The Challenges in a Challenge

This is a picture of a little mat that I did in response to a challenge on Rug Hooking Daily called S-M-I-L-E - who could resist a challenge with a name like that.

It was started by Sunnie Andress, a member whom I have been corresponding with for a while on both RHD and The Mat, so I thought it would be fun. I must confess to not having paid very close attention to the finish date and really got myself into a bit of a time squeeze, especially in the middle of all the moving stuff. But I had 6 weeks to design and hook the little piece, so figured I could do it. 

We all went in not knowing what the motif was that the challenge would be designed around. When I saw the little elf, the first challenge was what to do with him. He only had to be one element in the design, but he had to be recognizeable. Oh yes, and we had to choose a season, so I picked summer. My first thought was to put him on a seed packet, so I researched vintage packets and thought that could be fun. But then I remembered my time frame - big reality check. 

I kept coming back to the curlicue on his head, thinking it was the key to something. And I played around with having several little elves with their curls touching in the centre of the mat. When I positioned them, I realized that was also able to make the ears touch - which created a Busby Berkley effect. I thought this was really fun and that it suited the little character. 

I originally had them on the four sides and just before putting the pattern on the backing, I put them on the diagonal, rather than on each side, to give a bit more movement. Because I chose summer, I turned him into an elfin "beet" by adding the bottom below the smile. I dyed the blue sky to feel like summer and when the elves were all hooked, I added the little sprouting plants (if only you could really grow "smiles" in your garden!). 

The beaded border was a way to bring the red to the outside and tie it all together. I will whip in green. Plus it needs a good pressing, but that's where I was on the deadline date.

So, what were the challenges:

going in without knowing the challenge element really made you move outside your comfort zone - working with a motif that you wouldn't come up with on your own

designing something using someone else's main motif - interesting where you mind goes with that

creating something that could be realistically finished in the time frame

conveying the season you signed on for and making sure that your design still kept the integrity of the challenge

It was a very interesting experience and one that I would highly recommend to any individual or group. It was also fun to see what all the other participants did with it. If you are interested in seeing them all, here's a link to the page on RHD.

Visit S-M-I-L-E Creative Challenge at:


Popular Posts