Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ask- Jaime Rugh of Found While Walking

-- "There are so many reasons I love to walk.  One of my favorites is the going towards the unknown.  The what will I find today? How will this new path look and how will it change me?   I love the fork in the road,  I love the crossroads." -- the lovely Jaime Rugh  

I love winter, but I'm sure ready for spring, if for no other reason than to behold what Jaime Rugh will discover on her walks and arrange into pretty collections of flowers and words. Found While Walking documents her walking journeys, mothering, art work, love of textiles and other beautiful inspirations. To say this is a favorite blog of mine is putting it pretty mildly. I actually reread old posts because they tug so pleasantly at my heart strings and imagination. 

Jaime is pretty inspirational, from the way she mothers her children to her eye for detail in everyday life. And, of course, there all her many talents -- Jaime is designer, painter, printer, weaver, collage artist, florist and writer. She also makes some pretty yummy looking food,

and busies the hands of her children with the sort of fun crafts that make you want to be young again. 

Her home is so lovely, even more so for all her hand made touches, both her own and other artisans'.

I'm beginning to think there's pretty much nothing Jaime Rugh can't do, actually. It's a good thing for the rest of us that her shop is freshly stocked with her beautiful creations, among them her lovely weavings.  Often the lucky trees who meet Jaime on her walks may be left adorned with  her beautiful bouquets or weavings. Can you imagine finding such a surprise on a nice morning walk? 

Her collage work seems a perfect way to welcome Spring to the inside of the home,and I'm excited by her new wall and window hangings, as well! 

Jaime has a real gift with words, too. Her writing gets right to the heart of the matter while retaining every bit of it's poetic loveliness.  

 I love most how she writes about her children and their time together. 
-- "I think I may never collect enough blankets and textiles for my own two children.  Even when they walk off on their own paths, I predict I will still be piecing together fabrics or digging through the antique shop bins for more warmth to send their way.  I like the thought of folded blankets in their backpacks to be thrown down for a mid walk rest." 

Her post "Surprises" (where she describes a walk to a waterfall and her daughter setting their dinner table) might be my favorite post anywhere on the internet. 
-- "She still let me gather and hold glass for her, like it was just yesterday and not some long cold winter between us and our last walk there. She remembered,
like she always does. 
I'm so happy she knows me,
and that I'd stop for this because it's speckled.
That I'd stop for this, because it woodland, it's wild and it's with flower.

I've had the pleasure of getting to know Jaime over the last several months, too. There isn't a kinder soul around, I tell ya.  Finding gems like her is definitely the best part of participating in the blogosphere.

Let's talk to Jaime Rugh, shall we? 

--You do so many beautiful types of creating, from painting to weaving to floral design. Do you find yourself turning to different artistic pursuits depending on certain factors, like your mood, the amount of time you have available, or the weather?   

Thanks! I'm certainly motivated by weather more than anything- feel more free in the spring & summer . . . more into the wildflowers when the yard is blooming and the roadsides are dotted with color among all the native grasses.  
I'm more of a weaver in the cooler months and into the painting, collage-making and my more sculptural work.  

 --Is there a favorite amongst your arts?  Is there one you have to remind yourself to go back to more often than the others? 

I guess my practice is about being able to do many different things and so I love them all and need them to balance me out in different ways. I'm always looking to expand my skill set and knowledge and I don't take any of it too seriously.  But that said, I do love the physicality of floral work and especially in gardening, having the limitation to what's there. Lately, I also like making bread and putting together packages of findings to send away to friends.

-- How did you get into weaving? 
I went to art school in 1995 not really certain what I wanted to focus on but knowing there was no other place for me to be at that time.  I took a class in Fiber Arts and was instantly drawn into the idea of weaving but more so it as a practice not limited to one medium or another.  Fibers was a way to learn weaving, dyeing, resist methods, basketry,  etc...but also to draw or build sculpture from found objects.   It also brought back a lot of memories of crafts I loved making in my childhood.  I was a big walker in college and was looking at weaving in relation to my travels zig-zagging through in the grid like city I was living in, Philadelphia, but also in relation to making woven forms with the findings I was gathering along the road.  
I abandoned traditional weaving for many years in my twenties to focus on other areas, mostly floral work, but returned to it a few years ago with a focus on making small basic weavings to leave in trees.

