After Sauder

Had a great trip to Sauder Village this year.  Here are some photo highlights. 

Satu 2014.  36" by 48".  Designed, dyed and hooked by April D. DeConick.  Exhibited in originals category.

Mary Magdalene 2013. 30" by 40".  Designed, dyed and hooked by April D. DeConick.  Exhibited in the Celebration special exhibit.

Nine series 2012-2013.  30" by 30".  Designed, dyed and hooked by April D. DeConick.  Exhibited in special Rug Hooking Magazine exhibit.

Maggie 2014.  12" by 12".  Hooked by Alexander DeGreiner.

I was honored to be awarded the blue ribbon for the invitational dye challenge for my eggplant gradation and sparkle wools.

The first 100 square inches

So here is a photo of the first 100 square inches.  It is the top left corner.  Take a guess.  If you aren't sure, there will be plenty more opportunities since I will post every 100 square inches to show the progress.

Time involved so far?  About 3 hours to create my visual and about 2 hours to get the backing ready to go with the inches drawn out and serging around the edges.  Then about 5 hours into hooking and another 2 hours into cutting.  Total labor so far: 12 hours.

First 100 square inches of Surprise Inch Mat, upper left corner

First 100 square inches of Surprise Inch Mat, upper left corner

Starting another project, an inch mat

The pattern, a simple inch mat

The pattern, a simple inch mat

Now that I am finished with Satu, I couldn't help myself but get a new project set up.  I hate not having a rug to work on.  It is like something is missing from my life when I don't have a rug in the works.

I decided to do something a bit different this time around, to go back to a traditional rug form and see what I could do with it.  So I choose the inch mat.  How many inches?  43 inches wide and 47 inches long, for a grand total of 2021 square inches.  It is many many more inches than I imagined before I drew them out with a sharp pencil!

I am not going to tell you what I am doing with the inch mat, just that it isn't very traditional. I want to try to reinvent the form, to break the tradition. For fun, I will post occasional pictures as it grows and see who can be the first to guess what I am hooking.

Colors I am using in all 8 values (very important):

  • 159: Briar Rose
  • 142; Sea Shells
  • 120: Black Cherry
  • 146: Black Orchid
  • 124: Rose of Sharon
  • 148: Tanglewood
  • 114: Faune Brown
  • 118: Silver Birch
  • 151: Fruited Raisin
  • 135: Crab Apple
  • 112: Rowan Raspberry
  • 134: Pink Iris
  • maybe more...


Satu (and Maggie) finished in time for Sauder

144 hours, eleven colors, and eighty-eight values later, Satu is finished.  Just in time for Sauder.  He is immense, measuring 3 by 4 feet.  I am super delighted with him, really seeing my design, sense of color and form developing.  Rug hooking is a tough art because nothing is quick.  So you work a year, hoping that some improvement will result.  I think that hooking all the mini snapshots must have helped me grow as an artist since they allowed me to experiment with the wool with quick turnarounds.

Also, Alexander has been busy with his Sauder project, a portrait of his dog Maggie.  This is the first time that he has been old enough to use stripped wool and hook it without twisting.  It was frustrating for him at times, but he worked through it and in the end hooked a terrific piece that he can be very proud of.

More on Satu

I have hooked another 15 hours into my big mat of Satu the tiger from the Houston Zoo.  I am almost halfway finished.  I have done very little reverse hooking on this piece.  It looks small in these pictures, but it is huge, 36" by 40". 

I wasn't sure that I would like the amount of green and pink that I am adding alongside the oranges and maroons.  But I think the combination is stunning.  I am looking forward to moving down into the neck area and adding the cooler tones to balance the piece.

My photo inspiration

My photo inspiration

Satu in progress

Satu in progress

Snapshots article in Rug Hooking Magazine

I am really pleased with the way my article on hooking snapshots using wool scraps turned out in the June-July-August issue of Rug Hooking Magazine.  "Snapshots in Wool: Clear a Large Stash with Small-Scale Projects."  The editors laid it out over seven pages to give maximum visuals to all my little mats I hooked from photos in the last few years.  I love the cover title that they chose for the article too, "Stash-Busting Snapshot Rugs".  Hope you enjoy reading about these pieces I hooked and maybe even want to try your hand at creating one of them from your own snapshot.

Slow but steady progress on Satu

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Satu rug on my rug frame 2014

Satu rug on my rug frame 2014

I have 25 more hours to log in on Satu, the tiger at the Houston Zoo.   This means I have a total of 69 hours into the project at this time.

I have really only been able to work on this piece on the weekends, and then only a few hours here and there.  I hope once summer hits, I will be able to sit down and get him completed. 

One of the troubles is that I have run out of my dark wools, so I need to spend a couple of days dyeing.  I have found this to be the case with most of my projects.  I run out of my darkest darks before any other value.  I assume that this means that we need a majority of dark to pop out the occasional light and anchor the medium values.

There is nothing to report in terms of new things I have learned yet.  I did find that I was using too dull of colors in the oranges on the top of the head, so I had to go back in with some brighter orange wools here and there.  That seems to have fixed the problem.

