Seasons Greetings from the Australian Rugmakers Guild

ISSN 2007-001X  December 2017

Greetings to you all

I’m sending you my best wishes for a happy and healthy Festive Season.
It is a time to share with family and friends, but hopefully you will be able to find a little time for some creative moments which you can share with all of us through this blog.
Happy rugmaking!
Judith Stephens, SA, President
Member of StrathMatters

Best Wishes also from the ARG Committee & State Representatives

Maggie Whyte, ACT, Vice President & Secretary, member Narrawilly Proggy Rugmakers

Maggie modelling in the Annual Fashion Parade at Miriam Miller’s Rug Room, Narrawilly, Milton, NSW

Tricia Thacker, WA, Treasurer, member of the Wanneroo Rugmakers

Judi Tompkins, QLD, Communications Chair & Webmaster. Member of the Sunshine Coast RugCrafters and Co-convener of “Re-imagined” a Challenge with a Difference.

Miriam Miller, NSW, President Emeritus, Member of the Narrawilly Proggy Rugmakers

Anne Schafer & Christine Noorbergen, VIC, members of the Yarra Valley Rugmakers

Joanne Wild, TAS, member of the Happy Hookers

Best Wishes for a Happy, Healthy and Creative New Year

Jo Franco, WA, Editor & Membership Chair Member of the Wanneroo Rugmakers and Co-convener of Re-imagined a Challenge with a Difference.


Footprints in the sand at Christmas

ISSN 2007-001X 15th December, 2017

An Update on the Footprint Project

Enlargements [2m (6ft) long], of my footprints are being hooked using single-use plastic bags, by the Wanneroo Rugmakers group as part of a research project by Sue Girak, PhD, Visual Arts Specialist, City Beach PS, Perth, West Australia.


Judy cutting plastic bags into pieces to prod. Anna and Kath finishing off the proddy edge of the left footprint.
Definitely a “group” project – Anna, Kath and Judy working together from the back of the piece – while Rhonda knits and supervises.

The “right” footprint is complete and has found a temporary home (until Christmas) in the library in a marquee advertising  “Summer Wonderland” – workshops for children of all ages to learn how to make Christmas decorations.

Ours is a Summer Wonderland at Christmas – the only thing white is the sand!

The finished footprints will be delivered to Sue after the holidays when school starts again in February.

Textile artist and author Susan Feller (USA) included this Australian research project in a presentation she made on “Educating about Craft” at the 2017 Association of Traditional Hooking Artists Biennial Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
Read more about the project in the report sent to Susan Feller by Sue Girak

Remember when one only spoke in a whisper in the library?   Well things have changed …. this library encourages and supports activities for many different age groups.  Fortunately the library space is laid out such that enthusiastic  members  of one group don’t interrupt others.

Much sharing of ideas, learning, conversation and laughter takes place in this space on a Saturday morning!  The group is open to all members of the community.

This is one project we were pleased to see come to an end! Working with the plastic bags was hard on the hands, and the work just didn’t feel good in the hand, nevermind it’s dubious artistic quality 🙂    However, it has provided an opportunity for discussion regarding “waste” and what we can all do on a personal level to try to help solve the problem.  Needless to say, the group is looking forward to their next project in the New Year.

Seasons Greetings and Best Wishes for the New Year from the Wanneroo Rugmakers Group  –   Jo Franco, Editor


International Rug Hooking Day 2017

ISSN 2007-1X 6th December, 2017

An actual “day” for rughooking,  how did this come about?


The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers was formed in England on 4th December 1994. On the twentieth anniversary of the formation,  the Guild declared December 4th to be International Hooking Day in celebration of the anniversary and to further their mission statement –

“to come together in friendship to share ideas, and to explore the different techniques of the art of rugmaking using a variety of fibres”

Rug Hooking Magazine supports the International Guild and each year dedicates a Facebook page for rug hookers and rug making groups around the world to post pictures of their activities on, or connected to, this day.


It’s been a busy time in rug hooking circles around Australia and images of Australian groups activities were posted on Rug Hooking Magazines Facebook.

In NSW – there was an International connection as the Narrawilly Proggy Rugmakers gathered at Miriam Miller’s rug room in Milton to hold their annual Fashion Parade – members model garments from the Op Shop where they source the recyclables for their rug work.

