Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hooked Rug Storytelling

A slightly different blog post today as The Book has arrived at last. I haven’t mentioned it before on the blog because I was waiting to actually see it in the flesh so to speak.

This is the wonderful book written by my brother’s partner Lesley Mary Close about extremely talented rug maker Heather Ritchie. I have mentioned Heather in a previous post but this is the first time that this book has seen the light of day. It is a beautifully crafted wonder about the life of a Yorkshire rag rug maker and the fascinating history behind her story rugs. It is crammed full of fabulous photos taken by Lesley, and details of her rugs and exactly how she made them and why. It is the story of the life of a Daleswoman illustrated in textiles. It is published by American publishers Schiffer and is quite a solid book. Lesley has slept, ate, dreamed and lived this book for many a long month with countless re-readings and editing and e-transfer backwards and forwards across the pond. We are all immensely proud of her achievement. You will have to excuse my poor photography of the book but it was too large to scan.

Heather has a well deserved international reputation as a teacher and creator of rag rugs. She has travelled the world and taken her rugs and hooks with her. She is busy enough doing that but also has found time to found and run a charity in the Gambia called Rug Aid which teaches blind Gambians to make rag rugs for sale. An almost impossible task is what we all thought when we heard about it, but Heather was determined to try to help these terribly deprived people who have to beg on the streets to survive. You can read all about it on the website here. You can also browse Heather’s own website here.

I was asked last year to draw some simple line artwork for the chapter headings and I produced 17 in total and you can see some of them at the end of the blog post. They might look simple but some of them required blood, sweat and tears from me, especially the architectural ones. If you see any mistakes in them please don’t tell me..haha.


and here is the original photo of Heather holding the lambs.


The rug below is one of my favourites because of the gorgeous colours she has chosen. Purples and greens are great combinations and Heather dyes most of the wool she uses herself to get a huge range of shades.


Here is the photo that inspired the Jackdaw Jeans rug below. I think the jeans are especially good. Heather has the knack of removing extraneous detail to simplify the image.



The rug below is Victory Garden and was created after Heather found a photo of her grandfather on his allotment. I bet quite a few people can remember the old call of “digging for victory” so that extra food could be produced to feed the population during the second world war. My favourite part of this rug are the pigeons and the sense of distance and perspective. You really feel that you have a pigeons’ eye view here. If you enlarge the photo you can see my little drawing at the top.


This is the so-called Reeth Parliament which were a group of elderly men who used to congregate in the village bus shelter to put the world to rights. Heather’s rug shows amazing attention to detail. The chaps are all gone now but this rug remains as a lovely memory.


This rug shows “Percival’s Bus” which was one of the companies serving the dales town of Reeth where Heather lives. When I was drawing my little bus for the front of the chapter I had plenty of references as there are lots of photos on the Internet of vintage buses of this type.


This gorgeous rug is called Guiding Light and shows Heather as a young girl guiding her father through the streets when his eyesight failed.


Heather in The Gambia workshop helping one of the blind rag rug makers. She is a wonderful teacher. You can imagine the patience needed to teach blind people to make rugs.


I love her depiction of Hall Farm where she and her husband lived. The pinky-purple heathery colours are stunning.


Fleet is Heather’s gorgeous border collie. He is full of life and fun and heather has depicted him beautifully in this rug. I love the detail shot of the swirly different shades of green to suggest grass. She has put in so much accurate detail about Fleet that you could recognise him just by the rug.


This page details how Heather finishes off her rugs and sorts out the hanging details.


Back Cover Of Book


Paradise Gardens drawing. I loved doing all the flowers for this one but it took ages to outline the black lines on the computer in order to make them clearer.

Reeth Village Green drawing. This wasn’t too hard as it was basically straight lines – well buildings are aren’t they?
Reeth Parliament drawing. I used an old pair of my dad’s boots, his flat cap and his stick for the reference for this drawing.

Percival’s Bus drawing. Quite a tricky little one with bits borrowed from various bus photos to make a composite.
This is the drawing for Victory Gardens. I loved drawing that cabbage.


The Evacuees drawing. Loved drawing the teddy but the suitcase and the gas mask were tricky.

This is an image I have been working on recently. I found some beautiful tree paintings in a book about the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy and tried to produce my own but I don’t think they are comparable. Still, I quite like them. This is my elongated hand again. Coming in quite useful really.

This is the finished version of Blessing The Garden. I have altered quite a few things and made the bird white in order to make it stand out more. I may do a black and white version of this image too as I really like it.



rossichka said...

Dear Cathy, I read this post all in a breath - it's so intriguing, interesting and inspiring! I'm always happy to learn new things about art and to meet such amazing people like Heather Ritchie! I would love to know her! The book promises to bring delight to many people - it's the story of a life, dedicated to art and people. The technique of making rugs seems very attractive, but I suppose it's not an easy one!I think Heather has given her blind students in The Gambia much more than teaching them how to make rugs!...
You've done a great job, your brother's partner - too...
I like the final look of your Blessing the Garden. I saw the differences and liked the new accents.
Have a wonderful and successful new week, greetings from Bulgaria!:)

A bird in the hand said...

