Sunday, November 2, 2014

Finding 'Stumble-Stones' while Cruising Up the Rhine

     Implanted in the cobble stones of many European streets are over 27,000 brass-topped, engraved, four inch square, hand-made memorials - all of which are intended to collectively serve as one large memorial to all of those who were targeted because of their ethnicity, religion, politics or sexual preference by the Third Reich. 
     These small memorials are called stumble-stones or stolpersteine and the intent is not for you to physically stumble over them but to "stumble with your heart and mind" when you see them.
     German artist Gunter Demnig began his project of making and implanting stumble-stones in 1995 and for 120 Euros anyone can sponsor having a stone put in place. Demnig began his art career as a designer and sculptor of large stone memorials that were commissioned by organizations or governments.
     The stumble-stones are usually placed at or near the last known address of the person or persons being remembered and information about them is well documented on a web site for further research.
     Although I have been to Europe before, it wasn't until my last visit this fall that I became aware of these stones. If you are not looking for them, they are easy to miss. Our guide in Heidelberg quietly pointed out two of the stones at #7 Market Square and I found out later that these stones were sponsored in 2013 by the Heidelberg Association of Tourist Guides.
#7 Market Square, Heidelburg, Germany
Stolpersteine in front of #7 Market Square, Heidelburg, Germany

     So what does all of this have to do with rug hooking and art?
      We often read in an artist's statement regarding their work that they are working towards raising the viewer's consciousness about an issue, trying to make a statement about a situation or expressing their views. Sometimes the artist doesn't need to verbally say anything as their work speaks for itself and our hearts and minds stumble over the stumble-stones that the artist puts in front of us.
     The plight of all of those remembered by the stumble-stones in Europe was tragic for them - and not meaning to blithely draw a comparison but to make an observation - I think of Elizabeth Martel's recent project "Hijab" (Sunshine Rug Hooking) where she was inspired by a photo of Malala Yousafzai. 
     I also also think of Rachelle LeBlanc's early pieces where her subject was the deportation of the Acadians from Atlantic Canada in the mid 1700's.
     Taking it to a lighter level, I also think of Laura Kenney's rugs and how she makes our hearts and minds stumble over the  demise of lighthouses on our Atlantic coast - a metaphor for anything that becomes outdated and not useful.
     When traveling, I'm always looking for ideas that might be used later in a rug design. The lock in the photo below is part of a door in an old German castle that leads from the room where the wine was stored. The idea is that if you put your key in any space around the key hole, the ridges will guide your key to the hole. Very useful if one has spent some time in the wine cellar enjoying the wine! With a little adaptation I thought it might make a pattern for a border.
Or, how about this mosaic 

or these little creatures and designs that are carved into a stone gate pillar?




Sunday, October 26, 2014

Another 'Della' Adventure!

     Della had a busy summer - making a guest appearance at a juried show at the Argyle Fine Art Gallery in Halifax. The theme of the show was "Canadiana" so she got all dressed up in her Canadiana finery to impress everyone. Happy to say that she found someone who loved her and they took her home. What will she be up to next time!
Momma always need to dress up for the party!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Where did summer go?

     Seems like a long time since June when I last made some notes here on my blog - now it is time to get back to work, do some catch-up and fill in the blanks.
     In August, my friends Les Hookeuses du Bor'de'lo, and I had a very successful show at the World Acadian Congress in Edmundston, NB.  Eighteen of us transposed designs of Acadian artist Claude Roussel's early work and the show (Les Hookeuses du Bor'de'lo et Roussel) was part of the celebration to honor his fifty years as an artist. The show is now coming to Moncton and opening on the 22 October. It will also be in Saint John in the new year.

      My piece for the show was originally designed to be a continuous scene that could be mounted around a large round pillar. My friend Nicole Butler and I each took a portion of this original  design for our mats. We needed to maintain the lines and colors that Claude had used; the texture and method of interpreting his design was up to us. I called my section "Forty Fathoms".   
Forty Fathoms © 2014       (33" by 45")

     In addition to our individual mats we also collaborated on a mural that again was a transposition of a Roussel painting. Fourteen individual pieces make up the mural - again keeping to the lines and colour of the original - but with different materials and techniques used by the hooker. Despite the fact that there was very little collaboration between each person as we worked on our individual sections, it is amazing how the sections fit and blend together to make a lovely rendition of this original work. The finished mural measures 212" by 51" and pretty well fills a wall at the Moncton show.
Claude Roussel ©1954

     This is the section that I did - can you see where it fits in?

A part of "Les sou-bois du Madawaska" © 2014

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Remembering To Create Beauty Every Day


