Saturday, October 26, 2013


With the weather getting colder, I've cut the tips off an old pair of gloves for plein air work.  Inside, however, it's nice and cozy and a pleasure to be surrounded by so much wool.  I started the hooking on "Blue Collar".

 "Blue Collar" in progress,  Lori LaBerge 2013

There will be a large variety of blues in this work and I may need to do some dyeing as my scrap bin is getting thinned out.  Since there is so much blue, I want to mix not just values of one blue, but various shades of blues to make the piece more interesting.  The lower half will veer more toward a turquoise or aqua blue while the top stays with more of a pure blue.

I am not sure why the color blue has suddenly taken hold of me.  It is a color that seems to expand creativity. The blue of the sky surrounds us and leaves us open to change.  It calms, yet has a certain energy and stature to it.

Close-up of a sculptural vessel by Molly Colegrove that I purchased.

Blue hands speckled with shades of green and burgundy expand out around the vessel. The hands seem to be reaching out to each other as well as toward the sky as if trying to communicate something.

Photo taken at aquarium in Charleston, S.C.

The calmness and feeling of escape that comes from blue.  So many of us vacation near the water to relax, while divers enter and explore another universe under the sea away from the noise and activity above.

This photo I took in Scotland last October reminds me of Helen Hunt Jackson's poem:
 October's Bright Blue Weather

"O SUNS and skies and clouds of June,
and flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather" 

"The Grand Canal of Venice" also called "Blue Venice" by Edouard Manet is at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont.

This is one of my favorite paintings.  The rippling blue of the water and the way the blue is carried up vertically on the poles.  The brightness of the blue is different than the more subdued blues Manet used in other works with water.  It was said that he met with Monet before this work and that possibly influenced his color choice.

Search out the color blue around you, find the shades of blue you love and have a great day.


While not hooking this week, there were a myriad of other things going on.  My husband and I did quite a bit of work on the studio.  It seems like things always come to a halt to wait for various inspections to take place.  This week's work included:

More exterior painting and porch ceiling installation.  I'm not a ladder person but am certainly getting used to it.

Evenings spent installing insulation.  The studio, storage and workshop area have to be completed before calling in insulation inspectors.

Tile installation on the bathroom floor.  It is a beautiful silver gray with a wood-like grain and smaller tiles will run up part of the wall.  It certainly got messy when we installed drywall.  There is still a lot of work to be done, but we're having fun.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


I rarely get the chance to travel and see my work on exhibit.  It is usually shipped out then shipped back after the show with my not getting the chance to see it on display next to the work of others.  This week I made a trip to Kentucky for the opening reception of "A Fine Line: Contemporary Drawing" at the Claypool-Young Art Gallery at Morehead State University.  Here is a tour for you:

One thing I love about exhibits is meeting people.  There are always a surprising variety of individuals enjoying the artwork.

Here is Rural/Urban Compatibility on exhibit with the felt work "Trace" by Roman Arevalo above it.

"11.25.12  10 a.m." by Erin Wiersma
The sheer size of this (84" X 60") makes it a very commanding piece and the use of black and white adds drama.

"WORD-e" by Leslie Hirst
I love the way the shadow becomes part of the piece.  Leslie used hand-written letters along with telephone directories.  The piece uses lace making methods to stitch it together.

  "Hillside View" by Christopher Troutman
This work mesmerized me.  It really made me want to be there relaxing and enjoying the view.  Love all the lines, detail and shading.

 Detail of upper right corner of "Hillside View"

"Remnants" by Jennifer Hand
I always love when artists paint or draw fabric, the folds, the shadows and the textures. The element of stitching that was done around the middle cutout adds a story to the piece. Are remnants that have been saved being pulled out from the cutout or are leftover remnants being thrown away?

"Remains" by Samara Rosen
I have a thing for objects that are deteriorating or decaying.  I especially love old buildings that have been deserted.  This just had that deteriorating feel for me, yet it also seemed to be stretching out as if searching for something, as if what we are left with is a search for meaning.

Detail of  "Remains"

"Despair" by Gabrielle Monk
This piece was a combination of patterns and repetition.  The figure had a vein type pattern running through it, head down in despair while the cat looks on.  The side walls (or curtains) appear to be actual bits of fiber but are in reality drawn and dripped with India ink.

Detail of "Despair"

I hope you enjoyed viewing some of the works that were displayed.

Seek out art in your area and have a great day.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


The majority of this week was spent in the planning process of "Blue Collar".  The work will be inspired by a photo I took of our local quartz plant.  My first step was to narrow the photo down to the area I wanted to focus on.

 Storage silos at quartz plant.

