I was recently very fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with textile artist Yvonne Iten Scott. Yvonne kindly shared with me her beautiful and varied hooked artworks as well as her passion for the industry and her future plans…
Hi Yvonne Iten Scott! Would you mind telling us a little about yourself and your background please?
I grew up on a farm an hour north of Toronto. My childhood was spent going to antique shops and auctions as my parents loved to fill our home with well made, handcrafted furniture as well as beautiful quilts, rugs and woven pieces. I knew I always wanted to create these beautiful items one day but it wasn’t until my four daughters left the nest that I had time for myself to take workshops and work on what I loved. It was 8 years ago that I took my first rug hooking class. I love to take workshops every year and have been fortunate to have learned from some of the best textile artists.
Can you tell about your creative process?
I have been a keen photographer for about 45 years. My father had a darkroom in our home and taught me to develop my own black and white photographs. He had a wonderful eye for composition and taught me all he knew about taking a well balanced photograph. I even used to hand paint some of my black and white photographs like they used to do 100 years ago. When I travel, I enjoy taking lots of photos and often my work starts with one of these but I will then use creative license to turn them in to a textile piece. I am starting to keep a sketchbook now as I have more ideas of things I want to create than time in the day to work on them.
In Yorkshire, I had the good fortune to spend some time with the incredibly talented rug hooker Heather Ritchie. I was doing the Coast to Coast walk across England in 2018 and asked if she could meet for dinner. When she took me to her studio it was one of those moments I’ll never forget. The room was filled with rugs depicting special moments and memories from her life. It’s a legacy for generations to come and has inspired me to record moments from my life in the same way.
How do you go about selecting your colour combinations?
I don’t fret too much about getting the exact colour from a photo or in real life. It’s really about what’s available to you, especially if you are using recycled fabrics. When I am lucky enough to be in a room full of beautiful wool to purchase I simply go with what I am drawn to. If it is going to live with you in your home for years then you want to love the colour palette.
Which other textile artists do you love? Are there any that inspire you, past or present?
I have already mentioned Deanne Fitzpatrick, Gail Dufresne and Heather Ritchie who are all free spirits, wonderful artists who think outside the box and I love them all for that. They all taught me to hook from my heart. I took a 3 day workshop in Penny Rugs from Liz Alpert Fay who also makes incredible hooked pieces that are thought provoking. Next summer I am excited to be spending a with Michelle Sirois Silver who has hooked pieces that are art gallery worthy. I also met Diane Cox at The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers and love everything Diane creates.
Finally, I am inspired by all the women in my guild, the Burlington Hooking Craft Guild. Many of them have been hooking for over 40 years. They are always there to offer me advice and suggestions. They are some of my biggest cheerleaders.
What do you enjoy most about working with textiles?
I suppose it’s the feel of the various fabrics in my hands and the textural and dimensional look of each piece when complete. I enjoy the time spent cutting the fabrics as much as the time spent pulling, pushing and weaving.
Thats what’s so exciting about hooking and proddy as you can work with so many fabrics.
I do love wool as its traditional, durable and versatile but I love experimenting with new fibres. My favourites are probably sari silk, velvets, chiffon, denim and leather.
I’m also keen to start dying my own fabrics soon.
Do you have a favourite piece you’ve created so far?
I really enjoy collecting antique footstools and then covering the top with my hooked work. My favourite is probably a bee on honeycomb footstool where I used wool, sari silk and chiffon. I also beaded his eyes. Its makes me smile every time I walk past it in my house.
Another favourite is an alternative fibre and technique pieced sheep. It is from a photo I took on my walk across England. I saw so many sheep and stone walls on that trip that I had to hook one. A few months after my trip my father passed away. When I saw my mother was donating his clothes I asked if I could have them. I cut up a pair of his denim jeans and then asked my daughters and husband if they had a pair to contribute. The rug’s border and sheep’s body has been proddied with family jeans. I used the leather jean labels in the stone wall which was hooked in yarn. The horns were hooked with leather from old jackets. The grass was needle punched and the flowers are wool pennies that have been blanket stitched. It’s called Casual Friday.
What are you currently working on? Are you able to share any ‘in-progress’ photos?
I just finished a full week of making Christmas ornaments for my guild’s Christmas sale. I made 112 mini wool trees and wreaths and a few larger proddy wreaths.
Now I need to get back to a couple of “works in progress”. One is a 4 x 6 foot rug that I began in Nova Scotia at a course on field rugs with Deanne Fitzpatrick. The other piece is my teacher certification rug for Amy Oxford’s punch needle course. I spent a full week in Vermont this fall at Amy’s school and this piece will be part of my final exam and needs to be mailed to Vermont in January.
What’s next for you in terms of textile projects?
2020 is going to be an exciting year! My husband and I have decided to move to the countryside. We found a place only 45 minutes from where we live now but with lots of acreage and best of all a large studio for me. Hopefully I can contain my fibre stash in the studio and not have it all over the house! I will be running workshops and there are guest accommodations if workshop participants would like to stay over.
It is going to be exciting to finally have bees and chickens and perhaps one day a couple of fibre producing animals.
I am continuing my education in the textile world by expanding my knowledge in quilting and weaving. I love that I can use the same materials I already have for hooking and punching. It would be amazing to create pieces that incorporate many textile mediums.
What most excites you about the craft and textile industry?
The community I have become part of is most exciting to me. As I attend more shows, workshops and conferences I meet some wonderful like minded women (and a handful of men) who I have formed friendships with. We share creative stories and ideas while learning together. Instagram has also been a wonderful tool for me to connect with other fibre artists around the world. Something else that makes me so happy is seeing the interest and creativity from the younger generation. Thanks to social media there is a renewed interest in these primitive arts especially punch needle. It’s imperative that we pass on these traditional arts and crafts to the future generation. All four of my daughters are creating their own heirlooms now and that’s really exciting!
We are trying to be a little more eco friendly in 2020. Do you have any tips or tricks to be more environmentally friendly in our day to day lives?
Rug hooking, proddy, weaving and quilting are the perfect way to reuse textiles. I used to donate our family clothes but when I saw a documentary on all the clothes in landfills or being shipped to Africa I decided to keep all the suitable fabrics for my projects now. It’s also fun to look at a piece and remember where the fabric came from.
Where can people find out more about you and your work Yvonne Iten Scott?
Thanks Yvonne Iten Scott, it’s been great getting to know you! 🙂
If you’ve enjoyed our Q&A with Yvonne Iten Scott and would like to be the first to see future Q&As with artists and rag ruggers, why not join our Rag Rug Community on Facebook, follow us on Instagram or join our fortnightly newsletter here. Or, for more pictorial work, why not check out the gorgeous work of another one of our Q&A victims, Judith Edmondson, here.
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