OK, I admit, it is only 12″ x 12″, but that is because I made it for the 12th Anniversary of my favorite art people, the Carroll County Arts Council. The Carroll Arts Center opened the doors to their new home in the old art deco theater at 91 West Main St, Westminster, Maryland 12 years ago. (I was fortunate to be a member of the Board of Directors back when this excitement was taking place!) They are celebrating with an art exhibition where every piece hanging on the wall will be 12″ x 12″ and sell for $144.00. What a bargain! The show is called Footworks and will run from April 16 – June 5. Opening reception is 4/16 from 5:30 – 7:30 PM.
Now for you rya-curious folks (or rya experienced folks) here is what I did. I hemmed an acrylic rya backing to 12″; no problem. Then I did something I have never done before. I cut the backing vertically to 12″. I’ve always told people not to do that because it would compromise the strength of the rug, but, hey, this is only a 12″ piece. No one is going to walk on it. So I zig-zag stitched the edge a few times, and it was a perfect 12″ x 12″ piece.
Then with a laundry marker I drew the rough image of concentric “flower bloom” lines [Theresa Nkonde’s interpretation] or “nebula explosion lines” [Marge Simmons’ interpretation]. By 9 AM I had the drawing complete. I had no intention of working on it all day. I gathered a few small partial skeins of random “hot” colors and started knotting at the lower left corner. My intention was to work for a half hour or so blending the darker colors to the yellow-hot center adlibbing all the way.
I had yarn orders to fill, I had a book to write, a dog that needed a walk, and a lasagna to make before supper; but throughout the day I kept going back to this little rya just to see how “one more row” would change its appearance.
I was addicted, I admit, so I worked feverishly off and on all day. Why did I use the acrylic backing you ask (instead of wool)? For one thing, I have a lot of it, and it is the least expensive backing I have. Also, it is white which makes drawing images on it a cinch, and while it is not really a floor-worthy backing, it is great for a wall-hanging or work of art. And for the first time, I used 4 strands of yarn on the needle instead of 3 to really give it a rich solid feel. And finally for you really perceptive folks, you might be wondering how it would fit as a 12×12 piece of art when the pile clearly extends beyond the 12×12 backing. You are so observant! As I knotted, I pulled the knots just tight enough to bring the width to 11.5 ” and the pile extends out the extra width to make it a perfect 12×12.
Well, you guessed it, before the sun set, it was complete, and I love it. So HOT! I realize I could do the same backing preparation for others and gather similar yarns in small amounts (in some cases just a few strands of certain colors.) So this will be a high priority for me to make available for others. I’ll come up with a few color schemes, too. Stay tuned–or if you can’t wait, just ask me to make a kit for you. The acrylic backing is really 27 inches wide. I might suggest keeping it that width so it doesn’t have to be cut. The over all look would be almost the same. Just wait and see what I come up with as an offering for those of you who really like this piece. I call it FIREFLOWER.
Watch it GROW in time-lapsed video–a one day rya. Click below for a silent 30-second show.
Has anyone else tried drawing a pattern on a backing? How did it work for you? It sure makes for a fast knotting project. Feel free to offer comments below. Your comment won’t appear immediately, but soon after you post, it will be shared. Thanks for reading along with me.
I’m a sucker for a furry friend on a rya rug. Pets find them irresistible.
I like to feature other artists now and then. It gives me something fun to post, without too much work on my part. Angie from Coral Gables, Florida contacted me in the first week of January this year wanting to make a rya rug. She had a vision and I helped her by sending her digital images of yarn colors to see what would work best for her. She did a “custom order” in my Etsy shop of backing and yarn, and the new needle holder, and with no more help from me she created this amazing FIRST rya project! Here’s Angie’s story:
First and foremost I want to thank YOU for your enthusiasm and your willingness to help and share.
I got a subscription to Juxtapoz (an art magazine) as a Christmas gift. The first issue I received featured two or three interviews of artists alongside their work. I enjoyed these ‘talks’ very much – I’m very interested in understanding where a work of art comes from and how it comes to be. It was in one of these interviews that rya rugs were mentioned and, since I knew nothing about rya rugs, I went to Google to find out. I came across your name and video and got hooked immediately.
