Love to design your own rugs but don't know where to start? Steve Curry- from ArtFido.com, photographer extraordinaire, made this very informative video- '9 photo composition tips' for budding photographers but great tips which would apply to rug hookers as well.
In late 2004, internationally renowned rug maker and teacher,
Heather Ritchie, from the UK, visited Zanzibar in East Africa. Local women
and children who she lived with, were fascinated when she demonstrated
the very simple and safe technique of rug making - using recycled
local material, clothes, yarn and plastic bags - and quickly picked
On her return to the UK, Heather Ritchie developed her
idea. After a great deal of discussion, she and two friends set up
Rug Aid (a not-for-profit social enterprise).
Heather's goal was to make a difference to some
of the poorest communities in Africa by providing
people with the opportunity to bring about change in their lives 'from
the bottom up'.
Rug Aid's first project started in
The Gambia in February 2007. Heather heard that begging had recently
been outlawed there, a move which deprived many blind Gambian adults
of their only source of income: After learning of the new problem this already underprivileged
group faced, Heather specifically chose to work with people with visual
impairments. She thought she would be almost exclusively teaching women
and children but, when she arrived for her first workshop session,
she found to her delight that the students were a mixed group of men
and women. Heather felt an immediately empathy with these people, all
of whom have a degree of visual impairment or are the sighted members
of the family of someone with a visual impairment, because her father
became blind when she was five.
Rug Aid trainees in The Gambia make rugs and
wall hangings which they are encouraged to sell
direct and locally: Rug Aid itself does not currently export trainees'
work for sale. At a later stage, items produced in the Rug Aid workshop
may be sold world-wide through fair trade organisations.
Every Rug Tells A Story Rug Aid encourages people to draw on the stories of their lives
- families, animals, friends, transport, homes, schools
- as well as the colours, patterns and textures of their environments,
both rural and urban, to produce beautiful and very salable
works of art which will bring pleasure to both the creator
and the purchaser. The project harnesses the artistic
skills people already have and inspires people who are
not sure that they have any artistic talent to express themselves
through colours and patterns.
In 2009, our own Miriam Miller and Jacqui Thompson, while on a world wide Rug Making tour, joined Heather in The Gambia. Here they are with Ebrema Trewally.
Locally printed African cotton is often used instead of the more traditional fabrics as in the west, making colourful and beautiful rugs.
This year, Heather and her daughter Chrissie, a qualified rehabilitation officer for people
with visual impairments, were able to help a man dying from hydrocephalus which was untreated. A friend of Heathers funded his treatment in the UK and was devastated to be told, after
the operation, that he had lost his sight. Mustafa was quick to learn rug making and benefited greatly from Chrissie’s instruction on how to make best use of the
white cane he had been given. She helped him to become familiar with the
clinic’s grounds, a process called ‘orientation’, so he can make his way
independently. That was difficult because there are few fixed landmarks to use
and even fewer straight walls to square up to. His biggest obstacle, literally,
is likely to be the donkeys which (as Heather R put it) ‘like to chill out at
random places in the shade’: at least the white cane will help him to know they
are in his way.
You can find out more about the work of Rug Aid HERE
If you scroll to the end of the Home page you can also subscribe to the Rug Aid newsletter. Donations are gladly accepted, just click on 'donation' in the menu on the left.
It is that time of the year where we encourage you to either renew or sign up as members of the Australian Rug Makers Guild. Why you say should I be a member? How will it benefit me?
Well,the biggest benefit is the networking from all around Aus and when, like me and other of our rug hooking grey nomads, you travel our fair country, you will have names and addresses of rug hookers and groups you may want to visit along the way. You will get all this information in a regular email or snail mail leaflet called ' In the Loop"
Members get to advertise items for sale (tools, supplies,
kits) on the website free of charge.
Members also get to advertise their workshops or events on the
website free of charge.
And in a new section - when this section of the website is up and running- you will be able to ask questions about techniques and your question
will be answered personally via email.
And, if that is not enough, you will help support the promotion of Rug Hooking in Australia. Having the ARG organization behind you is another benefit of membership, especially in applying for grants for expensive items, like wool cutters, which may be too costly and investment for individuals.
So people, what do you think? Well worth the $20, don't you think? Five cups of coffee and you have paid for it. :) You can find an application form on the ARG website HERE
I have been quite amiss lately in keeping you, our rugging friends up to date. Life seems to have gotten in the way. I will therefore include some photos of our February meeting also- well, two anyway.
Only three members were present in February, and three plus a lovely young guest in March.
As I said, life has gotten in the way with some of us having other appointments for the day and a trip to the Philippines for myself at short notice.
During this time Anne finished her Santa rug, ready to be bound, and continued with her still life 'pear' rug. Joy started an ambitious staircase runner. She will be doing a different scene for each individual tread of her timber staircase at home. She started her first rug with an idyllic 'He makes me lie down in green pastures' scene of sheep doing just that- lying in green pastures in the English country side. A bit hard to see in the photo- sorry about that. The only thing we pondered about this rug was...how are people supposed to get upstairs with such beautiful looking treads...hmmm, you wouldn't walk on them would you? Maybe put in a stair lift so the staircase rugs can be viewed and telling the story, while slowly being lifted up [or down], stopping every now and then along the way to study a particular rug in detail? Anyway, I'm dreaming.
I- Chris, had a spot of bother with the border of my 'Tehran' oriental rug. You know how it is, you get so far and all of a sudden you are stuck, a mind block? I had tried several colour combinations, but needed the combined creative talents of my rug hooking friends. Luckily Joy and Anne came to the party. Joy had me trace the relevant area and colour it in with coloured pencils in the suggested colour combinations already used in other parts of the rug. This worked perfectly. I now have a 9" x 6" area of the border completed and I am quite happy with the result. I feel that this will work well all the way around the rug and fit in with the central area. I highly recommend anyone hooking a large rug to do this exercise. It certainly beats pulling out and re-hooking until you have it right.
Joy brought her daughter Rachel to our meeting on Saturday as well. It was lovely to meet her and she soon got stuck into her embroidery that she had brought along to work on. Maybe another future hooker? Rachel however has other plans for the near future that does not include hooking.
Plans are being made for the Yarra Valley Rug makers to show and tell at a craft fair on the Mornington Peninsula in April. One of our members- Sandra is involved with the planning of this event and asked if we would be interested. As some of us will be away at this time, the others will go and do demonstrations of rug hooking. Hopefully this exposure will make Rug Hooking in Australia a little more known.
We also discussed booking a stall at the Stitches and Craft Show in October at Jeff's Shed in Melbourne, but in the meantime there are lots of other things to do.
Well, my friends, before we knew it, it was time to leave again, although it was hard, as we had a lot of catching up to do.
I promise to come back soon and add to the Blog. Cheers :)