Billy the Bighorn, a new project of a new year

I am finally able to write a post about a new project.  Billy the Bighorn is inspired by our vacation to the National Parks last summer, when we spotted a herd of bighorn sheep on the top of Mt. Washburn, Yellowstone National Park.  Even though we weren't able to capture a close up photo of one of these bighorns, I was inspired by a photo taken by Steve Woodruff (see below with link to its original website).  Mr. Woodruff kindly gave me permission to use his photo and adapt it to a rug.

Over winter break I was able to complete the dyeing for the wool which includes these colors:

  • 14 Faune Brown
  • 27 Lake Agate
  • 48 Tanglewood
  • 58 Will O'Wisp
  • 36 Red Roan
  • 6 Moorland Moss
  • 45 Rosehip
  • 38 Rosewood
  • 21 Toadstool
  • 51 Fruited Raisin
  • 23 Shades of Dusk
  • 7 Sherwood Green
  • 20 Black Cherry
  • 59 Briar Rose

The rug is being created to cover a large bench footstool, the top is 21 1/2 by 44 inches.  I was inspired to do this when at the end of our vacation to the National Parks we ran across a used upholstered bench in a used furniture store.  I was so delighted, we bought it without too much further thought and then had to figure out how to load it in our van which was already stuffed full of suitcases and other travel necessities.

Before we went back to school, I managed to get the pattern created and drawn onto the linen foundation, my wool stripped, and hooking started.  Billy has an eye!




Rome Triptych

I started this project last summer after returning from Rome.  It consists of three 10" x 10" hooked canvases framed in a triptych series.  Went back to it in August and finally finished them in white wooden boxes.  The idea was to create a panel of wool snapshot memories of our adventures in Rome.  Alex, Wade and I each selected photos of ourselves and various artifacts we especially loved.  Then I hooked them into this series using my scrap materials.

My canvas contains a photo taken of me at the Dionysus House of Mysteries at Pompeii.  A clay sculpture of Demeter and a marble of Athena.  Wade's canvas contains David, Venus, and Galileo. Wade's photo is one of him sporting a hat he bought in a Roman bazaar.  Alexander's canvas has the famous mosaic of Alexander the Great and an ivory mask of Apollo.  Alexander is sporting a cap that he bought in Rome at a men's store, and wore almost every day on our trip.

Rome Triptych 2016. Three 10" x 10" framed canvases. 6-cut wool on linen.  Designed, Dyed and Hooked by April D. Deconick

Rome Triptych 2016. Three 10" x 10" framed canvases. 6-cut wool on linen.  Designed, Dyed and Hooked by April D. Deconick

After Sauder

What a whirlwind!  After traveling throughout the southwest and west visiting as many national parks as we could in four weeks (it is the 100 year celebration of our national parks), we made it over to Ohio and Sauder Village on opening day Wednesday.  Had a blast.  Then drove back to Houston.  Exhausted to say the least.

Saw my rug "Jesus of Nazareth" in the Celebrations display along with a number of excellent Celebration rugs that I fell in love with - including my two favorites this year: Dana Psoinas' version of Red Riding Hood called "The Guardian", and Susan J. Baker's adaptation of "Greta Garbo" which graces the cover of the Celebration magazine. 

Celebration Rug Highlights

Jesus of Nazareth 2016, April DeConick

Jesus of Nazareth 2016, April DeConick

The Guardian, Dana Psoinas

The Guardian, Dana Psoinas

Greta Garbo, Susan J. Baker

Greta Garbo, Susan J. Baker

Other Show Favorites

My self portrait "Red Glasses" was displayed below what may be my favorite rug at the show and the one that won the People's Choice Award for the Originals Category: Nancy Thun, "Heathen Hill".  Am so proud of Alexander and his "Galveston Gull."  He was inspired by Dana's fairy tale rugs, so he is now talking about a dragon and knight rug as maybe his next rug.

Red Glasses, 2016, April DeConick

Red Glasses, 2016, April DeConick

Galveston Gull, 2016, Alexander DeGreiner

Galveston Gull, 2016, Alexander DeGreiner

Heathen Hill, Nancy Thun

Heathen Hill, Nancy Thun

Also eye-popping was Liz Marino's fine-cut photograph rug "Martellotti's Family Picnic circa 1928".  Her rug won both the People's Choice Award for the People and Places Category as well as the Sauder Award selected by Mrs. Sauder.  Absolutely love my sister's footstool with the geometric roses she created and the black and white striped border.  I am now inspired to hook a footstool even more than I was before.  The good news...on vacation I found a second hand black leather footstool (21 by 44 inches) with a flip up top.  So guess what my next project will be!

