Donna Hrkman: Class of 2018
Name: Donna Hrkman
Location: Dayton, Ohio
Tell us a bit about yourself. What are some of your interests and hobbies?
I've been an artist all my life, so I've explored many types of artistic expression, including drawing, painting, sculpture, and rug hooking. I enjoy reading mystery novels and also scrapbooking. But rug hooking is my true love.
How did you get introduced to rug hooking?
My friend Alice Strebel of Kindred Spirits kept telling me that I'd love making hooked rugs. I fought her off as long as I could, but finally caved, and have been hooking rugs ever since. I started with primitive rugs in eight cuts and dull colors but realized that my style would evolve to finer cuts, more realistic colors, and personal expression.
What was your first project?
My very first piece was a primitive crow that I drew on burlap and hooked with wool strips I cut from scrap pieces with my rotary cutter. It was as dull as dishwater and very plain, but after pulling a few loops, I knew it was going to be my new vehicle of artistic expression.
Is there one rug that stands out as being particularly memorable?
That's like asking if I have a favorite child! I have several rugs that resonate deeply with me, like the Indian Boy and Steampunk Reverie because they essentially represent a level of achievement I'm very proud of. I also love Mother Goose because she was a project that evolved over time. I love the two rugs I hooked of my sons and the one I just hooked of my mother and me. I'm afraid I can't select just one!
Is there a particular style of rugs that you're most interested in hooking?
I love hooking detailed rugs in fine cuts, mostly representational rugs that are realistic. I like hooking rugs with a message or cause that means something to me. I usually start with an image or idea that stays with me until I can draw it up and get it on paper as a tangible design. So "realistic and representational" is my style.
What's your favorite part about hooking a rug?
Hooking a rug is a process that flows from one stage to the next for me. I love the planning and laying out of the design; it's exciting to put the pencil to paper to construct a visual blueprint of the rug I have in my brain. And I love planning the color layout, whether it's a monochromatic or full-color piece. I love dyeing the wool and having it all neat and pretty, then stripping it up into piles. Then there's the anticipation of pulling the first loops, sort of a nervous excitement in creating a new rug. And working on the rug, establishing the rhythm and flow of hooking, snipping, pulling out, and re-hooking. There are those last inches of space to be filled, then the trimming and whipping with yarn. It's a very satisfying process for me. I love all of it.
What's a piece of advice you'd give to a new rug hooker?
Practice, practice, practice, become consistent, and do not be afraid to pull out parts that aren't working. Most of all, hook what you see.
What do you love most about Celebration?
As a rug lover, I enjoy seeing a collection of beautiful, creative, original rugs collected in one source every year. As a rug hooker, I always hope that my rug will be included in this prestigious publication and am thrilled when it is. It's an honor to be chosen.
Table of Contents
- Women of the Congo, Celebration XVI
- Llarry the Llama, Celebration XVIII
- Paul Laurence Dunbar, Celebration XX
- Veteran's Day, Celebration XXI
- Indian Boy Ah-Chee-Lo, Celebration XXII
- Alzheimer's Rug, Celebration XXIII
- Blue Mermaiden, Celebration XXIV
- Steampunk Reverie, Celebration XXV
- Mother Goose, Celebration 26
- Nick@Night, Celebration 27
- No Greater Love, Celebration 28
- Christopher Robin and Friends, Celebration 29
Women of the Congo, Celebration XVI
"I was a new rug hooker when I watched the Oprah Show about women survivors of genocide in the Congo. It left an indelible mark on..." Read more.
Llarry the Llama, Celebration XVIII
"I love llamas and alpacas. I had gone to a livestock show and taken lots of photos as source material. One photo was of a jaunty fellow with attitude. I researched..." Read more.
Paul Laurence Dunbar, Celebration XX
"Dunbar was the first African-American poet to have his work published as a book. He was from my hometown of Dayton, Ohio, and the rug was commissioned by the curator..." Read more.
Veteran's Day, Celebration XXI
"A Sauder Village challenge propelled this rug. I responded to a Happy Holidays theme with Veteran's Day. It is my tribute to those who have served in the military. I wanted to show not only the pride of this..." Read more.
Indian Boy Ah-Chee-Lo, Celebration XXII
"I hooked this as another response to a Sauder challenge. The theme was "In the Middle of a Cornfield." My goal was to show a Native American child standing in..." Read more.
Alzheimer's Rug, Celebration XXIII
"My husband's father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in his early seventies, and our lives all turned upside down. The emotions we..." Read more.
Blue Mermaiden, Celebration XXIV
"Susan Feller asked me to participate in a theme challenge about the effects of color in our rugs. I chose blue as my primary color (no pun intended) and chose a mermaid..." Read more.
Steampunk Reverie, Celebration XXV
"I fell in love with Steampunk art via scrapbooking and had to play with the theme in rug design. I drew up a Victorian lady in all her finery, embellished head to toe with..." Read more.
Mother Goose, Celebration 26
"This rug concept arose from the ashes of a previous design, which proved to be too much for me at that point of my skills. Even though..." Read more.
Nick@Night, Celebration 27
"My oldest son lives in nearby downtown Dayton, Ohio. He's deep and smart and sensitive and handsome, and even though I vowed..." Read more.
No Greater Love, Celebration 28
"No Greater Love is based on a photograph my father took of my mother and me when I was six months old. I wanted to capture the feeling of that moment. It was taken in August..." Read more.
Christopher Robin and Friends, Celebration 29
"I loved the Winnie the Pooh books as a child, and when I was recently looking up some classic photos, I was captivated by a publicity photo of the real Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh. I did a lot of research and used a second photo as..." Read more.