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Rug Hooking Week at Sauder Village

Camps and Workshops

By: Kathy Wright

You can see many of the Celebration rugs at the exhibit at Sauder Village Rug Hooking Week.

For 18 years now, Sauder Village has surveyed rug hookers to find out what is on their wish lists. To us, those surveys are like letters to Santa. We take the lists, put on our detective hats, and leave no stone unturned in search of the exhibits, teachers, and vendors to fulfill those wishes, whether the focus is on the past or the present.

Here’s a little sample of what Santa will be bringing to all the good rug hooking girls and boys this year.

Rugs of the Past

If you could dive into museum archives, tour private collector’s homes, explore the inventory of notable antique dealers, or travel to the “Big 10” auction houses, you would see some outstanding historic hooked rugs from America’s past. Yet, since most of us don’t have this elusive backstage pass, Rug Hooking Week creates this opportunity. We were proud of last year’s Featured Exhibit of rare and exceptional 1700s to early 1900s American sewn rugs, which was worth well over a million dollars.

This year’s focus on the past features the Grenfell Mission Mats and their history, which goes back to Dr. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell and Jessie Luther around 1906 to 1908 in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The establishment of the hooked mat cottage industry was a small part of the larger Grenfell Mission. The sale of these mats provided a source of pride and income for poor Canadian women. From 1910 to 1913, Dr. Grenfell and his wife, Anne, standardized and refined the mat colors and designs of northern images depicting local life, which then generated impressive sales from the United States. In 1926, Mae Alice Pressley-Smith joined the Grenfell Mission staff, launching the most significant period, which revitalized the mat sales by introducing the use of silk stockings and underwear as hooking material. The Grenfell hooked mats are truly unique and continue to be highly collectible folk art. In addition to this wonderful exhibit, noted authorities Paula Laverty and Joan Foster will be with us to offer insight into the history and techniques.

This article is from the June/July/August 2014 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.


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