A Big Thing in a Small Package, a Magical Little Mat by Susan Feller of Ruckman Mill Farm

Many of you may already be familiar with accomplished fiber artist Susan Feller of Ruckman Mill Farm in West Virginia. Taken from an article that appeared in RHM's Rug Beat: "Susan is the author of Design Basics for Rug Hookers and a frequent contributor to Rug Hooking Magazine. Her websites are www.ruckmanmillfarm.com and www.artwools.com." Susan has dual degrees in history and art, and also a resume filled with accomplishments in her work life. I would encourage you to click on every single hyperlink in that opening paragraph, however, like all biographical blurbs, nothing there begins to fully describe Susan. I already knew a few things about Susan's work when I went to a meeting of the Maine Tin Pedlar ATHA chapter last summer, where Susan was doing a presentation on design. She was also selling her beautiful hand dyed wools, patterns that range from traditional to way-out-of-the-box contemporary, and her really unique and fun to work with Design in a Box Fraktur kit. I bought two sets of those, one for Jen and one for the Maine studio. One of our hookers has already used it to create a personal gift rug. There were two other reasons I made sure I was there, however. One was to meet Susan herself and the other was to view a portion of her Year Study project that I had seen online. Between November 4th, 2013 and November 4th, 2014, Susan created a 5" square study and fiber design for every day of the year. The results were nothing short of breathtaking. First, let me describe Susan. The first word that comes to mind is creative, followed immediately by high energy. Simultaneous with both is passionate and caring. When I introduced myself to her she immediately knew who I was and had things she wanted to say to me - valuable, important things from an experienced artist to a newbie. This energy and graciousness are part of the reason I would like to be able to bring Susan to our studio to teach a class at some point in the future. It is impossible not to be inspired by her. The Year Study squares are just crazy good. So many materials, colors, techniques, design styles, every one completely unique with a story all its own. I knew I wanted one and asked Susan to just reserve my birthday square for me, June 21st. I didn't care what it looked like, what the design was. I trusted completely that it would be the right square and that I would love it. I was not disappointed. In fact, I was thrilled. And here is where you must forgive me for getting a little metaphysical. You may use the word superstitious if you are so inclined. Above my sewing machine in my work studio (not the studio space where we have Tuesday group, but up in the inner sanctum over the garage where I actually create), I have a bulletin board with things that inspire me about where I've been so far in this creative journey and where I want to go. It is there that I pinned the paper copy of Susan's design study that came with my square. SusanFellerBoard There it is in the lower left corner. I leave the other items on there for context. I've got a beautiful, loving postcard from Forest Eliot at the Squam Art Workshops where I teach, my somewhat salty reminder to never give up, and pic of Jen and me with Josh and Brent at the Beekman 1802 Mercantile for which we make custom pillows. Tucked right in there is Susan's study for my birthday square. It is called, "Trip to Teach." The square documents a teaching trip Susan took through West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. When I told Susan how much it meant to me later, she indicated that she had learned a lot on that trip, both through contact with her students and in the quiet of long car rides between destinations. SusanFellerBack So, why was this little square like a message from the fiber art gods (or at least one fiber art goddess...) to me? I wrote a blog post in October about getting back to the reasons I started Parris House Wool Works to begin with, and how I had gotten a bit off track from those in trying to keep up with the small, but time consuming, retail side of things. This was in explanation for closing the physical studio all but for Tuesday group. Here is an excerpt: "... making stuff is going to be a focus that shifts in to a primary position for me, and equal to that is going to be teaching. There is nothing in my work more rewarding than sharing this heritage craft with new hookers. Nothing. If I just repost the link for my experience at the Squam Art Workshops, I think it will be a matter of ’nuff said: click here. I am sooooo looking forward to returning to Squam in 2016..." And what I did not know then was that yet another two teaching opportunities would come to me in the next weeks. Here is the map of Susan's teaching trip, rendered in wool, silk, fantabulous colors, and imagination. SusanFellerFront I believe art objects are like talismans. Maybe they are not literally imbued with magic...or maybe they are. I don't know. This one came at just the right time to say, "Hey, yes...stay the course. Make those crazy pieces in 2016 that are forming in your mind. Teach everywhere you can. Here's an artist that could and did and does." Maybe the art objects aren't the talismans. Maybe the artists themselves are. In fact, I know they are. So how about it? What would make a nicer holiday gift to yourself, or to someone you love, than one of the many Year Study squares that Susan still has left in her shop? To view and purchase them, click HERE. You might just see one that inspires you, the way mine turned out to be just the right one even sight unseen. Happy dreaming, happy shopping, and happy hooking. - Beth

Previous Post Next Post

  • Parris House Wool Works
Comments 0
Leave a comment
Your Name:*
Email Address:*
Message: *

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.

* Required Fields