Look at Angie’s set up. See her colored graph paper on the left? Her colors all tagged with numbers to correspond with her graph. And notice the brand new needle holder constructed by my husband in my grandfather’s design. This woman is set to go!
Here is an encaustic wax piece of Angies. Exciting medium to play with!
I am a stay at home mom. I have four kids, our oldest is in college and our youngest is 7 years old. I trained as an architect and practiced until our first child was born but I’ve always wanted to be able to express myself in other ways too. I like to be able to work on my projects in the little gaps that I get between all the other things that happen in a busy household. I worked for a while with soft pastels and I feel very comfortable with the medium. I recently tried encaustic wax and I love the smell of the wax, looking for interesting papers to use, applying colors in different layers and adding texture. My pastels are more representational and detailed whilst the encaustic wax allows me to just play.
When I first thought of what my rya rug would look like, I thought of colors – bright colors. I had an image of blues and greens, perhaps because we live near the sea, with a bright ball of fire on one end. You were a big help when we started communicating – you ‘got’ my thoughts and helped put the colors together. I think the whole thing happened because you were there straight away. And not long after I placed the order my package had arrived!
I went to work on that Saturday as I waited for my teenage son to return home one evening. I feel there are two distinct phases in my experience of rya making. The design process, the choosing of colors and picturing what it’s going to look like is full of energy, going back and forth, standing up and looking at it from far and then coming up close and splashing some more color here or there…
I love to see the process of planning color arrangements. Here, I bet Angie was trying to visualize the finished rya by laying hanks of yarn on the bare backing.
The actual making of the rya, for me at least, was like meditating. Knot after knot you keep completing rows and that is the perfect balance between switching off and being just barely present. If I had a busy day I would excuse myself, sit at my desk and make a few knots and I was good to go. It was like magic for my soul!
I am happy to say that I am working on a sketch for the next rug! Can’t wait! This one, I think, will be more geometrical. I am looking at Bridget Riley for a project that I am helping my daughter’s art teacher with and perhaps I’ll let that inspire me…
Thank you for letting me share! ~ Angie
Angie, Thank YOU for sharing. You are very inspiring and your rya is spectacular. have you named it? Do you know where it will hang or lie? Comments from others are always welcome. Feel free to dialogue with Angie here. Cheers, to all! melinda
Nothing brings out the dancing little girl in me like opening a package containing a book with my artwork published. I just did that happy dance this afternoon when I tore open the box sent by Mark Sullivan, Director of the Art History Program at Villanova University. He had contacted me several years ago explaining that he was writing this book, Picturing Thoreau — Henry David Thoreau in American Visual Cultureabout the many images we have of Henry David Thoreau and how people have viewed him over the years. He asked if I would be willing to share my 2003 linocut print with him as an illustration for his book. Sure, why not? (I’m a closet exhibitionist, remember?)
You see? Here’s proof!
I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I’ve had a great time flipping through and looking at the pictures. (That is how I usually read a book.) But I will definitely take the time to really read about Thoreau who has had a terrific influence on my life.
I think most of you are familiar with my linocut. (How many of you wear the shirt with pride?) What? You don’t have a Thoreau shirt? Well, we can fix that: To my etsy shop. (Sorry, Henry.)
How many of you recall the Byrdcall Blog I did back in 2012 when I shared how my Brookie in Color had been featured in a book. Check it out if you missed that one. It really is a treat for me to “be published” without doing the publishing work. For the past year and I have I have been focusing on little else than writing my Rya Rug-Making book, and I now know how much work it is to write a book. Kudos to Mark Sullivan for bringing a huge endeavor to fruition. And thanks for making my day!
If you are as crazy about Thoreau as I am (or as Mark Sullivan is) and you want to get a copy for your Thoreau Library, Click here for details.
Now back to my own book-writing…… Feel free to comment below.
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