Saturday, December 31, 2016

Pricing Your Work

What Would You Charge?

Paintings and rugs I've created are usually gifts for family or friends or kept for my own pleasure.  I've done some consignment items for friends: wedding programs, pen and ink drawings, cards...  Recently I was approached by someone who wanted to buy a rug I'm hooking.  I thanked her for her interest and the compliment, but politely refused.   However, this did cause me to think about what I would charge for a rug should I sell one, or what I would charge for a painting or any handmade item. So I started searching for ideas.  I found several suggestions online and one in Rug Hooking Magazine.
Online Ashley Martineau wrote "Tips for Pricing Your Handmade Goods" on her blog.  Ashley sells handspun yarns and fibers.  She lists three items to keep in mind when determining a price. 
First, she suggests you do online research to find out what artisans are charging for similar pieces.  She suggests, if you are new to sales, you should charge just below the average cost of similar items you find online (unless there is something very special about your work). 
Second, she says to include the cost of your supplies in your pricing.  Ashley says you should always try to pay wholesale prices for your materials or buy them on sale.
The third item is your hourly rate.  In her examples she suggests $10 an hour.  She has a few formulas using hourly rate and materials to determine the sales price: cost of your supplies + time invested; cost of your supplies x 3; or an average of these two determined prices.  She suggests that you compare your final prices to the work of others.  You don't want to price your pieces too high as they won't sell, or too low because you won't be supporting other artisans in your craft. Other things to consider are the quality of the work completed and how quickly or slowly you work.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Fraktur by Ruthanne Hartung

Ruthanne Hartung is a Fraktur artist who has written a book on Pennsylvania Frakturs.....with a modern touch.  She includes instructions, design ideas, techniques for coloring and lettering, and a variety of patterns.  I completed a house blessing which is one of the projects she presents in the book.

House Blessing; Ink, Coffee, and Watercolor on Watercolor Paper
2016, 8" x 10"

Frakturs are folk art celebrating family events.  They are artistic, hand lettered documents including birth, baptismal, and marriage certificates; house blessings; family trees; and such.  Most Frakturs were created by the Pennsylvania Germans during the 1700s and 1800s.  The name "Fraktur" comes from the distinctive, angular lettering...... "fractured" pen strokes.

Susan L. Feller is a teacher who adapted Fraktur designs for use in hooked rugs.  She taught members of my local guild how to develop a Fraktur rug design with a personal story.  She, also, offers a box of patterns (Design in a Box, Frakturs) for people who might be intimidated by the drawing process.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Book on Felting

Title page for Art in Felt & Stitch 

In this book, Moy Mackay creates painterly pictures by wet felting.  Her process instructions are clear and the steps are photographed making them easier to follow.  The book includes chapters on still life, animals, flowers, and landscapes.  Each section has photos of her work that provide inspiration and a detailed project with directions.  Moy uses many different fibers in her felting and adds stitching to provide details. She, also, gives full explanations of her equipment and materials.  The book is a great instructive resource, and I love to just look at the photos of her work.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Makin' Progress

Rockefeller Rug

Making progress on the new rug.  This is a change of pace for me in color and design.  The rug is fun to hook...each little piece is a creation by itself.

Monday, November 7, 2016

New Rug

Here's the owl in the new pattern.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fiber Sculpture

I'm always interested in seeing the work of other artists.  Gloria McRoberts is a decorative fiber artist who uses natural fibers as her sculpture medium adding texture and movement to her pieces. She uses wool, cotton, linen, and other natural fibers in her impressive pieces.  You can see them on her website.

The Dance, 26" x 36"
Gloria McRoberts

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Rug Update

Making progress on my new rug design.  You can see where I added some quillies from the old wool blanket that I dyed. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Moved to Rug Warp

Using red dot tracing material I transferred my new design to rug warp backing.  The lines of dots allowed me to be sure my pattern was straight on the foundation.  I placed the transparent red dot over my drawing on paper and traced the design in red Sharpie.

I moved the red dot material (with the pattern in red) to the top of my rug warp.  Then I traced the pattern again, but this time in black Sharpie.  This lets me know that I have traced all the motifs onto the foundation.