9 1/2 more hours

I have been hooking the Satu piece mainly on the weekends when I have a bit more time.  I have counted up another 9 1/2 hours which is putting the overall time into the rug at 44 hours now.  I am finding that color coding the value zones is helping immensely.  Why didn't I think of this earlier?  I am never lost in my pattern as I have been so many times before when hooking previous large rugs.  I have done very little reverse hooking at this point in the project.  I think I just need to get more of Satu hooked before I know what, if anything, I want to alter.  Whether a color or value is wrong will depend on the overall piece.  It is just too big, and I have hooked too little to know yet.

Making progress with his forehead

Satu-three more days

This week I was able to work on Satu in three sittings, about 3 hours each.  I am trying to get his eyes finished and across the bridge of his face.  I want to see the color and make sure it is what I want before getting too far in.  The only stumbling point is that today when I worked on the right eye, I mistakenly had a piece of the backing folded in the back, so I hooked the entire eye through two pieces of linen.  Real bummer.  I had to take out the eye and do it again, so that took an extra hour.  Total time so far: 34 1/2 hours.

Both eyes

Day 3 and 4: Getting Satu set up

Grid on my linen backing

Grid on my linen backing

Yesterday I spent the day (12 hours) dyeing wool for Satu and then cutting strips and organizing my colors.  My color plan is to go grey and green for my cooler colors and golden orange and maroon for my warmer colors. 

Cool colors: 115 Milk Weed; 150 Gray Lichen; 123 Shades of Dusk; 106 Moorland Moss; 158 Will 'O Wisp

Warm colors: 104 Somerset Sunset; 157 Sunkissed Gold; 121 Toadstool; 124 Rose of Sharon

Removing my grid after tracing pattern

Removing my grid after tracing pattern

Today I transferred the pattern on to my linen backing.  Because of the size, this took another 2 1/2 hours.  I also color coded the transfer so that it will be easier for me to find my place on my visual.  The pen colors are coded to the value zones.  Between the lines and the zones, I should not get lost as often!

Total time on the project so far: 18 1/2 hours.

Transfer complete

Transfer complete

Day 2: Satu on Grid

I am tracing visual onto grid

I am tracing visual onto grid

I am recording another 2 hours into my project.  This time reflects what it took me to put my sticky grid onto my visual and trace Satu onto it.  For my grid, I use FibaTape which is a sticky grid that drywallers use to patch holes in walls.  If you want to check it out for yourself, here is a LINK to purchase a roll from Amazon. 

To use it, I unroll what I need, lay my visual face down on the sticky side of it, and then trace my pattern onto the grid.  When I am done, I remove the visual from the grid and stick the grid to my linen foundation.  I am ready to trace through it.  It is so much better to use than screening because you can see through it easily, and it is so much better to use than red dot fabric because you don't have to worry about tearing it with your pen or deal with it slipping around.

Because I am dealing with such a BIG image, I decided to try to use different color pens to mark the different value zones when I traced.  I have found that it is sometimes very hard to keep track of where I am when I am hooking when all I see is lines and more lines.  I am hoping that the color pens will help me keep track of where I am on the map. 

I used black for dark zones, red for light zones, and blue for medium zones.


Satu the Tiger traced on grid fabric

Satu the Tiger traced on grid fabric

Starting a new rug for a new year: Satu the Tiger

My job has been keeping me very busy and I have been too tired in the evenings to do very much in terms of rug hooking.  I have finished a few more snapshot photos so that Nine is now complete.  All nine of the 10" by 10" canvases are hung in my dining room, showing Alexander from year one to nine.  The only reason I finished them when I did is that I had a deadline.  Watch for my soon-to-be-published article on hooking wool snapshots in Rug Hooking Magazine.

Satu the Tiger.  The subject of my rug.

Satu the Tiger.  The subject of my rug.

Today I decided that I need to start another BIG rug.  And I have decided to track the hours it takes me to complete it since everyone always wants to know how many hours are in my rugs.  I decided on a subject.  It is going to be my third rug in the Faces of the Houston Zoo series.  This one is a photo we took of Satu, a male tiger we saw over the Christmas holidays when we visited the zoo. 

I am going to track on this blog my progress on the rug.  So let's begin today with what I did.  I am logging in my first two hours to prepare my visuals.  I took the photo and cropped it to size in iPhoto at 36" by 48" since I want to mount the rug on a gallery wrapped canvas that size when I am finished hooking it. 

Then I played with the photo in my photo editing programs and filter programs until I got the image to showcase the value zones clearly.  After this, I put the photo into an photo enlargement program (I use Posterazor) and printed it out.  It took 30 sheets of paper to print, so there was quite a bit of taping involved.

Finally some pictures

Family pictures from Sauder have been a long time coming.  Finally received some photos from my sister that she took, so want to log them here for memory's sake.  Here I am outside of the show with my rug and ribbon in hand.  By the way, I have taken the piece to a professional framer and am looking forward to picking it up next week.  Then Mary M is off to an art exhibit and then up onto my office wall. 

Me in front of Sauder Village 2013 with Mary Magdalene rug and People's Choice Ribbon. 

