Saturday, 11 May 2013

Heather Richie...her life in rag rugs

East Yorkshire Embroidery Society's meeting today was one that Lyn didn't want to miss....but miss it she did......and it was a fabulous one, everyone was buzzing and many wanted for Heather to come back to lead a workshop or two....or three....Heather is internationally known and teaches around the world. She has also set up a rug making initiative for blind people in Gambia. As to why Lyn missed it....check out her blog Liniecat @ Large....

This is from a series of memories rugs for the wall. I think its called Guiding Light. Her father became blind when she was about 6yrs old and she used to take him out walking familiar routes counting steps between lamp posts etc. She became his eyes and his guiding light. It's about 18"x 24".
This is how heather got her got her name.....the purple hills ....mum and her two brothers and herself as the bump....were leaving to live elsewhere and her mum remembers the last thing she saw.....the colour of the hills. These rugs are hooked in hand dyed recycled wool and the loops are so fine, and the back is as neat as the front.
These likely lads are her two brothers being evacuated to the Dales. The industry of Sunderland can be seen behind them. Notice the teddy and their evacuee name labels ?
In her working life before rugs.... some of the children in a children's home she was responsible for....having a singsong with her dad playing a piano. The rug is a little distorted due the press of people wanting to handle and see everything....I had to snap a picture when I could. 
Her faces are really good, and the character of each child comes through. She used a blown up photo, traced the outline on net and transferred it that way. (Lyn mentioned Erica Wilson using that method) She also only uses three flesh colours and builds the face by putting in the darks first, then the highlights and fills in with medium shade. There were many stories and rugs to go with them which I couldn't get to take a photo the one of her mum in a headscarf in Heathers garden.........heather takes it around the world when she teaches and so can joke that she takes her mum with her and that her mum got to be well travelled .......after she died.....

One of her workshops are Mandalas...and a rug worked handbag (purse) spot her book....a thick tome...jammed packed with stories of her quilts and pictures....£25 and is raising funds for her work in Gambia.
A clippy rug wreath made from a kilt
A round flower o o o pretty with a twist on the technique to make the flowers. 
Some rugs had a mixture of techniques from the fine quarter of an inch wide hooked loops to bigger chunkier loops and sometime clippy bits to bring the subject matter to life.Clippy rugs..are different to hooked rug.Heather says she has a list of 40 different names for this type of rug, it might be a proddy rug, or a tab rug, etc depending on where you live and how you sourced your rags. Offcuts or waste fabric from the mills were called different things, if you didn't live in a mill area you might buy woollen coats and old uniforms from the ragman.....rag rug...Dad remembers being told to run to a rag warehouse a few miles away to try and get some red wool uniform jackets to add a bit of colour to the rug in progress...which would be navy, brown, black,or grey from worn out mens trousers and top coats. His mam had heard on the grapevine that they had just got some in....rare as gold dust !
Heathers husband makes the hooks in the basket and some more of the workshop mandalas and wreaths
and finally .....children playing on the beach at Staines near whitby. No facial features needed....the members of her family will recognise them by their postures....

On the members table....Margaret's wedding ring quilt.....made from a wedding dress and men's ties...fabulous 
Jackie Ward-Lomax embroidered drawings of the area she lives in, a work in progress
The Avenues area had these huge ornamental fountains in the middle of the road, and the road had to curve around them....
looked like overdyed fabrics, beautifully done.
at the back on the right is a lovely felted, embroidered and beaded flower shape that you could hang from a key or doorknob...
Heather returns to Gambia several times a years. Many of the blind in Gambia need not have gone blind, if only they had access to a few days treatment, simple things like conjunctivitis, easily  cured, can blind if left untreated. Heather has tried to get charity status and failed as the real benefit of the work she is doing isn't recognised. Fortunately another charity out there does recognise the draw of rag rugging to the blind as it affords them an income and stops them from having to beg or starve....and is going to build a room where it can be taught....on the hospital/clinic site.This will be a "back door" to get them in for treatment.....if it does wonderful will that be?
There are several YouTube videos about Heather on rag rugging, proggy rugs, dying and the Reeth Reteat residentail rugging holiday, her book, and her work in Gambia. Google for more info on Gambia.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic show and tell jean thanks so much for the post!!
    I missed a blinding chat and show session here, glad you enjoyed it mind and I hadnt ever seen her story pieces or the mandalas either!