Finding Inspiration in Unexpected Places
Newspaper articles inspire a hooked series
The Bridesmaid, 12" x 141⁄2", hand-dyed and recycled wool and cotton string, on burlap; vintage veil, cotton binding edge. The Bridesmaid was inspired by a wedding announcement from 1948, typical of the day, which described in great detail the clothing worn by the bride, her attendants, and her mother, the wedding decorations and music, and the roles of servers at the reception.
Where do you find inspiration for the rugs that you make? What moves you to pick up your hook to start a new project? Inspiration for rug hooking is everywhere. It is in our everyday surroundings, landscapes, family, friends and pets, seasons and holidays, and also in life’s everyday events, milestones and life-changing events. And sometimes inspiration can come from unexpected and new places, from sources that one may not think of as being “inspirational.”
For me, that unexpected source of inspiration was a collection of newspaper articles about people living along the Bay of Fundy shoreline in New Brunswick, during the 1940s, -50s, and -60s. The articles were collected by a woman named Ruby Anderson, who was born in 1916 and lived most of her 94 years in these small rural coastal communities.
Ruby was known to my family, especially my father, through family and genealogical connections. In 2004, she offered her collection of loose newspaper clippings to my father and he compiled them into “Ruby Anderson’s Scrapbook.” Most of the 100 copies of the scrapbook were sold for genealogical purposes, but some were given as gifts, which was how I received mine.
Not long after my husband and I moved back to New Brunswick, after having lived on the west-coast for 15 years, my father gave us a copy of the scrapbook. It was obvious that he had taken great care in putting it together. The newspaper articles were alphabetized and the pages were numbered. Many of the articles were dated and anyone mentioned in an article was indexed in the almost 100 pages of indexing. The only information not included were the photos taken for some of the articles. I thanked my father for the gift, put it away in the bottom drawer of an old dresser, and forgot about it.
Now, over 10 years later, my father is 85 years old and enjoys telling stories about the people in the scrapbook. I am older too now, and see the stories as a way of engaging in conversation with him, and as a way of finding out what he thinks was important, funny, and interesting about the things that he remembers.
His stories caught my attention and prompted me to take a closer look at the articles. The articles have inspired a series of 12 fiber art pieces, eight of which are hooked. To make the rugs, I took some of the articles that inspired images and tried to recreate those images. Because the photos were removed and because I didn’t know the people in the newspaper articles, my mind was free to imagine what they might have looked like. As I hooked each mat, other ideas, images, and my personal thoughts about the events appeared, further making the images reflections of my own personal interpretation of events rather than representations of the actual people or events.
Each of these mats was designed and hooked by me in 2017. They were shown at the Tidnish Bridge Art Gallery during the Nova Scotia Fiber Arts Festival in 2017 in Amherst, Nova Scotia. I hope that you enjoy them and that you have the pleasure and joy of finding inspiration in unexpected places!