On Sunday, donnah mentioned that she was hooking a rug for her youngest son, and the next thing we knew, people were asking about this rug or that rug that she has mentioned before. I asked donnah how she would feel about being featured in Celebrating Jackals, and she graciously agreed to tell us more about rug hooking and share some more of her rugs with us.
I’ll let donnah tell us all about it – how she got started, how she makes her designs, and all sorts of other things – in her own words. But first I’ll share the one that makes me tear up every time I see it. Various rugs hooked by donnah will be sprinkled throughout the post, in no particular order.
The Fine Art of Rug Hooking, by donnah
Hello, fellow Jackals!
I’ve been reading Balloon Juice for a lot of years and love the camaraderie and support here. I’ve found that BJ is welcoming and friendly even when the politics get heated. I learn a lot here, and it always feels like home.
Watergirl, a force of Nature, invited me to share some of my artwork and I jumped at the chance. I’m always working to promote the art that I create because so little is known about it and because it’s a really amazing medium.
I’ve been an artist all my life. My second grade art teacher told my mother that I had talent, and I have hung onto that as my validation. I’ve done drawing, painting, sculpture, and had a stencil design business. A friend suggested rug hooking, which I dismissed at first, but grew more interested as I saw more examples of what can be done. I’ve been at it for almost twenty years now and it’s my favorite means of artistic expression.
So, I make traditional hooked wool rugs. Like quilts, they got their start as a simple way to use up old fabric to make something useful. Early hooked rugs were decorative, but they were not considered to be fine art. Now modern hooked rugs are still made with the same basic tools: a hook, a frame, scissors, and wool fabric. But they’ve come a long way.
I draw all of my own patterns and also draw patterns to sell. I design them on tracing paper and transfer the drawing to a linen backing with a permanent marker. I choose my color palette and go to my wool shelves to get the colors I need. I also dye wool for each project and also sell it to my students.
Once those decisions are made, I use a special fabric cutting device that looks like a pasta cutting machine and I cut up narrow strips of wool. Once those are cut and sorted, I stretch the linen pattern over a wood frame with rug gripper strips on four sides. I’m ready to go at that point, and I hold the strip of wool under the linen and use the hook to reach down through the linen to catch the wool and pull up a loop.
Then it’s just loop after loop, strip after strip until the surface is filled. When the rug is all hooked, I turn under the edges and whip them with wool yarn to complete it.
Now I travel and teach all over the country, mostly rug hooking guilds and rug schools. I wrote a small guidebook for rug hooking and a larger book about my rug hooking techniques. I’ve been published in Rug Hooking Magazine as well. I’ve met wonderful people and seen amazing hooked pieces. It’s a life I could never have predicted for myself, but I can say it’s been challenging, rewarding, and fun.
Have I mentioned yet that I am blown away by donnah’s talent?
You can find more of donnas’s amazing work on her website:
Donna has done a rug for each of her 3 sons. Except she won’t let them have the rugs! Not yet, anyway. We’ll let her tell us about that in the comments.
[email protected] 2016