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.


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

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



Yarning Yarrabilba

ISSN 2007-001X 12th August, 2017

More news from Queensland …..

Bec Andersen, Textile Artist and Community Artist has completed yet another Community project involving children & rug hooking.

These three panels were created as part of a Community Art Project for the Yarrabilba Community Centre in 2017. The images of the panels were conceptualised by a group of children using stories of Yarrabilba past and present as inspiration.

Artist Bec Andersen and her collaborator, Margy Rose used these images to create the designs which were then produced with the help of members of the local community using the Punchneedle rug making technique.
The project was supported by the Logan Art Gallery, Logan Women’s Health Group and funded by Yarrabilba Community Enterprise foundation.  Photographer Sabine Bannard






Punch Needle Workers: Nathalie Gaveau, Rosina Friend, Clancey Covington, Kay Winnem, Ros Boardman, Debbie, Trish, Kathie, Donna Jones, Lesley Sawyer, Robin Taylor, Marg Newman, Karen Marshall, Jan Mihailou, Kim Holtz, Sandy Bailey, Maryanne, Dorothy Kirkwood, Brooke Warner, Sandy.







In her Artist Statement (shown below) Bec describes how stories of the river inspired the design for this hooked art work.

The Logan River has been a strong element in the past which has evoked over time. In this piece, it begins as “The River of Tears” symbolizing the felling of trees and disruption to the natural life of the Yugambeh people. In panel two it becomes a “Gushing river” with the movement of the red cedar logs as civilisation begins. In panel three we see the River becoming a blend of colours drawn from the earth where the Ancient ones remain, symbolising the connection between the new community and it’s past
The sky is also an element that travels across all three panels, beginning as “The Whirling Wind” it summons the past energies and blends them with the “Development of Past Knowledge and Understanding”.
Thus the river, the “Ancient Ones” and the sky are holding the energies of the past and bring them into the future with the historical knowledge and understanding that is needed.

Margy Rose facilitated the Image Making Workshop

Image Makers:

Margo Le Jeune: “The River of Tears”
Darcy Jackson: “Separation of Destinies”
Luca Weintreib: “How Do You Make a Beautiful Building”
Abbey Barnett: “Gushing Water”
Eve-Ruby Andersen: “Development of Past Knowledge and Understanding”
Grace Cameron: “The Purpose of Life”
Bec Andersen: “Sounds of Ancient Lands”
Margy Rose: “Can you Love Everybody”

Song of Yarrabilba also by Margy Rose, was inspired by the children’s response to Yarrabilba history.                                                              

Oh where are the ancient ones?
Still spinning in the whirling wind?
The children dance with your shadows.
Oh where are the ancient ones?
Still singing in the flowing river?
The children sing your tears and laughter

Here are the women
Twirling and twining the wool
Laughing, talking and stitching
The songs and dances
Into vast coloured dreams-
Full of beauty and togetherness.


“Tillie” watching all the activity

Editors Note:  Before leaving Queensland I look forward to making a trip up Mt. Tamborine to visit Bec in her Studio and bring you more news of her rug hooking activities.  I hope this project inspires other rug hooking groups to take on Community projects. Happy Hooking     Jo Franco




Call for Entries

ISSN 2207-001X 10th August, 2017

Judi Tompkins and Jo Franco, are coming together from Queensland and Western Australia to issue a rughooking
challenge with a difference – “Re-imagined”
Entries will close 31st Dec 2017 – for the 2018 event.
The Challenge is open to ALL rug makers ANYWHERE in the Southern Hemisphere – Australia/New Zealand, Pacific Islands and beyond.

Besides there being No Entry Fee, as this is a prototype event, this Challenge is different because entries are for a Virtual Exhibition.
Digital images of artwork will be assembled in a virtual catalogue and a certain number will be selected by an impartial panel to be shown in a Virtual Exhibition promoted in the online Textile & Fibre media.

Submitting artwork digitally there’s no expensive postage, so your creativity wont be limited to working on something small.
However, your creativity will definitely be Challenged as there are some seemingly strange requirements with regard to Embellishments which are the ONLY requirements of the Challenge but wait, ……. there’s a certain latitude …..
ALL the groups of Embellishments MUST be represented, however you can use the “minimum” – think cooking show and the use of “a little or a lot”.

