Founders Cup

TIGHR Founders Cup
TIGHR Founders Cup

First received by Mary Sheppard Burton in 1994, the Founders’ Cup is presented to a member who has promoted rughooking and TIGHR. The selection is up to the current recipient and announced during the Triennial with the actual cup being passed on to the honoree for display during the next three years.

Following are profiles of the recipients since 1994 compiled by Susan Feller through research and the interviewees responses to background questions.

1994 Mary Sheppard Burton, Maryland, USA was instrumental in creating the invitation list and coordination of the first conference with Dar Ford Kayuha (a fellow American living in the UK). She purchased the Founders Cup in a London antique market and then was awarded it beginning the tradition.

Certainly Mary and many other influential members deserve the gratitude today, twenty years later from the rughooking community for their talk about forming an organization with term limits rotating from one country to another spreading friendship through rughooking and the results.

The last project which Mary created, Noah’s Ark in 3-D, involved dozens of talented people and is a visual example of her support and sharing spirit. Mary is the author of “A Passion for the Creative Life- textiles to lift the spirit” and passed away on July 1, 2010. Her grand-daughter Jennifer Zamora continues rughooking and promoting Mary’s work.

She presented the cup to Carol Harvey-Clark in recognition of Carol’s leadership of TIGHR in the first term and active role promoting the heritage of rughooking in Nova Scotia.

1997  Carol Harvey-Clark, Nova Scotia, Canada

I am a member of the Nova Scotia Teachers Branch, Southern McGown Branch, and earned a Certificate in Rug Hooking at St. Lawrence College in Brockville Ontario. Hooking since 1992, my work has been in Celebrations, articles in Rug Hooking magazine, The Loop (Nova Scotia Guild newsletter), and the local newspaper. I am a founding member of TIGHR. Spruce Top Rug Hooking Studio, in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada has been operated by me for more than 21 years.

I was honoured that the cup came to me at our second meeting in 1997, here on the South Shore of Nova Scotia.  I did not think for a moment the cup would come to me so it was a delightful surprise.

During my time I have supported TIGHR by spreading the word, talking to the local guild, and keeping the lines of communication open. I have attended all the Triennials and plan to take the TIGHR Train across Canada to Victoria next October.

I look forward to continuing teaching this wonderful art to as many as possible. Creating an atmosphere where it is safe to experiment and share will keep us thriving.

2000 Peg Irish, New Hampshire, USA,  I have been a member of TIGHR since its inception in London (or to be more precise, Ruislip). I have attended all but the last meeting in Australia and look forward to the next one in Victoria, BC. In 1997 I took over the newsletter from Jeanne Field. She and her fellow Canadians gave the organization a great start and Maryanne Lincoln and we on the US board carried it a bit further along. I enjoyed adding features to the newsletter. We gave it a name, Hooking Matters, added the logo which is still used today, and instituted the Collector Cards. Of course now the internet has really changed the way we can all communicate and that has been quite exciting.

I was terribly pleased to receive the award. At that time, the newsletter was the primary means of communication between conferences so I recognized that Editor was an important position. By receiving the award I felt that I had done my job. I made many friends through the newsletter and continue to support TIGHR in whatever way I can.

I didn’t know about rug hooking until I moved to New England and consider myself fortunate that it has such a presence here. But, it is continually growing throughout the world and I am thrilled to see it flourish in other areas. I am also proud to see that it is growing beyond a craft and into the fiber arts community. There are so many opportunities through the internet and in local galleries to view rug hooking as art.

I have always thought of TIGHR as a social network for rug hookers throughout the world and now that we can connect via the computer it makes it much easier to do so.

I live in a retirement community with many artists and craftspeople and plan to show my work. I am arranging for a couple of my pieces to be installed in the public halls (too big for my apartment).
In selecting the next recipient, I wanted to honor someone who had an important role in keeping the organization together, regardless of which country had the leadership. It was clear that Jeanne Field was that person. She advised many of us in the operation of the guild. I felt fortunate to be able to speak for the membership in honoring her.

2003 Jeanne Field, Ontario, Canada

A founding member, Jeanne took up the responsibility of being the first Editor, hand typing each newsletter and collecting the news by postal mail and phone calls. Her passion for rughooking is known throughout Canada and the US, promoting rughooking through the OHCG Teachers program, acquiring Rittermere-Hurst designs and adding Field to that lineup and with her open attitude to newcomers and new ways.

Through the years of TIGHR new board members have called on Jeanne to explain the organization’s basis and direction. Her comments have been historical and supportive of growth encouraging involvement of the new generations.

In selecting the next recipient Jeanne reached across the other pond to acknowledge the widening popularity of rughooking in Japan thanks to the dedication of Fumiyo Hachisuka.

Jeanne resides in Ontario and often meets with rughooking friends to share works and past memories.

