As mentioned yesterday, I am back on the road. This week, I will be in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, for a rug hooking workshop Thursday, Friday and Saturday. While I enjoy coming to Siloam for several reasons, it is a particularly comfortable place because I have several close friends here.
All the hosts for this event – MonaRay Noah, Gail Edwards and Carl & Geri Burns – are good friends who have worked with me in a variety of ways (both as guest minister and visiting rug hooking teacher) over the years. Because Carl & Geri go back a very long way with me, it is a particularly comfortable place for me to be.
In fact, when staying in Siloam, I have my own private guest house in the Burns’ back yard. It is just like my own private B & B. Actually, in this case, it is more like a B & B & B & B – Burns/Bed/Burns/Breakfast
I have a comfy room complete with state of the art high speed internet. My room even comes with all sorts of familiar touches.
Where else can one go to find their own photographic work framed and on display?
As the Burns are big collectors, it makes me feel right at home.
Since Carl and I have worked on church trips in several foreign countries, even their nic nacs look pretty familiar. Their junk looks like my junk!
They even have familiar family photos out to look at. In fact, I don’t even think we have photos this old at our house on display. We were all dressed up a little better than usual because we were at a wedding with Carl and Geri.
Truth be told, now that I think about it, we were at the wedding of one of our Internet Rug Camp members … long before there even was an Internet Rug Camp! (I should have gotten permission to show this shot but this member is in England all year and I can not call her on the phone. However, Carl said it would be OK.)
I actually came in a day early so that I would have a little time to veg out and relax. To that end, I spent Wednesday morning hooking in this spot in the sun room.
Carl sat on the other side while he whipped his finished project.
Of course, it is high time he was done as he started it last year at the Siloam Springs workshop. (Carl used both cut wool fabric and silk in his version.) Although Geri did not hook, she was doing more important artistic work.
By my way of thinking, a good pie IS a work of art … and it was/is a good pie.
Geri has been busy hooking, however. She hopes to get the background pretty well done at the workshop.
Even though I showed Carl’s 10 foot runner before, since it took him so many years to hook it, I think I will show it again.
Carl and Geri have hooked rugs they have made displayed all over their home.
Carl actually started this one in my Anaheim studio one January when he was there for a visit.
There are even some hybrid designs in their house that are one of a kind pieces.
After a hard morning of hooking, we took a little side trip to the new kyak park being constructed on branch of the Illinois River just outside of Siloam Springs.
It is a fantastic natural site that has been augmented to enhance the white water features that kayakers like.
While it really isn’t open yet to the public, people are already starting to use it. When done it will be a tremendous spot for kayakers, rafters, tubers and anyone just wanting a great place for a pic nic. I wanted to get a shot of Carl tubing down the rapids but, unfortunately, we left the inner tube at home. Maybe next time.
There is much more to this site than I could get with my cell phone but I enjoyed the natural beauty of the spot so much that I thought you would enjoy seeing it. The whole multi-million dollar project is being financed by the Walton family. It was hard to tear myself away from such beauty but I did because I had to go set up for a rug hooking workshop!
I had a big drawing card for last week’s 3rd Thursday hook-in: Maisy.
It was the first oppertunity that the locals had to meet the newest member of the family. I am not exagerating when I say that most of them were rather excited to meet her.
After a certain amount of dog play time, however, everyone did get down to serious work.
Just when I think I can’t be surprised with a project, Barbara walks in with one that I had never seen. She started this sheep a couple of years ago in a class with Jon C., then recently got it back out when Diane S. was in Anaheim for the Spring Workshop. Before the day was over, I was digging out curly mohair for embellishement.
Pam also showed up with an unknown entity – this Medieval Santa. Her time Thursday was spent working on the face.
Usually, however, I pretty much know what people will be bringing as I get to see their projects several times. As Jean has only been working on this for a short time, I will show this little up date.
By the next time Beth comes, I think she will have her Carnival Paws completely done.
Carol, who just finished and mailed off a big cat’s paw project, is concentrating on finishing up the rug that was left undone by one of our recently deceased members.
Donna, who has been waiting on some wool from me, brought some embroidery to do. While together, we got her wool all sorted out and I expect to show her project all finished on the next 1st Thursday.
I actually worked on two projects last Thursday. Unfortunately, I can not show them to you
Or tell you why I am working on them! However, if you are patient, you will eventually know all about them.
I actually made today’s post from a rather exotic location (so cool one needs sun glasses) as I am once again back on the road and was all day getting to that location. However, I will wait until tomorrow to tell you all about it.
