Joy Ride

I just finished a 10" x 20" panoramic snapshot rug of my sister and I riding bikes last summer on Mackinac Island.  Wade snapped this photo of us with a long lens so that the photo would be candid.  This picture is extra special to me because I had undergone surgery about six weeks prior, and the recovery was tough.  So to be able to get on that bike and ride around the island felt like a miracle.  All the more so because I shared that ride with my sister, but also my husband, son, and niece.

Joy Ride, 2018. 10" x 20", #6-cut wool on linen.  Designed, dyed, and hooked by April. D. DeConick.

Joy Ride, 2018. 10" x 20", #6-cut wool on linen.  Designed, dyed, and hooked by April. D. DeConick.

Original Photo 2017.  Wade Greiner.

Original Photo 2017.  Wade Greiner.

Red Geranium

I am continuing on the Mackinac Island series with a third 5" by 7" mat called Red Geranium.  Anyone who has been to the island is awestruck by the profuse blooming red geraniums, how they grace window boxes everywhere and march in white troughs along the porch of the Grand Hotel.  I figured that any series on Mackinac Island has to include this delight.

Red Geranium, Mackinac Island Series, 2018, 5" x 7", designed and hooked by April D. DeConick, linen foundation with hand-dyed scrap wool.

New Mackinac Island Series

I still have halfway to go around the border of my bench cover with the Bighorn sheep.  Tired of hooking rectangles!  So I pulled out a series of wool snapshot mats that I wanted to do for some time and got started.  This is a series of 5" x 7" photos taken on our summer trips to Mackinac Island.  I don't know how many will finish the series, but here are the two I did this weekend.

Tea at Fort Mackinac 2018

Alexander and Horse 2018

Impressions of Sauder Village

I know this is long overdue, but when I got home from Sauder Village, I was so far behind at home and at work that I have been playing catch up all week.  So this morning I have a bit of a breather (although laundry awaits me) to share some impressions of my visit to Sauder this year. 

Here are pictures of me with my rugs and Alexander with his.

My Wool Snapshots class was totally fun.  Thanks to my sister Tiffany for helping out as my TA.  All the women in the class were troopers and went home with pieces that were started and headed in good directions.  I want to share with you Stacie Littlejohn's piece which she has just finished and sent to me.  It is so wonderful capturing the impression of her little boy climbing his first tree (he is 38 now and her grandchildren climb the same tree).

Other impressions.  Well the Sauder Award went to the leaves that all of us hooked for the Wool Bomb.  Mine was a rainbow leaf where I tried to used all the colors in the color wheel (top row in the center).

Loved these pieces by Marilyn Becker and Kristen Brown and Martha Lowry.  Marilyn's piece had intricate work on the lace dress that was stunning in real life, and the whole thing was created with wool that Marilyn dyed with natural dyes from nuts and berries.  Kirsten's pig was so cute with all the wonderful color.  Martha's primitive dog is lovely with soft muted color that gives the rug a feeling of quiet.  All these are in the Celebration of hooked rugs this year.

Really loved Susan Feller's movement toward fiber art and exploring straight lines in these barn doors. 

Liked these impressionistic leaves by Lori LaBerge.

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.

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.


Finished with The Three of Us

My experiment with hooking really bitty 5" by 5" snapshots has worked out well.  I finished the third portrait in my series The Three of Us.  It is of Alexander. 

Alexander.  The Three of Us series. 2013. 5" by 5".

My idea is to take all three and frame them in big black frames.  I need to find some kind of decorative door or fence to put up on my mantel.  Then I want to hang the three frames on the white door or fence.  I have been having a tough time finding a decorative door or fence piece.  Any ideas where I might find such a thing?

Something I am learning as a fiber artist.  There is a reason why artists work on one subject for years, or one technique.  They work up the subject or technique over and over and over again.  As I have been working on these snapshot portraits, I have found that the more I do the better the pieces become.  There is something about repetition and human learning at play here.  There is something about experimentation leading to a new insight that then can be applied to the subject or technique to improve it or alter it.

I also am finding that creating series of mats that "go together" in an arrangement has its own challenges.  The Three of Us was no exception.  My idea was to hook each portrait with a dominant color that represents the person to me.  So Wade is blue, Alexander is yellow, and I am red.  These turned out to be the three primary colors, which was kind of neat.  The problem came when I hooked Alexander's portrait.  I did not realize that because he is a sunny yellow that his portrait would come up lighter than the other two.  So the highlights really stood out when I framed it up next to the other two.  I had no choice but to take it out of the frame and reduce the yellow highlights.  It is still brighter than the other two, but at least it works in the arrangement now.

The second even bittier wool snapshot

April.  The Three of Us Series. 2013. 5" by 5".

