International Rughooking Conference 2015

TIGHR Logo RSTIGHR members from Canada, USA, UK, Japan and Australia,

Inn at Laurel Point Victoria BC180 in all, some accompanied by spouses, met in Victoria on Vancouver Island, Canada, at the Inn at Laurel Point on Sunday 4th October.  After the Sunday registration and meet & greet the following three days were packed with panel discussions, talks, workshops, excursions, a rug exhibit open to the public and culminated with a FibreFest where members demonstrated many different rug making techniques and displayed and sold their creations.

The exchange of themed Friendship Mats during the Welcome & Opening ceremonies is a tradition uniting this group whose Board and Host Country changes every three years. This years Canadian theme, Back to Nature, reflected the natural beauty of the island, and the city of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia and gateway to many outdoor pursuits.

Friendship Mats

Members include their name and contact details on the back of their 5 x 7 inch mat, making it a very personal connection with a new rug hooking friend.

Exchanging these mats early in the proceedings gives members a chance to seek out their “fibre pal” and get to know them during the conference.  For those who had attended other conferences it was a busy time catching up with old friends.  We met up with many of our friends who had travelled to the Conference in South Australia in 2012.

What squeals of delight there were when we bumped into Fumiyo and her friends from Japan in the street on the evening of our arrival.

Day 3 TIGHR Approaching a Design, Fumiyo Hachisuko work on camera

At registration members were presented with a green goodie bag containing a Program of Events, local tourist information and an array of small items that came in handy over the next few days.    These bags, a nice keepsake of the meeting, were large enough to carry around cameras, wallets, phones/iPads and information collected from session to session.


The general gathering place at this boutique hotel on the water-front was the Terrace Ballroom, an open area bathed in natural light shining through a high glass ceiling – the sun shone on queue for the Conference.  Light also streamed in through the glass walls of the Ballroom overlooking the gardens and the harbour shared by pleasure craft, ferries (big and small) and seaplanes! It was quite an experience to be in a boat that not only had to navigate the channel marker buoys but also had to stay clear of a landing strip.


Events were planned allowing time to  meet up with friends and do things like walk along the waterfront path into town – yes some went shopping and others visited the museum and galleries .

If you found yourself  too tired to walk back, you could jump into a water taxi which looked rather like a toy boat in a children’s story book. These hop-on-hop-off small yellow craft which can carry about 12 people (shown in the left of the image above), motored around the harbour stopping at the various hotels and points of interest.   One being Fisherman’s Wharf, a picturesque area of houseboats and eateries.

Tourists weren’t the only ones lookinMarine_visitors_to_Fishermans_Wharfg for something to eat at Fishermens Wharf.

There was no lack of good eating places around town and the hotel meals were excellent.

Excursions had been arranged to take in a host of activities.

By day a hospitality table was set up in the Terrace ballroom where meals were served and the panel discussions took place.  A lounge adjoining this area was set up with coffee and tea and provided a place for the night-owls to gather and talk or compute without disturbing room-mates.

The Conference began Monday with panel discussions and workshops in the morning and the afternoon, as well as a rug display for attendees.

Panel discussion and workshops continued Tuesday morning. The TIGHR General Meeting followed a luncheon and Keynote Presentation by Michelle Sirois-Silver “Intersections: the place where the handhooked surface and contemporary art meet”.

To learn more about Michelle’s journey into exploring ways that combine surface design techniques with hand hooked surface click this link to go to her website.  You can read “A Stitch in Time Creates Art.  Evolution of an Art Form”  by clicking Read more…    or to actually listen to the June 2015 Interview with Aletta de Wal (Artist Career Training) click on the following link Listen to the full interview ..

Wednesday’s Panel Discussion “What is rug hooking in your part of the world?” was moderated by Miriam Miller, President Emeritus of the Australian Rugmakers Guild and one of several workshops scheduled for the same period was Judith Stephen’s and Jo Franco’s toothbrush rugmaking class.

Below; Class participants admire the eco dyed fabric (pieces of cotton sheeting which Judith had wrapped around eucalyptus trees and left to “weather” for a year) before tearing it into strips to use to make the eco baskets or mats.

Toothbrush rugmaking

For some it was very hard to tear up these wonderful pieces of dyed fabric and there was much discussion as to which trees in the northern hemisphere could be wrapped to give this result.  This workshop grew by six from it’s registered 20 participants after members saw the fabric they’d be working with.

Toothbrush rugmaking class results

Some in the class decided they would rather make a mat than a basket – and some decided to make both.

Toothbrush rugmaking Jane LaBaron

During the Wednesday luncheon, Kerry Mason, art historian, curator and art consultant who teaches in the Dept of History in Art at the University of Victoria and recently worked with the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria to develop the major exhibition on Emily Carr, and co-authored the companion book, Emily Carr on the Edge of Nowhere spoke on “The life and art of Emily Carr”


the FibreFest – an Expo of Fibre demonstrations filled the afternoon,

Excursions had been organised for each day – taking in a Guided Walking Tour, Emily Carr House, the Royal BC Museum, Robert Bateman Gallery and a Fibre tour (more stash building).

The only downside to all this was choices had to be made.  However those of us who were on panels or giving classes still managed to catch up with things we’d missed by talking with others in the down-time or at the FibreFest.    Personally, I found the FibreFest to be the highlight of the events.

The panels were also extremely interesting and provoked much discussion, especially when the panellists came into the audience, each took a seat at a different table, they then proceeded to swap and move from table to table – this close-up personal contact was an excellent way to create conversation and get feedback.

The panel discussions were videoed and are to  be available soon on the members area of the TIGHR website.

Presentations were given in the evenings.  The first by Sylvia Olsen (a well known local knitter and author) her subject was a Coast Salish Legacy:  the women whose knitting made and saved their lives.  Even though this was a rug hooking event – knitting featured prominently in it and the travels of the 3 “J’s”. They’d been told to detour  to Lake Cowichan on their way to Victoria to learn about the famous Cowichan knitting. However, there wasn’t time for a detour and as it turned out – Cowichan knitting came to them in the form of a wonderful presentation by Sylvia.

Gene Shepherd who many of us in Australia know,  has an active blogsite, runs an internet rug camp and has filmed many rug hooking related instructional videos. Gene is the Director of Cambria Pines Rug Camp and was Co-Director of the 2013 ATHA Biennial. Gene has published many articles in Rug Hooking Magazine and three books on rug hooking and dyeing. Gene made a dynamic presentation at this Conference on  Colour in Your Rugs.

Dr. Robert Bateman’s Gala Dinner Key-note Presentation as Nature in Art.     Dr Bateman is a world renowned Canadian naturalist and painter.  His work is described in the Conference Program of Events as fusing realistic style with dynamic compositions, and capturing both the particularities of nature and his conservationist spirit. Bateman’s honours and awards are many, including Officer of the Order of Canada.

report by …   Jo  Franco, Editor/Membership Chair



2 thoughts on “International Rughooking Conference 2015”

    1. Not back til end of the month and still have more to post about the Conference – it was great to meet so many creative rug hookers.

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