This is the first time I've used the 100% cotton rug warp backing for a rug.  Rug warp is much heavier than the linen I've used before, but an experiment was done that showed it is less susceptible to abrasion.  It costs less than linen, but more than Monk's cloth.  The rug warp is woven with single strands of tightly twisted cotton warp that look like string, and it's softer and less scratchy.  We'll see how I like this foundation as I move along.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Rockefeller Rug


Because this rug design was inspired by the Rockefeller Quilt that appeared in The Mountain Artisans Quilting Book by Alfred Allan Lewis, it was necessary to receive the permission of the author to use the image.  I began with Mcmillan Publishers, was sent to Simon & Schuster, Inc, and ended with Curtis Brown, Ltd. who kindly forwarded my request to Mr. Lewis.  He granted me a one-time permission to use the motifs from the quilt, provided I make no monetary profit from the endeavor and wherever the rug appears the author will be credited.
I, also, wanted to get permission from the quilt designer, Dorothy Weatherford, but after some searching I found an article from the Charleston Gazette that stated she had passed away on December 5, 2013.
The original quilt was made by The Mountain Artisans co-op and given to Mrs. Sharon Percy Rockefeller as a gift at the birth of her first child.  After communicating through several directors and assistants, Mrs. Rockefeller also granted permission.
So, I have moved forward and created the design.

Here is a portion of the pattern.

Friday, October 21, 2016

New Project

I've been reading about the Mountain Artisans Quilt Cooperative that operated in West Virginia in the '60s and '70s, disbanding in 1978.   With the help of Sharon Rockefeller, the women were able to market their quilted fabrics to upscale interior decorators and designers during this time of revival of the Arts and Crafts Movement.
The Mountain Artisans Quilting Book is by Alfred Allan Lewis and gives the history of the co-op and even includes instructions on how to make their patchwork pieces.
The Rockefeller Quilt which appears on the cover and inside the book has inspired me to create a new hooked rug design, but now I have the challenge of seeking permission for the use of the motifs designed by Dorothy Weatherford on a piece made in 1970.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Needle Felting

Recent Class

Lyn Slade is a needle felting artist, and I was fortunate to take a class with her.  We sculpted wool roving into a three-dimensional owl.  Lyn provided a kit with all the equipment and materials we needed, and her instruction was easy to follow and was thorough.  It was a fun time.
Lyn has also written a book that is a wonderful resource: Creative Needle Felting: Wool Art with a Painterly Style.

I came across another needle felting artist, Juliana Boyd. She was selling her work at the Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton, MA over the holiday weekend.  Due to the weather, my trip to the Festival didn't happen, so I checked out her work online.  She creates incredible two-dimentional pieces.  I'm hoping her work will be in the Marlboro (MA) Festival in November.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Purchased Color Swatches

In trying to match the color of a commercial piece of blue wool,  I've been doing some dyeing..... With the help of my teacher, Beverly Mulcahy, I got a color that will work in my rug.  (I've done some dyeing, but I've never tried to match the color of a wool that I had purchased.)  While working, we used swatches she had that were coordinated with published dye formulas to find a match.  The swatches made the process so much simpler. You could actually see what the wool is supposed to look like, and now I have a formula I can repeat.
I already have some books with swatches in my dyeing supplies: Triple Over Dye 1 and 2; The ATHA Dye Book of 2011; and Seasons of Wool by Angela Anderson of Pioneer Primitives, but I need to begin to expand my library.
Lately, I've been buying Pro Chem dye colors vs Cushing. Pro Chem comes in a screw top jar instead of a tiny plastic envelope, and the amount of dye is greater.  The Cushing colors are softer. Pro Chem color is more vivid.  I finally purchased the Pro Chem color cards made with yarn.

 I purchased the book Primary Fusion  by Ingrid Hieronimus and it's accompanying wool swatch set from Ragg Tyme Studio.
The Primary Fusion system dyes 58 colors from 4 Pro Chem dyes, Magenta 338, Blue 490, Yellow 119, and Black.  The book introduces basic color theory and should be very easy for the beginning dyer to use.  Ingrid states on her first page: "For those of you who are already dyeing, this system is so comprehensive that you will learn how to vary a formula to produce the exact colour you want."  This is what I'm after....

Saturday, October 1, 2016


Color Choice

In a recent discussion of how to select colors for a rug, I suggested that finding a fabric you like can help.  "You can choose colors that please you by looking at fabric.  If the colors in the material speak to you, then most likely, you will like the outcome of your rug using that palette.  Some fabrics have circles of the color used to dye the material on the selvage edge making color choice easier." Sometimes, it's hard to distinguish one color from another when it is inside the fabric pattern, so the selvage markings are like paint swatches or chips.

Another suggestion from the discussion was the online Palette Generator.  It creates a color palette based on the predominant colors in an image.  This color palette could be used for many art or design needs.