The strength of these storage silos drew my attention.  Not only are they physically strong, but they represent the strength of the workers at the plant.

The piece developed slowly as I worked with both drawings and Photoshop.  I knew I wanted to include a pulley I picked up at an antique shop.  Here is the studio table:

Since this will be a mixed-media piece, I had to keep in account the size of the pulley in relation to the total work.  The hooked work will measure 16" X 20".  I also had to begin thoughts on how the pulley will be attached.  

Here is the piece drawn out on linen.  Though the pulley will not be hooked, I drew it on the design to allow for how the rest of the work would look with the pulley eventually in place.  

I sifted through colors, which were decided upon through testing various hues on Photoshop.  I wanted a variety of shades of blue for the blue collar theme.  I then added in some bright green for contrast and interest. 

   Sample page of  the fun designs you can work with on The Interaction of Color for ipad.

While on the subject of color,  The Interaction of Color by Josef Albers  is now available as an app for the ipad and includes interviews with artists, designers and others as well as the ability to switch out colors in the color plates with just the tap of a finger.  It was frustrating at first as it does take a while to figure out how to work all the features, but I find myself really liking it now.  It is amazing that we now have the technology to interact with a book.  You could also work with the actual book, rather than the app, and use construction paper for the exercises.

For the design I started with abstracted silos in the background, which the pulley will be placed against.  The design on the above left is o.k., but the pulley tends to disappear.  The design on the right uses a lighter background behind the pulley, making it stand out more.  

I had to allow for how the pulley will be attached.  A header, which will be a wood strip, was added to the top of the design and will extend behind a portion of the hooked work so screws can be attached.  The wooden header will be collaged with torn up time cards, to give a sense of factory life.  The chain will take some thought as I would like viewers to be able to turn the pulley.

There will be a decision as to using a 6 or 4-cut wool.  The 4-cut will give a smoother feel against the roughness of the pulley and allow for more abstracted detail.  I will see how this works when hooking begins.

"Red Autumn"  4X6  Lori LaBerge  plein air work 2013

The Plein Air Hooking Artists are hard at working creating pieces for the future website. Some of the artists already have two pieces done.  Membership is free and ongoing for those serious about contributing work to the site.  Please contact me at if interested in joining us. 

Enjoy the designs surrounding you, appreciate the work that went into them and have a great day.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


The hooking was completed on "Road Movie" this morning.  

"Road Movie"  20 X 20  Lori LaBerge  2013

I love this!  I seem to be obsessed with the color blue lately.  The urge for a coastal trip, perhaps?  Some areas still to be worked on are tweaking the hooking, attaching the metal pieces, clipping loose wool threads and whipping the edges.    

A smaller washer, which I painted, was placed on top of a larger one.  It gives some depth and adds color on top of the larger washer.  I get the feeling of tires rolling along on the roadway from these.  It is hard to see from the photo, but the dark tweed wool on the bottom has the same shade of blue that is in the darker portion of the stripe running through it.

This weeks journal activity will be the beginning of a project.  I will be working on creating an "innovative piece" to enter into a juried show.  I see innovative as being something different (a new idea), something I haven't seen before ( a new way of working)  and that veers from tradition. 

This week I took my first step of finding a subject.  This can sometimes be overwhelming as there are so many options and the shows only theme is "innovative". 

The subject was arrived at through materials.  I found an old pulley at an antique shop a while back and have been waiting for an idea to use it.  From the pulley came the idea of the working class.  The piece will be titled "Blue Collar".  I pulled blue wool from the studio shelf and while searching through my box of metals found two sizes of chains.  

I know I will use the chain over the pulley somehow.  I will also use a photo of our local quartz plant as inspiration for the work.  The next week will be spent putting this idea together.

The Quartz Company in Spruce Pine, NC

Try some of your own innovations.  Ideas could include choosing an odd subject, using different materials than you would normally see hooked, putting materials together in an unexpected way or adding various embellishments.  You may wish to simply work on the design process in your journal or you may choose to hook a piece.  Be creative!  There are no rules here.

The "Plein Air Hooking Artists" is in the works.  I will be working on planning out the website tomorrow.  I have listed the idea under the group section of the TIGHR (The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers) website.  If you are a member of TIGHR please take a look and see if you would be interested in joining.  If you are not a member, think about joining.  It is a great way to keep in contact with other rug hookers, exchange ideas and view some amazing work.

    "Autumn's Start"  4 X 6  Lori LaBerge  2013

Membership is free and will be ongoing.  If you are interested in joining us please contact me at

Be innovative, whether cooking, singing, dancing or creating,and have a great day.