What a fabulous book! I can appreciate the many, many hours that went into it. The work is superb!
Thank you for sharing it with us (my mouth is still open!!!)

xox colette

Cathy said...

Thanks for your lovely words Rossichka. I think the book is very inspiring but then I have got a bit of a vested interest..haha.

Cathy said...

Hi Colette. Thanks very much. The book is wonderful and there are so many gorgeous and detailed photos too.

bunnits said...

Your work is delightful. It is always difficult to decide which of your drawings I like the best.

I really enjoyed the hooked rug art. I have done a bit of rug hooking and it is quite engaging. I got started with it when I worked at the living history museum. Unfortunately, there is just not enough time to pursue everything I enjoy doing.

Crafty Green Poet said...

what a wonderful book and those rugs are magnificent! Your drawings are lovely too!

Cathy said...

That is such a pity Melissa but I know what you mean. There are so many other things that I would like to do too but I never seem to have the time.

Cathy said...

Thanks very much Juliet. The book really is fabulous and I cannot wait to get my very own copy which I have been promised. I originally started to do the drawings in much more detail but that would have been lost when they were reduced in size for the book so I simplified them to line drawings.

Pomona said...

What a beautiful book - and your drawings are perfect!

Pomona x

deb said...

What a fantastic book! Those rugs are amazing. I especially like the one of Heather's dog Fleet. How lovely that your drawings are included too. And I do like your Blessing the Garden. The colours are lovely.
(Sorry to say there are photos missing from this post for me again!)

BeadBag said...

Hi Cathy - the book looks wonderful. Congratulations to you too! - you must have a big feeling of relief that it's come off some beautifully. Lovely drawings.
Shirley xxxxx

Cathy said...

Thanks so much Pomona.

Cathy said...

So sorry that the photos are absent again Deb. I have asked around and no-one else has missing photos but I have seen some comments about it on Google when I searched. It is obviously some problem between Blogger and Live Writer but why it should just be you I don't know. I believe Blogger use Flickr to host their photos and Live Writer use Picassa.

I agree about the Fleet rug. It is a masterpiece of a rug.

Cathy said...

Thanks Shirley, although my part was tiny really. The plaudits should go to Lesley for all her hard work and talent and to Heather for creating those rugs in the first place.

Acornmoon said...

What a wonderful achievement, such a beautiful book.

I am enjoying the cards I bought from your shop. haven't sent any yet. The problem with buying lovely cards is they are hard to part with!

Cathy said...

Thanks very much Valerie. It is a wonderful book that is for sure. Glad you are enjoying the cards. I have exactly the same problem with cards that I buy...they are too nice to send.

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

Congratulations to your brother's partner on writing such a lovely book - and also to you Cathy for producing the impressive drawings for the chapter headings.

Love the photo of Heather Ritchie guiding the hands of one of the Gambian crafters - the printed fabric of her headdress and gown is stunning!

Bye for now. Lesley x

jamjar said...

What a beautiful book cathy, the rugs are so detailed, and how lovely to have your illustrations in the books too, congratulations xxx

Cathy said...

Thanks very much Lesley. African patterns and designs are amazingly colourful.

Cathy said...

Thanks Joy. I love all the detail in those rug photos and there are so many of them in the book. She has a lot more rugs than that though. I wish they could all have been in there..haha.

Sandy Mastroni said...

beautiful book , beautiful rugs
and you did some wonderful drawings ... I know how much work it is ! and plus the pressure to do a good job .... you did well [ I'm not surprised ] ..... You always do lovely work
congrats to all on this book !

Cathy said...

Thanks very much Sandy. My bit was only very tiny compared to Lesley's though. Her input was enormous but has had a wonderful outcome. Have a lovely weekend.

Anonymous said...

Wow, great work! So inspiring. Congratulations, to all of you, on the publication. xx

~ Phyllis ~ said...

What a delightful post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the rug hooking book. Your drawings for the book are superb. I hope the book will be available in the states soon. The pictures of the rugs are beautiful.

Cathy said...

Thanks so much Omi. I cannot wait to get my very own copy to peruse in detail.

Cathy said...

Hi Phyllis. It should be there now I think. It is a wonderful book and the photographs are superb and so detailed.

martine said...

How lovely to see a book being produced about heather's work. I went to a workshop at her home four or five years ago and had a fabulous time, she is so inspiring. The subtlety and details in her work is amazing. I am so pleased to see so much interest being shown in traditional craft work.
thanks for sharing

Cathy said...

Thanks very much Martine. She is indeed very inspiring and has such enthusiasm for her craft. Let's hope the book encourages new crafters to try rag rug making and keep it alive.

Anonymous said...

Really missing your blog lately. I am a book illustrator working in New Zealand and I love your page. Interesting stuff. Regards Lisa

Debrina said...

Hello Cathy. I can finally leave comments again. So here I am to finally be able to say: I love this book; I LOVEyour drawings and I love your new work! Next post please!

jamjar said...

