Home of Jesse Smith in 1847

Dimensions: 38 1/2" x 25 1/2"
Materials: #3-cut hand-dyed wool on rug warp
Adapted from an image from the Wisconsin Historial Society (Image ID: 37928), designed by Leonard Feenan, and hooked by Mary McGrath, Mukwonago, Wisconsin, 2016.
Featured in: Celebration 28

"Driving home from rug hooking class one night, I was reflecting on the approach I would take in hooking my next piece. I decided earlier that I wanted to hook my friend Penny’s home and contacted Leonard Feenan to create the pattern. Driving home that evening, I knew that without a doubt the rug needed to be hooked in monochromatic sepia values. I never approached a rug this way, but I loved the results I saw in rugs others have hooked in this manner and felt it offered an additional layer of interest and realism to a piece. The photo I selected to work with was a very grainy, black-and-white picture of Jesse Smith’s Inn and Tavern taken in 1847. Originally, I thought the translation would be an easy one because the light and dark values would dictate what sepia values I would use in various places of the rug; however as I began working on the piece, I quickly learned that the grainy, dark photo provided me with a big challenge. In many cases I had to utilize my years of instruction I garnered from working on other realistic pieces to input details for the viewer that were too dark to discern from the original picture.  I am also fortunate to be able to visit the original property since my friend lives there and fill in details I wasn’t sure of. Surprisingly most parts of this rug challenged me. Maybe I underestimated the rug because I thought I would read and follow the original photograph, and the piece would develop as I moved through it. However, I quickly learned that rug backing has a way of moving and shifting those straight lines you are so desperately trying to create in pillars, windows, and walls. I rehooked the pillars several times because they weren’t coming out straight with the correct perspective I wanted. I wasn’t sure how to hook the bushes that appeared as dark blobs in the original photo, but Joyce Krueger, my instructor, helped me with a basic technique to create the bushes with depth and realism. I was thrilled with the results, and they are probably one of my favorite parts of the rug. I was able to unveil the finished rug on New Year's Eve 2016 to my friend Penny and her husband Rob. I was honored when this rug was accepted for exhibit at the Wisconsin Quilt and Fiber Museum for an exhibit entitled 'Keeping Warm in Winter,' featuring Wisconsin-based artists. Penny has been thrilled to share this piece with relatives of Jesse Smith. The rug now hangs in the original home built by Jesse Smith so many years ago and provides enjoyment for Penny and her husband, Rob."
- Mary McGrath, Celebration Hall of Fame 2018


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