Thirty four years ago, Elizabeth Black took up rug hooking as an alternative to oil painting.
At an art show in 1966, she stumbled upon a rug hooker who taught the craft,intrigued she enrolled in a class."But she wouldn't let me do my own designs and I wanted more flexibility.She would not give in,nor would I,so I went to the library and checked out some books on the subject.I figured it out and have been doing my own thing since,"she says.
Her works have been published in Early American Life,Traditional Home and Country Decorating magazine to name a few. She has also displayed her works in a number of exclusive juried shows around the country.
An historian, Elizabeth is an educator and an advocate of her own art form.
"I think one goal is educating the public in what a remarkable medium rug hooking is and letting them see the potential in it,"she said."People always think the ultimate rug is an oriental rug.Hooked rugs are different but the quality and durability is every bit as good."
Many of Elizabeth's works are commissioned rugs.Another of her popular commodities are her "lonesome companions"or"dummy boards".Elizabeth has adapted an art form that was popular in the late 1800's of creating animals and people that sit companionably in a corner or beside the hearth to "keep people company." She is often commissioned to replicate people's pets into pillows,area rugs or dummy boards-painting them in hooked wool.
Black said that her art is primarily an american craft. Examples of hooked pieces,done on linen however,have been found from ancient Egypt,and the craft was also popular in England,she said.
For years however,rug hooking was done for "utilitarian purposes,"Elizabeth said. "The hooked rugs were used as bed covers,as insulation on walls,and to cover dirt floors.The designs were primarliy geometric."
In the late 1800's,the first carpet machine was invented,and then sadly no one wanted these "old rugs."
They want them now...Elizabeth is commissioned to create exotic designs with birds,flowers,and animals. She custom designs her pieces to suit specific areas in her customers' homes,and to suit their color schemes.The largest of these commissions takes up to 7 months to complete.
Each work is an original-she never does the same piece twice...
In addition Elizabeth is kept busy teaching others her craft in workshops and rug hooking retreat camps around the country