Martellotti's Family Picnic, Liz Marino

Martellotti's Family Picnic, Liz Marino

Rose Footstool, Tiffany DeConick

Rose Footstool, Tiffany DeConick

Galveston Gull by Alexander

After Alexander finished a portrait of his Grandma's dog Sassy at Christmas, he decided he wanted to turn his attention to figuring out how to hook landscapes.  While our family was here visiting at Christmas, we went to Galveston Island and snapped a great photo of a gull wading in the sea.  Alex came home and I got the photo transferred onto linen for him and he started to hook it with a bunch of wool palette swatches and scraps from my scrap boxes.  It is a good thing that Sauder comes around once a year because it is real motivation to get these rugs finished.  Here is Alex's rug mounted on a gallery wrapped canvas frame, all ready to be shipped to the exhibit.

Alex says about his rug: "I love doing landscapes.  I learned that I needed to put very different values on the bird and the surrounding water in order to see the bird."

Galveston Gull 2016. #6 cut on linen.  11" x 15".  Hooked by Alexander DeGreiner.  Designed and dyed by April D. DeConick.

Galveston Gull 2016. #6 cut on linen.  11" x 15".  Hooked by Alexander DeGreiner.  Designed and dyed by April D. DeConick.

Red Glasses Finished

Red Glasses 2016. 30"x30". Hand-dyed wool on linen.  Designed, dyed and hooked by April D. DeConick.

Today I finished stretching and mounting my most recent portrait on a canvas-wrapped frame I assembled.  It is a self-portrait called "Red Glasses".  The finished rug is 30" by 30", so it is quite over-sized. 

The reason for this project was to develop a series of wool palette packs that can be used to teach portrait rug hooking in the Face Zone course that I am developing.

The intent of this rug artistically was to play with muted grayed colors and soft textures that I overdyed in 8 values.  I wanted to see if the textured wools make any difference in the overall look of the project.  I am still out to lunch on this.  Sometimes I like the textures, sometimes not.  I really thought there would be more difference in the final look since I incorporated so many different textures in the piece.  But honestly, I think the plain wool would have worked just as well.  I don't see any overall "great" effect in terms of increasing the volume of textures.

My main frustration with this piece was that I started with wool dyed in hues that were too grayed, and frankly, I looked dead.  So I had to start adding in red and red-brown tones so that I didn't look so corpse like.  This also meant quite a bit of reverse hooking.  I probably rehooked the face three times over before I was satisfied with the color.  The glasses I rehooked twice.

In terms of color, I incorporated 13 colors (8-values each; in plain and textured wool) as follows: 23-Shades of Dusk; 31-Gossamer Gray; 51-Fruited Raisin; 40-Spanish Moss; 10-Norfolk Lavender; 68-Carcoal; 15-Milkweed; 42-Sea Shells; 1-McIntosh Red; 44-Red Oak; 59-Briar Rose; 33-Highland Lilac; 18-Red Birch.

Below is the original photo I used as inspiration, and some of pictures of progress.



A happy surprise in Rug Hooking Magazine

I was so surprised when my Rug Hooking magazine came in the mail today.  I had no idea that my rug Satu has won a Reader's Choice Award for the Celebration of Hand Hooked Rugs contest, and that Satu is featured on the cover!  What a happy surprise.

The magazine is wonderful, featuring children and youth rug hooking.  The article I sent in about Alexander is published along with a number of other inspiring pieces about children creating their own wonderful rugs.  It looks like rug hooking is alive and well in the next generation!

Starting new project called Red Glasses

While I am working on the tree headboard abstract, I decided to start a second project because I would like to create a kit for teaching people how I design and hook portraits.  The problem is always the wool, which needs to be dyed in values and standardized in terms of colors.  So that is why I am working on this particular project.  It is a self-portrait head shot.  I need to dye a few reds and rehook the glasses because I used scraps and so the glasses feel "off" to me.  But you can get the feel for what I am doing.  Another larger rug: 30" by 30".

Tree Head Board Started

Just before the holidays, we upgraded our queen bed for a king.  When we put it in the room, it felt really BIG and LONELY.  Looking at the space, I decided that it really needs a head board, a BIG head board.  Why not hook one?

I try to do a project every year that I can learn something new.  This year I wanted to do something with an abstract feel, but still image oriented.  So I went through my photos and chose a picture I took in Brenham of a big live oak, mainly its branches.  I fiddled with it in filter programs and came up with this image that I then transferred onto linen with the assistance of my sister and my mother-in-law over Christmas. 

I have been working a couple of weeks and have made some progress, although this is a really BIG piece, in the area of 70" by 30".  So it is going to take a long time for any significant progress to be recorded.

