Fascinated by the history of hand-hooked rugs, Connersville artist Tracy Burns has spent the past 21 years learning to master the ancient art form and share her knowledge with others.
“The history of rug hooking goes back to the Vikings era — and that intrigues me, as well as being able to look at a piece of wool fabric and a linen mesh, and create something beautiful and functional,” Tracy says.
Tracy makes hand-hooked rugs, mats and wall hangings by cutting 100-percent wool fabric into 18-inch-long strips of various widths, then she uses a crochet-style hook with a handle to pull the fabric through the pattern drawn on the linen. Tracy says 85 percent of her work is made from recycled wool garments that she uses alongside new wool.
Her hand-hook creations may be inspired by animals or still-life objects, but Tracy finds the most joy when creating geometrical shapes and minimalist abstract designs out of wool and linen.
“It is about the shapes, but at times, a pattern feels too stiff, so I start looking at the textures and colors of the wool, and they guide me,” Tracy says.
After first discovering the rug-hooking booth at the Indiana State Fair, Tracy took her first rug-hooking classes from Jean White, who’d been teaching rug hooking for 40 years. She later took advanced classes from other instructors, and now teaches the art form herself.
Tracy has taught rug-hooking classes at libraries, art centers, churches, quilt shows and festivals, and she has given demonstrations all across Indiana. She also enters her handmade creations in art shows.
“I am getting more people to look at an old art that many never knew existed,” Tracy says. “It was almost lost through the years, so it is important to pass the history along.”
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