Sunday, March 25, 2012

Respect for our Ancestors!

Today I must work on transferring designs onto primitive linen for pattern orders.  Two of the patterns are the Magdalena Menagerie with Pugs and the Corgis.  I am delighted to make this pattern available in different dog styles.  It is fun to hook and it will be even more fun with other dogs in it, I am sure. 

Whenever I transfer a pattern, my mind wanders (as it often does) to an imaginative era about our rug hooking ancestors.  The women who pioneered rug hooking 100+ years ago had little to no modern conveniences to work with as they designed their rugs.  They probably had few drawing materials for adding a design onto rough burlap but they had nothing compared to the permanent markers we use.  They had no way to enlarge or resize their patterns through technology and photocopying.  So my first question is "How did these women do it?!" and my second question is "Aren't you happy you live in this modern era rather than the past?!"

I have a hard enough time transferring a pattern with the modern conveniences, and still I find it to be a challenge.  Getting border lines straight, proportions on borders, scale of design to border size, it all makes me a little crazy. 
Rendition of antique rug with
dog carrying a basket in mouth.

I like to think of our ancestors when I hook, especially when I hook an antique rendition.  It provides a great mental escape and it is another creative venue along with the hooking.  I often wonder about the creator's motivation:  why she decided on a particular motif, why animals are doing silly things (like the momma dog holding a basket in her mouth) or why is the size of the animals or other motifs larger or smaller in scale to other parts of the rug design?  I find the naive folk art of our ancestors  enchanting. 
Original Antique Rug of Hens at the Hen House

Several rugs ago, I used the hooking opportunity to create an entire alter ego for my rug by imagining the original hooker as I replicated an antique rug.  It's the rug I call Henny Penny, and you've probably seen the original antique version or a hooked replica of it.  It's been a popular rug to replicate by many hookers.

As I worked on this whimsical rug, my imagination took off  on why the hens became a focal point for this rug.  By the time I finished the rug,  I concocted an entire story about the woman who originally created the rug. I had a lot of fun with the story.  I know it sounds sort of crazy to do this, but I enjoyed imagining her, her lifestyle and her motivation for the rug.  
My Rug:  Henny Penny

Please understand, I am not delusional or hearing voices when I get on one of these creative benders.  I am merely having fun through imagination.  After all, we use imagination and creativity as we hook, so why not go the extra loop and think about the woman who originally created the rug in the first place?  After all, don't we owe it to our ancestors to have a little respect and appreciation for them since they defined the art of hooking?! 

So next time you are happily hooking away, give a little imagination to our ancestors and maybe a fine spirited hooker will join you in pulling a few loops and telling you her life story! 

Please note:  research I've conducted indicates antique rugs created before 1923 are no longer subject to copyright law and this is why these rug patterns are offered for sale by commercial rug hooking vendors.  Before replicating any antique rug pattern, please attempt to determine the date of the rug's origination to be consistent with copyright.

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