There isn’t a “Theme”, although there is a group of Categories for you to choose from – or not!   If you don’t like the categories shown you have the option of ticking [  ] Other – and creating your own.
What we are attempting to do is have an Exhibition of textile art which includes rug hooking techniques – not just a display of rugs.

We hope you will take up the Challenge and join us in this adventure with a traditional craft in cyber-space.

Jo & Judi

You can download the Call For Entries and Entry Form  here  or see below:-


A challenge with a Difference

Australian rugmakers, Jo Franco, WA and Judi Tompkins, QLD are issuing a Challenge, open to ALL rug makers in Australia/New Zealand, Pacific Islands and anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere (no Guild membership required)
Selected Entries will form the basis of a Virtual Exhibition.

The Brief :
Create an art work (2D or 3D) using any of the listed rugmaking techniques with the addition of specific non-rugmaking items.

Conditions of Entry

  1. One Entry per person
  2. Collaboration works will receive recognition as one entry
  3. No entry fee required
  4. Artist Bio (max 150 words) to be submitted with entry form.
  5. Download entry form and submit via email to
  6. Closing date for entry forms 31st December 2017 (Note: entry form is not an online template, it must be downloaded, completed, scanned & emailed.)

The Work :  2D or 3D
Size : Work of any size will be accepted. Work must be original in concept and design and created solely for this Challenge.

Techniques: The work must contain, any one, or combination of, the following:-

  • traditional rug hooking,
  • locker hooking,
  • punch needle hooking,
  • tufting,
  • latch hooking,
  • proggy(proddy),
  • braiding,
  • chunky rugmaking,
  • toothbrush rug making
  • standing wool rugs.

Embellishments: All items must be represented as listed

  • Beads, one or more
  • Buttons, one or more
  • Recycled items; any amount of either;  plastic, metal or paper (only one type of recycled item is required, all can be used if desired)
  • Natural items; at least one of ANY of the following items, stones, sticks, shells, leaves – all items can be used in whatever quantity desired.
  • Textiles; any yarn & fabric strips – silk, wool, novelty, cotton – no requirement of type or amount.

Categories:  You may choose to nominate your work in one of the following categories or tick [   ] Other and describe.

  • Humour/Whimsy
  • Nature/Natural World
  • Steampunk
  • Fantasy/Magic
  • Nautical/Marine
  • Other – please describe

Submission of Work: To include –

  1. One overall digital image and one detail digital image of your artwork.
  2. Digital images must be saved as a high quality .JPEG file – resolution/min 180 dpi (No TIFF files).
  3. Digital Image – Maximum Size: equivalent to tablet sizing 2048 x 1536 =13 x 18cm to be emailed as an attached .jpeg file to
  4. A list of your chosen embellishments used in your entry.
  5. Title/Name of work
  6. Artist Statement (maximum 50 words, a description of your work and/or what inspired you)
  7. Closing date for Submission of Work (your digital images) 30th April 2018

Work in Progress & Social Media:

  1. Blogging, Facebook, Instagram; discussions & messages, no photos of entrants’ work in progress or completed, to be shown prior to the Opening of the digital Exhibition. It’s important we build up the anticipation prior to the digital “unveiling”.
  2. Publication of work prior to publishing of the selection for the Virtual Exhibition will disqualify an entry.
  3. Networking – a closed Facebook group (private/participants only) will be set up to enable participants to interact prior to the submission of work.
  4. Images and discussion about techniques and embellishments can be shown in the closed (private) Facebook group.
  5. Guidelines and Q & A page will be posted on the Facebook Group page
  6. Guidelines and Q & A page will also be posted on for participants who don’t have/want a Facebook presence.

31st December, 2017 Close of Call for Entries
30th April, 2018          Closing date for submission of Work (Digital images)
30th June 2018            Notification of selected entries
15th August, 2018       Publication – Online Exhibition.

Terms & Conditions: By submitting an entry form for possible inclusion in this exhibit I agree to permit images of my work, and/or all or part of my statement of my entry to be used in articles, ads, promotions,catalogues, books, websites (including any webcast coverage), CDs, current event news coverage, television productions, and/or multi-media productions.

Copyright: All images contained in this site are under automatic copyright to the artists. Apart from fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part of any image can be reproduced by any process without written permission of the artist.



