The weather couldn't be nicer and the Green Mountains of Vermont are shining in their full glory. We are, once again, honored to host a meeting of the minds (and rugs) with an exemplary array of teachers for session #2 from near (Vermont) and far (Canada).
We begin every session with a teachers' dinner wherein we all get the chance to gather the evening before classes begin to share a meal and, often, a bit about the stories and inspirations that have brought us together. Without any planning or guidance, we often find that a theme emerges from this communal time that is woven (or hooked, if you will) throughout the course of conversation for the evening. This year was no different.
Amongst the many wonderful anecdotes and expressions of joy and gratitude for the honor of teaching one's passions, was the common thread noting the importance of allowing for and, indeed, embracing change and the various techniques, perspectives, and personalities that have kept this art form alive through eras, regions, and, of course, families like ours.
So, in the spirit of inclusiveness, creativity and exceptional innovation, we are pleased to welcome the following teachers to this session of Green Mountain Rug School 2017:
"Impressionism & Post-Impressionism in Rug Hooking" with Janet Conner
"Florals, Fruits & Waldoboro" with Jackeye Hansen
"Using Perspective for Impact" with Jen Lavoie
"Finding the Design Process" with Rachelle LeBlanc
"Hooking the Textures of Surfaces" with Liz Marino
"Modern Colors in Wide-Cut Hooking" with Jule Marie Smith
"A Beginner's Guide to Advanced Dye Techniques" with Mariah Krauss
Connecting the generations of Green Mountain Hooked Rugs School are the instructors. Nancy Blood was hired by Anne Ashworth thirty years ago on a three year contract. Her skills have been used every year since.
A new addition to the school in Montpelier is Artist-in-Residence ably filled with Nancy's bubbling personality, knowledge and networking. Just this morning I chatted with a student who felt her conversation with Nancy channeled an instructor from thirty years ago.
Nancy is being incorporated into the teacher's lesson plans along with official hours in the store for consultations. In the Abstract Expressionists class we shared ways to incorporate spot dyed wool into our designs, wrote down dye recipes, and laughed.
The exhibits are back and Nancy has a collection of work including students' pieces.
In conversation, Nancy has said: "Stephanie is easy to work with, a different approach to directing from her mother. Now with the next generation their intelligence and modern quick programming is considerate of all generations attending."
Her husband Seth attended the first year in Montpelier and the reception was a warm welcome, from the staff at the hotel to directors at Green Mountain. Now Jean Laurence is a great traveling companion.
Love and Laughter are the guidelines Nancy uses to instruct, a common thread here in Montpelier.Continue reading
Whether you forgot your hook or are looking for a new pattern we have you covered.
The shop at Green Mountain Rug School has everything your little heart could desire! We supply our students with the supplies they need to aid in the creative process. You can run a tab during your time here and pay at the end or pay as you go. You can also borrow wool and take it to your class to see if it will work with your project. Maybe you are in the market for a new hook... you can take a few and test drive them.
Coming from a far? No need to worry, we can even loan you equipment so you don't have to lug it here!
Last, but certainly not least, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the basket tradition. Every year the students literally line up outside the shop before we open to have a first crack at selecting their favorite basket. They are hand made for us by a local artist who has been supplying them to us for over 20 year!
Green Mountain Rug School is in full swing now with teachers well into their various specialities and students at work on their projects. The backdrop for all of this learning and fun is The Capitol Plaza in the heart of Montpelier, Vermont. We were interested to see from a pamphlet (pictured below) in the lobby that the spot has been welcoming visitors for nearly 200 years! Fortunately, there are many modern upgrades including elevators, plus air conditioning and a coffeemaker in every room.
Another great feature of The Capitol Plaza is the thoughtfulness and overall attentiveness of the staff. As you can see (below), we were once again treated to a Welcome GMHR (Green Mountain Hooked Rugs) "train" in the lobby. I can hear the voice of my grandmother begging me to insert a "happy hookers" double-entendre at this point so there, I just did! All jokes aside, we are very lucky to have joined in this partnership and have heard rave reviews from teachers and students alike. Indeed, the hotel and the town itself provide the best setting for "happily hooking" in our truly charming state capital.
Everyone has checked in, and their first class session is in the books! My dogs are barking! I have the morning session free and I think I will toodle into town for a nice mani/pedi before I have to go back to work. Before I do that I will be going downstairs to have a little (or if you have been here before, BIG) breakfast.
The food at the Capitol Plaza is nothing less than amazing at the Capitol Plaza! During your stay here, you will eat breakfast and lunch as a group in the ballroom. We had a great Welcome Lunch yesterday of baked chicken with a sliced tomato sauce and fresh seasonal squashes. I was going to take a photo to share, but it was gone before I could do so :) So I will share a photo of my breakfast instead, below. There is always hot breakfast at the hotel, which I love, and it rotates - some mornings scrambled eggs, some mornings eggs benedict. In addition, they do a cereal and yogurt bar in case you tire of the egg and potato routine.
