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The Sky Is the Limit

Painted skies at your fingertips

By: Deb Szwed

Lightning, 5"x 5 1⁄2", #3-cut wool on burlap. Designed and hooked by Deb Szwed, Taylor, Michigan, 2017.

"The sky is the limit” is a phrase that, loosely translated, means there are no upper limits—anything is possible.

About a year ago I started working on a rug entitled Tree Study IV, PR1591, designed by Linda Powell. While the focus of the piece was the evergreen trees, I felt that the sky was equally important as it made up approximately half of the area of the rug. So I decided to make this a study on skies as well.

I collected photographs from the Internet, calendars, and books. For about a year there was not a time when I was out and about that I wasn’t observing what was going on in the sky—it became a sort of obsession. What did I learn? I learned that there is no limit to the colors, values, and configurations when it comes to skies. Anything goes! 

The challenge became how to go about experimenting with hooking those skies. I came across articles on painted skies in several books on landscapes. Hooked Rug Landscapes by Anne-Marie Littenberg and Pictorial Hooked Rugs by Jane Halliwell Green were helpful.

Some skies were hooked vertically and others horizontally. I chose to experiment with hooking horizontal skies as I thought it would best suit the need for my Tree Study IV piece. Painted wool had always intrigued me so I decided to use that technique.


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