Years ago I decided that I wanted to help people become more creative in their approach to hooking rugs. I had already been captivated by rug hooking. I was locked into it, lured by the texture of wool, using it to express myself. I began developing a series of workshops called Color, Texture Creativity and Design for Hooked Mats.
When I first started these workshops teaching people to play with texture, to hook randomly and more freely there were plenty of raised eyebrows in the class. They were happily raised eyebrows, the kind that says, "I like you but I'm not sure about this." Through humor and warmth, I got people to try some different textures, wider and thicker cuts of cloth, and to go with them, more loosely woven backings. When I first started working on blending creativity and rug hooking I found people moved into that direction with trepidation. Most saw rug hooking strictly as a craft and had strict ideas about technique and the type of products they would use. The only thing I had going for me was that some of them liked my designs, and appreciated the freedom they saw in them.
As rug hooking has continued to grow, and many books have been written, a lot of people have picked up the craft on their own, teaching themselves in their own living rooms. There is also a wealth of information on the web about rug hooking and people who are interested in it can find out about it easily. These things have meant that there is a great sharing of ideas and ways of making rugs that go beyond what we can learn in our own communities. I find it very interesting that new technology such as the Internet, has meant that an old idea like rug hooking has been renewed and allowed to flourish. Many people have become very interested in using rug hooking as a tool for self expression. Many people are open to all kinds of possibilities when it comes to hooking rugs. These days many of the workshop participants come with fresh ideas and have had exposure to the idea of blending creativity and rug hooking. Being creative and putting more of yourself into your hooked rugs has become the norm for many hookers. Whether it is in adapting a stamped pattern or creating their own designs, or being daring with their use of color, somehow it seems to me that with each passing year rug hooking is growing as an art form.
Creativity and rug hooking blend together beautifully. The limitless possibilities offered by our minds mixing color and texture means that it will continue to grow and develop as an art form. Primitive Rug Hooking is a relatively new art form when compared to drawing, painting, tapestry, sculpture, or weaving. It is only a baby at 150 years old. Those of us who practice the craft are really still in the establishment phase of it, if we look at it as a medium that will continue to grow and develop over time. We have a lot to offer its development, but we have a lot to learn about it as we explore its possibilities. What an exciting prospect this is. As each art form grows and develops, the creativity of those who are practicing it adds a little to its development.
Some people feel they have no creativity in them. This is rubbish. As my good friend says, "Gee Deanne, I think it takes creativity to keep getting out of bed in the morning, don't you?" How can you not be friends with someone who thinks like that. She is funny but she also sees the value in all the little things we do to keep our lives on the right track. It takes creativity to live. If you have ever adapted a recipe, sang a little song, played with a child, dreamed a dream, or doodled on a piece of paper you have exercised your creativity. Granted, some people may be naturally more inclined to creative thinking, but all of us have some level of creativity with in us. It is part of our humanity.
The real issue is exercise. Some of us exercise our creativity more than others. We all have creative potential. Each of us have wishes and wants, a passion that lies within us. Each of us has approached a problem, a past-time, or our work with some level of creativity. It is true that in finding rug hooking, I was lucky to find something that I like to do so much. I was lucky but I was also open and free thinking at that time in my life. If I had not been open to all kinds of possibilities my luck would not have mattered so much. If I had not had a sense of playfulness and discovery I would have just run rough-shod over my good luck. Openness and playfulness, hanging on to that wonderful sense of discovery that we had as children are prerequisites for uncovering your creativity. I constantly remind myself of the importance of "wasting time", and of holding on to my childlike qualities.
Uncovering your creative side and finding the artistic rug hooker within you requires an open mind, and a responsive heart. It asks that you be quiet and listen to your spirit. The search for art cannot begin as a search for art. It is much more basic than that. Finding your creativity begins with fooling around with ideas. Many people I know fell into their art because they explored ideas. A passion is not something that can be adopted. It is something that lies in wait waiting to be discovered. It is the snake in the wood pile, slipping out just when you least expect. Like the snake it will quickly slip away if you do not pay attention to it, and follow it to weird and unusual places. You need to see where it takes you. Passion is not like some red hot love in a romance novel. It requires commitment and diligence. You do not fall through the looking glass like Alice in Wonderland, it's more like climbing caves into the interior of yourself. So the second step in becoming more artistic in your approach to rug hooking is making a commitment of time to carry out the craft. It may mean setting up a routine, so that you hook regularly, and hopefully frequently.
When you take a watercolor class it does not very often go "bang". You do not become an artist by registering with continuing education and buying $150 worth of paint and paper. The first important thing to do is to play with the paint, feel the brushes in your hand. Then you need to start thinking about the way you feel when you paint. Rug Hooking is the same, a cache of great wool, a beautiful hook with a coco bolo handle, three yards of linen, and an expensive frame does not make you a rug hooker. Sitting quietly with yourself, or not so quietly with your group, and pulling the wool up through the backing makes you a rug hooker. It is in the practice of making rugs that we really learn how we can approach it more creatively.
Next: Part 2: Digging for Ideas
©2006 Deanne Fitzpatrick. All rights reserved.
Deanne Fitzpatrick is a member of the Editorial Board of Rug Hooking magazine and has been the subject of a television documentary and features on national radio shows. More
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