These are the colors produced from this piece of Waverly fabric.  The sliding scale let's you choose from the dominant 2 colors to the dominant 10 colors.  You just drag and drop your file into the box and the program produces the extracted colors and the percentage of that color in the sample.

This is the palette produced from a flower photo.  This program could be another tool for me to use in color choice.

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Here are a couple of standing wool flowers that I made from the dyed wool blanket.  I plan to make many more....

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Acrylic Image Transfer


This is the beginning of a base for a multimedia piece.  The background for the triptych will be collaged, and then, I'll follow with the painting on top.  
I wanted to add some written music to the background and created an acrylic image transfer.  Using a book I found at our nearby recycling center, I chose the pages I wanted and coated them with 5 or 6 coats of acrylic matte medium.  Each coat was applied in a different direction and allowed to completely dry before the next was added.   The music was then flipped, wet with a sponge, and the paper rubbed off.
The paper being removed from the transfer

The transfer with most paper removed

After the paper was removed, I added the music to the canvas with acrylic matte medium.  After coating the back, I placed the piece on the canvas and coated the front with matte medium.

The triptych with the first transfer

I'm happy with the result of the transfer and the process.  
The peach pieces are stencils done on deli paper that were added, also, with matte medium.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Some Color

Recently a friend gave me an old woolen blanket.
This is too thick to use in hooking, but I thought I might dye it some bright colors and use it in a standing wool rug.  I've done some quillies and took a shirred rug class at Old Sturbridge Village with Rose Ann Hunter, but I've never incorporated the standing wool into a rug.
I dyed the wool with Prochem and Cushing's Perfection dyes: purple #819, magenta #338, spiced pumpkin #230, brick #255, red #366, and Egyptian red.
Let's see what I can make with them.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Finished Pomegranates

"Two Pomegranates", 2016
Pattern by Happy DiFranza from DiFranza Designs
Wool strips on linen,  21.25" x 26.75"

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Need to Reconsider

Tis and Taint Progress

This old burlap pattern was a challenge that I thought I could complete, but as I'm hooking the mat I'm rethinking that idea. When I put the mat on the frame and then reposition it as I work, the fold lines are beginning to deteriorate.  I needed to take apart a section I had already hooked for repair.  Rather than just toss out what I've done, I'm going to reduce the size significantly (by about a third) and redraw a section of the pattern. Hopefully I can make a table runner.  I guess you'd say I'm stubborn, but I have learned my lesson.......

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Worry Doll

According to NOVICA the origins of the worry doll are unknown, but the Guatemalan people have passed the tradition of making them through generations. They present a worry doll (made of fabric scraps and sticks) to anyone who is worried or having nightmares.  The worry doll is placed beneath their pillow or held in their hand.  The person whispers their troubles to the doll to transfer them and for the troubles to be taken away.

The Spring/Summer 2015 edition of Prims has an article (and doll body pattern) by Trudy Honeycutt on the making of her own version of the worry doll (pages 52 - 54).  She gives a little history about her first doll and how she created it, her tools and materials, and the techniques she uses to create her primitive doll.

Worry Doll

This is the doll I created by following Trudy's directions. I didn't darken and bake the doll or her clothes as she suggested in the article.  I did darken my muslin with coffee, vanilla, and a little acrylic paint.  The quotation I used on the tag is by Esther Hicks.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


"Tis and Taint"

I'm finding that there are as many bits of advice for hooking a landscape rug as there are sources to read.  I've read that I should start with the sky and work down, and I've read that I should start with  the foreground and work up across the rug.  I did neither.  I started with the trees because they were the most fun.  So, I am going back to hook a sky behind my trees.

Sky colors

The sky colors are very light, but I don't think this will be a problem, because I'm going to next take the advice of Jane Halliwell Green in "Pictorial Hooked Rugs".......though I probably should have done so first. "Hook the center of interest first, which is often in the foreground or toward the midground and less frequently in the background. This hooked area sets the stage for the entire piece." (page 21)
The center of interest in a composition is what attracts the viewer, the attention getter.  In this landscape it could be a man-made object (or the boy fishing).  The center of interest has more detail, more value contrast, sharp edges, and a larger shape, but shouldn't be so strong that your eye doesn't travel throughout the piece.  I'm hoping the road will help lead the eye when the rug is hooked.
How does this help the light sky, you ask?  In this pattern, I think I'll use the New England church in the left midground as my center of interest.  (The church will be redrawn to look more like the Congregational church in the center of my hometown.)  It's large shape and light color will help to balance my light sky........"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men....".