Upper left corner of Tree Head Board 2016

Upper left corner of Tree Head Board 2016

I am using 17 colors, 8 values each, in both textures and plain wool.  So that means that I have 272 different wools in play: 64-Fiddlehead; 29-Tom Thumb; 31-Gossamer Gray; 23-Shades of Dusk; 18-Red Birch; 59-Briar Rose; 51-Fruited Raisin; 55-Nymph Green; 33-Highland Lilac; 6-Moorland Moss; 10-Norfolk Lavender; 11-Jack Horner Plum; 46-Black Orchid; 68-Charcoal; 49-Fingorn Forest; 41-Fincastle Brown; 15-Milkweed.

Alexander's gift to his grandma

Sassy 2015.  Designed and hooked by Alexander DeGreiner.

Sassy 2015.  Designed and hooked by Alexander DeGreiner.

Alexander finished his newest hooked piece which he gave to his grandma for Christmas this year.  It is a portrait of the dog, Sassy, she takes care of during the week.  He created the portrait from a photo we took of Sassy this summer when we visited grandma and grandpa.  Alex used all wool scraps, #6 cut, and had some frustration due to the fact that his rug hook was misplaced so he had to use mine, which he claims is not as good.  The red background is from a piece of red wool that Gene Shepherd kindly gave to him in San Antonio at the ATHA Biennial and asked him to use in the next piece he hooked.


Student rug from ATHA Witch Workshop

The Witch, hooked by Susan Reyes, 2015, ATHA Biennial Witch Workshop instructed by April D. DeConick. 

Susan Reyes finished the witch portrait that she started in the Witch Workshop I led at ATHA Biennial in San Antonia this last autumn.  She hooked it, she says, to be as creepy as possible.  She shared with me that one woman in her guild will not even look at the witch because "her eyes follow me." 

Susan found the witch portrait very challenging to hook with a lot of reverse hooking in various areas, experimenting until the area "read well" with the proper highlights and lowlights. 

Her experience is very similar to mine.  Reverse hooking is second nature for me, and just part of the process.  When we are working with value, which needs to be spot on for these types of portraits to work, it means we have to hook something into the mat, observe it, and correct it if it doesn't "read" right, as Susan says.  But in the end, the back and forth is worth it.  Look at the fantastically creepy portrait that Susan created.

More student rugs

I am really impressed.  Here are more student rugs coming in from my Wool Snapshots class at Sauder Village.   Keep in mind that these are all really small, only 7" by 7".  Most used #6 cuts with some #4 thrown in.

Martha Rosenfeld created her impression of Edie and Marianne in Hawaii.  She used soft muted colors which bring out feelings of calm and joy, which must have been what they were feeling on vacation in Hawaii.  The palm tree in the upper left corner was an an important element that Martha saved (rather than edited out) because it is a location signal. 

Jan Grose did a portrait of her mom in stunning vivid colors.  The hot pinks and yellows bring liveliness to the face, and the cool blue background keeps it all grounded.  There is no mistaking who this is!

I will post more student rugs as they come in.   These are wonderful examples of wool snapshots.  And these are the first attempts at creating these small portraits by these rug artists!  Wait to see what they will do once they have a dozen of these snapshots under their belts.


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.

Scrapbox Santa by Alexander

Alexander finished his Scrapbox Santa just in time to ship it to Sauder Village for the exhibition in August.  He selected the image from an old vintage postcard and started working on it in December.  He used all the wonderful scraps I have leftover from my own projects.  He made all the color choices and hooked the entire piece.  He even took it to the Stash Sisters Hook In last February and worked on it there.  I am really proud of him and his artistic flair.  He always knows the right color and value to use.  Amazing!

Reframing Jonathan

I decided to try something different with Jonathan.  I went to Texas Art Supply and purchased stretcher bars one inch bigger than the finished rug.  I put the stretcher bars together and stretched black duck twill canvas over the frame, stapling it to the back.  Then I sewed the rug onto the duck, stretching it tight to the edge as I sewed the binding to the duck fabric. 

I love it because it is stretched tight and flat and looks just like a painting hanging in my living room.

Growing a rose garden

I was in Central Market last weekend and they had some fantastic huge roses that had started to open and show their true beauty.  I couldn't help myself.  I took out my camera and snapped a few shots. 

When I got home, I worked a couple of them up into oversized rug patterns (20" x 20") and decided today to draw the one pictured to the left on my linen foundation.

I am low on wool right now, at least in colors I want for roses (like the yellow rose of Texas), so I am using up the last of what I have on hand to create my first rose.  It will be rose colored with hints of lavender and pink. I hope it goes well and I can create a whole rose garden.  And dye them to my preference.

Wools I intend to use:

  • color 12, Rowan Raspberry
  • color 44, Red Oak
  • color 20, Black Cherry
  • color 16, Damask Rose
  • color 46, Black Orchid
  • color 33, Highland Lilac
  • color 35, Crab Apple
  • color 34, Pink Iris

Introducing Jesus of Nazareth

"It is finished."

