I first got involved with demonstrating rug hooking in the fall 1995 while I was working on my first rug, The Hidden Stone. Each rug I hook is hooked with memories of things that happened along the way while the rug was being created. The Hidden Stone will always contain memories of the Waterloo Historical Farm where I first started to hook it, and where I first started to demonstrate in front of the big red barn in a red cloak that my great-grandma had sewn for my mom's wedding day.
I can't stress enough how important rug demonstrating is for our art. It is not like knitting or weaving or spinning. People don't know rug hooking exists. Even with the internet, hooking remains a mystery to the general public. With autumn approaching and all the harvest festivals planned, it is a good time to start thinking about rug hooking demonstrations. Call around to the organizers of different festivals and see if there is already a group of weavers or spinners demonstrating. If so, inquire if you can join them with your hooking. If not, ask if you can sit on the lawn or the porch of one of the buildings and rug hook. Make our art visible!
If you do this, here are some tips from my past experience:
- have a hook, hoop, backing, and strips available for people to try on site - in fact encourage it
- bring your finished rugs to exhibit, but make sure that they are secure so that they are not stolen
- make up some starter kits for purchase with a ten by ten prepared backing with a simple design like a circle or a heart, an inexpensive hook, an inexpensive small hoop, and enough strips from your left-over stash to finish the sampler
- have hard copies of information about local guilds that meet in public areas, and invite interested people to a meeting where you will be available to help them get started rug hooking if they would like help. Be safe. Don't invite them to your private space.
- bring a friend (or another hooker) to sit with you while you are hooking on your rug and watch the exhibit while you get lunch or use the washroom. Never leave your exhibit unattended.
- enjoy the day in the open air hooking on your rug and chatting, with the wonders of autumn around you