Three years ago, Sue Blakey, Thermopolis, began looking for someone in Wyoming who could teach her how to do a finish technique in rug braiding. She had learned braiding from her grandmother, a self-taught braider, and her information was incomplete.
But Blakey could not locate any rug braiders in the state. After nearly a year of hunting, she discovered 89-year-old Norma Sturges living in Casper, only 120 miles away. Sturges had moved from Denver and had been braiding all her life. She was author of The Braided Rug Book, considered one of the first books to look at rug braiding in a systematic manner and as an art form.
With a mentor-apprentice grant from the Wyoming Arts Council, Blakey and Sturges began working together to pass on Sturges’ sophisticated techniques.
“The techniques were totally different from what I knew,” Blakey said. “The stripping was different — so was the braiding, the lacing, the finish work. It was like starting from scratch. And Norma was determined that I do it right — and that meant taking it out a lot and doing it over.”
Blakey demonstrated the techniques she had learned at the First Annual Downtown Laramie Fiber Festival Aug. 23-25.
In March-April this year, Blakey and Sturges collaborated on an exhibit of Sturges’ work at the Historic Trails Center in Casper. As a result of that show, a new rug braiding guild was organized in Casper and 20 active members are now braiding. The Rocky Mountain Rug Braiders Guild from Colorado has held three workshops in Casper to help the group get started.
If you are interested in learning rug braiding or polishing your technique, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. A rug guild will begin in 2014 for the Big Horn Basin region. Workshops are being planned in both rug braiding and rug hooking.
Ed. Note: Blakey’s video tribute to her grandmother, who showed her how to braid and the last rug she created using the old-style technique used in the 1930s-1940s, is available by clicking here: http://wyomingfibertrails.org/video-rug-braiding/2012/06/.
The season is running short , and we need more people to plant trees for the 100th Anniversary of Hot Springs County.
Hot Springs County residents can beautify the town of Thermopolis by participating in the “100 Trees for Thermopolis” project. To participate: buy a tree and take the receipt of purchase to Jacky Wright, Broadway Bygones. Fill out a simple form giving details of the type of tree and where it has been planted. A small brass plaque with the words “2013 Centennial Tree” will be given to the first 100 people who register their purchase. There is no charge to be included on the registry; but only one tree can be registered per household.
A copy of the tree registry will be placed in the time capsule to be sealed at the end of the year.
What kind of tree to plant? A list of trees that grow well in our local climate has been provided by our regional Natural Resources Conservation Service. Click here for the tree list. Click here for the form to fill out for your brass plaque.
Where to plant? You can plant on your residential or business property. You can also plant in a public location, but you must have permission. Public locations include the library, golf course, state park, or town or county locations. Check with the owner (i.e., Town Council, County Commission, golf course manager, before you make a purchase to determine if they will accept a tree and what type they might prefer.
The project is sponsored by Broadway Bygones, Thermopolis.
Without your support, we could not make good things happen!
Hot Springs Greater Learning Foundation supports the arts and natural sciences in the community and the schools. Numerous organizations provide the financial support that makes our programs possible. Please remember the good work that is done through their efforts!
- Wyoming Arts Council, with support from the Wyoming State Legislature
- Western States Arts Federation, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts
- Hot Springs County Schools
- Hot Springs-Thermopolis Lodging Tax Council
- Wyoming State Historical Society
- Wyoming Humanities Council