Kerrie from Canberra, ACT
Maggie Whyte, Canberra, ACT – Vice President Australian Rugmakers Guild
Elke, Milton, NSW
Maggie-Mother of the Bride, Christine-Bridesmaid, Jenny-Bride, Elke-Bridesmaid, Vivienne-2nd Mother of the Bride

At the end of the parade the garments are auctioned, and the money raised sent to Heather Ritchie in the UK to support her “Rug Aid” project, a rughooking school for the visually impaired in The Gambia.
From Heather Ritchie, UK ….. “Rug Aid is so grateful for your wonderful support, we are planning on buying talking watches and white canes to take with us in January. we will never forget the first time we gave a talking watch to one of our blind friends. the response was “this Is the first time I know what time it is to pray ” your support means so much. A huge thank youxxx”

Heather is the current President of TIGHR, The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers.

The 2018 Triennial Conference will be held in Heather’s home town of Reeth, in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales.

Miriam has made many rug hooking contacts through her international travels with Jacquie Thomson, rug hooking friend and co-founder of the Narrawilly group and shares letters and images from these friends in her monthly newsletter which you can find archived on this website.

Still in NSW – when Gail Nichols from Mongarlowe, a tiny village near Braidwood, NSW realised it was International Rug Hooking Day on Monday she posted this image of the rug she is currently working on.

Gail worked for 30 years as a professional ceramic artist and when her friend and neighbour Maggie Hickey introduced her to rughooking in 2014 she became “hooked”. Both friends were encouraged by Miriam Miller and the Narrawilly rug makers group in Milton. Gail said by 2016 rug making was dominating her studio work, ……..

“I enjoy the tactile hooking process and the immediacy of hooking with colour. My designs are abstracted from landscape photos I’ve taken. Rughooking has allowed me to see the world in new ways. I have already collected more ideas than I could complete in a lifetime! I use new and recycled fabrics, predominantly stretch knits such as T-shirt material, hooked on hessian or polyester backing. Working with fabrics has led me to also experiment with textile collage and stitch drawing.”

It has been a successful year for Gail who won awards for her rug work in Australia and travelled to the USA to participate in a panel presentation on ceramics at Stanford University.
There’s also an international connection here ……. through contact with the Guild’s Communications Chair Judi Tompkins, both women originally from the USA, discovered they were from the same State and went to the same university – it is truly a small world. Who knew rug hooking – a traditional craft would have such a reach.

In Victoria, on Sunday 26th Nov just prior to the celebration of International Rughooking Day, two of the Yarra Valley Rugmakers, Anne and Robyne, promoted rug hooking on a warm day at Buda House, an old homestead in Castlemaine, talking to people and demonstrating rug hooking while working on their own hooking projects.
They toured the homestead which has been donated to the Castlemaine Art Gallery. Robyne says it holds a fabulous collection and is well worth a visit. Here are a couple of Robyne’s photos – read more about their visit and the interesting story about the family on the Victorian Rugmakers blog.

In Western Australia, the Wanneroo Rugmakers celebrated the day over their Christmas lunch at the café in the Library and Culutral centre, bringing with them their own table decorations – prodded Christmas Trees.
Here are some images taken during this lively event – including “Persephone” – the life-size hooked figure that stands at the foot of the stairs with information about the rug group’s meetings upstairs in the Library every Saturday. Their community project for this year is coming to an end  more on that in a couple of weeks.

Some of the members of the Wanneroo Rugmakers

Christmas trees are simple to make – it just takes some backing and a selection of small pieces of fabric and  a simple proddy tool. Kits are available from Judith Stephens in South Australia Email:

In Queensland Judi Tompkins and the Sunshine Coast RugCrafters are working on pieces to be displayed in the library where their meetings are held twice a month.

Designed and Hooked by Sally Randle, Brisbane, in appreciation of the Shed Days. Framed by Judi incorporating siding from the Shed and her antique tools.

Several entries for Re-imagined” a Challenge with a Difference have been received from this group.

Besides setting  up  the Challenge, Judi has been busy – selling her house and packing up – so unfortunately there’ll be no more shed days – not until the new house is finished – a ways off yet …….

Judi standing in the location of her new studio





Judi recently had an international visitor, also to do with rughooking in a round about way. Tom, a relative who lives in Belgium and has made several voyages on  SV Tenacious  which recently sailed the Queensland coast headed for Melbourne where Sailor Tom was to pick up the ship and sail from Melbourne to New Zealand. The ship’s departure was delayed a few days due to unseasonably wet weather,  even for Melbourne. You can read more about Tom’s voyages on the SV “Tenacious” here

This 3D hooked representation of the SV Tenacious, one of two Jubilee Sailing Trust vessels fitted out to take a mixed-ability crew, was hooked by Judi from a photograph and now hangs in Tom’s home in Belgium.