--Do you create with your children around or wait for solitude

I spent most of my life before becoming a mother with the preference of making my work in solitude, so much of the time without even music to accompany.  As a mother I've started incorporating my work into my day in a way that's natural.  My practice has changed some to accommodate motherhood and so I don't have goals, I don't have elaborate projects in the works, just a lot of small things I can turn to throughout the day if the stars align.   Things like gathering a flower bouquet or cutting out some paper flowers, weaving a few rows etc . . . These are things I love and give me a sense of  personal satisfaction.  I do have times where I set out a project for the kids and am trying to convey something, but overall, I'm just stealing minutes to do my thing while they're doing theirs . . .  In the warmer weather, they tend to have their "own work" they do in the yard, while I do maintenance or make bunches of flowers.

--Any favorite resources for artistic activities and materials for children?   
 When it comes to making art with kids I stick to two schools: the "no right or wrong way" kind and the "let's keep it simple & inexpensive.  I also don't make anyone, make anything, if they don't want.  I like Ann Sayre Wiseman's books, for reference.  And we look around a lot for ideas and then attempt to make our version of  it . . . Jeff, my husband, is very clever and so he is always building interesting things with the kids.  I do like when my kids make stuff in nature- in our yard.  Charlie loves making pictures from fallen leaves, weeds, sticks & stones etc.   I think it's nice that the art isn't too precious and has the pretense that we most likely can't save it.  

--What did the adults around you in your own childhood do to encourage your creating?

I appreciate that my parents bought me craft supplies and allowed me to spend hours alone playing with them.  My dad certainly helped facilitate my interest in the postal system early on, helping me to mail order supplies from catalogs and in my teen years allowing me to use his work PO Box for mail art exchange. My mother is creative and comes from a family of people with good hands- although I don't remember anyone specifically guiding me towards the arts-  its been a relatively self-taught/ found journey.  

-- What is one of your most beloved books for children based on the story and / or illustration?
I love children's books, so it's hard to choose one!  I'm very fond of Mary the Mouse, The Mouse and Mary by Beverly D'Onofrio and Illustrated by Barbara McClintock,  one of my favorite illustrators.  It like the continuity in it - the mothers story and then the daughters story... and such great details in the drawings.

-- Other artisans/ designers (past or present) from various disciplines that you have your eye on lately?

-- Do non-visual experiences ever find themselves being translated into your artwork, or perhaps provide you with an emotional current that guides your hand a bit?  

Absolutely- I take it all in all the time.... All these details inspire me- make the setting come alive and certainly help my ideas come together.  It might be in a more abstract way- a feeling I want to evoke in my practice but it's there. .  .
Some days music while walking or gardening absolutely makes me feel fearless and like I can do or try anything. 

--Can you tell us a bit about your process?  

My work is experientially based and motivated.  It's probably why I more literally refer to walking in my practice.  It's often from the actual walking that the stories and ideas evolve.  Usually Im seeking connections although I don't know what they are until the walk is nearing through...  That's when I realize what the theme of the walk was, the so called "signs" tie themselves together. 

- While you may appreciate many different styles and approaches to life and art,  when it comes to your own approach to being and making, do you find that you have a (mostly) consistent aesthetic or method over multiple areas of your life?
One thread might be that I'm non discriminatory across the board. I put weeds in my bouquets like they are the same as anything else more typically regarded as beautiful, I mix patterns in my home that maybe shouldn't go together, mix flavors and textures in my food... I like going to all sorts of places, wearing all sorts of brands etc. I've been known to wear mostly black for many many years.  I go through phases where I wear black, brown and dark blue only but occasionally and sometimes in spring wear a lot of floral upon floral combinations.  Small pattern, big pattern, bold pattern, dainty patterns...

-- On the same note, do you appreciate the same quality in names as you do in dress, home design and art?

I do, I like the mix and match of names and pairing short with long... Old fashioned with more modern . . . I certainly love asking people their name.  Today I met a woman whose last name was Weaver, who was a weaver and that just about made my day! 

--Your children have such beautiful names! Were there any special considerations in selecting them, or reasons they were chosen?
I liked the idea of Charlie having  a boyish sort of name as my grandmother was Bobby (Barbara), my mother is Andi (Andrea) and my being a Jaime . . . We were very set on Marlowe all along as a tribute to my paternal grandmother Marion but agreed early on to make that her middle name.  Jeff liked Charlotte which was sentimental for us as his father grew up on Charlotte Avenue and we spent a good bit of time at that home visiting his grandfather Jack in his last few years.  I loved the poetic repitition of the name Charlotte Marlowe, although she's pretty much always been called Charlie, which suits her well.  

