Hooking up a winner

I recently heard a singer-songwriter on the radio talking about creativity. It got me thinking about the OHCG Theme challenge that’s part of every Annual. She declared: “Everyone wants to create…”

I know that’s true, and extends to all the creative arts. As formidable as hooking a Theme piece sounds, I believe that award answers this basic human need. Here’s why.

Demands originality, creativity — The rules require that the design be ORIGINAL. The OHCG Judges’ Score Sheet notes “…(t)he piece is your thought, your drawing, your own work. It is not meant to be an adaptation or interpretation of another artist’s design, photograph, greeting card…”

Pushes boundaries — You’re challenged to really think about your potential piece, maybe do some research and focus on colour, design and what you’re trying to express. Susan Clarke of Georgetown Rug Hooking (2016 winner for her psychedelic footstool; ‘Going for Gold’ theme) regularly enters the judged categories. She explains: “It pushes me to do my best, and to … look for where I can improve … I appreciate having feedback, even if it’s to tell me where I fall short.”

Fosters learning — You may have to get outside your comfort zone, learning about the theme and elements you’re considering, trying new techniques and exploring new colours/textures. All my interviewees described doing considerable research through personal observation, buying books or scanning online for useful information.

Personally rewarding — I’ve never entered an Annual judged category so I can’t confirm this, but I’m told it’s deeply satisfying to see a piece through to completion. “I was very pleased with the finished piece,” notes Debbie Harris of Woolright Society (2017 winner for her Quidi Vidi Harbour scene; ‘Images of Canada’ theme). “I had captured what I set out to do,” which was to preserve fond memories of a Newfoundland vacation.

For some, doing a Theme entry is a process that evolves over weeks or months. For others, it’s a last-minute decision when the announced theme resonates strongly or aligns with a recently completed hooking. André Pinard, the 2018 display coordinator, says our theme is likely to connect with OHCG members: “Many hookers already incorporate water in their rugs… and it appeals to our Canadian identity, easily motivating.” While the Theme display has usually featured 10-15 pieces in past years, he’s expecting 20-30 for the Ottawa event.

One way to prepare is to take a class! Karen Kaiser, a three-time Theme winner and an accredited instructor, is teaching ‘Elements of Design’ at the OHCG School in Ancaster in October (now full). She loves helping hookers “create art”, and declares the most important elements when designing are Simplicity, Contrast, Balance and asking What if?

As Gail Mueller of Orillia Sunshine Hooking Group (2015 winner for her ‘Live in Colour’ piece; ‘Graffiti’ theme) urges: “If the subject interests you, enter, because it’s interesting for the audiences to see different interpretations.” Karen adds: “Lose the fear of being wrong — just do it!”

The rug hookers I approached were happy to ‘chat’ (electronically), so my sincere thanks for their contributions to this post!

See you in the loop,
Marla, Content creator

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About ottawarughooking

Olde Forge Rug Hooking Branch in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada will, together with other branches in Area 1, co-host the 2018 Annual of the Ontario Hooking Craft Guild.
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