Authors : Deanne Fitzpatrick
Fabric Artist Deanne Fitzpatrick: Rug Hooking History
Interview with Deanne Fitzpatrick
By Molly Anderson-Childers
Can you tell us about your early career? Did you always have an interest in working with hooked rugs, or did you begin your professional life in a totally different field and come to this work later in life?
I grew up in Freshwater, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, the youngest of seven children. My mother and both of my grandmothers hooked rugs as a past-time, and as a chore of necessity. By the time I was born by my grandmothers had died and my mother had long since abandoned rug hooking as a chore of poverty.
In Newfoundland in the late sixties, and early seventies very few people were hooking, though there was still a scattered mat hanging about people's back doors. For the most part it was out with the old and in with the new. I can still see a Rita Murphy, my friends mother, sitting in her back room, hooking away on her mats. Her floors were a carpet of many multicoloured hooked rugs. At the time to me it seemed an old fashioned thing. Little did I know that I would spend years doing exactly the same thing.
I learned to hook rugs because I wanted rugs for an old farmhouse where I had settled. Though I did not know how to hook, it was something I had always been familiar with. As a teenager, I began seeing rugs for what they were. I marveled that a woman's' hand had pulled up every loop in a rug that lay on the floor of my sisters' farmhouse. In my mid-twenties, I went to an annual meeting of The Rug Hooking Guild of Nova Scotia, and Marion Kennedy taught me the basics. How to cut your wool, and how to pull up a loop, then she told me to get to it. As soon as I started hooking rugs I knew it was for me. It was a simple technique, and I could see my progress. I finished my first little stamped pattern with in a week and so it began.
I learned that I could tell stories, and express myself through rug hooking. This is what really got me involved with it. Each time I make a rug I create a new design. In many of my pieces I tell stories or express ideas about the world. I work full time as a rug hooking artist. Each piece I create is different from the last. I use recycled cloth, gather old wool clothing from real people in real communities. The clothes are washed dried and torn apart. It is then hooked loop by loop on a backing of burlap or linen.
Learn more about the life and art of Deanne Fitzpatrick, whose work is in the permanent collections of The Canadian Museum of Civilization, The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, The Nova Scotia Art Bank, and The Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador by visiting her Web site and blog at HookingRugs.com.
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