Breakfast and Lunch are included with the Green Mountain Rug School rates, while dinner is on your own so you can experience the over 40 restaurants downtown Montpelier has to offer. My two personal favorites:
J.Morgans - attached to the hotel. We eat here all week as it is a short commute for us (only about 10 steps). However, it doesnt hurt that the food is awesome as well. I overheard a student talking about how pleased she was with the portion sizes - you can get 2 meals out of 1!
Julios - If you love a good plate of nachos, Julios is the best in town. Their reasonable prices and laid back atmosphere make it one of my favs in town. If I get a free break I will try to snap a photo of the California nachos - black beans, guacamole and fresh tomatoes! mmmmm... my mouth is watering already.Continue reading
The fiber arts have long been known for their place in history. The tradition has been passed down from generation to generation and people have used these crafts as an outlet for for their creativity and a stress reliever. But it is the intersection of this tradition and innovation that really interests me. I love innovation. New ideas, finding a better way to do things, creating a faster, more efficient process. This is what drives me.
Kris McDermet is sitting right in the middle of this intersection I am describing. I have known Kris for a long time and been familiar with her work but have never had the chance to hear her speak about her process. This woman is so far a head of her time, I am not sure people truly understand what they are looking at when they see her work.
If you aren't familiar with Kris, she is primarily known for her rug braiding. Rug braiding is the simplistic circle and oval shapes that are used as floor rugs. Like many rug hookers, Kris is pushing this boundary by incorporating other materials like yarn, roving and silk. She has also begun to mix braiding with rug hooking (and other techniques as well). The way she lets the art guide her in the process is truly intriguing. Rather than following a strict process for creating each piece, she sets out with a mission but stays flexible as she moves through out. The result - simply stunning.
Her most notable piece - which was recently featured in Rug Hooking Magazines celebrations! - a kimono. She combined rug braiding a rug hooking to make a 3 dimensional Japanese kimono. I believe that these traditional techniques are on the verge of a renaissance. In the next few years you will begin to see the intersection of some of these traditional arts with the main stream craft world and even the fashion industry.
Call me crazy - I am. Crazy for this art that is in my blood and I am here to help it grow in ways it never thought it could. Recently, in Chicago we met a high end, couture fashion designer who wants to feature our artwork on his clothes. We are currently working with him to make this dream a reality.
My ask of you - when rug hooking and rug braiding is being displayed in your local Banana Republic and Gap, remember the woman who did it first, Kris McDermet
Photos below. Pardon my feeble attempt at photography.
Want to learn more from Kris? Check out her book below.
Life moves too fast. I turned 30 in March! I'm a full-time teacher, Board Member for GMHR, and a rug hooker on the side. I feel like each day is a sprint with every minute completely filled. Anyone who has worked in a school knows that the kids keep you busy. For those of you who have never worked in education just imagine you're trying to put out a fire while herding cats in a straight jacket. It's not easy... and it's incredibly exhausting! Add to this the short days and darkness of Maine winter, plus the snow that is still above my window sill even though it's April 6th and all I want to do when I get home is make a good, hot, filling meal, get into some warm jammies, and watch a movie. And lately that's what I've been doing! The problem with this is that it's not a very fulfilling life. I'm an artist! I need my outlet!
So after months of not working on anything I recently forced myself to pull out my wool again and even though it felt like a job I started hooking. A little at first, and then for hours. I noticed that I was excited to get home to my wool and the small mess I had made in my living room (thank goodness for amazingly supportive and understanding roommates!)
As the days and weeks went by I started to feel like I had accomplished something by the end of the day, which helped me sleep better, which gave me more energy in the morning! Adding rug hooking back into my daily routine had this cascade effect on the rest of my life... everything got better. I'm happier, healthier, more productive, have something to show for my days other than work, and feel recharged. So it's no surprise that the key to my mental health in the winter iiiiiiiiiis... making the wool dust fly!
As a side note I'd estimate the Birth of Venus to be about half done now! I'm hoping to finish it by 2018! A project that took six years to complete is definitely a labor of LOVE!
Here is a sneak peak:
This is a true story as told to me by Lynn Soule, North Hero, Vermont.
There once was an ugly rug... its owner had no interest in finishing it. It sat in a closet untouched and sad - crying over its colorless holes.
Until one day - its owner got so fed up with all her UFO's (unfinished objects) that she decided it was time to finish the ugly rug. She put neon colors in its holes and called it a day.
Fast forward several months to the rug show. She brought her rug, hoping it would sell as she was unsure where to put it in her house. Upon entering the exhibit hall, the curator spotted it from a far and said "Everyone STOP and look at this rug! This rug is amazing! This rug will be the focal point for the entire exhibit!"