Interviewing the Interviewer

ISSN 2207-001X  2nd August, 2017

I’m “on the road again” and have been interviewing rug makers along the way as I travel across Australia.

Maybe it’s my turn to answer these questions.

Like many of the rughookers I’ve spoken with, I come to rughooking from a background of “domestic” textile techniques; dressmaking and knitting.

First lessons from my Grandmother, a tailoress, then my Mother, a perfectionist; patterns were to be followed to the “T” and all preparatory steps adhered to.   I was still “tailor-tacking”  when everyone else had switched to knit fabrics, “quick” patterns and making a garment in an afternoon!

I also liked to draw and have dabbled with lessons in oils and water colour. Living in the USA, Caribbean, Philippines and North Africa and having been fortunate to travel in the UK, Europe and Asia; without really being conscious of it, I’ve been infused with an awareness of how other cultures use fabric, materials, colour and texture in their art whether it be fibre, tiles, rugs, paintings etc. which speaks to the importance of exposing oneself to a broad range of experiences and why pushing boundaries is so important, you never know how that experience might emerge through you work.

When I discovered rughooking it seemed as though “I’d come home”.

McGown pattern hooked by Jo Franco as a Show n Tell at a McGown Teachers Western Workshop

If a gallery called you, how would you describe your work?
Initially, I would have said I “painted with wool” (fabric strips). 






These days I’m more apt to say I use rug hooking techniques to create fibre art.

What captures your imagination about a particular technique or approach to your work?
The “simplicity” of the rughooking techniques means I don’t have to pick up a tape measure or a ruler – phew! There’s a certain “freedom” – I’m not constrained by tiny stitches or exacting work.

I find the simple repetitive movements of pulling loops to be very relaxing, even therapeutic.

These days I choose to work using recycled fabrics and yarn rather than the narrow strips of woollen fabric, width measured in 32nds of an inch, used for this rectangular Scroll Sampler (turned into a clutch purse) which shows the different types of shading.




Colour planning is now a different process for me. With an idea of the colours I want to work with – I gather fabrics in those hues, bunch them together and photograph and then begin to hook, often changing my mind as I go, instead of working it all out ahead of time, painting on paper and then dyeing fabric to come up with the desired results.

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

Learning to hook while living in the United States and gaining my accreditation with the McGown Guild, gave me a great appreciation for the detailed and fine-shaded work of the many experienced rug hookers. Charlotte Price, then the Director of the Western Teachers’ Workshop, Eugene, Oregon, sponsored me, a novice rug hooker, to participate in the 5-year accreditation programme for rughooking teachers. Experienced rug hooking teachers come together at these annual week long residential gatherings to share their knowledge and rug hooking specialities, also train sponsored rug hooking teachers in the finer points of rug hooking and how to teach others. The prayer rug was the project for my first day as a rug hooker – not much was completed that first day. However, before I graduated it was finished, along with the other four projects from that first week.

Having the good fortune to take workshops from so many experienced and well known rug hookers from all over the USA and Canada, gives me a feeling of a personal connection when I see their names in print in Rug Hooking Magazine.

My fellow trainees included Laura Pierce (LWP) – from whom I’ve learned much about dyeing.  Also Michele Sirois-Silver who has taken rug hooking to a different level and is always happy to share her rug hooking “processes” with me.  “How to teach rug hooking” class was given by Michele Wise who’s gone on to become the Director of the McGown Western Teachers Workshop. Many Australian Guild members would have met Michele when she visited Australia as a member of TIGHR for the 2012 TIGHR Conference in Strathalbyn, SA.

“Rose Cottage” – was the pattern I was required to hook and teach for my final assessment.  A novice rughooker teaching a class of experienced teachers was a very stressful situation.

Something I’ve discovered about rug hookers in general though, is they are a very friendly group of people.  I’ll never forget how Oregonian Carol Fegles made me feel so welcome on that very first day back in 2002 when I arrived by myself at the Teacher’s Workshop, a complete stranger, knowing I really wasn’t qualified to be there.  I’m pleased and proud that I pushed through it, as it was too good an opportunity to miss and has opened up to me an exciting life of creativity, friendship and travel.

Several of my McGowan and TIGHR contacts are taking the traditional rug hooking craft into the world of ART. Through my association with these rug hooking artists and following their blogs I find myself wanting to “create” rather than just “do”.

