I’m Karen Larsen, a graphic artist and designer of traditional hooked rugs. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in studio art from Elmira College and postgraduate studies in advertising and commercial design from the School of Visual Arts in NYC.
Creating this Found on Beach project has been interesting and a bit unsettling. I’m definitely an OCD neatnik type, whose personal motto is, “I love my OCD! “ So, trashing up a perfectly good hooked piece depicting a child’s pail and shovel on a sandy beach, was hard to do. I’m not sure I have added enough trash to it, but it will have to do. I can only take so much.
Here is the finishing process that I did. I bound the edges as I do with all of my hooked rugs [see my blog, “Binding the Cat”]. Then after hooking and prodding in most of the trash, I sewed the piece to foam core/board [recycled from another use] that was cut to the same dimensions of 18” x 24”. I sewed on a few more of the trash elements at that point.
I knew the final stage would be to attach the entire piece to a wood frame that my hubby made me for another project, which I never used. I wanted to use the colorful variety of buoy/ lobster trap rope that I found on a Cape Cod beach a few years ago. I nailed the rope to the outer edges of the wood frame and added a child’s flip flop for good measure. Then I carefully nailed the piece to the top of the frame by lifting the edges of the hooked piece and nailing through the foam board.
This is the fourth installment in my Mother Earth Speaks series. The next one will be plastic in the ocean, but first I think I’ll hook myself a rug with my motto “I love my OCD!” A little respite from the sad state of our Earth Mother.
There’s a lot of beauty out there. Let’s keep it that way!
Found on Beach 18” x 24”. Designed and created by Karen Larsen, Crow’s Foot Farm Designs, LLC. 2019
A good start was made on “trashing up” my Found on Beach piece. I will do more on it before I show it again. I’m still figuring out how to mount this piece, but I’m sure it will all work out well in the end.
Half of this past week was spent visiting a friend in Connecticut. We had lots of fun. Knowing someone for 40+ years makes for many shared laughs as we catch up with each other’s life. Having friends from many years ago creates a wonderful continuity to one’s life. Do you have friends from “long ago”? I have a friend from back when we were both in nappies, another friend I met in pre-school, and many more from all the intervening years between then and now.
Pennsylvania continues to have a lot of rain. I wonder if this is the new “normal”? I like a rainy day, so I don’t mind. I took a few photos on one of the sunny days this past week and I’m sharing them below. Just random things that caught my attention.
There’s a lot of beauty out there and in the company of an old friend.
Some natural treasures to save and admire.
Hot pepper and tomato plants. Hoping for a better growing season this year!
I find these mud-dauber wasp tubes fascinating.
The girls enjoy the dandelions.
A mini hen egg [with peanut for size comparison]. I save all of these tiny treasures.
Have you ever seen photos of beaches after a holiday weekend or college spring break? The people are gone, but they have left behind literally tons of trash! I don’t understand the mindset of humans, who can just walk away and leave trash in their wake.
Now that I have finished hooking Found on Beach, it’s time to figure out how to add the trash. Of course, the trash I add will have to be a minimal amount and size to fit on this piece, which is only 18” x 24”. Although I’m known for my “less is more” approach to things, I’ll try to stuff as much of my trash as I can on this piece! I hope to have a good start on it by next week’s blog.
I have some ideas for the next piece, which will be plastic detritus in the ocean. I’m feeling more and more as though I need to do multi-media pieces now. In the past, collage and multi-media artwork was my passion and I’m being pulled back to it.
Everything old is new again!
There’s a lot of beauty out there and in creating what is in one’s heart.
A variety of trash to choose from for my Found on Beach piece.
The beach before it’s trashed.
A Shutterstock image of beach litter. It makes me sad and mad to see this.
As I hook along on my Found on Beach piece, I’m still pondering how to attach the beach litter to it. After I finish the hooking and blocking, I might proddy some junk into the hooking and then back it with a piece of foam-core [reused from another purpose, of course], so there will be something to sew the bigger or heavier items onto. Time will tell if this will work.
I hooked the pail and shovel in #8 cut wool strips and the sand in my new-favorite #8.5 strips. I love combining a number of sandy-colored wools to achieve the look of footprints on the sand. I rarely hook something in one flat color.
My basket of available litter and trash is overflowing. It is probably too much for the two pollution pieces I’m doing, but I’ll use up as much as I can.