I just finished a 5" by 5" headshot of me.  This is for the series called "The Three of Us" that I am framing in big black frames.  The foundation is left exposed as a mat in the picture.  Here is me.  It is a shot from last month when we went out to enjoy the bluebonnets in Brenham, Texas.  I wore a very pretty white dress with a pearled collar.  I think that I was able to get the impression of the pearling in my hooked version of the snapshot.


This is what Wade's picture looks like framed.

Even bittier rugs

Ever thought of hooking a 5" by 5" portrait and framing it in a large square frame?  I got the idea from another artist, Daniel Kornrumpf, who works in embroidery.  He creates intricate faces that are really small and then frames them up big.  They look amazing.   His website is HERE.  Go and visit and be ready to be stunned.

Wade.  The Three of Us Series.  2013.  5" by 5".  Designed, dyed and hooked by April D. DeConick

So I decided to give it a try now that I have hooked enough of these small portraits that I am getting the hang of it.  I went smaller last night and in one sitting created this wonderful image of my husband Wade.  I have now mounted it in large square frame, leaving the foundation as a kind of "mat" around it.

I will be doing two more of these, one of me and one of Alexander.  I want to hang them as a group above my mantel.  I am calling it "The Three of Us". 

Loopgram: Snapshot Portraits 3


The third step is to use a permanent ink marker to draw your lines onto your foundation. 

If you are doing a gallery canvas frame technique keep in mind that the edges of the foundation will not be bound but will show.  So first draw a 7" by 7" square in the center of a 20" by 20" finished edge foundation piece.  Use a pencil to do this!  And do not draw anything outside this line.

Next attach your transfer fabric and center your motif as you want it inside the pencil square.  Use ink marker to make the transfer.

Loopgram: Snapshot Portraits 2

Transfer fabric over black and white print out of phot

Transfer fabric over black and white print out of phot

The second step in creating a Snapshot Portrait is to select a photo and get it transferred to your foundation.  I use digital photos, which I crop with a square in my photo program.    I play with the photo on my iPad using different photo filters until I have something I like.  Also make sure to save a black and white version of the photo as well as a color photo.  

These need to be enlarged to 7" by 7" square.  I use a program called PhotoRazor to do this.  It is a free download on the web.  Just run a google search and it will turn up.

Print 2 copies of the black and white version and 1 copy of the color in the 7" by 7" square.

Lay your transfer fabric over one of the black and white copies of your photo and draw around the light and dark areas, outlining your subject.  Reduce what you choose to draw.  The fewer elements the better.  These are small!

Loopgram: Snapshot Portraits - How To Sort Scraps

I decided to try recording "how" I create my Snapshot Portraits, what I have been calling "Photo Minis".  The first step is to sort my scraps since these are created from strips leftover from other projects.

Five Scrap Boxe

Five Scrap Boxe

I have five square baskets I bought at IKEA.  I have tried sorting my scraps by value and by color.  I thought the value sorting would work, but it turns out that it didn't.  I think it didn't work because, although I hook by value, I also cluster my colors.  It is easier for me to pull out of a color box the value I need, then to find the color I need in a value box.

What color boxes do I use?  I sort into five rough categories:

  • Red and Orange Box
  • Yellow and Yellow-Brown Box
  • Green Box
  • Blue, Gray and Purple Box
  • Purple-Red Box

The key is to have as many different values as you can.  You need lots of lights and darks to make these Snapshot Portraits work.  Usually rug hookers don't collect many wools in lighter values like peaches, pinks, tans, grays, lavenders, yellows that are almost white.  So if you want to hook Snapshot Portraits, start to collect these lighter wools.  It will give you an excuse to experiment with them in other projects and see how they pop your motifs in bigger rugs too. 

What is on the inside

I am trying to get ready for a rug workshop next weekend that I am attending on backgrounds and borders.  I want to create an abstract that I can hook with my scraps which have accumulated in a large basket.  So I am thinking of my entire piece as a background.  There will be no foreground or image. 

I have been wanting to do a series of trees, exploring their textures and curves.  So I took some pictures of tree bark when we made our annual trek a month ago to gaze at the bluebonnets in Brenham.  I worked up the picture on my iPad and then downloaded it into Posterazor (what a great program!) to enlarge it.  Here is the result.  I have to transfer it to screening and then to my background, but I am relieved to have the image done.

The image is so thrilling to me - the depth of value, the curving lines, the pockets of dark and light - that I printed a second smaller copy to cut and paste in my Unintentional Art Journal.  I smeared black and white acrylic paint, covering the page.  I cut the image in half so that I removed the dark center.  After pasting the images on either side of the page, I sat and looked at it for a while, and this is what I wrote across the core:

What is on the inside is what matters but where does that leave the outside is it only skin cracked open like birch bark peeling away from a trunk wood cleaved and stripped clean as a whistle gray the heart of things blown raw open and wide leaving what an empty core perhaps hollow and deep yawning with darkness pregnant with life is it something more a place where squirrels nest in leaves and cones and needles or fox or badger or owls only to be abandoned after sleep when the inside is turned outside and new life springs from the womb.

