April DeConick is an award-winning hooked wool artist and master dyer. She has had her hooked rugs and mats featured in four of the Celebration of Hand-Hooked Rugs juried series, Rug Hooking Magazine, and the ATHA Newsletter.
I just finished a 10" x 20" panoramic snapshot rug of my sister and I riding bikes last summer on Mackinac Island. Wade snapped this photo of us with a long lens so that the photo would be candid. This picture is extra special to me because I had undergone surgery about six weeks prior, and the recovery was tough. So to be able to get on that bike and ride around the island felt like a miracle. All the more so because I shared that ride with my sister, but also my husband, son, and niece.
Joy Ride, 2018. 10" x 20", #6-cut wool on linen. Designed, dyed, and hooked by April. D. DeConick.
My Rings 2018. 12"x16" sculpted hooked wool on linen. Designed, dyed, and hooked by April D. DeConick.
I finished my first sculpted hooked project, my hand. Cheryl Bollenbach taught me how to sculpt. You can't see the sculpting so well in this two-dimensional photo, but the hand is made in three dimensions with rounded fingers and knuckles.
This project was tougher than I thought. I found myself fighting to pull some loops higher than others, and high enough. I am so used to correcting my loops as I hook to keep them flat. While it was difficult, there was something very liberating about pulling different heights, especially around the cuticles, knuckles, and various wrinkles.
The main problem with the piece was hooking a ring that was distinguishable from the hand. After a failed attempt using wool strips, I went to the sewing store and bought some metallic ribbons. Once I hooked them, the rings worked, and then so did the hand. The piece got its name: My Rings.
I am continuing on the Mackinac Island series with a third 5" by 7" mat called Red Geranium. Anyone who has been to the island is awestruck by the profuse blooming red geraniums, how they grace window boxes everywhere and march in white troughs along the porch of the Grand Hotel. I figured that any series on Mackinac Island has to include this delight.
Red Geranium, Mackinac Island Series, 2018, 5" x 7", designed and hooked by April D. DeConick, linen foundation with hand-dyed scrap wool.
I still have halfway to go around the border of my bench cover with the Bighorn sheep. Tired of hooking rectangles! So I pulled out a series of wool snapshot mats that I wanted to do for some time and got started. This is a series of 5" x 7" photos taken on our summer trips to Mackinac Island. I don't know how many will finish the series, but here are the two I did this weekend.
I have rehooked the background on the Bighorn bench cover four times. No color was right. So I went back to the oatmeal and decided that it needed to be distinguished from the Mosaic Stitch I used in the animal itself. So I worked on creating a Basket Weave Stitch. Super easy to do and what lovely texture. I am amazed at the way the change of a stitch can make all the difference in the world.
So how did I do it? Here is a short how-to video I made.
I have finished the main subject of my oversized bench cover. I am now moving on to the background and then the side border. I had planned a very dark chocolate for the background, but now I am worried that I will lose the sheep to the brown. I also dyed an oatmeal which is just a tad bit brighter than the linen background. I don't care for light backgrounds, but that may end up the case with this piece. I am going ahead with the dark background to see if it will work or not. If not, oatmeal it is.
Julie is so inventive! She wanted a way to cut bigger amounts of wool strips at one time. So she took a fabric cutting machine called The Big Shot and had custom dies made to cut our wool strips. You purchase the machine and then the different size dies you need from her.
I couldn't be more pleased. When I create a new rug, I spend a huge amount of time cutting my wool initially on my Townsend cutter (which I love but it is slow going). But with my new Big Shot cutter, I can cut two layers of wool in 6"x18" strips in one crank of the die.
Here's how it works. First you place your wool on top of the black die pad. You sandwich this between bottom and top plexiglass plates. You insert this sandwich into the machine and turn the crank. After the sandwich passes through the machine, you remove the top plexiglass plate, and you have cut an entire strip of wool at one time. I use the #6 cut die. The machine will cut 27 #6 strips with one layer of wool and 54 strips with two layers! Magnificent.
Having experienced this new cutting system, well, I wouldn't be without it. I highly recommend it for any serious rug hooker. It is worth its weight in gold (well almost!).
Back a couple of years, I taught my wool snapshots workshop at Sauder Village, and, since it was only a day-long course, most students did not finish there work on site. Terryl Ostmo got busy with life but recently returned to her project and finished it. She sent me this picture, which shows how adorable these miniature pieces are. Just wonderful how she captured the delight of her son Karl on his third birthday.
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