PS: I just got a carving update from David Mikoryak
He is making great progress on the hand carved mahogany strip sorter
And also got 2 sest of painted proddy legs done for happy fiber artists who will soon get them. Aren’t they beautiful?
It is that time of year -
The time when I typically show lots of flower shots from my wife’s garden.
In fact, over the weekned, I went out of my way to get a fiber-friendly shot that combines the garden with my daily pursuits. However, this shot is much more than just a composed photo of roses and wool that I can put on the blog. I show it as proof that I may have been spending too much time in Amish country. In fact, since my return from Berlin, Ohio, I have gone, by necessity, a little too Amish.
I no sooner got home from Ohio than I started unpacking my bags, quickly making a pile of laundry that needed to be done after my week-long road trip. It was at that point when Marsha said: Ann and I both smell a gas leak in the laundry room. As the only thing connected to gas in that room is the gas clothes dryer, they maintained that it must have a leak. After spending several minuets in there, sticking my head in absolutely every place where a head would fit, I declared that there was no evidence of a gas leak in the laundry room.
This is not the first time I have disagreed with women about gas leaks. In fact, both Jean and Barbara, two of my locals who are in the studio all the time, both think there is a gas leak in there when the new oven is on. As I don’t use the oven too much and as I have never smelled any gas in there either, I have never done anything about it. However, since all 4 women were smelling gas in these two places, I decided that maybe I ought to err on the side of caution and call the gas company so both rooms could be checked out.
The gas people, of course, don’t waste any time when a customer calls in with the news that they think they smell gas. So, within a few hours, the gas man was on the premises. I took him to the laundry room and explained the situation, confiding in him that I could not smell anything. He agreed with me and said he did not smell any gas either. Then, he said something rather important: Most men can’t smell gas leaks. I never smell gas leaks and I am the gas man. But women? They smell every gas leak. The truth is, if you have had one flatulent mouse walk through your room, women will know it. So, if they tell you there is a gas leak, better call the gas company.
While all that information was good to know and, as his mechanical gas detector did find a gas leak in my dryer, all it did for me was take my dryer out of the operational equation, forcing me to go Amish for several days. Consequently, that photo of the roses and the wool was staged out of necessity, not for art.
Although the gas people get their man on site very quickly, the appliance company is not nearly so prompt. It took an additional 2 more days for that repair man to come to the house. By this time, I had loads of things that needed to be dried.
It was a good thing I was just back from Berlin as I was very up on the old fashioned way of drying both wool and everything else. Years ago, I used to dry most of my wool this way. However, with increased wool production, it is just not practical for me to hang clothes out most of the time. In fact, I did not even have a clothes line any more.
As I could not go two days with out drying wool and studio towels, I bought a bit of line and determined it would be fun to go Amish for a few days. That was before I found out from the repair man that I had a major problem, requiring an expensive special factory order part, which might take up to 3 weeks to get and it would probably have to come from Europe. (I have a Bosch.) By this time, I was ready to get back to normal so went out dryer shopping with my wife.
We found a good one … but it took another 2 days to get it delivered.
Fortunately, we did not have to replace the washer. But, while in Ohio, I came to really love my old washer as it has a spin only cycle. Every load of wool I dye goes in that spin only cycle to spin out all the water from the wool before it is thrown in the dryer or hung out to dry. It is a wonderful cycle just made for dyers of wool. Novice that I am, I just assumed that all washers have that feature. I learned the hard way, after that big dye class in Ohio, that was not the case. When we got home with piles of wet wool, expecting to quickly spin dry the day’s wool so it could be dried and returned to the class next day, my hostess and I discovered that her washer would only spin after a full rinse and agitation cycle.
Agitation is the death of hand dyed wool. It is not the boiling for one hour that ruins wool – it is the agitation in a washer that ruins it. Therefore, after about an hour of experimentation, we had to trick the new, state of the art, Ohio washer into thinking we were doing an entire cycle, waiting until the last moment of the cycle to throw in the wool before the spinning started. It took a lot of time and effort to do that.