“Handing it On” a hooked installation by Josephine Franco, exhibited at the Blender Gallery, Joondalup, Western Australia.

My later work has been influenced by the very creative Judi Tompkins as we work together on the Australian Rugmakers Guild website.

Entry in WAFTA’s “Mysterium” – Eco dyed silk by Judi Tompkins embellished with hooked sari silk off-cuts by Jo Franco

I also find inspiration through my association with the Western Australian Fibre & Textile Association. The membership represents emerging artists from different textile disciplines, providing an inspiring motivational environment, helping me to find my creative side, and to draw myself away from the “technical – by the book” approach! 

Volunteering as WAFTA Librarian means I’ve access to a wide collection of books on many different techniques. A learning experience in itself, as updating the library catalogue and setting up and maintaining the catalogue online, requires me to look through these inspiring publications.

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

While I’m pleased with my artistic progress, I still value the traditional aspect of the craft of rug hooking knowing the reasons for the “rules” were mostly to do with serviceability.

However, I must say I’m enjoying the challenge of creating my own pieces. The hardest thing for me is to let myself “free up” and over-come the urge to try and just reproduce what I see and to stop worrying about being technically correct.  

Apart from pushing my “creativity”, I’m proud that in my “senior years” I’ve entered the world of IT and social media and have been able to apply what I’ve learned to various organizations; Local, State, National and International.  This speaks to networking which is so important in making the rug hooking craft known, especially in Australia, and helping to bridge the art/craft divide.

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?

Initially I was interested only in completing kits and giving rug hooking lessons.

To do this I had to first try and promote the craft and fell into the role of publicist for rug hooking in Australia. I’ve been Editor since the inception of the Australian Rugmakers Guild in  2008; covering this same position for TIGHR (The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers) from 2009-2015.

At the same time becoming the leader of a Community rug hooking group.

Over the 7 years of the Community Group’s existence, it has grown not only in numbers but also in creativity, with much sharing of techniques by the members.

I’ve facilitated the completion of several major works by this group, the works both donated to, and purchased by, the City, as well as creating a finalist entry in a “wearable art” competition in 2014.

Writing about rug hooking and networking is something I really enjoy, so I would like to continue with this while pushing myself to be more creative and enter rug hooked works in “textile art” exhibitions.

In what way do you think the techniques you currently use relate – or could relate – to other textile techniques? In other words, would you look to incorporation of other media as part of your work?

With the interest in up-cycling by many textiles groups and the use of re-cycled fabrics, I can see rug hooking techniques easily being incorporated into other disciplines. Likewise, embellishing and incorporating other media into my rughooking is possible, since rugs are no longer made only for the floor and serviceability is no longer the main consideration.

Aquarius – hooked & prodded by Jo Franco, featuring a shisha mirror & using sari silk off-cuts, recycled foil tape and carpet wool.



The Art/Craft of Rughooking – a Southern Hemisphere Perspective

ISSN 2207-001X  13th July, 2017

Although there are a huge number of books, magazines and websites catering for the creative arts community, there is no platform that broadly showcases our Australian “take” on the traditional craft of rug making. Or, how the Australian artists perspective has pushed this craft into different and challenging paths by initiating a fusion of traditional rughooking with other media and techniques.

With this in mind we would like to know how you, as a textile and fibre artists, think as you approach your works; we would like to learn how you implement techniques from other handcrafts; and we are particularly interested to hear your stories and discover what inspires, influences and motivates you to create.

In the first of these interviews, Jo Franco, ARG Editor,  talks with Judi Tompkins, Textile Artist.



Migration” – an aerial coastal view

Jo: If a gallery called you, how would you describe your work?
Judi: My work derives from the traditional hooking and prodding but I have pushed both my personal boundaries as well as the limitations inherent to the traditional approach to this craft. I use a diverse range of fibre/fabric as well as “found” objects to create sometimes large 3-Dimensional, textural, embellished work that may be free-standing or unconventionally hung. About half of my pieces have been commission work and I welcome the lateral thinking challenge of tailoring a whimsical or “bespoke” piece to reflect a specific aspect of an individual or group. I love to ask “what would happen if…”?

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

Judi: I love both colour and texture whether in fibre art, ceramics, photographs, film, fine art, music or wherever else I find it. 