Tall Ship “Tenacious” docked in Belgium (ship photo and rug); 26 x 28 recycled wool blankets, alpaca/mohair yarns, sari silk, sculpted, hooking Adaptation with image of original ship


South Australia: More international connections – Judith Stephens, Guild President and leader of the StrathMatters rug hooking group in South Australia, recently returned from a trip to Japan where she met up with Fumiyo Hachisuka also a member of TIGHR.  

Fumiyo Hachisuka and Judith Stephens in Tokyo. Photograph courtesy of Malcolm Edward-Cole.

Fumiyo has  attended many TIGHR Conferences including the 2012 TIGHR Conference in Strathalbyn, South Australia and the 2015 Conference in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, BC.

Here Fumiyo shows Judith a hooked wall hanging inspired by a photo taken by Fumiyo at the last TIGHR Triennial Conference in Victoria, BC.

Fumiyo Hachisuka, Tokyo, Japan. Photograph courtesy of Malcolm Edward-Cole

Members of the Strathmatters Rughooking Group work on projects using varied rug making techniques.


Judith Stephens, ARG President, demonstrating rugmaking at Adelaide Craft Fair 2017
StrathMatters weekend rug retreat at Robe, South Australia 2017

More of their activities, various project and information about their meetings can be seen on their Blog.

Jo Franco, Editor

I’d like to take this opportunity to invite members, non-members and all text artists in the Southern Hemisphere, individually or as a collaboration, to enter Re-imagined a mixed media challenge. Send your Expression of Interest now, images of your completed work is not due until next year – 30th April, 2018.

Happy Rughooking  & Best Wishes for Christmas & the New Year.

The Persephone Connection

ISSN 2007-1X  11th November, 2017

It was with interest I read a Facebook post by a member of The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers (TIGHR) about a  communal rug hooked by a UK group, the Mesdames Myrtles. The rug design was  based on the end paper panels from Persephone books ….. what are Persephone books and what is so distinctive about them?

A quick Google search  gave up information on Nicola Beauman, founder of Persephone books …. and …. the books distinctive grey covers with colourful inside floral panels.
Beauman’s choice of the name Persephone (associated with Spring, daughter of mythical Greek God Zeus) was as a symbol of female creativity.

How does this connect with a community rug making group in Wanneroo, Western Australia?

In 2016 the Wanneroo community rug group took on a project to create a piece of “hooked” signage to advertise their meeting time & place.

The sign took the form of a life-sized free standing woman to be displayed outside the Library where the group meets on Saturday mornings.

The figure was created by the use of a live “template”. A large piece of hessian was placed on the floor and a volunteer lay on top of it with an up-raised arm, to have her form drawn around with chalk.

The outline was then refined with an indelible pen and group members let their imaginations run wild as they hooked with recycled clothing to fill in the shape … creating colourful garments and facial features; not meant to resemble any particular member of the group.

As the hooked figure began to take shape she was referred to as “the Lady”.

Towards completion of the project it was decided “the lady” needed a name. Many suggestions were considered. Kath who is from England, came up with the name Persephone. The rest of us were not familiar with the name, it’s spelling or from where it was derived. Kath said she’d suggested it because the hooked female figure was so colourful with her spring-like floral embellished dress. She said Persephone was the name of the daughter of the mythical Greek God Zeus and the harbinger of Spring.

Persephone was presented to the public on 4th December 2016, International Rughooking Day. Instead of being trotted out each Saturday morning to announce the meeting of the group, she’s resided at the foot of the stairs, across from the Café, in the Library and Culture Centre. Persephone holds up a sign describing the community rug group – inviting others to take part. Occasionally her jewellery and accessories are added to or changed.

On December 4th 2017 we will meet again at the Café to recognize International Rughooking Day over an early Christmas lunch and will raise a glass to celebrate Persephone’s 1st Birthday and the connection with our rughooking friends overseas.

Editors Note:       Does your group have an activity planned for International Rughooking Day on or around the 4th December 2017?   If so, share an image from your day to Rug Hooking Magazine’s Facebook page.


………. no  not that elusive creature,

these are 2m long (6ft) enlargements, of my footprints being hooked by the Wanneroo Rugmakers as part of a research project using single-use plastic bags.

