Maine Tin Pedlars has been meeting for over 40 years in and around Southern Maine. The Chapter is a member of the national group—Association of Traditional Hooking Artists. Back in 1980, one of the very first meetings of the group was held at the home of Jackye Hansen, who promptly set out to organize an exhibit of hooked rugs.
On a Saturday in April, a friendly group of perhaps 20 met at the Blue Point Congregational Church in Scarborough. Several brought rugs for show-and-tell or for working upon. A library of books and magazines was wheeled in, along with small amounts of hand-dyed woolen fabrics for sale. Women set up hooking stands and tools and proceeded to work.
The speaker that day was Pam Bartlett, owner of The Woolen Pear and Red Horse Rug Designs of New Loudon, New Hampshire—a four times recipient of an NEA Master Artist/Apprenticeship Grant.
Donna Hezlep brought in an array of hooked rugs and several bright and colorful quilts she had made. She said she had won prizes and ribbons from as far away as Australia, but now enjoys “doing her own thing.” She loves teaching people creative skills and believes “once people see how exciting the techniques are, they want to learn how to do it.” And so she teaches them how to do it well. “People look for things that feed their soul and bring them joy on the other side of life’s hardships and knocks.” She talks about the balance between our eyes, ears, and core that is needed to make good work. Donna sees herself as “an ambassador for fun.”
“When hooking portraits, get the eye right first. Do the eye well and the piece will begin to talk to you…..And don’t be too quick to rip out. People often rip out their work too quickly and don’t allow time for the magic to happen.”Donna Hezlep
Gina Clukey of Scarborough brought in “Donna’s Sheep,” a work she hopes to have ready for the upcoming Cumberland Fair. Hooking for only two years, Sara Salisbury gave Gina her first pattern. Several people in the group spoke of the generosity of other members in offering materials, instruction, and encouragement.
Tori Lambert of Portland has been hooking for three years having also tried her hands at pottery, knitting, sewing, collage and punch needle. Her totem is a crow and her husband, Ted Julian Arnold, a painter, enjoys teacups. Tori features both in her “Welcome” mat.
Theresa Jack of South Portland has been hooking since 1980 after her grandmother taught her how. She recently finished “Elvin Ring.”
Lorraine Lyden of Westbrook learned from her mother, Dorothy Towle, a gifted and prolific rug maker active in both New Hampshire and in Maine. Towle learned to hook in the 1960’s, influenced by Pearl McGown. Says Lorraine, “In the ’60’s, ’70’s, and ’80’s, people hooked a lot of birds, mushrooms, pineapples, flowers and fruits. Currier and Ives motifs. Now, people have branched out, and my mother branched out years ago as well.” She started designing her own work, attending social groups, and teaching. She always received Blue Ribbons for her work at the Fryeburg Fair each year. At one point, Towle was honored for her work at a Smithsonian Festival in Washington, DC. She had designed a quilt about the history of New Hampshire quilted which was by a large community of students and friends.
Lorraine became an accomplished hooker herself. She showed us “Fin McCool”—named by a young boy—a beautiful portrait of one of her cats.