November 24, 2009

A New Rug Hooking Project: Lean

I've just started a new ruglet, using the watercolor above as the color study. It will be 12 x 12.5 inches and be slightly shaped, with the brown rectangle rising above the rest of the image.

The idea for this design came from looking at the diptych Circling hanging on the wall in my house. The pieces were contained by the architecture, with one seeming to lean against a door frame. I liked the idea of a shape leaning against another, so did a few sketches and settled on the one on the upper right, though I might go back to the other ideas at another time. One thing I love about making hooked ruglets is the unexpected ways that compositions come to me; they come from painting and photography, from film, from objects around the house, and even from just doodling, making for a visual romp.

I chose the colors for this piece after going through some of my colored remnants, looking for inspiration. I decided to use the technique of overdyeing, using previously dyed wool and re-dyeing it. For the lime green, I started with a bright yellow (rejected from a project that needed a softer hue) and added a bit of turquoise dye; I also dropped a bits of red on it to make some variegation in the color and relate the green to the other reds in the work. For the background red, I added some darker red and some blue to a lighter colored wool; for the erect rectangle, I started with a few different pieces of red-dyed cloth. I added some dark green to it, thinking that the red/green color complement would create brown; but the red was too strong, so I added some blue, then some yellow to warm the brown. What I ended up with was a very reddish brown, a color I likely wouldn't have gotten if I had started from a white piece of cloth. I love these unexpected bonuses that come with the dyeing process. Working with this medium, which is more open-ended and playful than my painting, provides a nice counterpoint to it.


  1. your sketch here reminds me of that wonderful Ellsworth Kelly exhibit (and catalogue) at the Drawing Center in 2002. subject: finding forms - compositions. it's intriguing to see this finding-form stage before the result exists. there's so much potential (energy) in this phase of an undertaking, very seed like.

  2. ah, I love Kelly's work and have done several ruglets based on his imagery (a blog post on it will come someday). I didn't see that show, but remember seeing some of his photographs at the Guggenheim years ago; you could see seeds of his ideas there too.

  3. Yep, one thing leads to another. I understand the
    way you move the colors around. When I start a monoprintings session, I paint the first one then
    use the ghost for the underpainting for the next one. I love this way of working. When the process starts I can relax into it and not worry about "what", but think more about "next".


  4. Myrna, that's interesting about your monoprint technique. I've written before that the dyeing process reminds me of printmaking––which I've done quite a bit of––in its unexpectedness. After working on a plate, seeing the first proof was always an adjustment, from what I expected to what I had now, making for a fluid process.