Naming Max was tricky, for whatever reason I found naming a boy very difficult!  I think we liked Max Rugh early on.  I really liked Wilder, or Max Wilder but we decided we wanted to find a name starting with the letter "B" for his middle name to honor my maternal grandmother, Barbara.  We decided we would choose a longer middle name to balance the short and last names.  We had thrown around Balthazar for a month or so when it occured to me that it was the right middle name for Max and in relation to my grandmother.  In the late nineties while working in a Soho art gallery, I used to occasionally buy the fruit foccacia bread at Balthazar Bakery.  My grandmother loved it and I always walked over to pick up some before heading out of town to go visit her.  So it fit.  It tied in the past.  

--Were there any "almost" names for your kids that didn't seem to fit when the time came to choose? 

Violet was a name high on the list most of my pregnancy with Charlie.  Audrey too.  

--Are there any names out there that you currently love? 

I love names like Daisy, Sunny, Raina, Rosy, Ree, Rae, Pearl, Villa, Willow etc . . . Wilder, still stuck on boy names! 

--What's the element of the weather you most enjoy?
I've always loved the rain but as I get older, I realize, the sunshine makes me feel the best. 

--What are your two favorite items in your home? 
A drawing my mother made in high school practicing line work and pattern making.  It's very similar to some paintings I did years ago so finding it under my old bed recently was a nice surprise.  
I love the things my kids make; Charlie has made some nice still lives and sculptures from fabric scraps found on
my studio floor which I treasure. 
Oh, and an Italian wooden box with a small key shaped like a pear, reminds me of my grandmother, who loved fruits and vegetables.

--What's the last beautiful thing you paid close attention to outside?
Cold roses. 

--And what's the last beautiful thing you paid close attention to inside?
That the dying amaryllis in my kitchen stain my hands when pulled them from their stems.  Such a beautiful rich color- I had not remembered Amaryllis to bleed color like that!

--What's the best advice you've been given?
Hmm, lots of good stuff over the years... It's not advice really but I liked this...
An old friend told me recently that his mother always used to say that motherhood was like planning to hop on a plane to Paris but being delayed and diverted to everywhere else on the planet first.  I like the thought of how different parenthood is that we anticipate and how you're not really in control of the vehicle anymore.  Kind of why I'm liking it though- its like finding cool stuff when you make a wrong turn while traveling... 

--What do you most value?
Patience, peacefulness, respecting children....kindness and generosity, freedom

--I've been thinking lately (again) on synchronicity in what one notices, experiences, or those things that seem to come out of no where but link up in spirit or theme--do you experience this? thoughts? 
All the time!  Sometimes I wonder if it's because I'm looking so much- like trying too hard to find the connections  or if they really are there in all these different places and "Whew, it was a good thing I was looking:)"  Maybe it's some of both.  

--your perfect cold weather food and drink for a cozy afternoon?
I love making bread in the winter- so the idea of warm bread maybe with fruits or  nuts inside, coated with all sorts of seeds and a piece of cheese on top sounds perfect..  Hot coffee in the afternoon is good too!

--Do you have any upcoming projects you can share that we should keep an eye out for?
I was working on a book for a longtime but am happily setting that aside and moving onward without it.  I can't do it all and I wasn't enjoying it. . . I really like just being a mom too.
I have a lot of ideas for my art practice that have been sitting for many years, coming, going and such . . . I'm mostly looking forward to traveling a lot this year and making as much "artwork" as possible while having lots of fun with my family.  I've done graphic design type of work on and off over the years and I'm feeling a pull in that direction right now as well. 

--Name Game! I'd like you to help me create a name or two by answering the following questions:
1. For the first name-the name of a favorite plant or type of plant (tree, flower or any other) found on your walks: 


2. For the middle name-the name of a favorite designer/artist or author:

 Li (Edelkoort

second name:
1. For the first name-a term from textile arts and processes

First thought Crimson (as in the dye) or Mauveine

2. For the middle- a favorite character from a children's book

Poppy Li and Crimson Nora (or Mauveine Nora). Beautiful creations! What a fantastic collection of names throughout this interview, and such a lovely chat! Thank you for so generously sharing with us today, Jaime! 

(all images courtesy of Found While Walking, by Jaime Rugh. image of collage art work courtesy of Wiksten Made)


  1. i love your blog because, although i see myself as having wide eyes and heart, your curiousity is contagious and i am forever following your trail of breadcrumbs towards new wonders.

  2. I love this interview, too! So many gems! Poppy, Willow, Charlie, Violet, Audrey. Sigh.


  3. First I found Jamie, about 30 minutes ago, and now I've found you and your interview of Jamie.

    I like it here and at Jamie's place.

    Be back soon.

    xo Jane

  4. thanks, all! I'll be coming back to this one a lot; Jaime is such a treasure!

  5. Great interview! Thanks for introducing me to her work! xo.