Deconstructed Fibre” a hooked puzzle.
Inside the puzzle box lid – “Mud map” as an assembly aid.

 I welcome the limitations and constraints placed on design ideas by the materials, techniques, tools and timelines. I’m “fired up” by textures and design ideas that let me challenge standard conventions and perceptions. My “eureka” moments tend to result in tactile fibre pieces that incorporate 3-Dimensional aspects that often reflect a bit of “whimsy”. 
At this stage, I chose techniques from the craft of rugmaking then proceeded to violate nearly every “rule” imposed by traditional rughookers. To my way of thinking, if something doesn’t make sense or work for a particular piece I will re-work the “advice” to suit my requirements.

Box containing hooked puzzle pieces – 16 actual pieces, an extra piece to create an additional challenge.


I love the meditative process of going into “the zone” while hooking and sculpting a piece. I delight in pushing the conventional boundaries and limitations of scale, shape, texture, media and technique. It’s a “good day” when I can “startle” a viewer by incorporating unexpected materials or embellishments into a piece.

The magic of this 3-D approach happens as the object or design slowly emerges from a tangle of fibre (the proverbial “dog’s breakfast”).  What is revealed is even a surprise to me.
I would hope someday to challenge the art world with one of my rug hooked pieces that could sit comfortably next to a piece of ceramics or painting.

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

Folly: “Chook on a Ladder” 3D prodded chicken, hooked & proddy rug beneath.

Judi: As a child I was a collector of colourful “sparkly” rocks, driftwood and unusual buttons. My grandmother was a tailor who not only gave me buttons but made some amazing “crazy” quilts from the leftover fabrics that also found their way into her hooked and braided rugs. As an adult I became a “weekend” potter and was thoroughly beguiled by the texture, elasticity and tactile nature of the different clay bodies. Forming and shaping the fibres of 3-Dimensional pieces are reminiscent of handling, scraping and coiling clay but the material weighs much less!                               

I find the sculptural aspects of rughooking both intriguing and  even magical. I was drawn to rugmaking and hooking because of the recycled aspects of the craft and the basic stitches – hook and prod – were easy to learn. Since I don’t actually have 3-dimensional vision (only one working eye) I was perhaps crazy to make 3-D my preferred technique.
I always liked the work of Georgia O’Keefe and her use of colour, light and the juxtaposition of objects “out of place” – she says so much in a seemingly simple work. Salvador Dali and his surreal view of the world (and all who sail in her!) was pure delight!

Jo: Are you pleased with your artistic progress? What boundaries or limitations do you find are the hardest to push?
Judi: As a self-taught “hooker” I’ve surprised myself with the artistic progress I have made in the last 5 years.

Tall Ship “Tenacious” docked in Belgium (rug 26″ x 28″) recycled wool blankets, alpaca/mohair yarns, sari silk, sculpted, hooking. (This commission piece, an adaptation of the ship photo was sent to Belgium)

The boundaries I have found hard to push have to do with the traditional approaches and techniques that I don’t regularly use so my results are often not up to my expectations. I find it immensely difficult to work “small” due in part to the types of fibre I prefer. I am a bit intimidated by some of the free-form, 3-Dimensional ideas I have in my “mind’s eye” and will simply need to “have a go” and see what happens.


Tenacious” the proverbial “dog’s breakfast” view

My rule of thumb is “expect the unexpected or you won’t see it”.
I find it difficult to find others interested in discussing the process used to produce 3-D or structural pieces and see that as perhaps an unintended limitation imposed by those who are committed to the tradition of rugmaking.  I respect and have learned much from the traditions around this craft but I find tradition for traditions sake to be stifling. 

I will continue to do my own thing and seek to find others who are also interested in “different ways of thinking and doing”.

Jo: 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?  

Judi: I would like to do more commission work and would particularly like to collaborate with artists working in other media.  

Baron” a family pet, a 3D commission piece sent to the USA

I have in mind to do some larger pieces that will incorporate other media – hopefully through collaboration.    I hope to expand on the whimsy in my work and perhaps incorporate more “fibre puns”.

Most of all I want to retain my apparently “skewed” view of the world and believe that Edgar Allen Poe describes me best: “From childhood’s hour I have not been as others were; I have not seen as others saw.”

