Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Clowning Around

Another OHCG student brings a smile to my face with her finished clown project. Sandy came to class last September with a good start on this handsome fellow, including his sculptured nose and his bunny. The bright colours evolved throughout the weekend, butI hadn't seen him against this dramatic background until last week.

He was in the rug exhibit at Trent School of Rug Hooking where Sandy was taking the Mystery Oriental class with Heidi Pivnik. The bright, cheery piece definitely called to me from across the room. In such a dreary week (unusually cold and rainy for a Trent week, which is usually hot and steamy), he was a very colourful sight.

Speaking of Trent, while there to do a showcase, I had a chance to see the rug exhibit. Despite the fact that it was in a smaller venue than usual, it was one of the best I have seen. A great variety of subjects and a really nice show. Rather like a small version of the Annual exhibit. Lots of whimsy and creativity.

In addition to the student rugs, there was a display of many of the friendship rugs which have been designed and hooked over the years, since they were commemorating a big anniversary. Seeing these rugs on display was also very impressive.

Thanks Sandy for sending me the picture of this fellow. It is so rewarding for a teacher to see things as they are completed. I think students should always share their finished projects. It keeps the circle turning.

Congratulations Sandy - he's one handsome clown.

Monday, June 23, 2008

What a weekend it was!

My very good friends Elaine and Jennifer (Fish Eye Rugs), came to my cottage this weekend, something we were all looking forward to for weeks.

The weekend did not disappoint - in fact, it surpassed my every expectation in so many ways. I knew the companionship would be great. We are like minded souls who love hooking, good food, the occasional glass of wine and lively conversation.

To say we mixed all the elements in perfect balance would be the best way to describe the weekend. Amazing meals, great conversation - and quiet moments when we three were all engrossed in our respective projects - a couple of boat rides, a couple of swims and general euphoria for two days. Each of us was responsible for preparing one meal and to say we ate well is definitely an understatement. Gourmet pasta salad and fresh bread for lunch; a chicken and shrimp barbecue Saturday night and Eggs Benedict for Sunday brunch were a few of the highlights.

The pictures above show what we worked on. We had each decided that the weekend deserved a new project and all arrived with a fresh challenge. Elaine did a proddy study - her first foray into proddy which, as you can see is fabulous. Jennifer started the landscape that she featured on her blog last week (see Fish Eye Rugs link to the right). Her colour journey took her on a few twists and turns, but by Sunday she was totally on track and having a difficult time stepping away from her frame. Her sense of colour is amazing and she has an instinct of exactly what to do when things aren't working out the way she wants. The results at this stage are amazing.

My new project was, in fact, an old project that pre-dated my 2pac portrait. It is a design based on my favourite family photo, taken at my 40th birthday party. It shows Rick, me, Laura and Matt in a shot that forms a human totem pole, and I have been playing with the design on and off for over two years. I finally got down to it, transferring the pattern on Saturday morning and getting two and a half faces hooked before packing up yesterday. It's amazing how the smallest changes to these faces made a huge difference. I still have much fiddling left to do, but I know I will love this journey.

I assembled my Cheticamp frame and experienced a table frame for the first time. What a great way to deal with a large project. And I loved having all my hooking materials right there on the pattern. I can tell that this frame will be constantly set up with a large project and that it will make it very easy to pick up from where I left off. It has even inspired me to try to carve out a space in my unfinished basement studio at the cottage where I can work uninterrupted. I think I will get on that this coming long weekend.

I can't think of a thing about the weekend that I would have changed. The weather wasn't spectacular, which made it easier for us to ignore it and keep hooking. I know for those who don't have a cottage to visit every weekend, there is a real need to balance the hooking with the other activities and I think we managed to do a great job of it.

This will definitely become an annual thing - if not more often. But there is a great deal of diplomacy required in asking the rest of the family to stay in the city. In fact, I'm pretty sure that by the next one, Rick will come along and do his own thing while we indulge our frames, hooks and chatter.

Thanks to both Elaine and Jennifer for making it such a wonderful weekend.

Monday, June 16, 2008

On top of things.

Here is Dylan's stool topper, hooked but not attached. I love how it turned out. It's bright and cheery, just like he is. He's only 5 right now, but I figure this little stool will still be o.k. for a few years to come. I have the velcro strips for the back and I think I'll put some cross-twigs on the legs for extra stability.

Not only I finish hooking this stool topper over the weekend, I also finished the coasters and got the hooked belt buckle centres ready for attaching. The adhesive I chose didn't work, so I'll have to try another, but I'm feeling like the deadlines I set for myself are achievable.

Thursday is my "showcase" at Trent School of Rug Hooking, so I need to have a sample of many small things ready for show and tell. The class I'm pitching for 2009 is called "1,2 Hook a Few" and it's all about little hooking projects. In the showcase will be belts, belt buckles, hats, coasters, stool toppers, signs, flowers and my jeanius bags. The thought is that people can choose a couple of projects for their week at school and take them home FINISHED.

