Friday, March 17, 2017

HOME ECONOMICS 150 years of Canadian Hooked Rugs - Gallery Tour

Scottish Terrier Motif
there was a period when this image was popular in Canada
and used on dishes, towels, quilts, and food products

This rug is hooked in the centre and braided on the border.
Michele Hardy gave a tour of the hooked rug exhibit on Thursday.

I was glad to have spent an hour in the gallery the week before hand, exploring the exhibition on my own. Now I want to go back for one more look and read more of the side panels.

The Rug Hookers Guild had gathered to show what they were working on in the morning and the tour was the end of that meeting.

Between Michele and what the guild members had to add, the tour was full of interesting tid-bits, perhaps the most interesting given by a woman who knew the way our grandmothers would clean these rugs.

The method was to take the hooked rug and put it in a cold place -- close to a door or a draft.

Then when newly fallen snow was on the ground, the rug was place on the snow and then beaten or tramped on.

The next step was to move it to more freshly fallen snow and tramp on it again.  Apparently you could see how much dirt had come out of the rug each time it was moved.

The oldest rugs in this collection is 1840.  We know this for the date is hooked into the rug and is the main image.

There are two rugs hooked by an indigenous woman.

There is one rug hooked by a man who had lost his farm.  His wife designed the rug and then he hooked images of the farm into the rug as his way of mourning its loss.

Rug hooking did not become popular until the middle of the 19th century when burlap became widely available.
a rug from the Grenfell Mission
in Newfoundland and Labrador

I was reminded again and again in the tour of how scarce commodities were in those days.  Clothing that had become rags, now was torn up and hooked into rugs.

I was unaware of the Grenfell Project but most of the women there knew about it.Dr. Wilfred Grenfell designed rich local scenes with marketability in mind: ships in full sail, spouting whales, polar bears on ice floes.

The mat makers hooked handbags, coasters, mats, and seat covers.

Anything that would sell, for it seems there was a market from tourists and wealthy home owners in the eastern U.S. for objects with Canadian images.
Newfoundland in a hooked rug

Rug making was still popular into the late 1930's and 40's, dying out until the 1970's when it became popular again as a woman's craft item.

 I do remember my mother hooking rugs -- not so much the hooking as I remember her search for rags with the colours that she needed for the design that was on the burlap.

One of my jobs was to tear the rags into 3 inch strips.  I do remember being bawled out for not being careful at one point.

A strange childhood memory: chastised for wasting rags.


1 comment:

  1. I didn't realize those hooked rugs were done on burlap sacks.

    Did Grandmother Wyora ever make braided rugs? I have some vague memories of an oval braided rug in the front hall of her home that wound around and around in a spiral pattern, with maybe some orange or green.

    I was interested to read Hooked Rugs were considered poverty crafts. Sad how thrifty or recycle/reuse sounds dirty when poverty is used instead as the adjective.