Presenting Jonathan the Lion

What do I like about this piece?  I like the way that it is an abstract while still maintaining a figure.  When it was finished, I was so pleased to see how my abstract work these last two years is now breaking into my figural art.  If I look only at elements of the rug and not the whole piece, I am viewing colors abstractly flowing into each other and tiled against each other.  But when I take in the entire rug, not only is a lion clearly in view, but a very particular lion.  There is no mistaking that this is a picture of Jonathan the lion at the Houston Zoo.

2011.  Jonathan the Lion.  Original.  25" by 30".  Designed, dyed and hooked by April D. DeConick.  Red Jack Palette Wools used: 8-value packs~Hubbard Fig 119; Butterfield 122; Sunkissed Gold 157; Somerset Sunset 104; Goodfellow Yellow 105; Black Orchid 146; Highland Lilac 133; Faune Brown 114; Milkweed 115; Sea Shells 142. Texture packs~Hubbard Fig 119 (value 5 and 8); Sunkissed Gold 157 (value 5); Goodfellow Yellow 105 (value 5); Faune Brown 114 (value 2 and 8).

Seeing Red update

I did it.  I finally printed out the back label, bound off the edges, and put it in the envelop.  My little abstract mat "To the Point" will be making its way to Missouri to become part of ATHA's Seeing Red mat challenge.  The exhibit will be traveling a few places prior to its set up at the ATHA Biennial in Lanchaster.  I will try to discover the places the exhibit will travel to in case, like me, you can't make the Biennial but would like to see the exhibit. 

And here is a picture of Alexander for fun, taken Saturday at the Houston Zoo with his new favorite sleep buddy "Floppy".

Starting All in the Family

This week, I have been planning my big abstract.  It looks like it will be about 100" by 50".  What I am planning is twelve columns of twelve colors, arranged according to their familial dye relationship.  Imagine the twelve columns to represent each of the twelve colors on the color wheel.  Each of the columns contains twelve dyes created by mixing together the twelve colors on the color wheel (I show the start of the first two columns in the picture).  In the first column I show my red dye, as it is mixed pure (first red color square hooked in the lefthand corner of the picture ), below this is a square that was created by mixing the red dye with orange-red (the hooked square right below the first).  Below this will be my red dye mixed with my orange dye.  Then my red dye mixed with my orange-yellow dye.  And so on around the color wheel.  The second column is my orange-red dye similarly mixed with all 12 colors on the wheel.  The rug column's will advance accordingly.

I am hooking the piece with a #9 (my new Bee-Townsend cutter head which I LOVE), the biggest cut I have ever used.  I am thankful that I bought a 9mm Hartman hook because I could not hook this rug without it.  Wow does it make the job easy.  It took me a while to figure out the spacing so that I didn't end up with squashed or bent loops.  I am hooking loops in every two holes like I do for any other cut, but when I advance to the next line, I am skipping five (!) linen strands.  I tried four, but some of the loops were bent.  Five seems to do the trick, but it feels like I am leaving a very wide ditch between rows.

I'll update as I hook this rug.  I am going to need encouragement.  It is big, and it is repetitive since it mainly consists of hooking straight lines.  I tried curved lines at first, but was soon pulling out my hair, and decided that for this rug, straight lines would work fine!

Crossing the line

Last night I finished the second 9" by 12" piece in my Kandisky series of 6 (Hooking Point and Line to Plane).  The second piece is called Crossing the Line and it is hooked using Red Jack Palette Wools: Bittersweet Red 162; Riv 'n Dale 165; and Nymph Green 155.  The background is hooked using my pebbling technique.

My inspiration was Kandinsky's chapter "Line" which understands the line to be the product of a point moving through space.  It is the product of movement, a point that has leapt out of its static state into a dynamic moment.  The type of line that is produced will depend on forces acting on the point. 

The straight line, then, is the movement of the point on its course to infinity.  It represents endless movement in a direction, whether it be horizonal, vertical, or diagonal.  Horizonal movement represents flatness and coldness.  Vertical represents height and warmness.  The diagonal represents a combination of these, being both cold and warm in its temperature.

The movement of the lines I have hooked in Crossing the Line represent a collection of free straight lines in an acentric composition (that is: there is no common center where the lines all meet).  As such it carries within it advancing and retreating lines so that the collection is tense.  The lines have a loose affiliation with the plane behind it, piercing the plane rather than fusing with it.  According to Kandisky, "These lines are farthest removed from the point, which claws itself into the plane, since they especially have abandoned the element of rest" (Point and Line to Plane, p. 62).

