What’s in a Name? a lifestyle? hobby? traditions? Contemporary?

Words influence the attitude one assumes when discussing their craft. Is it a profession, hobby, social/psychological/creative outlet? We are educating in casual conversation even with an initial title……. rugger, fiber artist, rug hooker, matter, hooker, textile artist, traditional rug hooker. Recently our international membership responded, many describing their mindset for the terminology:

Susan Sutherland, Ontario, Canada
“If someone asks me what I do, I generally say I’m a fibre artist and I use traditional rug hooking as my preferred method of creating my art. If I want to have someone ‘stop in their tracks’ I tell them first I’m a “hooker”, and then I qualify it and say I’m a fibre artist and I use traditional rug hooking methods that our pioneer mothers did.

There is so much misconception about rug hooking with strips of fabric that I find I’m always clarifying what I do. I sometimes say ‘I don’t knot nor do I use short pieces of wool yarn’, especially if someone says ‘Oh yes, I did that when I was a child or in school’. Most of those who say this in Canada are remembering latch hooking.”
Fritz Mitnick, Pennsylvania, USA
“I imagine most Americans say “I am a rug hooker“. I do proddy also. I also thought about our guild name. I never say the full name. I say the international guild or the international guild of rug hookers. Maybe I should start doing it right!
Of course my husband always introduces me saying, “This is Fritz. She is a hooker.”

Judi Tompkins, Australia
“Obviously I’m a “hooker”….and I usually explain that to be a great hooker means that I am a good stripper…..ah how I luv the ashen looked faces I see!  Clearly I am the crazed, white-haired ol’ lady…. Sometimes – when I’m trying to be “nice” or “professional” I’ll ID myself as a “traditional fibre artist”….which means I don’t fall into an immediate category of “hooker” (many think of latch hooking) and opens the dialog about the spectrum of how these 3 words might be defined/applied.”

Heide Brown, British Columbia, Canada
“I say “I’m a Hooker.” Which always gets giggles or weird looks till someone, me if I’m alone, qualifies the term to — “Rug-hooker.”
I like “Rugger”  — my friend here calls herself a “Matter” and our weekly hook group “Monday Matters”. (NOTE: TIGHR’s newsletter is called “Hooking Matters”)

Jenni Stuart-Anderson, Herefordshire, UK
“I call myself a rag rug maker or designer/maker depending on where it is.
I have not heard the term “rugger” here in UK, maybe rug maker but that could be a weaver. Of course everyone sniggers when I say hooker, even if the term is American.”

Lynne Hunt, British Columbia, Canada
“I think we all struggle with the term hooker. I find here on the Coast most folks think of latch hooking and the shag rugs of the seventies. I tell people I am a fibre artist (gulp). It is a fine art practised at many levels. Whether you design your own work or work with the designs of others, there is so much more in what we do. I tell people I make mats, for the wall, the floor, chairs, tables- only limited by your imagination. I explain that I use a backing of burlap or linen, strips of fibre, mostly wool, new and recycled and a hook similar to one used centuries ago. I explain that the process involves colour planning, maybe some dyeing and choosing textures and materials for your work.
So I am a mat maker in the tradition of our pioneer sisters, creating something functional and beautiful.”

Elizabeth Soderholm, Virginia, USA
“My husband loves that I call myself a hooker and it always grabs folks’ attention.  Gives me a chance to talk about this wonderful fibre/fiber art.  My boss (who is from Mississippi) will ask me on a Friday, in his lovely Southern drawl, “You goin’ hookin’ this weekend?”  It’s probably the best way to bring attention to our craft outside of schlepping our rugs and other projects around with us.”

Liz Alpert Fay, Connecticut, USA
“I call myself : a textile artist or sometimes just an artist.
I make: hand hooked rugs and mixed media sculpture.”

Sarah Province, Maryland, USA
“I call myself a “fiber artist” and our medium “hooked fiber art”.

Jane LeBaron, British Columbia, Canada
“I variously call myself a hooker and braider, a quilter and bookbinder and general fibre freak. I am fully confident that upon one brief look at me people understand my intended context in use of the term “hooker”…

Rachelle Leblanc, Alberta, Canada
“I tell them that I am a fiber artist and I make fiber hookings.”

Mary Watson, Washington,USA
“I say, “I’m a fibre artist and paint with wool”.

Dianne Tobias, California, USA
“Since I came to hooking through braiding I introduce myself as a fiber artist then say I am a braider and a rug hooker. That seems to somewhat limit the usual jokes!”

Sheila Stewart, British Columbia, Canada
“I use the term fibre artist and then say I am a rug hooker.”

Linda Rae Coughlin, New Jersey, USA
“I tend to work with this statement, the response changes depending on who I am speaking with, i.e. fellow artist vs. a layperson.
I am an artist whose medium is textile. I create with the technique of rug hooking/stitching using recycled clothing and materials.”

During the 2009 Tri-Ennial held in Louisville, Kentucky, USA we asked attendees the terminology they used to describe favorite fiber techniques. Miriam Miller, an Australian is a rugger and spinner; Susan Feller West Virginia, USA a fiber artist specializing in rugmaking techniques; Kim Dubay, Maine USA fiber artist; Jacqui Thomson, Australia a rugger and spinner; Iris Simpson, Ontario Canada a Hooker; Yvonne Muntwyler, Ontario Canada a Fiber Artist in rughooking medium.

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