Mary Magdalene at Sauder Village

I had a wonderful time again at Sauder Village Rug Hooking Exhibition this year.  The show was amazing as always with beautiful Celebration Rugs (congratulations to all the winners) and a very special exhibit of American hand sewn rugs that I have never seen before.  These rugs predate hooked rugs and show all kinds of fancy piecework and threads.  I bought the book that was on display.  There was also a special exhibit of hooked portraits of the US presidents by Nola.  Wow I still can't believe she created all those presidents in one year.   Bought her book too.

Mary Magdalene. 2013. 30" by 40". Forgotten Women Series.  Designed, dyed and hooked by April D. DeConick.   Winner of Sauder Village People's Choice Award 2013.

When I traveled up to Deanne Fitzpatrick's earlier in the summer, I drew out an oversized portrait (30" by 40") of Mary Magdalene based on an antique German mosaic of unknown date.  The mosaic itself features the virgin Mary in blue.  But to me, this is the face of Mary Magdalene.   So I gave her a red cloak instead.  I worked on her a bit in the car (it was a long car ride to and from Texas), but found it difficult going since her features were so big that it was hard for me to see what I was doing until I had a huge area hooked.  This meant that I rehooked her face three, if not four times, before I got it the way I wanted it.  Once I got home, I went into a rug hooking marathon and worked hours on end to complete her in time for Sauder.  The night before I flew out, she was done.  I packed her in my suitcase and took off on a jet to Michigan.


Here is a picture of her hanging at Sauder.  I thought that she really commanded the room when you walked in to the exhibit, glowing there in her scarlet cloak.  I am so honored that she won the People's Choice Award for her category (People, Places and Pictorials).  She is the favorite of my rugs and will be stretched on canvas, framed and hung in my office above my desk.

Prouder than a peacock

I am beaming with pride.  My two boys have finished their rugs, and they are gorgeous. 

SuzyV in NY. 2013. Designed and hooked by Wade Greiner.  18" by 14".

Wade finished his first rug, inspired by a photo he took of Suzanne Vega at a concert in 2002 that we attended in New York.  He started this rug over three years ago, then set it aside because he got busy with life.  But he picked up again a few weeks ago.  Why?  Because he was inspired by Alexander.

What had happened?  We had gone to Deanne Fitzpatrick's studio, and then stopped by Heidi Wulfraat's studio on our vacation.  Alexander was stunned by the beauty of the rugs that these artists hook with gorgeous wool yarns.  When we were in Heidi's studio, he came up to me with two skeins of yarn and asked if he could buy them for his rug hooking.  He had an idea that he wanted to try.   

Thalassa. 2013.  Designed and hooked by Alexander DeGreiner.  Hand-dyed wool yarn.  14" by 16".

When we got home, he took out a rug of an owl he had been working on with cut wool.  He went to work and finished it off with some of the yarn he had purchased.  But that was not all.  He wanted to hook an abstract.  So I gave him a big piece of white paper and in about 3 seconds he had drawn a simple Picasso-like face of someone he called the Lady of the Sea.  He sat down and went to work with his yarns.  And the result is stunning.  These yarns have a luminosity that the cut wool does not have.  What he has created is outstanding.  He calls her Thalassa, the name of the primal goddess of the ocean.

When Wade saw what was happening, he felt impelled to get his rug done.  So he worked and worked, and even learned how to bind!  His rug is equally compelling, capturing the performance which was cast with red lights that night.

I am prouder than a peacock. 

As for my rug, well, I don't know if I am going to get my rug done in time for Sauder Village.  But I will give it a good try.


Back from Nova Scotia

We just got back from a wonderful touring vacation, just driving around visiting family, friends and new places.  Along the route, I had the privilege of meeting Deanne Fitzpatrick, visiting her inspiring studio, and teaching a group of talented rug hookers my process for creating stunning mats from snapshots.   If you are interested yourself, I have written about this in a step-by-step instructional book available through LuLu self-publishing (refer to the left sidebar of this blog).

Wool Snapshot hooked by Susan Tirone, 2013. 

One of my students already finished her mat and sent me pictures of the final product to share with you.  Very impressive indeed!  Susan Tirone hooked this mat from a photo of her son and his friend.  It measures only 7" by 7" and was done with #6 cut wool scraps. 

Photos are used with written permission of Susan Tirone.

Wool Snapshot hooked by Susan Tirone, 2013. 

A Natural Beauty

I have been slowly working on another snapshot portrait this week.  There is an old photo of my mom that holds many memories for me.  So even though the exposure from the film camera wasn't the best, I dug it out of the family album.  I scanned it into the computer and got to work.

I did not edit the snapshot very much (I usually do) because the essence of this photo is where my mom is.  Her favorite place.  Glacier National Park.  She was drawn to the natural beauty of the mountains.  Here she is awed by the sparkling light on the lake and the freedom that the mountain landscape offers to all those who attend to it.

As I hooked the piece, I was taken back to my childhood, to living on a farm, vacationing in a camper, and enjoying being together with my family.  I miss you Mom.