Textile artist Susan Feller (USA) included this research project in a presentation she made on “Educating about Craft” at the recent Association of Traditional Hooking Artists Biennial Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

Here’s project information sent to Susan Feller by Sue Girak PhD Visual Arts Specialist City Beach PS, Perth, West Australia, :

Walking Together with Pride is a collaborative installation that represents society’s ecological footprint. The initial phase of this project took place at City Beach Primary School in 2016. City Beach Primary School is a small government primary school located in Perth, Western Australia. Approximately 160 students attend the school which is situated in an affluent beachside suburb. Our local beaches are pristine, so it is very easy for children to underestimate the environmental degradation that is caused by plastic pollution in our oceans. As a means to highlight the growing dependence on plastic and its associated problems, the older children and I came up with the idea to make a large-scale installation artwork that would highlight the negative impact single-use plastic bags are having on the environment. When we first exhibited our eight footprints the younger students wanted the project to continue, so we invited others to add more footprints for a second showing in 2018. There is an associated research component that accompanies the project. My colleague Dr Jackie Johnson and I are interested to know if reusing discarded materials in art-making will make a difference to artists and crafts people’s environmental attitudes and behaviours. The Wanneroo Rughooking group was the first group to participate and make a start. They are using the proddy (proggy) hook method to make a pair of 180cm (6’) footprints made from salvaged plastics. As well being involved with the Wanneroo Rughooking group, Jo Franco is a member of the Western Australian Fibre and Textile Association (WAFTA). WAFTA have decided to work with my school as part of their community engagement initiative in 2017/18 and to teach rug making. I want to use old t-shirts to highlight the environmental problems associated with fast fashion. Further afield, Mandurah City Council is interested in extending the footprint project. Mandurah is a city 72 km (45 miles) south of Perth, and they want to work with their schools and community groups to produce pairs of footprints, which will be exhibited at the Drift Exhibition in May 2018. This means the footprints made by the Wanneroo Rughooking group will be exhibited twice next year. Finally, in August 2017, I presented the project at the International Society for Education through Art (InSEA) conference in Korea. The response was positive, I have schools in Beijing and Slovenia who wish to do their own footprint project and inquiries from Deakin University (Melbourne, Australia) to incorporate the concept into a community arts program.”

Susan’s presentation continued  ……..

“If any of this audience wants to participate in their research that would be great. Contact info if seriously interested in a group participation is Sue would be happy to work with a group from the US or Canada. Jackie and Sue are very interested in the creative reuse of salvageable materials in art-making and whether that would trigger shifts in environmental attitudes and behaviours.  (Sue) Originally thought that the research would only be for locals who would contribute to her school’s exhibition. However, if there are international rug makers that would like to participate, they would love to hear. While there may be problems sending actual footprints to Australia, if people are willing to make a pair (as per her instructions) and photograph them, Sue will include that in the exhibition. Her students would love to see how their art is inspiring others around the world. The research component is a before and after survey, photos to show process and the possibility of an interview.”

The Wanneroo Rugmakers have completed the “before” survey and are enjoying thinking of different creative ways to embellish the footprints. While it’s a group project, members are working independently on the footprints – each adding their own ideas and techniques.

Anna thought it would be humorous to indicate a shoe-size and knitted a strip using white plastic bags and sewed the strip onto the footprint in the shape of a figure eight, adding a one – these footprints are surely bigger than a size 18!  She is using plastic wrappers off sliced bread to fill in the foot. Coloured department store bags are being used for the toenails and the flip-flop straps.

Sharon, a new member, was taught the proggy technique and is practicing by edging the footprints. Kath made elaborate floral decorations for the flip-flop thong straps added to the footprints by Peta.

Kath discussing footprint embellishments with Adele
Colourful department store bags cut with a Townshend cutter are used to hook around the embellishments on the thong strap.
Tricia who normally works with proggy is learning to hook on this project – a challenging endeavour using the slippery plastic!

From the Editor: Jo Franco – With my WAFTA hat on, having volunteered to teach Sue’s students how to rug hook, I visited her school to deliver an over-sized rug hooking stretcher frame for them to learn on.  At that time Sue showed me footprints the students had already made and I gave me this one to take back to our group as an example.

For a base they had used a soft flyscreen material and had rolled and folded single-use plastic bags stitching them into place. Hooking through this material was not “user friendly” so we reverted to our usual Hessian backing.

This is an interesting project for our rug hooking group since we already work with recycled material and as of 2018 single-use plastic bags will be banned from supermarkets in Western Australia.  Completing the initial survey was also timely and created much discussion as we had all viewed the ABC’s TV program on the excessive amount of waste generated by the use of cheap clothing.

We’re looking forward to presenting our finished footprints to Sue’s School.












