Rug Hook Art on display at Fall River Fibers
PHOTO: Mount Rushmore Rug Hookers members help set up display at Fall River Fibers. Members l-r: Michelle Dwyer, Joy, Lynnette Van Epps Smith, Kathy Wacker, Mary McDaniel, Mary Ann Riker, and Patty Towne. (Photo courtesy Barbara Sharp)
By Charity Maness
HOT SPRINGS – The ‘Hookers’ of the Mount Rushmore Rug Hookers Social Club has descended upon Hot Springs with their beautiful handmade hooked rugs on display at Fall River Fibers through mid-October.
Local rug hooker, and club member, Barb Sharp began ‘hooking’ five years ago and has been hooked ever since.
“My friend Ginger Heinzen had brought her rug hooking to our Fiber Friends group at Fall River Fibers and when I saw what she was doing I wanted to learn more,” said Sharp. Sharp works with many forms of fiber arts but especially loves working with wool; a staple for rug hooking. After learning the basics and taking a class offered by Valerie Begeman, Sharp was off and running creating beautiful rug hooking pieces along the way.
“My favorite piece is ‘Fluffy’,” said Sharp, “his soulful looks speak to me.”
The art of rug hooking began more than two hundred years ago as a form of home décor, however, it is not to be confused with latch hook work, rug hooking is a time intensive craft utilizing strips of wool hooked into a foundation piece.
According to Michelle Dwyer, of Mount Rushmore Hookers, rug hooking has a rich and humble history.
“Rug hooking started to slowly show up in New England and the Canadian Maritime provinces in the mid 1800’s. It was only natural that if they couldn’t afford to buy the rugs shipped in from Europe, Colonial women would find other means to make their homes comfortable,” said Dwyer.
“They used feed sacks as a foundation and strips of old clothing were hooked into the foundation. Hooks were fashioned from nails of whatever else was readily available,” Said Dwyer. “During the middle 1800s, Edwards Sands Frost, created stencils and a more sophisticated hook which he sold from his peddler’s wagon.”
As rug hooking evolved into a more intricate art form patterns began to be drawn on burlap and chemical dyes were introduced and used on wools.
Today’s hookers traditionally use monk’s cloth or linen for a foundation with wool strips, yarn and other fibers used to create not only art pieces for walls and pillows but also rugs for floors.
The Mount Rushmore Rug Hookers is lead by nationally certified teacher and designer Valerie Begeman who will be offering classes in Hot Springs through Chautauqua Craftsmen and Artisans of the Black Hills at 629 N. River Street October 15th for intermediate rug hookers.
Mt. Rushmore Rug Hookers’ Social Club meets at the Canyon Lake Activity Center in Rapid City every Tuesday from 9am - 11am and is open to all levels of skill.
Fiber Friends, a group of fiber lovers from quilters to weavers, knitters to cross stitchers and even hookers – rug hookers, meets each Friday at Fall River Fibers from 10 am to noon. No cost and all fiber lovers are welcome.