After going through all of that process, I really appreciated my rather dumb and outdated washing machine. Just for fun, however, as we were buying the new dryer, I started checking all the washers to see how many had a spin only cycle. I expected that to be the norm since that is what my old washer was like. It was not. Of all the washers in the show room (at least 13 or 14 models) only the washer that went with the dryer we selected had a spin only cycle and this model was on closeout. That was a pretty sobering moment for me as spin only loads make the biggest demand on our machine. It was at this moment that my wife chose to tell me “you know, the spin cycle does not work consistently any more. Some time it works and some times it does not.” Since the current washer is as old as the broken dryer and knowing the problems we had getting the other appliance fixed, I became concerned that I might have to replace it soon or, just after all the spin only option machines were gone. Given the principal that problems come in 3′s, we finally decided to replace both appliances at one time … although the washer is actually out of stock and will take a few more days to get in.
And the studio gas leak? It wasn’t really a gas leak – it was an improperly regulated oven burner which caused too much gas to escape without catching on fire … which is, sort of a leak I guess … but from abundance not from a hole. After regulating, the problem was solved and I am looking forward to baking something in the studio next time Jean and Barbara are over.
This whole experience suggests several things to remember:
1. The Amish lifestyle is most charming when viewed from a distance
2. If a woman complains of a gas leak, it means that you either have a gas leak or a mouse with a problem
3. If you think you might have a gas leak, invite Marsha, Ann, Jean or Barbara over for confirmation.
4. Don’t agitate your wool in a washing machine
5. If both a wool dyer and in the market for a washer, make sure the model you pick has a dedicated spin cycle
Although this purchase was a part of our current master plan, we just decided that we better do what we needed to do and then
6. Stop and smell the roses as they smell better than gas
As luck would have it, we have plenty.
Are you one of those fiber artists that has tried, without success, to get your kids and grandkids involved with any part of the rug hooking process? I hear people talking about this sort of frustration all the time. Unfortunately, I can’t brag too much about the topic as I have not been able to tempt my ladies (only my grandson has done a little hooking) into those sorts of pursuits.
However, over the weekend I FINALLY had at least a small measure of success as I got my kids into the dye pots.
In fact, it was their idea.
We had high powered dye.
The best chemical additives money could buy
As well as state of the art equipement.
It did not take us long to get things going. In fact, we got two complete batches done before there started to be a bit of dissension in the ranks as to the colors that were being produced from the standard dyes that were provided in their kit. Perhaps it was due to the fact that they are around interesting colors of wool but, as things progressed, they wanted a little bit “more” from this session. When someone finally said I wish we could come up with some more interesting colors on this third batch, that is when I got involoved.
I said - You know, I think I can make more colors possible from this batch … watch and learn.
And, it worked! We made some new and different colors as well as played around with some different techiques. Perhaps Dad does know a thing or two?
While this was not exactly the dye session I had in mind for would be rug hookers, at least we are finally moving in the right direction and it gives me a little hope for other things! Maybe, next time we can do it with wool?
Before the weekend was over, one other thing happened to make the family a little more appreciative of the importance of good fiber art. And, I always like it when that happens.
On Easter Sunday, our church moved its services to the local High School Football stadium as we needed the extra room to handle the expected attendance. We sat in the middle of the staduim and this shot shows the right half of the crowd.
Turning my cell phone to the left, this shot captures the other half of the stadium – both sides having one thing in common: We all were sitting on hard concrete steps.
Can you tell where my family was sitting? Any guesses as to why they are a little more appreciative of having plenty of hooked pieces laying around?
For myself, I could not help looking at the things other people were sitting on. There were a few cushions, some folded blankets and even a stadium seat or two. However, and I don’t mean to be prideful on, of all days, Easter but NOBODY (and there were over 4,000 at this service) even came close to having such good looking stadium seating as did the Shepherds!
Whether you have been celebrating Passover or Easter during the past few days, all my best wishes go out to each and every one of you with the hopes that the spirit and truth of your holiday season will continue to bless you and your loved ones for many days to come.
Here is the last look at the Amish Country Wool Artisan’s Spring Show.
While every rug in today’s post is not a “spring” design, most of them are rather spring-like. Don’t forget, at the very end of today’s post, I will announce the winner of the little snibbles basket.
(This is what spring looks like in Alaska.)
And, the winner of the Amish “snibbles” basket, made by Mose Miller is -
“Susan” – jdsmnash@ Once she sends me her address, I will mail her the basket!
Here are more beautiful rugs from the Amish Country Wool Artisans Spring Show.
Note the judicious and effective use of light inner background to make the leaves and stems pop in the outer section!
It only takes two colors, and in this case values, to make a good design work.
See what I mean?
No doubt, examples of last year’s Ohio pineapple crop.
No, we were not in Kansas – we were in Ohio.