Hoping all is well with you Cathy, I am planning to go to Art in Action this year for the first time, yeh!

ArtPropelled said...

A lovely book! The Jackdoor Jeans rug is wonderful .... and I love the men sitting in a row. Hope you are well Cathy.

Cathy said...

Hi Lisa

Sorry to say that I won't be doing any more blogging now. It is over three years since I started but I have finally had to give up due to pressure of time. I will miss blogging but I can still enjoy all the other blogs everyone else is doing. Thanks so much for following my blog over the months and your very positive comments.

Cathy said...

Hi Debrina. Thanks so much for the lovely comments about the book and my work. I have now given up blogging due to the lack of time in my life but I do miss it and the interaction with great fellow bloggers like yourself. Thanks for all the support over the previous months and take care.

Cathy said...

Hi Joy. I have replied to you via your website email but if you don't receive it (I have been having lots of email problems just lately) it is just to say that I will be at AIA tomorrow (Thursday) so if you are going to be there then perhaps we could meet up for a coffee and bit of their gorgeous cake..haha. Let me know anyway.

Cathy said...

Thanks Robyn. Glad you like the rug pictures. It is an amazing book but I am slightly biased..haha.

I am fine but I have had to give up my blog due to pressure of time. It really was taking my a lot of time that I didn't have to blog and visit and comment etc. I have had a lovely three years of chatting to the most wonderful blogging community and have enjoyed it all, but sometimes changes have to be made in our lives and this is one of those changes in mine. I will miss you all though.


Hi Cathy

It looks an amazing and inspiring book to own ... one that you just want to look at with a cup of hot choccie and plan rug hooking over the autumn and winter months!!

mmmm ... there's an idea!

Hope you are well. See you haven't posted for a while. Hope all is ok and sorry haven't visited for a while I've been having my own frustrations and not had a lot of time to visit any blogs for a while

Love ya xx

Dolores said...

Oh no, say it isn't so. I do so love browsing your blog. I too loved that rug hooking book. Your art is one of the reasons I kept/keep coming back. While I do follow other bloggers, I have noticed that not all of them reply to comments made on their blogs. I don't even know if they visit other bloggers. You could do the same - just post and forget replying (unless of course, it is to answer a question.)
The word identification is 'hooksei'- I thought of your post.

Cathy said...

Hi Carolyn. It is indeed a wonderful book and I am very proud to have a tiny part of it. I agree about the reading with a cup of something nice in the cool weather. I have all the "makings" for a rag rug but have never got around to "making" one. Perhaps I will now I am totally inspired by Heather's work.

I have decided to stop blogging now in order to free up a lot of time for other things. I will miss it enormously but I will still be drawing and painting and checking up on everyone else.

Cathy said...

Hi Dolores. Thanks so much for your very kind words. It is very sad to see the blog go but I really have had to sit down and take a good long hard look at my time management which is dreadful. I spend such a long time searching out other artists and creating my own work and I really do need the time for other things now. I will miss everyone to bits but will be "lurking" here and there to see what you are all up to. Thanks for all the lovely comments over the past three years and happy creating in the future.


Cathy you only have to take a look at your live feed to see how popular your blog is and how much it is loved and enjoyed. Sending hugs xoxo

Cathy said...

Thanks for your support Carolyn. Everyone has been so nice about the blog ever since I first started it and I am really touched.

andamento said...

Hi Cathy, sorry to hear you're giving up blogging but glad to hear there no other ominous cause for your lack of posts. I miss your blog but understand how time consuming it can be to try to do it properly. Perhaps you'll surprise us with the odd random post every few months or so - just wishful thinking on my part, maybe.

ale balanzario said...

Hi Cathy, I love your blog, I often come to see if you were back blogging, now I just read the comments and see you wont, its sad, but I want to thank you in a very special way all the wonderful posts, I still come and take a look page after page.
My best wishes.
Ale Balanzario

Chatters said...

Hi Cathy really beautiful post. Really enjoyed it. That book looks amazing. Your art looks lovely, I love your new banner at the top - the drawing of the fox. Your art work would be amazing for illustrations for books. I can imagine them in childrens books

Cathy said...

Hi Anne, sorry to be so long replying to this. I was very sorry to have to end blogging but I really just couldn't spare the time anymore, and I must say, I do have more time these days. I still like to check in to everyone else when I get five minutes though. Take care.

Cathy said...

Hi Ale, so kind of you to say so. I am so happy that I cheered up some people with my blogging. I couldn't keep up with it but I had great enjoyment planning each post.

Cathy said...

Thanks so much Amanda. I enjoyed doing the illustrations for the book. I tended to get carried away though, and originally made them more detailed than they needed to be. Glad you like the fox too. It is actually just a small part of a woodland scene with trees and the fox at the front but I couldn't scan the whole thing as it was expensively framed many years ago.

Zara @ Online PhD in Computer Science said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
idstreet said...

Amazing ...

Morna Crites-Moore said...

What a wonderful book. :-)