Inside the kaleidoscope

Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ hooked by Carol Pugsley, Ottawa Olde Forge Rug Hooking Branch; pattern and workshop by Carol Shewan

A thousand rugs and other lovingly crafted hookings. The mind boggles! And on the Sunday – when members of the public come for the Open House – the buzz is electric.

My eyes will glaze over and I’ll be experiencing sensory overload long before I’ve made my way through some 35 branch displays, the Theme, Beginner and Individual entries, the judged category pieces, the ‘Hook the logo’ collection and all the rest. But what a rush!

Susan Sutherland’s ‘Heidi Halstead — Protest Hooker’ is almost 5 feet tall, developed from a 2017 workshop with UK rug hooking teacher Diane Cox

For this post, I consulted – in person or via email chats – André Pinard, this year’s displays coordinator, and three women who are entering works in their branch displays.

Special attractions? More than 30 pieces reflecting our ‘Hooked on Waterways’ theme; judged categories ranging from primitive to wide cuts, multi-cuts, original designs, pictorials and more; an Area 1 display of variations on our 2018 Annual logo comes to mind. For the Members Choice/Rowan Award, Annual participants love voting on what wows them most, but I find it almost impossible. Too much to hold in your brain for long, with so much talent on display!

People participate to show … their work and craftsmanship, and to feel part of the rug hooking community … It shows you belong,” André observes. Mounting the displays is a big job requiring several dedicated volunteers to pull it off, but knowledge about the process and ways to improve it have increased over the years.

Displays bring growth, pride to OHCG

It’s funny how some variation of the word “inspire” kept coming up. Carol Pugsley, of Ottawa’s Olde Forge branch, is entering a piece she completed in early 2018 that originated in an earlier workshop. She’s eager to see how other workshop participants interpreted the image. She appreciates seeing the new colours, materials and techniques used, and believes the show is a great benefit for OHCG members.

It shows the volume and numbers we’ve got across Ontario … (and) the wonderful things that people are doing … I’m in awe. I get inspired.”

Susan Sutherland, an OHCG teacher and member of Kitchener Waterloo Rug Hooking Guild, has entered branch displays many times and has three entries this year. She thinks the displays bring huge value to the Annual, and offer “an amazing opportunity to see the creative process of pulling loops.” She, too, cites inspiration as a significant plus and feels it’s important to contribute regularly to the show.

Why put your hooking up for public scrutiny?

‘Deer and Bird’ hooked by Debra Scott, Ottawa Olde Forge branch, from pattern by Karla Gerard

Now we’re getting personal. I think I’ll be submitting a piece for my branch’s display, but the prospect makes me queasy. Debra Scott, another Olde Forge branch member, has displayed at the last five Annuals and strongly encourages participation. She’s a prolific hooker with an eye for whimsical designs, so she looks for something she’s particularly proud of and that she feels demonstrates a variety of cuts, materials (especially recycled) and interesting colour combinations.

Learning from each other is a big part of membership in the rug hooking chapters… Seeing the displays from other groups gives me ideas as to what I would like to try in the future.”

My sources say feedback from their peers is instructive, and always kind — with an emphasis on the positive.

Those all-important choices

It can be downright daunting to consider displaying your hooking to such a discriminating audience, my fellow crafters agree. And then the question becomes: which one(s)? The rules stipulate that entries must be by an OHCG member, fully completed and never displayed at an Annual before.

So if you have a half-dozen pieces that meet these criteria, as Debra does, then some serious assessment comes into play. “It has to be something … you feel is worth displaying … in terms of quality.”

Susan notes that she tries to hook something new each year, and likes knowing that she can choose to display it at the Annual. “If it is something that is an original design by me, I will enter it. If it’s a commercial pattern I may, depending on my interpretation of the pattern.”

For her part, Carol feels there’s safety in numbers — you’re in good company if you enter. She admits she can be swayed by fellow branch members to “get it done and get it out there.” But really, it’s the joy of doing that matters most.

Timely tip

I’ll definitely follow some sage advice from my esteemed interviewees. Don’t try to take in the whole show in one walk-through. You’ll be gobsmacked, no matter how you approach it. Just visit a couple of aisles at a time and then take a break, to let your eyes and mind rest! Or scan for favourite themes as you move through, only closely examining works in your areas of special interest. Small nibbles, not big bites — and let the works resonate with you. Don’t feel compelled to commit to memory every detail in every piece.

Wise words to remember when approaching any new challenge, don’t you think? My thanks, as always, to those who generously contributed to this post with their time, thoughts and images.

See you in the loop,
Marla, Content creator


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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