Visiting South Australia

ISSN 2007-1X   17th September, 2017

StrathMatters, Strathalbyn, South Australia

On my way home from Queensland, driving across the country to Western Australia, I stopped in at Strathalbyn, South Australia to visit with the StrathMatters rug hooking group, who meet in the supper room of the Town Hall on High Street. Members of TIGHR will remember this was the location where we held workshops after the TIGHR Triennial Conference in 2012.

What a hive of activity there was last Friday morning. Even with several members away on holidays and one in hospital, there was a large group around the table, all busy on a variety of projects.  Chris seated at the end of this table is making a proggy rug using recycled jeans.

Here are some of their projects……

Noreen’s colourful hooked piece will become a tote bag.  Irene is working on a rug design outlined in black to represent a stained glass window and Annette was busily making a toothbrush rug.

Heather, who is also a spinner, is using a mixture of wools for this hooked piece she designed, including some yarn she had spun herself.

While busy hooking Maggie and Marlene were in conversation across the table with Annie who was also creating a toothbrush rug.

The hooked fish is by Jenny L one of the 3 Jenny’s in the group.

Jenny B has designed something small and simple for her first hooked piece.

Trish has already finished a Christmas project, a proggy wreath to which she’s added a string of battery operated lights. She tells me her next wreath will be made entirely of the red Christmas ribbon and it will also have the little lights.

In the foreground is Judith’s latest proggy rug in progress. Trish is explaining to Cheryl how to create a bowl by crocheting over rope and below you can see Cheryl seems to have mastered the process.

The groups upcoming rug retreat at Robe on the coast of South Australia was a topic of discussion. Group members and their spouses will stay in caravans and cabins in a caravan park by the beach and the rugmakers will work on a “secret” rug hooking project planned for them by their leader, Judith Stephens, the Guild’s President.

I was pleased to have had the opportunity to talk about Re-imagined” a Challenge with a Difference”  that Judi Tompkins(Qld) and I have launched.

Re-imagined offers fibre and textile artists an opportunity to participate (for no charge!) in a new kind of fibre art challenge open to all rugmakers and textile artists who live in the Southern Hemisphere!

We encourage all members of the Australian Rugmakers Guild to enter as individuals or in collaboration with others in their groups to show the creative and innovative work they are producing.

 TIMELINE for “Re-imagined“; between now and the end of 2017 submit an entry form containing your name, email contact and a brief bio of your textile pursuits (up to 150 words)  i.e what textile techniques you use; your general interest in textiles; if you are a rug maker how you came to rugmaking  ……. and of course what part of the country you live in.
THAT’S IT – no need to include anything about your creation on the entry form …… in fact you may not have thought about what you are going to submit.

A digital image of finished work must be submitted by end of April 2018. There will be much more to come on the Re-imagined” website’s – FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page including information about photographing your  work and what type of images to send.

Re-imagined” will debut August 2018 at a premier rug hooking event in the USA. The virtual Exhibition will be hosted by online media in Australia.

We enjoyed our stay with Judith in her new house full of rugs; on the walls, on the floor and on the furniture  

Happy & Creative rug hooking

Jo Franco,  Editor


To copy or not to copy?


ISSN 2007-001X  12th September, 2017

With promotion of “Re-imagined” a Challenge with a Difference  underway, it seems appropriate to bring up that controversial subject “copyright” vs “inspiration”.

Much has been written on craft Blogs about this often misunderstood subject.
Recently two good references were posted on the Australian Rugmakers Guild Facebook page

Owning It” written by Sharon Givoni, an Australian Intellectual Property Lawyer, see a review by Lynda Worthington of Artwear Publications.

The other is a Flow Chart published in the USA, Springfield, Missouri, by Ginger Davis Allman of The Blue bottle Tree (Polymer Clay Tutorials & Info) along with an interesting article by Ginger on this subject and about her lessons learned. While Ginger is talking polymer clay, I think the information applies equally to textiles and rugmaking.
Ginger’s flow chart designed for the hobbyists and crafts-person is very easy to follow and may be copied for personal use providing the author is acknowledged, and includes the copyright information on the form.

Rug maker Kris Miller (Spruce Ridge Studios, USA) has written several Blogs on this subject. Here is the most recent Blog which covers Copyright from a rugmakers point of view.