I was thinking about my presentation for Thursday morning while I was hooking last night. I realized that these "little" things a very "big" part of my hooking cycle. I think they are for most people, except those who won't start a new project until they are finished what they are working on - I'm definitely not like that. For me big, time-intensive projects need to have a little something on the side. These little wonders scratch that "instant gratification" itch.

The other reason that I like them is that they involve all the creative elements that I love about hooking. They still need a design. They still need a colour plan. The only thing they don't need is a giant time commitment. And the other bonus is that the finishing time is smaller as well. Yippee!

I've also realized that it doesn't take a big piece to teach a lesson. For example, on future stools, I'm not sure I will leave wood showing around the edges. On this one, it is a good thing, since Richard took the time to paint it green. But on others that aren't so pretty, perhaps I will go right to the edge. Perhaps I will tack the backing to the side. Or hook the overhang. More inventing as I move forward, I guess.

Will I be completely ready for Thursday? Is anyone ever completely ready? In my life there will always be something else I could have finished. But I am on track on my June production schedule. And it feels good to be on top of things.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Three Little Stools.

Here are three of seven little works of art that were created up north this weekend. They are put together using recycled "renovation" floorboards and some of the weedy alder that grows along the roadside - plus some birch that had already fallen in the woods. (And some embellishments, like mini paddles, donated by the builder)

My neighbour Richard is the man behind the construction and the embellishments. Although I take credit for the original concept for these little stools (to which I will add hooked toppers)- he really ran with it and surprised me with a parade of wonderful works.

You see, Richard is the master DIYer on the lake. He seems to have every power tool known to man and, unlike lots of other guys, he actually uses them a lot. He makes counters and islands and dining room tables and vanities and bunky interiors. And they are all incredible. He and his wife Sylvie make the rest of us look like we are standing still when it comes to "working around the cottage".

So, I showed him a sketch of what I had in mind, and the boards I wanted to use. He cut a bunch of them down to "stool size" while I waited. My contribution to the construction was to cut some alder for the legs and get back to him at some point on the weekend.

Before I even felled a single alder, he arrived with the first stool - complete with birch feet and a dark stain on the top. The prototype. He said it took him about 3 minutes to assemble.(A slight exaggeration, I'm sure.)

He had simplified my original plan and said he wanted to try a few other variations on the legs. By the time I saw him Sunday, he had put together six more - all different expressions of primitive and all made from things he had lying around. He even had some great suggestions of different ways to add the hooked tops.

The tops will take a bit longer to create than the stools - a lot longer actually. But now that I have the little stools, I am inspired. I have decided that the prototype will go back to Richard with the name "Dylan" on it. That's Richard and Sylvie's son and I'm sure he'll love to have a stool that his dad built and Wendie hooked for him.

More pictures to follow as the tops evolve.

Monday, June 2, 2008


It turns out that, depending on volume of traffic, the distance between my house and my office provides just the right amount of time to whip around the three edges of a ‘jeanius bag’ front. These are some of the fronts that have made the trip - and there are two more still in the car.

It’s fun to line them all up like this and take a picture. It does demonstrate how anything goes for these little bag designs - wool, pantyhose, bright colours, muted colours, any subject you can think of - it all works.

These future “jeanius bags” are part of my inventory for my upcoming stint at The Rosseau Farmers Market (see link at right). I am making good progress - at least on the “purse front” front. I think I now have a total of 16 bags hooked and I’m aiming for 20. So I am in good shape. Mind you, that means there are 20 bags to be assembled, but that’s another day - or 5. And there are still lots of other items on my list.

In some ways, it’s good to have a list. It keeps me focused and I always have something waiting to be started - or finished. And, since no two designs are alike, it does allow for spontaneity.

But, in other ways, I question my sanity at even signing on for this “guest vendor” stint. It’s a constant to and fro between convincing myself that everyone will love to see something new at the show and thinking that perhaps traditional hooked items will have a much smaller audience than I think. However, it will definitely be a litmus test and give me a good indication of overall reaction in cottage country. Since my retirement plans revolve around hooking and teaching and so on, it will be good to see the reaction.

This weekend, to pass the dismal day on Saturday, my husband and I did a trek to Port Carling and looked around the shops there. It was great to be ahead of the crowds - seems like not too many cottagers are eager to be up north for 12 degree days filled with black flies and mosquitoes. There were a number of hooked pieces in one of the more upscale shops. Pillows, small mats and larger rugs. These are pieces that are hooked in India and are for sale at prices that certainly do not reflect the time it takes to make them (at least not the time it takes me). One vendor assured me that they were hand done and that the working conditions of the supplier were supposed to be excellent. Yikes.

Regardless, I will continue on with my inventory building. The worst that can happen is that I will end up with a different bag for every outfit and a bunch of belt buckles and catchy sayings to hang in my studio.

In the meantime, the whipping will continue in the treks to and from the office. At least for a while.

Boxy Chevrons by the Sea

Happy to report that the colds are gone and we have assumed our positions down on the deck at the Beach Club by the sea. And after having ...