On another topic, yesterday the family of Magdalena Briner Eby donated one of her original hooked rugs to the Historical Society of Perry County [PA], where Magdalena lived. Some of us Magdalena Rug Hookers were there to witness the donation and offer a small rug show and demonstratio to members of that committee. I felt a certain pride that so many of us rug hookers from all over the globe, have a connection to this simple country woman, who made rugs to keep her floors warm and decorated them with motifs from her farming ways. I’m sorry I didn’t take my camera to get a photo of the hand-over.
There’s a lot of beauty out there and in the art of rug hooking through the centuries.
Found on Beach in progress. The sand will hook up quickly and then the fun begins!
My next hooked piece will be titled, Found on Beach. It will be another in my Mother Earth Speaks series. This one will depict the litter that we humans create, which ends up on beaches. I cringe every time I see people release helium balloons, which often end up in water and choke animals. Beach goers leave behind all sorts of trash, including cigarette butts. Other litter washes ashore from far off places.
As for the design of this piece, I think I will hook a child’s pail and shovel on a sandy beach. This could be almost any beach in the world. I will affix different kinds of trash that I have collected. I haven’t yet figured out how I will do this, but as I get into creating this piece, I’m sure it will all come together.
I’ve designed and hooked a number of Cape Cod beach-inspired pieces and can’t wait to start hooking this one. I spot-dyed some sand-colored wool and will decide what color to make the pail and shovel. I prefer to make decisions as I work. This sometimes makes for “reverse hooking” as I change my mind about things, but that’s not a problem.
Tree leaves and daffodils have really come out this past week. Our redbud trees, once tiny twigs, are showing their beautiful magenta blossoms. Robins are gathering nesting materials. This new season is in full swing!
There’s a lot of beauty out there and in the new life all around us.
Gathering inspiration for my next piece.
A beach junk sculpture in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
My spring break was a break from rug hooking. It was a “staycation” filled with caring for the neighbors’ hens and guineas and enjoying a visit from our son, who lives on the other side of the States.
I have many, many eggs from those young and prolific hens and will most likely make another batch of pickled beet eggs. They keep a long time in the refrigerator. I love them sliced on a salad or eaten as-is. The egg yolks from these insect-eating hens are bright orange and oh, so delicious!
This week, I hope to steam the super-secret rug I’m working on. I need to steam it before I add some yarn and another element to finish the design. It’s different than my usual rugs and I wish I could show it to you. I also continue to save plastic bits and bobs for my plastic pollution rugs that are in the planning stages.
Spring has definitely sprung here in south central Pennsylvania. It’s an exciting time of year filled with the promise of things to come.
There’s a lot of beauty out there in the yellow of daffodils and the orange of freshly laid eggs.
The first of many daffodils in our little cemetery.
Some of the neighbors’ hens admiring their early morning work.
My old girls still lay a few eggs, which I scramble up and feed back to them.
Come on in and visit a while.
Channeling a bit of springtime.
Whatever the season, frogs and crows are part of the display.
Back in the day, the three R’s stood for, “Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic”. Today they are often used for “Reduce, Recycle and Reuse”. All of these things are important, but I’m glad the new version is gaining popularity on our crowded planet.
I’ve been pondering what rug to do next that isn’t a super-secret rug and I’ve chosen to do two pieces in my Mother Earth Speaks series. I switch between depicting a man-made ecological disaster and a natural one. Since Looming in Greenland was the last one I hooked, and that was a natural near-disaster, it’s time for a man-made one. There seem to be abundant choices, unfortunately.
Scenes of our beautiful planet choking on plastic waste haunt my thoughts, so I will do one rug with detritus found on just about any beach. I even saw photos of garbage washed ashore on an uninhabited island! The other piece, which goes along with this unfortunate theme, will be plastics floating on the ocean.
A couple of years ago, I gathered some man-made items from beaches on Cape Cod. I had the kernel of an idea in my head that I would incorporate this into a hooked piece. The time is now.
I hope you’ll take this journey with me as I decide how to depict this growing problem. Perhaps you will join me in being aware of the problem and doing your part in picking up litter along a roadside, using cloth grocery bags, saying “no” to one-use plastic. It’s not easy, but if we each do our part, it can make a difference.
I’d love it if the rug hooking community would create pieces addressing this issue. Perhaps you already have. Please share them on my Crows Foot Farm LLC Facebook page. I’ll try to figure out how to make an album of them there.
There’s a lot of beauty out there and we can each do our part to protect it.
