having a friend for a year and at a difficult teen age. That period of lack of friendships passed when Cindy invited me to her weekend party house bash. The parents went to Florida leaving trending Cindy to fend for herself. I believe that I was invited only because of my cool clothes that my parents purchased for me. No longer did my school wardrobe have to consist of a plaid skirt, white starched shirt and brown Oxford’s. I remember my mother taking me to Wanamaker’s at the Cross County Shopping Center and the Grand Concourse, Alexander’s. This was a really big event for me. I came home with a pair of brown leather boots, English rider style, orange long woolen skirt that buttoned down the front, a blue, black long skirt, turtle neck sweaters. And of course I did have my landlubber hip hugging denim jeans, striped and black bell bottoms. On my trip back to the Bronx, I met my sister for a shopping day and had purchased a pair of brown suede lace up boots and leather two-tone brown leather platform shoes. So I totally fit in with Cindy’s group that frequented the Bedford Village Green. The kids packed the house and it was overwhelming. A few of us squeezed into the kitchen half bath and this is where I met my best friend in high school, Susan and a boy named Todd. As we talked there was a huge calamity going on outside that bathroom door and kids started evacuating out onto the street. There was a major motorcycle accident and rumor quickly spread that it was a student from school. This party abruptly ended and the house emptied very fast as it had become quickly full. On Sunday, I sat in my small bedroom, looking out the window, gazing at the fall trees and dreamed of my friends at the Bronx, the park hangout and felt as if in a prison. I played on my record player over and over again a favorite Glen Campbell song, Wichita Lineman wondering why we ever left the Bronx.