By Natasha Anderson
When Claudia Lampley started rug hooking in 2000 through a class at Blue Ridge Community College, young children and a tight budget meant she had to get creative with materials. Most of the wool for her first rugs came from thrift stores. A local hooking mill in the area allowed her to dumpster-dive the cut-offs from its large area rugs. She started designing her own patterns simply because they were cheaper, and used some of her children’s artwork in her early pieces.
“There wasn’t a local store that sold rug hooking supplies so I had to use what I could find,” says Lampley. “If I didn’t have the right color of wool I would either have to make do with what I had or learn to dye my own. Dyeing wool is fun and has opened another world of creativity.”
This creativity has served Lampley well. She is now a certified McGown rug hooking instructor who has taught at the Southeastern McGown Teachers’ Workshop, Working Arts Workshop, Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair, Carolina Fiber Fest and at local hooking guilds. Since 2007, she has demonstrated rug hooking at many events and locations including the Mountain State Fair, the NC State Fair and the Folk Art Center. She is a member of Dogwood Crafters, Tarheel Ruggers Rug Hooking Guild, the Merrie Mountain Hookers, ATHA and the McGown Guild.
“I love the way Claudia ‘makes do’ with what she has, much like our mothers and grandmothers did in times past,” says Dogwood Crafters member Brenda Anders. “She makes so many different things that you just have to have.”
Lampley uses old sweaters and coats to form flowers, pillows and other artistic pieces. Old bedsprings and wooden spools form the base for flowers and trees created with circles of wool and pieces of wood.
“I’m inspired by things that make one think of North Carolina,” Lampley says. “The mountains, the people, agriculture and heritage are things that I try to incorporate into my designs.”
Lampley’s process often begins by taking a photograph. She then draws what she describes as a “cartoon” on paper and transfers it onto fabric. After using her dye pots to determine a color scheme, she cuts wool into strips and begins hooking. She describes her rugs as eclectic, with some done in a primitive style and some impressionistic. Always challenging herself to try something new, Lampley enjoys using many different fibers to create her finished products and has even started making 3-dimensional items including pillows and purses.
“It just seems magical how a plain, simple drawing can come to life when you add wool to it,” she says. “I am proud to continue this heritage craft and look forward to showing a new generation how to make their own creations that may be treasured by their children and grandchildren.”
Claudia Lampley’s work can be found at Dogwood Crafters in Dillsboro. Learn more at DogwoodCrafters.com or by calling 828.586.2248.