An Artist Enters the World of Wool/Ellie Portner

By: Tamara Pavich

My love of hooked rugs started five minutes after I entered the Finley Community Center in Santa Rosa,” said Ellie Portner of Sonoma, California. “I was there for the 2017 Senior Art Show.  After entering the lobby I might have turned right but I turned left, and there on the wall was a hooked rug. I didn’t know what it was until I read the label. Immediately, I wanted to do it myself.”

There were only seven hooked rugs in the show, but Ellie spent time with each one, particularly admiring an image of a raven. The label had the artist’s contact information, and by the following day, Ellie had an appointment for a lesson. She began her hooking career with a borrowed frame, a hook, and a book.

Having been an exhibiting artist for much of her life, Ellie soon understood that she couldn’t “paint over” what she had hooked, but rather pulled out the loops so many times that her linen became worn and stretched. “I started again on monk’s cloth,” she said, “this time understanding that designing a rug required a whole other way of thinking.”

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