To summarize – and remember I am not a lawyer or an expert on copyright – just someone interested who has read many articles on this subject.
Generally speaking, anything created prior to 1923 is in the public domain and can be used as inspiration (copied) as long as the artist (if known) and where the work was seen, is acknowledged.
After 1923 – it’s best to assume all works are copyrighted, which covers the life of the artist + 70 years and no amount of change (many different percentages are bandied about) allows any work to be copied without the written permission of the artist.
A work would have to be changed so much that it was unrecognizable – if that’s the case why not create your own design to begin with.

With regard to what can or cannot be copyrighted, it should be noted some subjects, such as animals and landscapes and traditional craft techniques and ideas, cannot be copyrighted. However, an animal shown in a certain way or as a design on a logo or brand of a corporation can be copyrighted.

If you feel you’re unable to come up with an idea without some form of ‘reference’ ….. use your own photographs, but be sure and document the place and time and any details of your photographs so your can trace back to you own inspirational image should your work finish up resembling that of another artist.

Problems arise because many people think;  if they’re creating a work of art for their own enjoyment with no intention of using it commercially or to show, then it’s OK to copy and just acknowledge the artist.

Unfortunately this doesn’t work – even if you don’t share on Facebook, or Pinterest or various online newsletters and Blogs, one of your friends might, and before you know it – you’ve gone VERY public indeed.

A recent example of this was a guild member who used an image from a quilt design for her rug. Since it was purely for her own use she thought all she had to do was acknowledge the artist. She submitted two rug images for inclusion in the Guild newsletter and was advised that for the copied piece to be published she would need written permission from the artist. She applied and her application was rejected. The other image she’d submitted, a rug of her own design, which she didn’t think was very good, was shown on the Guild Facebook page. Having seen both images, I think her own piece (shown below) was equally effective in both colour and design as the copied design.

The bottom line here is either purchase a commercial pattern, or come up with your own design without copying another artists work.
Remember, simple ideas i.e. geometrics, can be very effective.

You really don’t know what you can do until you try!

Trying to create something different, is the basis of the current Challenge and why the Call for Entries has such strict instructions as to the use of so many unusual embellishments.

Don’t let your Challenge entry be rejected because you’ve copied the work of another artist.

This is the reason we want members to understand the difference between “inspiration”  and “copying”


we’re looking forward to many entries being submitted.

Jo Franco, Editor & Judi Tompkins, Communications Chair

International Jurors for Australian Challenge

ISSN 2007-001X 4th September, 2017

Have you noticed a trend on the Australian Rugmakers Guild Facebook page ….. why has the focus been on textile artists and rugmakers from the USA & Canada?

The reason ….. these talented textile artists/rugmakers/designers have agreed to be the Jurors for  “Re-imagined” a Challenge with a Difference.

Susan Feller, WV USA

Susan Feller, Lori LaBerge & Michele Wise from the USA and Michelle Sirois-Silver & Katherine Soucie from Canada, all have experience curating exhibitions and judging.
We are honoured they will take time from their busy schedules as professional textile artists to create a judging format for an Exhibition which will be difficult to assess because there is; no size constraint and maybe not even a great deal of hooking in some of the entries.

Lori LaBerge, NC USA

You may be wondering what on earth I’m talking about – how could you have such an Exhibition.

Well, let me explain …… the Call for Entries went out to all rugmakers and textile artists in the Southern Hemisphere to submit a 2D or 3D creation using at least one of the listed rug making techniques.
Works will be sumitted as digital images only, so the size of the piece can be whatever the person submitting the entry feels comfortable creating.


Michele Wise, WA USA

On the other hand, the Jurors will be challenged to select 20 pieces from a catalogue of disparate works.
Works will be judged on their own merit rather than against other entries.
The selected pieces will then be shown online as a virtual Exhibition.



Michelle Sirois-Silver, BC Canada

If you’re not comfortable submitting a 3D piece, not a problem. Your 2D piece can be shown vertically, or horizontally, as there’s no venue space to consider. The challenge to incorporate embellishments from the list given in the Call for Entries is made easier because you can add without considering  serviceability, this will not be a rug for the floor.


Katherine Soucie, BC Canada

The focus is on “recycling or up-cycling” – you are required to use all of the items on the list of embellishments – using as little or as much as you choose.  A list of the required items used is to be submitted with the digital image of finished work Note; you will see under two headings “Natural” and “Recycled” there are choices – you only need to use one of the items from each list in these two categories.

The field is wide open for you to be as creative as possible, there’s no requirement for hanging, or displaying of a work, no expensive postage/insurance to consider and as this is a first of it’s kind, entry is FREE

The Call for Entries might sound strange and way out of your comfort zone – what we are trying to do is open up the Exhibition to those who practice associated textile disciplines; knitters, crocheters, spinners & weavers, felters, quilters and embroiderers, who must know or learn one of the rug making techniques and include it in some way in their creation. “How to” Videos of these techniques can easily be found online and I’m sure anyone interested in entering could find a rugmaker to teach them one of the rugmaking techniques, which doesn’t require specialized tools and frames.