I will show the rest tomorrow, as well as announce the winner of the snibbles basket.
Without a doubt, all good rug hooking events need to have an exhibition of finished hooked projects. Such events are much more than a show – they are a celebration of our art form. As expected, the Amish Country Wool Artisans had a great celebration at their annual Spring Hook-In.
Given the speed with which everything had to be hung, I can’t believe how professional everything looked!
Using dividers borrowed from the local High School, most everything was able to be hung for a very professional looking exhibition. While I doubt that I was able to get a shot of every rug in the show, I have enough to prove it was a great event. Here are just a few examples.
I will show you more tomorrow.
My third and final event with the Amish Country Wool Artisans was their annual Spring Hook-In, held on Saturday at the Mennonite Church outside of Berlin, Ohio.
Luckily, I was able to set up my booth early, after the Friday dye class. As I had responsibilites all day on Saturday, Brittany and her Mom held down the fort for me.
This venue was absolutely perfect – spacious, attractive with an abundance of both natural and artificial light. I can’t think of a better space (for a large group) that I have hooked in.
Early Saturday morning, all the other vendors started arriving and immediately got to work setting up their spaces.
There were about 10 different vendors
Evenly scattered all around the room. I was amazed at how quickly every one got set up and ready to go. Which was a good thing -
As the line waiting to get in stretched all the way out the door long before the starting bell went off!
Given the great organization of the host group, all 160 hookers quickly got in and down to work. Counting the members of the host group and all the vendors, there were well over 180 people in attendance. That is a lot of rug hookers to fit into a space. Yet, I never felt crowded at all.
My job for this day, as guest artist, was to touch bases with every one in attendance! At the opening announcement time, the host just told every one to get a question ready and that I would be around during the day to answer it. While I thought that was pretty optimistic, I did manage to stop by every table in the room before the day was over. I can not say that everyone was in their spot when I stopped by their area but I did manage to get completely around the room before the day ended.
To do that, I methodically worked my way through the crowd to see how I might be of help to each person in attendace. Luckily, not every one asked a question. However, a lot of people did … and some asked more than one!
Here are some of the things I discussed during the day -
Several people asked questions about color planning. Sometimes that required me to look over their wool and at other times, we made a quick trip to a vendor’s table looking for just the right thing they might need.
Other common questions concerned hooks, how to use hooks, ergonomic questions about hooking, technical questions about hooking, finishing questions and other similar things. I also signed a LOT of GRS books!
Frequently, the people I talked with had finished projects to show me.
As I had recently been in the area for a Miss Betty workshop, I got to see Miss B projects in a variety of stages.
I was rather surprised at how many people I knew.
I actually blogged about dyeing the wool for this Caraway project a year ago on the IRgC. All these wonderful colors were prompted by the antique majolica collection in the artist’s kitchen. I showed both the wool and several of the majolica pieces used for our “inspiration” in that post. It was very nice to see it so far along. She reported My husband says this is his favorite rug!
I ran into people who were doing all sorts of new 3-D wool techniques
As well as people who were doing 3-D things a little more familiar to me.
It was great just to be able to interact with so many dedicated artists working on interesting projects.
In fact, I sort of felt like it was old home week!
Happily, Dave was one of 2 male rug hookers at this event. Although we did talk about hooking
We probably spent more time looking at his punch needle collection. He had a wide varitey of interesting punch needles.
However, this is the one that really caught my fancy as I don’t think I have ever seen this model.
People came from all over Ohio, as well as several other states for this exciting day-long event. In fact, I think many people make an annual trek to Berlin for this event.
Of course, we did have nourishing food to keep up our strength. That whole starving artist thing is so passé. After all, we were in Amish country and that means good food.
From my viewpoint, their menu was perfect in every way. (I had black raspberry on the far left … just to be polite … not counting the Oatmeal pie that Heidi brought me.)
Right after lunch I grabbed as many Internet Rug Camp members as I could for a Photo Howdy. I think this was only a token group as we signed up almost this many new members during the day.
All in all, it was a perfect day to see new things, enjoy old friends, meet new friends, discuss our art form and revel in the vibrant community that makes hand hooked rugs. By the time the event was over, I was pretty tired … but it was a happy tired.
Tomorrow, I will start showing you some of the rugs from the big Amish Country Show.
Last Friday I was doing in-depth research for the IRgC camp, although I do not have, in every case, the photos to prove it.
