My Trip to Sauder Village
Or Marc Chagall, Salvador Dali, and Grandma Moses visit Sauder Village
Simply Sauder Village, 18 1/2" x 13 3/4", #6-, 8-, and 8 1/2-cut wool on linen. Edge is crocheted with strips of wool fabric. Designed and hooked by Nola Heidbreder, St. Louis, Missouri, 2011.
And now for the rest of the story . . .
Like everyone else, I always build up in my mind’s eye how a place will look and what it will be like even before I arrive. Sauder Village and Rug Hooking Week were no exception.
My sister Nola and I had an annual ritual. Each year, before she left for Sauder Village for the week, we talked about her upcoming trek to Ohio, like what she would bring for the booth, what she might be teaching, and who she might see while there. Our ritual wasn’t complete until she returned and filled me in on all the sights, sounds, and even tastes of the week.
Rolling into Archbold from hours on the interstate and years of having Nola paint a picture of the town I was still surprised. I have to say it right now: Archbold is an adorable town. Surrounded by neat fields of towering corn, Archbold is the kind of town you would see featured in a heart-warming movie about Americana. Perfectly manicured lawns and one adorable house after another met my eyes.
After a late lunch, a fantastic salad at Mancino’s, Nola and I checked into the Heritage Inn. Both rooms were spacious and inviting, but I would have to explore it later. We were off to the Field of Memories, the local antique mall. I promised myself that I wouldn’t purchase anything. I almost made it through, but then I saw it—a very old Coats and Clark spool display case in my favorite color of blue. My temptress sister insisted that I HAD TO HAVE IT. Despite feeble protests, I bought it, wondering as I did so, just how I would get it on the plane to California.
We spent our first full day getting Nola’s booth ready for the evening’s grand opening. Nola has a real gift for making things look inviting. After putting on the finishing touches to the displays, we were off to the village for the rest of the day. I had looked forward to this day for many years—about ten years, to be exact.
I love history, and I love the old-time skills that we glibly call crafts. One of my passions in life is to learn all I can about these skills and to pass them on to others. I learned that Erie Sauder had the same passion. He wanted both children and adults to have an appreciation of the all the hard work that people did just to survive. No one ran down to the local market to pick up a gallon of milk or stepped into the local boutique for a new dress. In each building and area we wandered through, Nola and I talked with the friendly costumed guides about life as it was for our ancestors.
It was all good, but I had my favorites. I had to go to the broom shop, because my husband creates historical brooms as a hobby. I couldn’t return home without detailed information about how they did things. St. Mark’s Lutheran Church offered a peaceful place to rest and reflect on days gone by as we listened to the old hymns on the pump organ. Nola had to lure me out of there with promises of more great things to see.
The Natives and Newcomers section reinforced how hard life was for both the indigenous peoples and the pioneers that came from Europe. I was particularly taken with how the Native Americans processed basswood to make it soft enough for making both cordage and twined pouches. I shyly asked if I could make a little cordage after spying a basket full of the processed bass wood. I am excited to report that I have a very special souvenir in the form of five inches of cordage!
Tuesday was filled with more sights and sounds, and it ended with the opening of the rug show. I wandered through the show, delighting in the beautiful woolen treasures. It was fun to see the variety and to even see a few pieces that I had designed. I may be a little prejudiced, but I loved the pieces Nola entered, including Paul’s Pond, a tribute to her husband and his beloved koi pond.
Wednesday was finally here, and I couldn’t wait to meet my students for Color Theory for Rug Hookers. What a wonderful group of ladies I had the good fortune to lead through the wonderful world of color. The first day of class, I announced that by the end of our three days together their heads would be exploding from all that they would be learning about color and how to apply it to their rugs. After the first class, I knew the magic had happened, and they were already seeing color in new ways.
The rest of the week flew by and is all awhirl in my mind, but a few special things stand out. One is the opportunity to sit on Nola’s dye class. Although I have dabbled in a little natural dyeing, I learned a great deal. Nola is quite the dye artist, transforming an off-the-bolt piece of wool into something colorful, sure to delight the eye and enhance any rug.
One night, Nola and I decided to each design a rug as a tribute to all we had experienced. I have always admired how Nola can get things done so quickly and so well. She practically had her wonderful and whimsical design finished as I sat and bemoaned the fact that I didn’t have the proper supplies to create the design that I had in my mind. Forcing myself to start, despite my perceived limitations, my pencil flew across the paper. Before I knew it, I had a design. It reminded me of the work of artists Chagall, Dali, and Moses if they had only visited Sauder Village.
