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Rug Hooking School marks 20-year anniv.

(April 12, 2013) Maryland Shores Rug Hooking School, founded by Ocean City resident Janice Russell, will celebrate 20 years when classes are in session next week.

The 20th annual Maryland Shores Rug Hooking School, set for April 14-19, is a Pearl K. McGown RugHookrafters National Guild School and draws beginner and experienced rug hookers from across the East Coast and beyond.

“I’ve been excited all year for it. Twenty years for a successful rug hooking school is very impressive,” Russell said.

Approximately 100 students will converge at the Dunes Manor Hotel on 28th Street to participate in a variety of activities. Many of them have attended before, but there are always some first-timers each year.

“The atmosphere will be of celebration this year,” said Russell, who has been hooking rugs and other pieces for more than 25 years. “A lot of [students] are coming back to help us celebrate 20 years.”

In addition to Russell and her husband, Bill, two students — Eleanor Peck of Olathe, Kan., and Cynthia Nicosia of Copake, N.Y. — have attended every year since the school’s inception. Both women will be recognized during Sunday night’s meeting. A total of 36 students, including Peck and Nicosia, have participated 10 or more years. They will also be recognized.

Jane McGown Flynn of Center Harbor, N.H., president of the national guild, attended the inaugural Maryland Shores Rug Hooking School in Ocean City and she will return this year for the 20th anniversary celebration.

Students, all women, have been assigned a teacher, who will work with them individually on specific projects. Students will also have the opportunity to take additional classes with other teachers.

Last year, in anticipation of the 20th anniversary, students received a beach scene pattern in their welcome bag. The scene included an umbrella, beach ball and the ocean, and rug hookers were encouraged to “make it their own,” Russell said.

Members of the local Delmarva Friendship Rug Crafters of the National Guild have designed quite a few beach scene pieces, Russell said, which will be on display next week. She is not sure just how many others also took the “Beach Challenge,” and how many will be showcased during the school.

An exhibit of work created prior to and during the weeklong gathering will take place, Thursday, April 18, from noon to 7 p.m. in the hotel. Admission is free and it is open to the public.

Typically, 100-150 pieces are featured each year. These include hand-hooked rugs, wall hangings, pillows, purses, footstools and pictures. Some of the artwork will be available for purchase.

During teatime that day, between 3 and 4 p.m., the hotel will present the school with a cake featuring its logo to commemorate 20 years.

Traditional rug hooking uses a hand hook, similar to the shape of a crochet needle, to form a looped pile from fabric strips, wool or yarn on an even-weaved base fabric such as burlap, linen or cotton. The hand hook is used for pulling loops through a burlap, linen or cotton backing.

Russell became interested in the craft after she discussed the hobby with a woman at her church. After a few classes, she was “hooked.”

She finds the art of hooking relaxing. What she enjoys most about the school is meeting with other women who enjoy the same craft.

This will be Russell’s final year as director of the school. She said she will “pass the torch” to Pam Johnson, a local rug hooking teacher and member of the Delmarva Friendship Rug Crafters and the National Guild.

Although she is stepping down as director, Russell said she still plans to attend the school, but as a student.

For those interested in learning to hook rugs, the Delmarva Friendship Rug Crafters of the National Guild meets the second and third Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. at the senior center in Berlin.

For additional information, call Russell at 410-289-4110 or e-mail her at ocrug@aol.com.


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