My New Year's Goals

I am not one for making New Year's Resolutions, but I do find it useful to at the beginning of the year to assess where I have been and where I would like to go.  I like to set some achievable goal or goals for myself in terms of my art.  I stress the word "achievable" because I don't find it useful or healthy to set goals that are out of my reach.  So if I have a really BIG goal, I break it down into little pieces and just work on one of the pieces at a time.  It might take five years to achieve it, but as long as I am working on little aspects of it, I know it will get done.

So what are some of my art goals this year?  Last year I started with the goal of hooking one abstract art rug and learning what I could about abstract art by visiting museums and reading books.  I was able to achieve this goal.  But what is so much fun about it is that I discovered that I LOVE hooking abstracts and want to learn even more about abstract art, especially color fields and impressionism.  So I have three abstract projects I will be working on this year.  Alex in Pop Color which is already underway (see photo for one of the panels); the Kadinsky series of 6, which I am calling Hooked Point and Line to Plane, and which has two panels hooked already; and All in the Family, the big abstract that will consist of my 67 colors in all 8 values hooked in 12 color families, which is only in the planning stages.  I would like to experiment with color fields more this year and see if I can achieve anything close to a Rothko"ish" hooked piece.

The other thing I realized about my art year is that I LOVE rug hooking faces.  So I would like to design and hook one animal face this year (don't know which one yet), and a bigger widecut Santa face next Christmas.

My other art goal is to get my palette wool page up and running on my website.

Because so many have asked, we will continue the Abstract Rug Challenge with a new year (interested? join our group on Rug Hooking Daily), and of course the Ten-Minute Challenge which will begin its fourth 6-month season in February 2011 with a new subchallenge (also on Rug Hooking Daily).

What are some of your rug hooking goals this year?  Would love to hear about your dreams and aspirations.

Baptism by Fire finished

I finished hooking and binding Baptism by Fire this week.  It is 18" by 46".  The entire surface of the rug is waffled with four analogous colors in 8-values each: McIntosh Million 101; Finnigan Flame 102; Jacky Lantern 103; Somerset Sunset 104. 

There was no drawn design.  To create this original abstract, I simply concentrated on values, hooking similar values downward, with my waffling technique.  To waffle, I work downwards, hooking a few loops and then jumping over and hooking a few more loops, skipping some loops along the way.  I then continue with another color/value and build downwards, hooking a few loops and skipping one or two, jumping over a bit and hooking down some more.  Then I go back in and keep filling in until the area is thoroughly hooked.  I move to the next area and do more of the same.

I have envisioned this for many years, and although I tried desperately to acheive it in paint, I was not able to do so until I turned to try it in wool. 

Seeing Red Mat Challenge

ATHA has put out a Seeing Red challenge - to hook a mat 9" by 12".   I have completed my challenge mat, although I need to bind it off and send it to Lisanne yet. 

My inspiration came from a book on abstract art that I have been reading.  It was originally published in 1926 by a famous abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky.  It is a book explaining his theory of art.  The title: Point and Line to Plane

He makes the argument that the geometric point (the dot) is the beginning of art, signifying the union of silence and speech.  Think about the period at the end of the sentence, how it signals the pause in speech.  He says, "The sound of silence customarily connected with the point is so emphatic that it overshadows its other characteristics" (p. 25).  This is its practical meaning. 

But what happens when we detach the period from the sentence and place it on its own in a canvas?  What happens to the meaning when the point is immersed in a larger space and the sound of the print is reduced?  What happens when the basic plane experiences a collision with the point?  The point becomes an independent being, the subject of the artist. 

I created this hooked piece to test Kandinsky's theory.  What do you think?  What has happened to the point in this hooked context?  I would love to hear your reactions in the comments.

I hooked the point red and the context green because complementary colors create the most vivid environment to "see" the color.  Thus the red should be seen to be more red in this context than any other.  I am calling my piece "To the Point".  I have had so much fun with it, that I am going to do a series to test out Kandinsky's other propositions about the point, line and plane.

The wools I used are: Red Jack Palette Wool - Nightshade Berry 160 (8-value pack); Pixie Green 154 (8-value pack); Fiddlehead 164 (8-value pack).  I hooked the point in a linear spiral.  I hooked the background by pebbling the entire surface of the linen by concentrating on the values of the greens.

Interested in the Seeing Red Challenge?  It's only a matter of months until the Seeing Red Exhibit opens in February 2011 at the Trolio Hotel in Canton, MS, curated by Lisanne Miller, ATHA Communications Director. Consider joining the challenge. Details are in the Feb/Mar issue of ATHA NEWSLETTER.