Jesus of Nazareth 2015 .  43" x 39". #6 cut on linen. Designed, dyed and hooked by April D. DeConick.  Red Jack Rugs 8-value Packs used include 159: Briar Rose, 142: Sea Shells, 120: Black Cherry, 146: Black Orchid, 124: Rose of Sharon, 148: Tanglewood, 114: Faune Brown, 118: Silver Birch, 151: Fruited Raisin, 135: Crab Apple, 112: Rowan Raspberry, 134: Pink Iris, 117: Wilde Wood, 119: Hubbard Fig.

Jesus of Nazareth 2015.  43" x 39". #6 cut on linen. Designed, dyed and hooked by April D. DeConick.  Red Jack Rugs 8-value Packs used include 159: Briar Rose, 142: Sea Shells, 120: Black Cherry, 146: Black Orchid, 124: Rose of Sharon, 148: Tanglewood, 114: Faune Brown, 118: Silver Birch, 151: Fruited Raisin, 135: Crab Apple, 112: Rowan Raspberry, 134: Pink Iris, 117: Wilde Wood, 119: Hubbard Fig.

Copyright acknowledgement: BP8MEM AF archive/Alamy

Copyright acknowledgement: BP8MEM AF archive/Alamy

My rug, Jesus of Nazareth, was inspired by the famous crucifixion scene in the 1977 film where Jesus, portrayed by Robert Powell, suffers the crown of thorns.  I was deeply affected by this movie as a young woman, and this image of Jesus will always be Jesus to me.  I choose this portrait to compliment the rug Mary Magdalene that I hooked two years ago.  It will hang on the wall of my office next to Mary.

This rug is different because it is an inch mat.  I wanted to hook the most traditional rug possible, while breaking open its form so that something new happened with the inch mat.  Using a pixelated map I created as my guide, I hooked each inch by its value (the lightest or darkness of the color) with no regard for the color.  Each inch square, in fact, contains at least two different colors in the same value.

My goal was to create a rug that ought to be viewed in person, because where you stand in proximity to the rug makes a difference in terms of what you actually see.  The closer you get to the rug, the more you see squares of color.  The farther away you stand from the rug (the broader view you have) the clearer your focus becomes, and you are able to see Jesus' face.  There is a lesson here for me as a professor of early Christianity, that standing at a distance brings Jesus into better focus.

I used a large number of colors in this rug, including 8-values of each: 159: Briar Rose, 142: Sea Shells, 120: Black Cherry, 146: Black Orchid, 124: Rose of Sharon, 148: Tanglewood, 114: Faune Brown, 118: Silver Birch, 151: Fruited Raisin, 135: Crab Apple, 112: Rowan Raspberry, 134: Pink Iris, 119: Hubbard Fig, 117: Wilde Wood.

The stats.  In total there are 1677 squares of 14 colors in 112 values.

Finishing my inch mat

Phew...I am almost done with this big inch mat.  It is going to be 45" by 43" when finished, which means that I will have hooked 1935 squares.  As I have been viewing it along the way, I have determined that you need to stand back about 20 feet to really see the image, or look at it through a camera lens or quilters reducing glass.

I have added a few more colors as I have advanced, mainly because I ran out of what I was using and only had certain other colors already dyed.  Will record the colors on the last post about the rug.

May update

I haven't vanished off the face of the earth, although sometimes I feel like it.  Being chair of a university department has taken more time than previously when I was faculty only.  I have been working on the inch mat and have about 400 squares left to hook.  I am bored out of my mind with it, but maybe I needed that this year with my mind so occupied with work. 

The biggest rug hooking news is that Satu made it into the 2015 Celebration of Hand Hooked Rugs.  So watch for him when that issue comes out in August.

Also I am going to be teaching my Wool Snapshots Workshop at Sauder Village in August, and then in September the Witch Workshop in San Antonio for ATHA Biennial.  This means that I can't dye in canning jars anymore.  So I got serious.  This winter when our shower needed repair, I had a sink installed in my garage.  A couple of months ago, I bought 8 turkey roasters so that I can dye yards at a time.  I need to start dyeing very soon to get everything done in time, but at least things are set up and ready to go. 

I also decided that my packaging needed a facelift, literally.  So I have a new logo now, which I really like.

300 squares and counting

There is nothing much to say except that I continue on toward my 2000 square goal.  Here is the top 300 squares.  Nothing to look at yet except color.  I am finding this a very calming project since it is just focused on hooking values into one inch square blocks.  There are not mistakes or reverse hooking here.  The overall piece is going to 43" by 47".