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Emma Webber: Rug Artist and Colorist

Circles and spheres, squares and boxes--a profile of a veteran rug artist by her daughter

By: Laura W. Pierce

Helen, 18" x 21", #5-and 6-cut wool and yarn on linen. Designed and hooked by Emma Webber, Petaluma, California. 
 
If you had to pick one phrase to describe Emma Weber, "lifelong rug hooker"—with all the friendliness, creativity, and honor that phrase assumes—would do it.

Emma has been hooking and braiding rugs since the late 1940s. Her mother, Mary, taught her how to hook rugs during a visit with her family in Granville, Ohio. She started with the basics: a potato sack stretched on a lathe frame, scraps of material, and her grandaunt Em's hook (a family heirloom that was handmade by Em's brother, Uncle Walter).

Back in Applegate, Oregon, Emma finished her first rug with plans for her next one—a big traditional rug for the living room floor with motifs she found in a library book. However, before she could start, she decided she needed to learn how to hook without the lathe frame; it was too hard to hook the center with her arms stretched straight out.

"I copied some 'Pennsylvania Dutch' flowers twice, once in a grey oval and once in the black surround, ten in all. The rug was too large for a novice and the loops at the end of the rug are noticeably superior to those at the beginning."

Hooked on bought burlap, the rug is still in good shape and hangs on a wall in her daughter's home.

This article is from the November/December 2010 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.

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