Thursday, May 5, 2016

"Two Pomegranates"

 The Border

"Two Pomegranates" is almost complete, and I'm finishing up the border now.  I did add the triangles to the design and I'm using the transitional dyed wool (April 12th) to hook them.  I'll finish the rug by rolling the edges to the front and whipping the edge.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Leftover Bits

These are the bits of wool that are left over from the background hooking on "Two Pomegranates".  I was wondering what would happen if I used them to dye some wool. I had 4 small pieces of Dorr white that I sprinkled with the bits, jelly rolled, twisted, and fastened together.  The wool was placed in water with Dawn and heated until the colors bled, then white vinegar was added.

The results

I'm wondering if these could be used in the stone wall in "Tis and Taint".

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tis and Taint

With the focus on finishing "Two Pomegranates" by the second Friday in June, I haven't hooked very much of "Tis and Taint".  I did add a background hill.
I'm thinking the teal color may be too intense, but I'm going to let it stand until I'm finished.  I can always pull it out.  When I chose this color out of the "stash", I was thinking about the "Atmospheric Perspective" of a landscape.  The hills in the distance are lighter and cooler (more blue) than the colors you would find in the foreground.  Things appear to fade because of the dust, humidity, pollution , etc.. The problem with this teal, I think, is that it should have been duller or grayer. If this were a painting, I'd probably just add a glaze (a translucent wash) to color correct..... not so easy with a rug....

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Dyeing Experiment

Water from our town is treated with Potassium Hydroxide for pH adjustment and Sodium Fluoride for Fluoridation.The Potassium Hydroxide raises the pH to just above neutral (7.0) so that it is not acidic and corrosive. The Sodium Fluoride is added to provide cavity protection for infants and children.  Some neighborhoods also get water that we buy from a neighboring city that chlorinates the water.  I wanted to know if the water chemicals make a major difference in the colors that result when I dye my wool, so I dyed a 1/4 yard of Dorr white using tap water and 1/4 yard using bottled water.  The dye used was Pro-chem Blue #440, Caramel #130, and Brown #503.  Everything in the dyeing process was exactly the same except the water.  I kept track of the pieces of wool by adding a safety pin to the one that was dyed in the bottled water.

The piece on top was dyed in our tap water, and the bottom piece was dyed in bottled water.  There seems to be no substantial difference in the results.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Pomegranate Background

"Two Pomegranates"

The design elements are hooked on this mat, so time for the background.  I thought a dark background would make the fruit and leaves "pop", but I didn't have enough wool to cover the area. I dug in the stash and came up with a black wool and two different plaids which I then dyed with olive green and black, and this gave me pieces close in value. I feel that using these different values and hooking in flowing curves lends motion to the background.....a little more spirited.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Pomegranate to Date

"Two Pomegranates"

This is the final color plan for the mat.  I originally hooked a couple leaves in a different green, but the color combination wasn't pleasing, so I pulled them out.  Now I have until June 10th to complete this for the challenge.  I'll post a picture of the finished rug then.............well, that's the plan ......  

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Pomegranate Progress

"Two Pomegranates", DiFranza Designs Pattern

This is my first hooked pomegranate on the DiFranza pattern using the transitional wool I dyed. I like the look.....
Before I hooked the fruit I added direction lines with a marker that I could follow, so that my pomegranate would appear round.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Marbleized Wool

 The Process

In Gene Shepherd's Prepared to Dye he explains how to marbleize wool fabric for hooking (pages 163-175).  He writes that this technique provides wool that is a good substitute for textured wool and works well for backgrounds.
I'm still working with what is in the stash, so my pieces were not the 1/4 yard that Gene suggests.  I used blue, pale yellow, and white wool that I jelly rolled, twisted has much as I could, and then brought the ends of the roll together and fastened them so they couldn't unroll.  The wool was placed in water with Dawn and heated until the colors bled.  White vinegar was added to cause the dye to be reabsorbed.  I let the wool simmer for 1 hour after which it went into the washer and dryer.

 The results (I think these would make great skies)

Transitional dyeing and marbleizing wool pieces are a lot of fun.  The results are a surprise and truly beautiful.  I like hooking with the variegated wool as it adds interest to what could be a boring background.  The only concern is that I create enough similar wool to complete a project and not run short.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Transitional Dyeing

Transitional Wool

There were not enough related colors in my stash to hook the fruit and flowers in the "Two Pomegranates" pattern, so I did some transitional dyeing.  This method is from Gene Shepherd's book, "Prepared to Dye" (pages 176-183).  I began by layering dry wool strips (about 4" wide) across the bottom of a casserole pan, overlapping the pieces by about half. Then more layers were added, being sure not to put the same color wool together.  I chose cranberry, magenta, red, pink, gold, some plaid, and natural fabric. I carefully poured hot water (mixed with Dawn dish detergent) over the wool until it was covered, and heated it on the stove until the colors bled.  Then white vinegar was added to the water and the dye reabsorbed into the wool strips.  The pan was covered and allowed to simmer for an hour....  the wool then went into the washer and dryer.  

