Montreal Gazette / La Guilde dans les manchettes
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**Article en anglais**
Beaconsfield guild takes rug hooking to a whole new level
Published on: March 4, 2015
Last Updated: March 4, 2015 12:26 PM EST
Last Updated: March 4, 2015 12:26 PM EST
Call them happy hookers — it comes with the territory and they take it in good-natured stride — but the members of the Beaconsfield Hooking Crafters Guild are not only happy, they are proud.
The guild is celebrating 40 years of hooking tapestries to hang on the wall or lay on the floor and to get the celebratory ball rolling members have launched a six-week project with a group of Grade 5 students at Sherwood Forest Elementary School in Beaconsfield. The students will each hook a section of his or her design for a banner to be hung at the entrance of the guild’s 40th-anniversary exhibit at Centennial Hall from Sept. 25-27.
Passing on the pleasures of the craft from one generation to the next is just one of the ways guild president Ti Seymour is hoping to raise the profile of the guild during the anniversary year.
“Maybe the children will tell their parents, or grandparents, how much fun they are having,” Seymour said during a gathering of guild members at her home in Beaconsfield last week. “All level of skills are welcome.”
Lois Morris, who first honed her craft skills working with ceramics and also paints in watercolour and oil, founded the guild 40 years ago. She is well-known in the rug-hooking industry. Her work and life story were recently featured in the U.S. publication Rug Hooking Magazine. Morris dyes her own wool for her rugs and tends to “think outside the box” when it comes to design. She comes from a long line of talented craftspeople. Her father, Stanley Denman (former owner of what is now called Adams Printing and Engraving), was in charge of engraving the names of the winning team on the Stanley Cup for years.
“The Cup spent a lot of time at our house,” Morris said during a chat at Seymour’s home.
The practice of hooking rugs has been traced back as far as the time of the Vikings, when women would use a hook to pull bits of discarded fabric and yarn through a piece of burlap to create floor coverings. Once considered a poverty craft, it is now considered a high-end skill often referred to as “fibre art.”
The craft has become so popular you can even book a spot on a rug-hooking cruise.
So what’s the appeal?
“Everybody needs a way to relax,” Morris said. “You can gather with friends or you do it alone. You can create something primitive or make a portrait.”
“I must say I do more talking than hooking when we get together,” Seymour said with a laugh. The mother of three has a whole wall in the family room dedicated to cubbies holding different materials for her craft.
Hooking a rug can go well beyond merely mastering a technique to embrace very personal elements of the creator’s life.
Morris created a lovely floral-patterned rug with a background made entirely out of her grandchildren’s old blue jeans.
Guild member Isabelle Rollin took two years to hook a rug depicting a cheerful yellow house she once lived in. Her mother died during the making of the rug, so Rollin shred one of her mother’s skirts and wove it into the tapestry.
“There are a lot of tears woven into that rug,” Rollin said.
Rollin’s husband Jacques Lepage, a cabinet maker by trade, is also a member of the guild and enjoys making tapestries that reflect his love of wildlife.
“There is such beauty in the technique,” Lepage said. “We discovered it while visiting Vermont and then we found this guild in Beaconsfield.”
The guild, which has 42 members hailing from all over the island as well as points beyond, including Rawdon and Valleyfield, holds weekly “hook-ins” at Centennial Hall in Beaconsfield and at Le Coin Artisanal shop, also in Beaconsfield.
In April, the guild will be offering beginner classes in rug hooking at Le Coin Artisanal and in May members will present Meals on Wheels with fabric flowers to help brighten up the trays of food the out-reach organization delivers to clients.
For more information about the guild, visit www.beaconsfieldrughooking.com.