This Challenge/Exhibition is to promote rugmaking by inviting non-rugmakers, and we’re encouraging all guild members to enter, either individually or collaboratively. As a collaborative group, your entry would be submitted under one name.

Re-imagined” A Challenge with a Difference was inspired by  Altered States” a WAFTA Members’ Exhibition  16 – 23 September 2017

We look forward to sharing images from WAFTA’s Exhibition after its Opening.

You can find the “Re-imagined” Call for Entries and the Entry Form on this link

Jo Franco (WA)  &  Judi Tompkins QLD)






Another Introduction from Braidwood

ISSN 2007-001X   17th August, 2017

Images from Gail’s Nichol’s studio were shown on a Guild Facebook post after a visit by members of the Narrawilly Proggy Ruggers. The post prompted a request for more information about Gail and her textile art.

Gail said “It’s funny how a local get-together of rugmakers and fibre artists in Braidwood, New South Wales, Australia, leads to a request for more information from the USA!”   Not everyone is comfortable with Technology especially Facebook, however it has one big advantage, it does bring like minded people together and it is making it possible for Australian rugmakers and fibre artists to learn about each other.

Gail graciously answered all my questions about her textile art.

Gail: “This photo, taken by my husband Dave Nelson, gives an idea of the scale of my works – this piece is 140 x 95cm (55.12″ x 37.4”)

“Bobs Creek Culvert” – 2015 – Recycled fabric hooked on hessian backing.

If a gallery called you, how would you describe your work?

“When dealing with galleries I describe my works as ‘hooked tapestries’. I find this communicates what they are more accurately than if I call them ‘rugs’. I faced a similar semantic issue during my previous 30 year career in ceramics. As far as galleries were concerned I made ‘ceramic art’ because that is their language, but amongst other clay workers we were usually happy to call our works ‘pots’.

My hooked tapestries are works of visual art intended to hang on the wall. The images are abstractions from landscape features I have observed where I live or where I have travelled. The tapestries are made from new and recycled fabric hooked on a hessian or synthetic rug backing.

This work was inspired by a collection of leaves, twigs and algae amongst logs in a local rainforest creek.”

“Leaf Jam at Currowan Creek” – 2016 – 96 x 134 cm (37.79″ x 52.75″) New and recycled fabric hooked on hessian backing.

What captures your imagination about a particular technique or approach to your work?

Rug hooking came to me surprisingly naturally (following some initial instruction), similar to the way clay spoke to me initially many years ago. When you find that connection as an artist you just have to go with it. I love the tactile, rhythmic nature of the process, working directly with colour, and the freedom to develop the design as I go. From the beginning I saw potential images all around me. This medium has made me see the world with new eyes.

Who – or what – influenced your early work? Has your later work been influenced by the same person/style/technique?

In 2014 I attended a workshop led by my friend and neighbour Maggie Hickey. Maggie had learned from Miriam Miller and the Narawilly Rugmakers at Milton NSW, and Maggie invited me to attend one of their gatherings with her. Miriam was very encouraging and I bought my first rug frame from her. Her book, Proggy and Hooky Rugs, was a practical source of information. Where I live at Mongarlowe NSW (near Braidwood NSW) we have a group of fibre artists who meet once a month to share their work and knowledge. They were very welcoming and supportive of my new textile work. So from the beginning I had some wonderful support networks, and those associations continue. Recently Maggie and I helped to host both groups in a get-together at Mongarlowe and Braidwood.

Another major influence during my early stage of rugmaking was an Arthur Boyd retrospective exhibition I attended at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. After viewing many rooms of impressive, often familiar paintings, I entered the final room and found myself surrounded by giant hanging woven tapestries which Boyd had commissioned to be made in Portugal from a number of his paintings. I was overwhelmed by their presence and vibrance. They brought the paintings to life! They taught me the potential of textiles for creating powerful visual images. If this could be achieved with woven tapestries, why not also with hooking?