2006 Fumiyo Hachisuka, Tokyo, Japan

I lived in Toronto for several years and learned rug hooking from Ms. Fanie Sinclair.  I moved back to Tokyo in 1985 and showed my works at the gallery of the bank. Then some Japanese wanted to learn from me, and I started teaching rug hooking in 1985. Now I have classes at the culture centers and etc. I have held annual exhibitions with the 24th being at the art gallery of Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, October 24 to 30 2014. We receive press coverage and hundreds of people visit.

Ms. Mary Sheppard Burton was my friend’s friend. Mary had visited Japan to see me and my American friend held the reception for the rug hookers in Japan at the American Club in Tokyo. So in 1994, when she organized TIGHR, she asked me to join in. I really thank her for the invitation to become a member. But I could not visit London for the first meeting. From1997 in Nova Scotia , I have attended all TIGHR conferences. In 2015 I am going to visit Victoria with 5 Japanese rug hookers. We are going to learn many things. We would like to see the beautiful sceneries of Victoria and visit some places that the local people like.

I was so surprised to receive the Founders Cup that I could not find the words except “ Thank you very much”. I have tried to do my best for TIGHR.

Fumiyo, Carol, Jeanne, Mary, Peg, Linda Rae
Fumiyo, Carol, Jeanne, Mary, Peg, Linda Rae

2009 Linda Rae Coughlin, Warren, USA  I have been a member of TIGHR since 2000 and was the Vice President of from 2006-2009. Rug hooking since 1991, I have curated major rug hooking exhibits to promote the art of rug hooking since 2004 (including the Art Rugs: The “Art” of Playing Cards exhibit).

My goal has always been to get this art form recognized and exposed as a major player in the art world.I was very surprised and honored to receive the Founders Cup in 2009 given to me by Fumiyo Hachisuka of Japan.

When it came to selecting the next recipients for the Founders Cup, I was torn because in the past the award had always been given to just one person. But in making my selection I could not do this. At our 2006 Triennial in Tenby, Wales I remember meeting two energetic women; Jo Franco and Judith Stephens from Australia. Over dinner one night during the conference these two women asked what they could do for TIGHR and for rug hooking in general. Susan Feller and I said; “bring the art of rug hooking back to Australia”. And that is just what they did! Thanks to these two hard working and talented women, the art of rug hooking is now well known in their home country of Australia.

Being a member of TIGHR has been a wonderful experience. I have gotten to meet many interesting people; seen exciting places around the world, and learned about various techniques and materials, thanks to the sharing members of this great organization.

2012  Jo Franco and Judith Stephens Australia

Friends for over 60 years, Judith and I started our rug hooking adventure together in 2001. Judith taught herself to hook and set me the task of researching the craft as I was living in the USA.  I was taken under the wing of experienced members of the McGown Guild at Western Teachers Workshops, receiving my accreditation in 2008.

In 2002 I joined TIGHR in preparation for my return to Australia because it included the International aspect that would benefit us. Judith joined in 2004 and we have attended all three triennials since then.  It’s an expense to travel half-way around the world for these events which only last a few days, so we include an “adventure”;  a coastal walking trip in Italy following Wales in 2006, and in 2009 a pre-conference workshop at Reeth, UK and post-conference self-driven tour through the New England States into Nova Scotia and across to Cheticamp, visiting rug hookers along the way. After Convening and managing the 2012 Triennial in Strathalbyn, South Australia we held a Rug Hooking Expo – no fun and games that year but definitely a chance to cement friendships.

For me, working closely with the international visitors, helping them with their travel plans to attend the 2012 TIGHR Triennial created lasting friendships and a confidence to approach anyone to learn about or promote this craft.

As Judith and I live 2,000 miles apart in different States, working together on TIGHR was a challenge. Fortunately our strong points are in different fields – Judith, as Vice President of TIGHR and Convener of the 2012 Triennial, sees the big picture and the creative side of rug hooking, producing many artistic pieces, while I’m detail oriented and love to talk about things I enjoy, so the position of TIGHR Newsletter Editor really suited me. Today we each hold Board positions in the Australian Rugmakers Guild we were instrumental in founding.   I am still promoting both Guilds, most recently TIGHR’s International Hook-In Day, organizing an event in my home State. I published  a wrap up of all the celebrations around Australia on the Guild’s blog.

Publicizing the 2012 Triennial provided me the chance to write articles for textile and rughooking magazines. I continue to be a freelance writer promoting the Australian interpretations of our traditional craft. Along the way I’ve learnt much about rug hooking and I’m learning a great deal about the internet, and networking. I firmly believe that it was through the internet rughooking got off the ground in Australia.

2012 Linda Rae, Jo Franco and Judith Stephens
2012 Linda Rae, Jo Franco and Judith Stephens

When we were presented with the Founders Cup in Strathalbyn, I was thrilled to think that as relatively inexperienced rug hookers, our efforts to promote this craft and art-form had been recognised by talented rughookers. This gesture validated our efforts over the years.

Considering the award of the Founders Cup we are looking for a recipient who believes in, and has worked to further the Guild’s aims: to come together in friendship to share ideas, explore the different rugmaking techniques using a variety of fibres and further the art of rugmaking, while also enjoying the experience of travel, virtually even if it’s not physically possible.