Jo: In what way do you think the techniques you currently use relate – or could relate – to other textile techniques? In other words, would you look to incorporation of other media as part of your work?

Judi: Incorporating other media – including other textile arts – appeals to me because of the potential to introduce unexpected textural surprises.

Craig: The Poker Master” – a bespoke gift.


Since I no longer do any pottery or beadwork – and don’t have the hand skills for the other fine textile techniques – I would welcome an opportunity to collaborate with others who have these skills. Until I find a willing kindred artist, embellishments and “found objects” will continue to serve as my primary collaborators.


We encourage more Australian Guild members to share their rug making achievements,  please email  ……

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Rugs on the Wall not the Floor

ISSN 2207-001X  6th June 2017

The Sunshine Coast RugCrafters in Beerwah, Queensland have added glitz to their rugs so are hanging them on the wall ……

Stella Edmundson,  researched Mewar (Indian) painting online before coming up with her rug  “Mewar Dreaming”.

At Stella’s suggestion, I went online and discovered bright and brilliant colours of red, orange, green and blue are a feature of these paintings. Small hillocks and mounds are inserted into the paintings which are typically of the birds, animals, ornate trees and bunches of flowers, depicted in Persian style.

Stella began her rug  which is just under 2 m wide, by drawing templates for her motifs and drawing around them directly onto her backing. She said she had fun with this piece, using “Q” tips for the stars.

Judy Owen is also a member of the Sunshine Coast RugCrafters –

It’s finished …..  not only that, it’s hung!

We see rugs by members of our various groups during the design and hooking process and we’re sometimes asked for help or offer a suggestion here and there – so it’s great to see the finished project.

Now “There’s a Unicorn in My Garden” is hanging in place, the size of the rug designed and hooked by Judy can be appreciated.

Judy used bainia (Aran) wool, knitting and rug wool, dyed wool yarn, blanket, fabric strips and metallic thread to hook this piece.

I’m travelling to Queensland in July; looking forward to meeting Stella and Judy again when I visit Judi Tompkins group.

Judi and I plan to bring you video interviews with Australian rug hooking artists; Stella and Judy will be our first!   Jo Franco, Editor

Rughooking Calendar Updates

ISSN 2207-001X 26th May 2017


If I don’t use Facebook – how can I find out about rug hooking events  around Australia before they happen?”

Answer: Subscribe to receive notice of this Blog by email, then you can easily click over to “Current Events” without having to remember to actually go to the website.  Need help to [subscribe] using your iPad or computer? click here.

In Strathalbyn South Australia  – this weekend  (27th/28th May) is your last chance to visit Judith Stephens Open Studio.

This Exhibition of hooked rugs and items made using 10 different rug making techniques by members of the Strath Matters rug hooking group; a collection of old SEMCO rug patterns and “Have-a-go” proggy demonstrations; is part of the South Australia’s History Festival.

The theme this year is “Transport”, which lends itself to  thoughts of “magic carpets” or the magic of rag rugs.

President, Judith Stephens, SA

From Judith :

“The History Festival lasts for the month of May, and there are hundreds of activities throughout the state – some major and many small projects of all varieties.  It’s a great idea, and people really get into the swing of attending heaps of activities, so it is worthwhile. 

We’ve had about a dozen people each day we’ve been open – lots of chat about ‘I remember my grandfather ….. etc etc!’  One lady saw the old tools and exclaimed ‘is THAT what it’s used for!”

Open Studio  –  13 Old Bull Creek Rd, Strathalbyn, SA 5255.     For times and more details email  Judith

Speaking of “HISTORY”, check out the History of Australian Rugmakers on the Guild Website.

Many thanks to Corinne Ball, Curator, who retrieved the rugs from the archives of the South Australian Migration Museum, to photograph and for her permission to show the images on the Guild website.

The Migration Museum, at 82 Kintore Ave, Adelaide, South Australia 5001 is Open Daily from 10am-5pm Mon-Fri and 1pm-5pm Weekends – Admission is Free.

Looking ahead in South Australia – the Strath Matters will be demonstrating rug hooking at the  Kym Jones Craft Fair   –  Adelaide Showgrounds  on the 14th/15th July – for details email Judith Stephens  and on 18th & 19th August the group will be at the Strathalbyn Antique Fair & Crafts .