Thanks, Nola, for inviting me to see Sauder Village and Rug Hooking Week in person. It’s just as you said it was—and more!
This was the best year ever at Sauder Village! It was wonderful to experience all the great things Sauder Village has to offer through the eyes of my sister, Linda Pietz. I knew she would love it. We both love handwork and history, and Sauder Village has both. Linda lives in California, and I live in St. Louis, Missouri. We each teach throughout the year all types of art and handwork, but we have never taught at the same place at the same time. We have worked together for years through our website. Linda designs wonderful rug hooking patterns, and I hook them. Two sisters together, enjoying a week of history, handwork and teaching. What could be better?
For over 10 years, I have made the eight-hour trek by myself from St. Louis to Archbold, Ohio. It was wonderful to have the company in the car this year. As we drove, I told her what to expect, and I thought back to my first trip. Once you get off the toll road, you are surrounded by cornfields. You ask yourself if you have made a wrong turn because how could a place as large as Sauder Village be in the middle of cornfields? You tentatively follow the signs and trust that they are correct. Just when you are about to turn around or go ask for directions at the local antique mall, there it is—emerging from the corn.
We checked into the spacious and comfortable rooms (rooms which included a full continental breakfast with fresh baked goodies from the Doughbox Bakery). The next stop was Founder’s Hall to drop off the rugs for the rug show. An army of volunteers help with check-in and hang the rugs for the show. Then, we unloaded the van for our booth, and Linda went to an orientation and tour for first-timers.
The next morning, after we set up the booth, we visited the village. We entered the village through the Welcome Center. To the right of the Welcome Center are the Elmira Depot, Dr. McGuffin’s Office, and the District 16 Schoolhouse. People dressed in period costumes in each of those buildings were eager to tell us all about each building and what would have gone on during that period of time.
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church was one of our favorites. It is a very simple church. Nothing fancy or ornate but so beautiful in its simplicity. Linda could have stayed there all day, but I told her we had a lot more to see. Apple dumplings were being prepared in one of the cabins, pumpkins were growing outside, betty lamps were hanging from the ceilings. It was all so authentic. We really felt like we had stepped back in time. The area where the Native Americans would have lived was fascinating in contrast to the log cabins in the Pioneer settlement. We learned how to make bed mats out of cattails.
Year after year, it’s great to see old friends and to make new ones at Rug Hooking Week. I was so proud and excited to introduce my sister to everyone, and she was happy to meet all the people I talked about year after year. You hear about the rugs that are being worked on, the rugs that have been finished from last year, and the classes and the vendors. Sauder Village is a great gathering place for rug hookers from all over the country and Canada to meet, learn, create—and of course shop!
Even though we are sisters, and we have come from the same gene pool, often we see things very differently. It was interesting to hear Linda talk about her favorite things at Sauder. She really loved the history and enjoyed hearing each person talk about that. I really enjoyed all the shapes, colors, smells, the animals, and the possibilities of what our hands can do.
The rug show and the vendors are in Founder’s Hall. There are many returning vendors from year to year, and guest vendors add variety to the goods that are for sale during the week.
And the classes! Anywhere from ½ day class to four day classes are available. Linda taught a 3-day class called Color Theory for Rug Hookers. After the first day in class, they were all looking at the rug show in a whole new way! I taught Dyeing 101 on Friday evening. We both enjoy teaching very much, and each of us enjoyed our students and our time together with them.
The rug show is one of the best in the country. The variety is incredible: from fine shaded to really wide cuts; mixed media pieces that include needle felting, proddy, and appliqué; old rugs as well as new rugs. The show features nationally known artists and the Celebration rugs. It is so wonderful to be able to walk right up to all of these rugs and inspect them so closely. It’s really quite amazing and overwhelming.
We are both such visual people, so we decided to each draw a simple rug hooking design based on our favorite things at Sauder. Linda was looking for the rulers, pencils, erasers; I drew my design out on the notepad that was in our room. Linda has a very professional, polished style (that’s why her patterns have been so popular over the years!). I have a very naïve, unschooled, primitive style. They both really work because there are rug hookers out there who can relate to both our styles. We encourage to our students to shine: “Be yourself in your artwork. Embrace your own style and to be proud of it.”
I hope this article and our designs will inspire you. Most of all, I hope that if you have not been to this wonderful village in the middle of the cornfield for Rug Hooking Week, you will put it on your calendars and come on out to Ohio for all the fun.
This article is from the March/April/May 2012 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.