2015 Susan Feller West Virginia U.S.A.

(Left) Susan Feller receiving the Founder’s Day Cup from past-recipient Josephine Franco.

The acknowledgement of my contributions to TIGHR by the past honorees was gratifying. The first recipient, Mary Sheppard Burton, and founders of the organization had a vision which we each have helped develop and move forward since 1994.  As technology has advanced, fibre art has developed into creative contemporary styles; my efforts continued in that vein. 

I knew of TIGHR peripherally since beginning to hook in 1994 but finally joined in 2000 when Maryanne Lincoln offered to send the membership fees for the year in British Sterling to Wales if we US members paid her in our dollars. (How much easier joining has become.) The previous 1997 conference in Toronto was held the same year as the ATHA biennial; I could not travel to both but learning about Wales and maybe traveling caught my interest. I had followed the news of events and knew many of the original members through networking.

(Left – right) Founder’s Day Cup past recipients Linda Rae Coughlin, Peg Irish, Fumiyo Hachisuka, Carole Harvey-Clark and Judith Stephens. Josephine Franco is in the background (left) announcing Susan Feller as the 2015 recipient.

What stands out for me most about my time as a member is the challenge to connect our global community. My board took on the responsibilities of leadership in 2006, developing internet tools ( ), blogging in between the quarterly newsletters, signing on to NING, increasing communications with individuals and sharing of work, events and the archival material of the organization.  The transition to Australia in 2009 expanded these services. Jo Franco and Judi Tompkins had used the internet to communicate within their vast country and were eager to broaden the avenues of networking.

I value being able to “meet” past and new enthusiasts of these heritage crafts. Jeanne Field answered my phone call when I reached out to her for historical information and advice as did so many others. I realized anyone can ask another to share, we all welcome interest.

While still living in new Jersey, 1994, I learned to pull the second loop and not have the first come out from Lillian Vail.  Off to the thrift store to find “100% wool” (of course the wrong weight at first), the self-sufficiency, historical connections, and utilitarian results of rug hooking all drew me to making my own rugs for a log home we were building in West Virginia. The local library had a subscription to Rug Hooking Magazine and I read every past issue before seeing the show in Ephrata, PA and Mary Sheppard Burton’s collection. Fast forward, I took to designing patterns making more than I could hook up myself. That grew into Ruckman Mill Farm vending hand dyed wools, patterns and teaching throughout the US. When we transitioned full-time to WV, travel continued and studio work took over. Since passing that line on to Green Mountain Hooked Rugs I am focusing on addressing the beauty of Appalachia and the human impact on our resources, exhibiting, writing, and advocating for the arts in West Virginia under and my own name Susan Feller.

I consider the many tools used in rug hooking as another technique in my toolbox of creativity. I work in multi-media as an artist of the times reflecting on the origins of each media in my artist statements.

Textiles are the element humans live with most – our clothing, surroundings, even shelter. Manipulating fibres into useable items will continue. The therapeutic benefits of working with tactile material, motor skills and visual satisfaction is the best way to “sell” this craft to the keyboard generation of the 21st Century. Our responsibility is to show how a tool and material works, and encourage exploration.

2018 Kris McDermet Vermont U.S.A.

Susan Feller and Kris McDermet after Kris received the Founder’s Cup at Sauder Village Rug Hooking Week in 2018.  They are standing in front of Kris’ piece 

In 2018 Kris McDermet was at Sauder for the week. The main exhibit that year was on Rug Braiding and Rug Hooking and Combination pieces. She and her friend Christine Manges curated the exhibit which was very successful. Towards the end of the week, she attended the TIGHR meeting held in Kathy Wright’s suite. Kathy is the director of Sauder Village Rug Hooking week. Kathy announced that they had a surprise and Susan Feller pulled the TIGHR Founders Day Cup out of a paper bag and began talking. Kris had her phone ready to take a photo when she realized that Susan was talking about her. She shed a few tears because it “was such a lovely honor.”

Over the years she has attended TIGHR conferences in Louisville, Long Beach, Australia, and Victoria and had taught or given a talk at the four gatherings. She was not able to attend TIGHR in 2018 because she was the featured artist at the GMRHG Show in Vermont that same fall.

Kris learned to hook in 1979 right after she learned to braid. She was living in Maryland at the time. She felt it changed her life. Isabel Clough, her rug braiding instructor, informed her that she had been told by Braid Aide in Pembroke, MA that some were putting braiding around hooked mats. Kris said, “I was fascinated right away. She talked me into taking a hooking class from Mary Shepherd Burton.”

She now only makes combination pieces that combine rug braiding and rug hooking, with neither one having more importance than the other art form. She loves the balance they create; both can be delicate or strong. There are only a few who combine the art forms.

She feels rug hooking has a brilliant future because there are so many possibilities with shapes, fabrics, sizes, and patterns. “I know we need more younger people to take up both art forms and it is up to all of us to make this happen.”

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