Some of this detritus is from beaches on Cape Cod.
Happy April Fools Day. The UFOs I reference are the Un-Finished Objects type, not the Roswell, New Mexico ones. I seem to have a few knitting projects waiting to be finished. And somewhere there is an embroidery project begging to see the light of day. UFOs can feel overwhelming at times, so I will choose one at a time and plug away.
Another amazing sighting is the mosaic, “The Witching Hour”, created by my talented friend, Josephine Alexander. We had our hooked rug/mosaic exchange at Breakfast Club last Friday and her mosaic is even more impressive in person! It will be hung in the hallway, so everyone who enters can admire it. For right now, it’s sitting on the antique cupboard until the hubby can get it hung on the wall. I will do a bit of redecorating in that area to highlight this masterpiece. Be sure to check out Jo’s amazing mosaics on Facebook under her business page, Grandmother Moon Mosaics. Her still lifes, flowers, goddesses, and chubby mermaids are beautiful.
I am making progress on a super-secret hooking project. And there’s another secret one that I have to design and hook. They don’t help when I want something to blog about. I think I will start my next piece in my Mother Earth Speaks series.. It will be a man-made disaster this time. And what a sad disaster it is! Stay tuned.
Spring has sprung around Crow's Foot Farm with chirping birds, spring peepers, daffodils, and increased wild animal sightings. I hope you’re seeing lots of signs of new life where you live.
There’s a lot of beauty out there and in the gifts of nature and friends.
The Witching Hour 24” x 34” mosaic by Josephine Alexander of Grandmother Moon Mosaics.
The Witching Hour 24” x 34” mosaic by Josephine Alexander of Grandmother Moon Mosaics.
My bright and cheerful Harvest Moon rug is ready to be given to my friend, Josephine Alexander, on Friday. I fixed the back of it so it can be hung on the wall. Jo’s walls are filled with the most beautiful array of paintings, decorative goddess plates, and her mosaics. I’m guessing she’ll have to do a bit of rearranging to find a spot for this rug.
I will be hosting my Breakfast Club ladies on Friday. I love this group of women, who are so creative and supportive. I am always thankful to have them in my life here in Pennsylvania. Jo will bring the pumpkin mosaic she made for me. I cannot wait to see it in person! I will post a photo of it in situ next Monday. Jo is an amazing artist and you can check out her mosaics on Facebook under her business name, Grandmother Moon Mosaics. She is truly amazing!
Speaking of Breakfast Club, although March is almost over, I’m doing an Irish themed meal. My menu is below. I love hosting this group, since breakfast is my favorite meal and there are so many variations of foods to make. We are pretty adventurous and often have things that are not traditionally served at breakfast. We think outside the box!
There’s a lot of beauty out there and in a diverse group of wonderful women.
Harvest Moon 22” x 40” all bound and ready to go.
I sew nylon webbing onto the back and insert a wood lath or yardstick with a hole drilled in the middle. It can then be hung on a hanger pushed into the wall and moved side to side to straighten it.
It will be an Irish theme with green and orange colors. Slainte!
I know that spring is definitely on the way when I go to the Woolwrights’ hook-in in Lancaster, PA. Those ladies do a superb job putting on this annual event. There were many wonderful vendors and lots of rug hookers sharing their beautiful rugs. The Magdalena Rug Hookers, the group I’m in, had a nice turnout and did some impressive shopping and hooking!
I took my Harvest Moon rug and whipped most of the border. I was so happy to find Lopi yarn to match the fuschia wool that I dyed. I will finish it up this week and fix the back of the rug for hanging. Then when I host Breakfast Club on March 29th, I will exchange this rug for a fabulous mosaic of pumpkins by Jo Alexander. I cannot wait! I will share photos when the exchange takes place.
I have finished my week of animal wifery for the neighbors’ 28 hens and 13 guinea fowl. I have a refrigerator filled with the most colorful eggs! They are destined for several quiches and the rest will be made into delicious pickled beet eggs. What a treat!
I’m still pondering what rug I’ll do next as I work on a super-secret rug for a group project. There is an idea percolating in the back of my brain.
There’s a lot of beauty out there and in a room full of rug hookers and a henhouse filled with egg layers.
My favorite way to bind a rug. Roll linen over cotton clothesline, baste in place, and whip with yarn.
Yummy colors everywhere at the hook-in!
Look at these colors! Rich brown, pale brown, light blue, light green, olive green and white!