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How to Hook a Face Workshop

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series How to Hook Faces

Southern Woman

In March, I taught faces at Southern Teachers’ Workshop. The difficulty of the assignment was that I only had one day to teach and whose face was I going to hook? I wanted to hook a portrait of my grandmother, but the students in the class would not be excited about that.

I decided to teach the class as a face structure class. The subject matter would be an imaginary woman who would be assembled by the student.   I drew up several different face shapes, different eye shapes, noses and mouths.   I put my face together and called her “Southern Woman.”

As students made their choices, I began to hear things, like “this looks like my son” or “I think I know this person.” When I studied portraits in art class I remember that the instructor told us that our first portraits would look a lot like us. We are most familar with our own faces and those of our family. One profile that I drew in Jr. High art class looks a lot like my husband. After I had been married for several years, my mother gave me a box of some of my old artwork and there he was.  I drew his profile several years before I met him.

The next task was to determine where the darks and the lights go. This placement varies with lighting and with the shape of each face. I supplied three textures: one light, one medium and one dark. At this point it became hook by number.

As we worked on each facial feature, I gave tips on how to hook them. Many of the students left with a completed face by the end of the day leaving only hair, neck and background to finish.

Hooked by Maddy Fraioli

Hooked by Maddy Fraioli

This piece was finished by Maddy Frioli. It is hooked front and back.

Here is the dollie…She is hooked front and back of the head and neck…Found a great old lace collar and some green velvet drapes a la Scarlette O’Hara, pearl buttons and earrings…had fun, and, thanks, Maddy
Thanks for sending the photo, Maddy.  I always like to see photos of the the pieces students start with me.   I’m there in the beginning and often wonder how a rug turned out.  If you changed direction after the workshop, I still want to see it.  The rugs you hook are yours.  Never feel obligated to follow someone’s direction if it is not working for you.

Rug Hooking a Face: The Background

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series How to Hook Faces

Hooked face of woman

This portrait of my imaginary woman is now complete.  Notice the lower part of her neck.  I think the uneven edge actually gives the neck more dimension.  I did do a bit of tweaking once all the hooking was done.  About the time I added the sashing, I decided to soften her forehead some more and added hair.  Be sure to add the shadow that the hair casts on the skin.  Her right eyebrow was adjusted also.  I added more light in this area.  I added a dark shadow under this eye also.  The little bit of dark under the lower lip helps to make the lips stand out.  I darkened the nostrils.  These are never circles.  I added a dark line using the same wool that I used to separate the lips.

Notice how her hair and the background tend to blend together in some areas.  When I studied watercolor painting, getting lost edges was an advanced technique.  In rug hooking, lost edges tend to make most people nervous.  When you are hooking in a realistic style, do not fear lost edges.  They enhance the work and make it more interesting.
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Rug Hooking a Face: Added the Neck

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series How to Hook Faces
Wide cut face - added the neck

Added neck

Wide cut face

Above is a picture showing the neck added. The photo on the right is the picture on the left with a transparent version of an earlier face. Note how the chin line is exactly the same as it was before. I added a neck, ears and hair and she looks completely different. This is a very important lesson. Do not rip out too early. Luckily, adjustments in rug hooking are easy to make. Don’t be too critical in the beginning. If I had adjusted her chin line and then added a neck, ears and hair she would have looked much different.

Pay attention to the lower neck.  In the next post you will see that I ripped out the lower neck in order to sew on the sashing.  I then rehooked the neck through the backing and two layers of the sashing wool.  Not the easiest hooking, but the effect is perfect.  I did not have the heart to chop her neck off straight after I had it hooked a bit lopsided here.

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