Tasmania – Joanne Wild of the Happy Hookers in Deloraine, will facilitate a traditional hooking workshop “Small Hook Rug Workshop” on  Saturday, May 27, 10 am – 1pm at the British Hotel  80 Emu Bay Rd. Deloraine, TAS 7304 for information contact Joanne Wild (03) 6368 1373


For the next six weeks at the Bendigo Bank in Deloraine there will be an exhibition of hooked rugs by the Happy Hookers and Rowdy Ruggers .

The following description is shown at the exhibition –

“Deloraine & districts has a healthy latchhook rug making community who gather regularly in public places to work wool together and share.

Joanne Wild founded the “Happy Hookers in 2002 and many works have been completed at her gatherings.  Initially people met in each other’s homes then the groups became larger so they met in bigger spaces e.g. ETC bakery’s meeting room.

Currently two groups meet regularly and this exhibit represents some current members finished pieces.

The “Rowdy Ruggers” meet at Deloraine House on Wednesdays from 1-3 pm and welcome children.  Peter Burns from this group took more than 500 hours to complete his rug and he has almost completed a matching  NEFERTITI !!!!

Happy Hookers” meet on Mondays from 10-12 noon in the back room at the British Hotel. They welcome other woollen textile artists and according to Joanne Wild are rowdy too!!!!”

VICTORIA – in July – Plan a full weekend in Wangaratta  ……

8th – 16th July, the 14th Stitched Up Textile Festival & Community Textile Exhibition; “Stitching a Story”  will be held at  Gallery 2 at Wangaratta Art Gallery, 56 Ovens St Wangaratta

Bobby George, VIC
Maggie Whyte, ACT

Australian Rugmakers Guild members, Bobby George, from Victoria  and V.Pres & Secretary, Maggie Whyte, ACT will be presenting “The Story of Rughooking” and demonstrating the craft with the public invited to “have-a-go” at rug hooking.

Sun 9 July, 9am – 3 pm


Designed, hooked and photographed by Bobby George, VIC

The Stitched Up Festival celebrates all forms of textile art & craft in and around Wangaratta in North East Victoria.


Designed, hooked and photographed by Maggie Whyte

Also in Wangaratta – on Saturday 8th – Opening Day for the Festival the Wangaratta Woollen Mills are having a one day SALE !

In Queensland  –

Bec Andersen, Textile Artist, has a full calendar of events – you can see her workshops and rug hooking gatherings for 2017  here



Alice Springs, Northern Territory  –   Beanie Festival  23rd  – 26th  June

Is this Rug hooking News?   Yes! definitely, several of the beanies created by the Wanneroo Rugmakers where made using rug hooking techniques and are for sale at Beanie Central, with a couple (not shown) entered in the Competition.

This year I’m attending the Festival – really looking forward to it, I hear they have over 4,000 beanies catalogued!    More news from Alice Springs.

Happy Hooking   Jo Franco/Editor


A Framed Finish

ISSN 2207-001X 28th April, 2017

Have you ever hooked, or been presented with a special rug hooked piece and wondered what you were going to do with it?

Sally from Brisbane had occasionally visited Judi Tompkins “Shed Days”  in Landsborough on the Sunshine Coast. These were special occasions at Judi’s home, as the Sunshine Coast Rugcrafters  group usually meets at the local Library in Beerwah.

As a tribute to Judi, Sally hooked this piece “Shed Girls” using pieces of woollen blankets from Judi’s famous stash of recycled blankets.

Because the hooked piece is representative of those special days and the fun times the group has had, Judi wanted to display it at her new residence, so she framed Sally’s work complete with a piece of Colourbond from the shed built in 2010, along with some of Judi’s collection of hooking tools.

The beauty of Colourbond (as the manufacturers advertisements will tell you) is that it retains its colour. Historically Aussie sheds were made of corrugated iron which rusts with age, creating an interesting patina, like the shed at Strathnairn, ACT where the Guild held an Exhibition last September.

There won’t be any more Shed Days, as Judi’s property is on the market. The shed for the new residence has already been built, but in future, special days will be held not in the new Shed but the soon to be built Studio.

As can be seen in the last couple of posts, apart from making works easier to hang, framing gives more of an art, rather than craft appearance to a hooked work.

Looking forward to more rug hooking news from Queensland.       Jo Franco, Editor