A Carpet of Forget-Me-Nots

      After leaving our rug hooking gathering that I talked about last time at the Bell Inn in Dorchester, NB, I merrily made my way to visit Deanne Fitzpatrick's rug hooking shop/studio (www.hooking in Amherst, NS. I didn't need a thing but always love to shop, browse, stand or sit inside and take in all of the colour and joy that fills Deanne's space.
     Deanne has a frame set up in her shop where you can try different hooks and fibres so I played a bit with the new, lightweight, wool knit fabric that she now stocks - and found that it works up beautifully, just as she said.
     Deanne's motto is to 'create beauty every day' and for all of us in our community that Wednesday evening, beauty was temporarily taken from us with the shooting of five police officers, leaving three dead and two wounded. Everyone was asked to go home and stay inside until the shooter was apprehended. This lasted until midnight the following night. 
     Over a week has now passed, the tri-community of Riverview, Moncton and Dieppe is mobile again and three young families are left to mourn. Banners, signs and notes are up everywhere thanking our police for keeping us safe. Everyone is struggling to recapture some of Deanne's beauty - and my way is through a new rug.
     All of my flower beds are now beginning to burst into colour with the warm weather. To try and capture some of this beauty, I have started a new mat that is also a 'plein air' exercise.
  The design is a crazy quilt pattern that divides the mat into many sections. I began with my hostas just as they were coming up and starting to unfurl - and interpreted them in various variegated greens and white. Next were the tulips and the forget-me-nots and next to come are the irises. I plan to move around the mat - hooking three areas for each flower or plant - and by the end of the season - hopefully the mat will be finished. 
     Each area takes a short time to hook. The process involves looking carefully at the flower or plant, choosing the colours and then sitting on the deck or front step to keep the plant in view for hooking. My forget-me-nots carpet a small grove of trees at the back of my yard in a blue haze and individually are so small, I needed to get up very close to count the petals and look at the centres for the colours. 
     To get the design for each section I cut a 1" square out of the centre of a sheet of paper. This hole became my viewfinder for looking at the flower. I moved in very close for the larger flowers, moving the viewfinder about until I had a composition of line and colour that appealed to me. For the small forget-me-nots, I found a dense patch that gave the most concentration of colour.
     To outline the sections in the pattern I'm using various colours of knit velour which make a nice contrast in texture. Traditionally, crazy quilts are made of scraps so I plan to use whatever I have in my left-overs stash to get the effect that I want in my rug. Here is one section that I'm working on.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Gathering at the Bell Inn in Dorchester, NB

The Welcome Mat is out at the front door of the Bell Inn, Dorchester, NB

The Bell Inn, Dorchester, NB

     One of the oldest buildings in New Brunswick is still a popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike, just as it was in the early 1820's. According to oral tradition, the Bell Inn in Dorchester was built in the late 1600's and when it was sold in 1821 it was noted as being a private dwelling and a small inn.

      Sold again in 1858 to a local ship builder and stage coach operator, the inn became the stop-over place for passengers as the coach travelled between Amherst, NS and Moncton, NB.
      After the Intercolonial Railway was completed in 1872 and the stagecoach was discontinued, the inn became the home and head office for the owner and his ship building business. 
      Years passed, ship building also declined and the Bell Inn eventually became the property of the Westmorland Historical Society.
     Restored as a wonderful restaurant, under the new management of co-chefs/co-owners Andrew Harrison and Sara Craig, the Bell Inn hosted our group of fibre artists - also known as hookers - for a whole day of hooking (and lunch!) this past week. 
     Here are some photos of the wonderful mats being made at the gathering.


Part of the natural rock wall behind the Bell Inn - maybe a design idea for an abstract mat?
(Many thanks to W. Eugene Goodrich for the historical information about the Bell Inn.)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

According To Della....

"Momma always said.... a little chocolate cupcake will fix everything!"

Della is back - and for this hooked piece I tried something a little different. I wasn't happy with the way the edge of the linen backing showed when it was hanging. I borrowed a tip from Rachelle LeBlanc and crocheted (with a fine hook) right next to the border through the linen to make a row of chain stitches that covered up the edge of the linen.

Now, when you look at the piece from the side the pink crocheted line is what you see next to the grey velour lining - not the linen.

More from Della to come!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Finding the Story between Patching and Dancing

Here it is the end of May and the sun has finally warmed the deck enough to sit outside and enjoy the yard! Frost has come most nights - so as yet the bedding plants still make their nightly trip to safety in the shed. Maybe by the weekend they will make it to the planters and begin their lives on my deck!

To celebrate International Museum Day in May, the Acadian Museum on the campus of the University of Moncton recently featured an interesting workshop for all fibre artists. Annette Léger White, who is a recognized textile conservator and restorer, included in her workshop "Every patch tells our story: darning, mending, patching and renewing techniques" all the different ways that you can creatively darn, patch or mend.

We were shown articles of clothing and other household items from the Acadian Museum's collection where creative and thrifty hands and minds had either extended the life of an early ladies cap with a little patch or reconstructed a christening dress from a mothers wedding dress.
The Little Red Patch

Annette Léger White at the Acadian Museum workshop
Also on display was a rug c.1905 that was still being used when it was recently donated to the museum. The green dyed mat is made from strips of frayed burlap that are sewn onto a burlap backing. The burlap came from old fertilizer sacks and all of the printing can still be seen on the backing. It's sewn to a piece of heavy clear plastic for display so that you can see both sides.

Front and back of Green Mat

Something else that the Acadian Museum recently acquired is a rug hooking/quilting frame (c. late 1930's )
that was made by Pierre à Fabien Léger, Breau Village, NB. Two sets of interchangeable side pieces make the frame adaptable for either a mat or a quilt.

So, how did I make the leap from patching to dancing? On May 28th I had the wonderful experience of watching the Atlantic Theatre Ballet perform their newest production "Piaf" at our restored historic Capitol Theater in Moncton, NB. It's all about creativity and taking a leap - for Edith Piaf to begin again after many set-backs, for the dancers to dance as a troupe and to literally catch each other while interpreting Piaf's story, to the pioneer women who used what they had to make the everyday beautiful.