Zoo Faces for ATHA

My latest project is Zoo Faces, which I am teaching at the ATHA biennial in Denver in August. I plan to have as many 7 x 7 inch animal faces hooked as possible so that students have their choice of mats to hook themselves as they learn my Zonalism technique. I just finished five faces, and hope to add another five over the next two months. The faces are all hooked with #6-cut straps leftover from my larger projects.

If you are interested in the class, check back occasionally to my website to see new Zoo Faces posted as I finish them.

Also, if there is an animal you want me to create, leave me a comment or send me a message by email.


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.

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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.

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.

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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". 

Lady Red Jack is ready to be pinned

I finished hooking Lady Red Jack yesterday, and this evening I bound the mat in Nightshade Berry textured wool.  The finished mat is 15" by 19 1/2", so just right to pin into my shadow box tomorrow for the month of September.

I have started to keep good records of the wools I use when I hook my mats.  Here is what I used to create this mat.

Red Jack Palette Wool: 8-value packs of Bittersweet 162, Peter Pumpkin 163, Ellendale Orange 126, Tanglewood 148, and Lake Agate 127; 1 piece of Goodfellow Yellow 105 value 5, Will 'O Wisp 158 value 5; Moorland Moss 106 dappled; 2 pieces of Sunset Gold 104 value 6; Goodfellow Yellow 105 value 7; Black Orchid 146 value 7 and 8; Will 'O Wisp 158 two textures; 4 pieces Nightshade Berry 160 four textures.

Here are pictures of the finished mat and the photo inspiration I used to create the hooked portrait.

Lady Red Jack 2012

Lady Red Jack 2012

Lady Red Jack photo

Lady Red Jack photo

Working on Lady Red Jack

Between big projects, I like to work on smaller pieces that I can do quickly.  I was inspired to do another Red Jack after working on the Red Jack mask.  But this time, it had to be Lady Red Jack.  So she is going to be "September" in my series Faces of the Seasons.

Lady Red Jack in progress

My art has taken a turn.  I have found that I love to work from photos and then abstract them into more impressionistic pieces like impasto painters.  This summer, we visited the Mucha exhibit in Iowa.  Wow!  I wonder when that man ever had time to sleep.  He was so productive.  One thing I learned about him is that he photographed everything in sets first.  He got the model to pose in the gowns and so forth.  He painted from those photographs.

So I am trying this out with this piece.  First I needed a model.  Where was I going to get a woman to wear some leaves on her head?  You guessed it.  Me.  I bought some leaf garlands, twisted them into a headpiece and put it on. 

So Lady Red Jack is my first self-portrait.

This portrait is challenging

I just wanted to update.  I have been hooking on Alexander at Sauder.  I have the eyes the way I want them, and this is always the hardest part for me, so I feel accomplished.  I have been working on the forehead and area around the left eye now, but it isn't right yet.  So I'm in that struggling stage of trying this and that color and value, laying the rug on the floor, contemplating it, taking it back to the stand, tearing out, hooking in something else.  So no pictures yet, because the piece doesn't warrant pictures yet.  This is the stage in my rug hooking that is at once creative and frustrating, as I try to get the initial feel of what the rug wants to become.  I am in that state of surrender to the rug as it is trying to emerge but isn't there yet.  I will be back working on it this afternoon after work while dinner is cooking.  I need to go back to the original photo and sit with it a while.