Hooked on Rug Hooking

NEWPORT - The Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild is holding its 15th annual event all this week and weekend at the Shelburne Museum, and a Newport woman is a featured guest speaker and demonstrator.The event, Hooked in the Mountains XV, is a rug and fiber art show displaying more than 400 works.Helen Wolfel of Newport learned the art of rug making in 1977 from and with her mother-in-law Luise Wolfel. “She was my inspiration,” said Helen Wednesday. Luise Wolfel began hooking rugs a few years before she shared the art form with her daughter-in-law. “We love what we do and to share it with others," Helen said of rug hookers.Helen and her mother-in-law traveled to East Randolph to take classes together in rug hooking at the Green Mountain Rug School.Helen has been at the Shelburne Museum all week with some of her handmade wool rugs on display. She is a featured guest speaker for the event and is holding demonstrations in dying techniques.Although the art of making the rugs is fairly easy, it is very time consuming. Helen has a number of rugs that took two years to complete. But this is a hobby for her and she is busy with her life, which includes time with her children and grandchildren, she said.“Innovation has always been the foundation of rug hooking. The craft was born of necessity; making a warm and comforting rug from discarded bits of cloth hooked into a burlap backing, probably from a cast-aside seed bag,” said Ellen Banker with the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild. “But these practical and humble materials produced something more: beauty, originality, and art.”The basic techniques of hooking rugs have changed very little over time while the innovation has endured, Banker explained. Rich colors, textures, and materials, and some new techniques are popular in contemporary hooked rugs, especially in Vermont.“Helen is an innovator in the art of dying wool to obtain just the right effect for her pieces,” Banker said.The guild was established in 1981 and is a volunteer-run non-profit organization that promotes the fine art and craft of hooking rugs in Vermont and beyond. Green Mountain rug hookers come from throughout North America, Europe, and Japan, and there are nearly 500 members.This year the Guild's exhibit runs November 12 to 20, 2011, 10 AM until 5 PM, and until noon on the Sunday. It is located at the iconic Round Barn, Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont. Admission is free for members of the Guild and children 12 and under; $4 for seniors and Shelburne Museum members; and $8 for other visitors.For more information visit www.gmrhg.org or www.shelburnemuseum.org for more information and directions.