Editor’s Note: Rose Magee has artwork displayed in our Artist’s Corner until the end of October 2021. Staff member (and the artist’s son) conducted the following interview with Rose. – KLG
What is the source of your inspiration?
After watching a demonstration, I was curious as to how one could use strips of wool to make beautiful images on a piece of linen. With the history involved as to how our ancestors made rugs for their floors using all kinds of old clothing and seed bags and flour sacks just to have a covering for their floors.
How would you describe this art form?
This art form is so different from other forms of art. An art a lot of people knew nothing about. Some people get this art form confused with latch hooking which is very different. Basically, you weave strips of wool into a base clothe. In the old days, a farm wife would have used cloth gathered from scraps and weaved into an old burlap sack. Well, burlap does not last very long, so I use cloth made for the purpose. I still use old clothing, gathered from thrift shops and like, as the source of my wool.
What do you enjoy most about making these rugs?
I enjoy making these rugs because it is like drawing and coloring pictures with wool instead of ink and paint.
How do you get started on a new rug? Is that process always the same or is it different for each rug?
I get started on a new rug by looking at pictures in books and magazines. Once I see something that gets my attention, I keep it in a file for future use.
Why do you currently prefer rug making over some of your previous efforts, like quilting?
I prefer rug hooking because the end result is different than other forms of art. A lot of people do quilting, knitting, crochet but a rug hooker is rare.
If you ever get stuck or blocked, what do you do?
I hardly ever get stuck because ideas are always in my mind.
What was hardest part of keeping up the work during the pandemic?
Rug hooking during the pandemic kept me focused on something other than sickness and all the crazy news going on in the world.
Do you have an artist or a quotation that inspires you or some other source of inspiration?
I am inspired by a women named Magdalena Briner Eby who hooked rugs years ago just to have a covering on the floors. She passed in 1915. Her rugs that were saved are very valuable and are in museums across the country. Kathy Wright wrote a wonderful book about her rugs. I am a member of a rug hooking club named after Magdalena Eby; the club meets once per month in Newport PA.
Fold artist Maud Lewis is another inspiration. Maud overcame considerable personal challenges including very bad health to practice her painting. There’s at least one good movie about her called Maudie and a few books too.
What are some of your future projects?
My future project is hooking a rug with a state bird and flower of each state. That’s a plan for fifty rugs! Each rug can take more than 2 months, so I’ll be occupied for a while. Like I do every year, this September 19 I help the Magdalena Club with a show and demonstration at Fort Hunter. I’ve been participating in this annual event ever since I started making rugs, with Covid exceptions of course.