Saturday, July 30, 2016

Vintage Harry M. Fraser Model 500-1 instruction sheet

Last year, I bought a huge stash of vintage (mostly pre-1980) rug hooking supplies from a wonderful lady who was downsizing. Both she (Myrna L.) and her mother (Velma B.) had been McGown-Hookrafter-Guild-trained rug hookers, so she had boxes upon boxes of tools, books, patterns, and wool. I'm so very grateful to her, and I'm going to do my best to pay it forward by sharing the supplies with other rug hookers and sharing curiosities and treasures here on the blog. This is the second post in that series.

Among the supplies I inherited last year were four very vintage Harry M. Fraser Model 500-1 cloth slitters in various states of repair. (As teachers, Myrna and Velma had owned two each.) These classic finely-machined tools for those of use who hook using fabric are still being made (and serviced!) by the original company, and the owners have provided a history of the machine shop and their Bliss and Fraser cutters along with an image-based instruction PDF on their website. My old cutters came with a sheet of text-based instructions that likely date to the 1950s or 1960s (the model being referred to as 500 instead of 500-1 might help date them):

Fraser Model 500 cutter instructions, side 1

Fraser Model 500 cutter instructions, side 2

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Adapted design: "Blue Darner and Wild Rose"

Our guild had the opportunity to exhibit our work at a local library recently, and our learning and development team decided to make it a challenge: insect rugs, about eight inches square. I decided I wanted to hook a local dragonfly species, hovering over a local flower.

After a lot of sketching, I ended up with a design that's heavily influenced by the American Arts-and-Crafts movement. The background is inspired by the abstracted square rose designed by printmaker Dard Hunter during his Roycroft period. The dragonfly in the foreground is adapted from a Dragonfly Tile by Detroit's legendary Arts-and-Crafts ceramicists Pewabic Pottery.

April 17th: I'm doing the dragonfly's wing by layering clear elastic (that stuff from the shoulders of blouses) over the cochineal-dyed wool of the rose underneath. Taking forever because it's both stretchy and slippery but it looks so cool! (The width of the elastic is identical to the width of a #6-cut wool strip.)

You can kind of see in this detail shot that I need to hook in the elastic loop high, hook in the wool loop below it, then adjust the loop heights and align them as I go. It's slow, finicky work.

May 8th: The wings with the layer of clear elastic are taking me forever, so I switched to working on the background.

May 13th: I'm switching back and forth between background and wings, because I need to know the correct values for the background before I hook in the wing. The pink is a mix of wool flannel and wool yarn dyed with cochineal, and I'm geeking out a bit about using insects to dye the materials for my insect mat.

May 14th: almost done!

May 30th: Finished and pressed**! But my beaded border went higgledy-piggledy where it's adjacent to yarn and needs persuasion to behave itself.* 'Blue Darner and Wild Rose', wool flannel, wool yarn, and polyurethane elastic on linen. Cochineal and goldenrod used to dye the background. Finished size 9.5 inches h x 9.0 inches wide. 

*In the end, I concluded that the only way to get it to behave itself would be to hook one row of fabric all around to contain the yarn, then do the beaded border outside that - but it's already bigger than the dimensions we were meant to stick with, so I left it as is.

**I carefully went around the wings when I was steaming it. I wouldn't want to melt the polyurethane after all that work to hook with it!

June 7th: My "Blue Darner and Wild Rose" is on exhibit for the month of June 2016, alongside other insect-themed rugs by members of the Edmonton Rug Hooking Guild, at the Riverbend Branch of Edmonton Public Library.