As I was in the heart of Ohio Amish country, at the invitation of the Amish Country Wool Artisans, I wanted to get as up close and personal as I could with some Amish people … which I did. I spent quite a bit of time visiting with one Amish family in their home workshop and additional time visiting the home and barn of a second family. However, as it is very offensive to take photos of the Amish, I could not document those field trips for you as I would normally have liked to do. Nevertheless, I can tell you a little bit about my very enjoyable visiting experiences and share just a little bit about some handmade items.
The home shop I visited sold 2 kinds of items: hand made rag rugs and baskets.
All the rugs made by this family, and there must have been 22-25 of them, were made in the style of the rug shown here. I am sure there is a better name for this than Sewn Amish Rag Rug but, after Googling it, that is the only name I could find.
Each of the points is made from a small sqaure of fabric (about 6″) that is cut with pinking shears. The square was folded to make a triangle and then the triangle was folded so that both ends stick “up.” Once that second fold is made, a machine chain stitch is sewn over the fold to secure the bottom to a backing, allowing those points to stick up. Folded square after folded square is sewn down until the entire surface of the host backing is covered. The locals told me, after I showed the rug I bought to them, that I had selected a rug made with fabric that looked very Amish … which made me very happy.
Technically, I guess, “Mose” (the artist who signed this piece) made this to be a credit card basket as it is just big enough to hold a stack of credit cards. However, I thought it might work better for a wool snippets basket for some lucky IRgC Giveaway winner. In discussing this posibility with Laura Coblentz, my hostess for this trip, she informed me that the locals use the Pennsylvania Dutch name of “snibbles” for all those little bits of pieces, not snippets. So, I guess, this is really an authentic Amish Snibbles Basket.
If you would like to have a chance of winning Mose’s work all you have to do is make a comment on today’s post. I will have the system choose a winner Thursday night and post the winner’s name on Friday.
I also stopped by the Country Craft Cupboard in Berlin, Ohio, while I was out and about.
This is a wonderful craft store that features all sorts of supplies for quilters, rug hookers and many other hand made fiber-oriented art projects.
They have loads of kits for just about anything in this genre you can imagine as well as all the supplies one needs to make them. No trip to Berlin would be complete with out a stop at this charming store. Several of the Amish Coutnry Wool Artisans (my host group for the week) just happen to work there.
Lest you think I was just running around all day, most of Friday was spent with me hard at work in the dye kitchen.
The ACWA brought me in to do a day long dye workshop for their guild. I called it Seeing Spots: Pot With Spots. Given the size of our work space, I planned the session to concentrate on 10 different dye techniques that produced wool with a lot of spotty characteristics.
While I did most of the actual dyeing
I also used various members at each stage of the class to help out. That way, everyone who wanted to participate could.
Of the 11 in attendance, their experience level went from frequent dyer to never have dyed a thing! By the time we were done, they were all pros.
I had 8 electric burners and 2 ovens to work with. Although electric burner dyeing is not my favorite, electric stoves are much better than hot plates and we got by just fine.
When I come in for a class like this, I ask for the hosts to buy the pans and pots I like to use, then we sell them at cost to the participants who want to take them home. That allows me to have what I think works best and it gets new dyers off to the right start when they dye on their own.
Of course, we don’t always use a pan for every technique.
Working from 8:45 AM until 4 PM, we got all our projects done.
Most of the wool had plenty of time to cool down significantly. Laura and I took it all home that night to rinse and dry it. The next day, all the students got to pick out the half yard of wool they wanted to keep from the workshop.
PS: Special Thanks to Annelle for the photos!
My Thursday was spent taking a scenic drive from from Mt. Vernon to Belin, Ohio. Berlin (rhymns with Merlin) is in the heart of Ohio Amish country.
I came at the invitation of Laura Coblentz, who also hosted me for a small hook-in on Thursday night with some of the locals who are helping host my 3 day visit. While I will certainly be telling you all about it in subsequent posts, the most relaxing part of this hectic visit will be the Thursday night hook-in.
We spent time looking at what each person was working on.
Discussing hooks, frames, wool and all sorts of hooking related topics.
It was a good way to get acquainted as all of them, plus a few more, will be attending an all day dye workshop with me on Friday.
The third thing this group is hosting is an area wide hook-in on Saturday with 180 people registered to attend.
It is going to be a great 3 days and I will tell you all about it in future posts.
Yes – I even got to do some hooking as well.
In addition to this short report, I am also starting a special report from David Mikoryak about a hand carved strip sorter that he is making. While his work is always top notch, this particular hand carved project is over the top.