Are you pleased with your artistic progress? What boundaries or limitations do you find are the hardest to push?
I’m pleased with my progress, although from experience as a professional artist I know I will always be looking for ways to improve. In the beginning it was a challenge to just produce a small floor mat with the hooking neatly accomplished on both front and back. As I progressed the rugs grew in size and the visual images became more complex. Eventually I had to admit that even in our house no one would walk on them on the floor, so they became wall hangings. This introduced a new perspective. There was the challenge of working at an intimate focus with the design, but knowing it needed to be appreciated as a full image from much further back. Whether I’m working on a stretcher frame or a lap frame, I regularly take breaks to review the progress from a distance. I’m currently pushing the boundaries of the rectangular format, introducing more freedom and movement to the hanging work.

Where do you see your work in 1 – 2 – 5 years? In other words, where do you see yourself going with your current approach and technique?

Well, I’m not stopping, that’s for sure! Having experienced similar rapid development in ceramics, I know it’s not possible to predict what I will be making in 2 to 5 years. I will continue experimenting with materials and techniques, pushing boundaries where possible, and developing ideas for images. I have been experimenting with other textile techniques such as free machine embroidery incorporating fabric, gummy silk and paper. I expect these techniques will somehow inform and combine with my rugging, but I’ll wait and see how that happens.

I recently was fortunate to win a prize in the Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Art Awards. The Professional Practice Award sponsored by Form Studio and Gallery in Queanbeyan entitles me to an exhibition in that gallery to the value of $2000. I expect that show will take place in 2018. I have also been working with other galleries, exploring opportunities after that. I have launched a Facebook page called Gail Nichols Textiles, to share my work. I look forward to seeing where this leads.

Editor’s note: September 2016 at the Guild Exhibition in Strathnairn, Canberra, I met Gail and saw her design “Reflections at the Water Temple” in progress. It’s now finished. This small image does not do it justice, – I hope you will click the link to Gail’s Nichols Textiles and view it and her amazing body of rug art.  Hopefully her schedule will allow her to enter “Re-imagined” the current rug art Challenge in Australia, open to all rug makers and textile/fibre artists in the Southern Hemisphere   –  Happy Hooking –   Jo  Franco



“Getting to Know You”

ISSN 2007-001X  14th August, 2017

This image was included in a recent Guild Facebook post  describing a visit by the Narrawilly Proggy Rugmakers, from Milton, to the Mongarlowe Fibre Group  of the Braidwood district in New South Wales.

Over morning tea at Maggie Hickey’s Studio and lunch at Pauline Webber’s residence, a converted Mill, both groups enjoyed a day swapping ideas and stories.

A comment on the Facebook post requested an interview with the textile artist featured, Maggie Hickey and Gail Nichols.

In answer to my questions, here is what Maggie had to say ……….

If a gallery called you, how would you describe your work?

Mainly textiles (hooked rag rugs but I’ve also done some 3D metalwork using beer cans. Most of the materials I use are recycled. Some of my work is political, some just for fun.

For a mask exhibition Maggie used “Fosters” beer green cans to create the Green Man mask.

What captures your imagination about a particular technique or approach to your work?

I generally respond to a brief – either from a client or a theme for an exhibition and try to invest originality into the work – to put a new or amusing slant on it. I don’t take myself too seriously!

A special creation – Maggie made this for her grandson’s room. She said – he’s into giraffes!

Who – or what – influenced your early work? Has your later work been influenced by the same person/style/technique?

Miriam Miller taught me the skill of rag rug making. I liked her approach to use of colour and design . I have a Batchelor of Visual Art and majored in glassmaking so colour and form are important to me. I enjoy a wide variety of art forms but the Australian Modernists and American Pop Art are favourites.

Designed & hooked by Maggie Hickey, NSW, Australia. A tribute to Australian Modernist Grace Crowley.

Are you pleased with your artistic progress? What boundaries or limitations do you find are the hardest to push?

I’d like to do more and better in the area of 3D work. If I were 30 or even 20 years younger I would tackle welding and get into a lot more metalwork but I also like the challenge of sculptural textiles.

A “large” rug in progress by Maggie Hickey.

Where do you see your work in 1 – 2 – 5 years? In other words, where do you see yourself going with your current approach and technique?

See the answer above 🙂   At 70 years of age I suspect my work might not evolve beyond the expressions of ideas via the techniques I’m familiar with. But you never know…

Maggie mentioned “liking the challenge of sculptural textiles” hopefully we’ll see an entry from her in the recently launched Challenge “Re-imagined“.  She also mentioned Miriam Miller taught her the skill of rag rug making.   For those of you who know Miriam and know she’s been under medical treatment I just want to tell you that her operation last Friday was a success. Not sure when she’s due to go home but Miriam says she’s feeling good.

Happy Hooking to all – Jo Franco; Editor