The ugly rug's owner thought, "hmm, this lady must have had a few glasses of wine before coming", but continued on. Now what to title her rug - only one named seemed fitting, she decided to call it "The Ugly Rug" and marked the price down from $500 to $400.
The exhibit opened the next morning and much to the owners surprise the first buyer of the day wanted to purchase her rug! The buyer said "I usually haggle over prices but I see you have marked it down already. I tell you what, if you tell me why you called it the Ugly Rug and document the story, I will pay the full asking price". The owner agreed, thinking this was the deal of the century.
The moral of the story is that one mans ugly rug is another mans treasured artwork. Photos of the rug and buyer below.
The Ugly Rug - Lynn Soule, North Hero, Vermont
I am hoping this will be an inspiration to you to finish your ugly rug. But, if you need a break from your ugly rug (as I did), try one of our kits below! We can guarantee it will come out looking fab and give your brain a break from the hard work of a UFO!
You too can dye in the comfort of your own home without ruining your kitchen or taking up a ton of space. I built myself a portable dye kitchen. I set it up in the morning and take it down at night when I am done!
In October last year we moved into our brand new house that we spent 2 years building. I promptly began to dye in our new kitchen, everything was going swimmingly. Until one day - even though I was being extremely careful, I slipped. In slow motion I watched some of the dye water jump out of the pot and hit the backsplash. Thank goodness the backspalsh is brown and the red dye water didnt leave a mark. I was lucky this time but might not be as lucky with our white granite counters next time. So I set out to create a safe kitchen for myself and have shared the results (along with links of where to buy) below.
Here is what you need:
1. A burner (or two) - When we hold dye classes in our shop, we use induction burners - they draw less power, you can plug two into the same outlet without blowing a fuse and they turn themselves off if there is no pan on it. TIP: you can't set them over medium heat or they will blow your fuse, but that will keep your water plenty warm. We use these: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E5612YI/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
2. A table to put your burners on. We use these: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0043KXCS0/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1 They are plastic, lightweight and easy to clean. They also fold away when you are ready to put your dye kitcken away.
3. Measuring cups - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00M2J7PCI/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1 Pyrex is a good brand. I was using a glass pitcher for a little while and it wasnt long before it cracked, I assume from the heat.
4. Dye spoons - We sell these on our website. Both a set of 3 and set of 4. Which do you need? Of course, it depends on what you are doing. You can get away with the set of 3, but you will find yourself doing a fair amount of extra math. i.e. when you need a half t, you will have to use 2 1/4 t unless you have the set of 4. Sounds simple, but it complicates an already fairly complicated process.
Link to the set of 3: https://greenmountainhookedrugs.com/products/dyespoons?variant=702753319
Link to the set of 4: https://greenmountainhookedrugs.com/products/dyespoons-setof4?variant=702771735
5. Dyes, Citric Acid and Synthrapol - we sell all these on our website as well. Links below. Things to consider - cushing dyes tend to have a more dulled color while prochem are very bright. You can use vinegar in place of citric acid, but it will give your wool a vinegar smell. Prosapol is an eco-frindly version of synthrapol.
Citric Acid - https://greenmountainhookedrugs.com/products/citricacid
6. Pots, Tongs and Aluminum Pans - I bought these items all from my local Ocean State Job Lots, but I think you could get them at Wal-Mart, Target, etc. I bought 30 gallon stock pots with lids, this holds about a yard of wool. If you dont dye a yard at a time, you can use something smaller. The tongs I bought have plastic covers on them, I do not recommend these. Dyes gets stuck under them sometimes. Pick ones that are just metal. The aluminum pans work well to put your wool in and bake so you can move on to the next piece of wool.
7. Dye books - You can of course just play, but if you want some formulas here are some good books to help guide you.
For Cushing dyes:
For ProChem dyes:
Some other things to think about: I put lots of newspaper down on the table and have a roll of paper towels handy. It helps catch any water and keeps things from getting messy. I also put an old towel down on the floor. We have dark wood floors so I am not worried about them getting stained, but if you have light floors you might want a few extra towels. A sink is another thing to think about, we have a big painting sink in our laundry room which I use. You can use your kitchen one and not risk spills by putting the entire pot in the sink and filling it with water and slowly dumping it every so often. You also dont want to dump boiling water down your drain as it may case the glue on pipes to melt and you will have leaks. Cool the hot water down by adding cold water to the pot before dumping.
Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below - I am happy to help answer!
If you still have questions or are really enjoying dyeing think about taking a dye class with Mariah this summer at Green Mountain Rug School in June! Mariah has an interesting style and has developed her own ideas with input from her mom, Stephanie and grandmother Anne Ashworth. For more information visit:Continue reading