When people ask me what I do, I often stumble a bit before answering. Simply calling myself a rug hooker doesn't seem to fit anymore, (I am not convinced it ever did), besides most people still associate rug hooking with the shag rugs made in hobby class when they were children.
I have been called a textile artist, fiber artist, an artisan, and to some extent, I am all these things. I identify myself as a fine craft visual artist that uses rug hooking as an art medium. After many years of working as a fashion designer, I felt a change was needed. During a weekend trip to Shelburne Museum in Vermont that change found its roots. Intrigued by the hand hooked rugs found in the museums' collection, I set out to learn everything I could find on their history and how they were made.
What started out as a simple research project quickly grew into a career that I never would have imagined. Armed with an old latch hook generously donated by my mother in law and some left over cashmere fabric from a coat project, I started experimenting with different techniques and materials transforming my ideas into rugs.
During those early experiments, I discovered that there was something very meditative and magical happening every time the wool transformed itself into a loop. The slow and labor intensive nature of this technique quickly gave voice to my imagination and unleashed the creative energy I had hidden for so many years.
For the past five years I have approached each new project with a contemporary voice with imagery that expresses the importance of valuing our own experiences and crafting work that honors both life and place. I achieve my palettes by dyeing 100% wool and cashmere fabrics using natural and synthetic dyes. With the help of my old dressmakers scissors given to me by my first boss, the woolen fabric is hand cut into strips 1/8", 1/4" or 3/8", then hand hooked using the same latch hook my mother in law gave me, onto a 100% linen canvas.
I create designs that are iterative narrations through figurative and symbolic subject such as family, places and ancestry. The goal for my work is to create images that will express simple truths that evoke feeling, provoke memories and even transport the viewer to a time of innocence. Every piece invites the viewer to linger over the unanswered questions it provokes, with hopes that the tension stays with them after they have stepped away.
2003 -2015 Copyright © Rachelle LeBlanc Textile Artist, Hooked Rug Studio. All rights reserved.
Rachelle LeBlanc Textile Artist, Contemporary fiber and textile art.
This video interview was filmed in my studio by Corinne and Gary Funk from artsquest.ca.
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