Book Note: Hooked Rug Storytelling, The Art of Heather Ritchie by Lesley Mary Close

Occasionally I will be posting reviews of rug hooking books, since books are so much a part of my life.  I'm a professor by trade, and therefore an author myself.  My house and office are filled with books.  Even though I am trying to get used to the e-book, the physical book will remain my love for as long as publishers keep producing them.

The book I want to start this series with is a brand new one published by Schiffer Publishing out of Atglen, PA.  Schiffer is well-known to me, since they have produced the beautiful hardcover books authored by Jessie Turbayne.  So I wasn't surprised to find a high quality hardcover full color glossy page book arrive in the mail. It is authored by Lesley Mary Close, Hooked Rug Storytelling: The Art of Heather Ritchie (2011).  It has 192 pages.  It is a large art book. 

Now I don't want to claim that this book represents a new genre of rug hooking books, but it comes close.  It is a biographical and pedagogical journey through Ritchie's rugs.  How much fun is that?!  Each chapter features a single rug, and narrates the story the rug recalls or represents.  There are beautiful closeups of various sections of each of the rugs, with an eye toward teaching the reader about the different techniques that Ritchie used to create each section.  Each chapter also contains copies of the photographs that Ritchie used (and combined) to create and hook her rug design. 

In addition, each chapter has at least one feature section that explains some important aspect about rug hooking.  These featured sections include the Reverse-Watercolor Principle (you work a rug by putting in the most important elements first), Flannel, Cut High Loops, Drawing Straight onto the Backing, Strip Cutting, A Word About Weaves - a Guide to their Identification and Use, Dip Dyeing, Finishing Off: edging and hanging, Choosing and Preparing Backing Fabrics, Creating Faces Large Enough to have Features, Maintenance, Repairs, Dyeing-Casserole and Spot, Preparing and Cutting Pile Fabrics, Trace and Transfer #1 and #2, Record Keeping, Hooks and Prodders, Proddy, and Frames and Hoops. 

As you can see, this is not just another pretty picture book of rugs from various sources.  This is an enchanting collection of rugs featuring Ritchie's life as an artist and a teacher.  Her rugs incorporate a wide variety of fabrics, hooked and prodded.  There are even multi-media pieces, with sewn elements. 

If you are a rug hooker, beginner or advanced, this book will speak to you.  It is a fascinating collection of story, memory and instruction that is sure to inspire.  It certainly has me!