The results

We'll see how these look when they're hooked into the pattern.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Pattern Transfer

"Two Pomegranates", Happy DiFranza from DiFranza Designs
6 1/2" X 8 1/2"

Our ATHA Chapter challenges it's members to complete a project to share at our last meeting of the year, the second Friday of June.  This is my pattern choice.  The pattern doesn't have triangles in the border, I added them while trying to decide if I wanted them in my finished version.
To enlarge the pattern I used a grid - a very low tech method.  I divided the DiFranza  pattern into 1/2" squares and on my drawing paper I drew the same number of squares but they are larger,  1 5/8".  Then I drew the image on my paper, focusing on one square at a time, until the entire pattern had been transferred.
Design on paper

To transfer this drawing to my linen for hooking, I traced the design onto red dot pattern tracing cloth.  It's called Kwik Trace by Kwik Sew.  The cloth is 100% translucent, has dots as guide marks, and is made of nylon.  I put the red dot over my drawing, and I traced the design with a brown marker.
Tracing onto the Kwik Trace

I then laid the red dot cloth on my linen and traced the design in a different color marker.  By using a different color I can be sure I've traced the entire pattern.  The marker goes through the Kwik Trace and marks the linen with the design.
Putting the design on linen

Here's my pattern ready to hook.  I've also added a border.
"Two Pomegranates", the finished design on linen
21" X 27"

I'm still working on using the wool I have, so........ on to the search for the right colors.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

"Tis and Taint" Progress

"Tis and Taint"

Progress has been slow.  I've had family obligations, so I haven't done much hooking lately.  You can see where I added a linen patch where the pattern had been folded.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Pictorial Rug

The Pictorial Rug by Jane E. Halliwell
Copyright 2000

After beginning "Tis and Taint", I was able to purchase this book on pictorial rugs.  Jane states that these rugs can be hooked in 3 styles: primitive, realistic, or impressionist.  Primitive art lacks detail and pays little attention to scale and perspective.  The strips used to hook them are usually a 1/4 inch or larger.

Briarwood Folk Art Pattern Inspired by Magdalena Briner Eby

 Realism is representing the subject truthfully.  It has details, shading, and perspective.  Jane says rugs portraying Currier & Ives prints are good examples.  These rugs are often hooked in a #2 or #3 strip. (1/16th inch or 3/32 inch).
Small Town USA, circa 1940s, based on the Artwork of George Kovach
Hooked by Roland Nunn

Impressionism is somewhere between primitive and realistic.  Impressionist rugs lean toward realism but lack some detail and are hooked in a #4 or #5 (1/8 inch or 5/32 inch).  Using Jane's definitions, I would categorize "Tis and Taint" as an impressionistic design.  Most of the strips I've used have been cut in a #4.
From research I was able to find that "Tis and Taint" (no.912) was created and published on July 20, 1978.  I still haven't seen a completed rug.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Learning the Hard Way

"Tis and Taint"

I've read and been told that old burlap patterns can be brittle.  I've read and been told that we should never fold a pattern to be stored for long periods of time, rolling them up is a better idea. (Gene Shepherd recommends not to use old burlap patterns at all, except to display them unfinished.  He says designs you like should be transferred to more durable linen.)  Well, this pattern is old and had been folded.  Before I started hooking, I thought I had carefully checked the strength of the fibers......pulling on the burlap around the design...... the burlap seemed strong enough to me.
As you can see in the photo, once I got over to the right side of the design, I found weak spots that needed some reinforcement.  I attached linen patches on the top of my pattern (I didn't want them to show underneath) and hooked through the two layers of fabric.  The horizontal threads were weak....from being old and folded.  
If I was smart, I would probably abandon this project, but... guess I'm not smart.  I'm not really hung up on it's "standing the test of time" or the "heirloom quality" of the project. This mat is not ideal, but at least I will have something, if treated gently, that will last for a time.  It's imperfections will make it unique. 
More of the fragile fold will need strengthening.  I'm hoping that if the burlap is letting go in one place, it won't let go in others.