The Honeymoon – Alone At Last!... is another wonderful hooked rug attributed to James & Mercedes Hutchinson - which will be exhibited at Rug Hooking Week at Sauder Village on August 16-19, 2023 in Archbold, Ohio. Be sure to come & see it along with 600-800 other contemporary & historic hooked rugs – at the largest annual rug hooking & fiber art event in North America!
This rug is filled with love & romance! © You can see it in this couple’s eyes.
They are dressed in their Victorian finest. He is a typical Hutchinson dapper gent with a mustache & it looks like he’s about to give her as kiss. Perhaps they have just arrived at their honeymoon hotel & are gazing out the window (note the curtains, which enclose & cozy up the scene). Did you notice the beautiful floral carpetbag (Victorian luggage), it’s there at the left. The Hutchinsons have done it again & set the scene so well!
This rug, not previously exhibited in the RHW 2016 Hutchinson Exhibit... is on loan to the 2023 exhibit from a private collector, but was formerly owned by Barbara Packer. I had such a wonderful response from my last post about Penny Marshall, I thought I would share the story about this rug’s former owner – a talented & brilliant lady!
Barbara (Karlow) Packer
1942 - 2022
Barbara grew up in Mount Vernon, New York & graduated from A. B. Davis High School. She focused on 18th century English literature for her Bachelor of Arts at NYU & Masters of Arts at Univ of Louisville.
Fiber Artist – Hooked Rugs
While working on her Ph.D., Barbara started hooking rugs. According to her daughter Heidi, this was one of the first ventures into fiber art, but certainly wouldn’t be her last. Barbara designed & created hooked rugs and quilts which were featured in museums and various prestigious publications.
Above are 2 marvelous examples of hooked rugs designed & hooked by Barbara Packer. (These photos were shared by her daughter Heidi.) One thing that you will notice is that Barbara loved geometric patterns, and they appear in all her art forms. Most of her hooked rugs have either been sold (through her business as an artist) or are in the hands of family and friends.
Fiber Artist - Quilts
Barbara then studied color & design at the Fashion Institute of Technology (part of the State Univ of NY) & the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. Stitching hundreds of fabric pieces together to form quilts in intricate color patterns. These quilts gained her international acclaim & recognition as a quilt maker. These quilts which were featured in museums & various prestigious publications.
Quilt photos are from Barbara’s book: The State of the Art Quilt: Contemporary Quilts for the Collector
All of the above are magnificent examples of Barbara’s contemporary art quilts. The 2 directly above represent well known chess openings. As a chess player, Barbara became fascinated with the 2-dimensionality or flatness of the chess board. These works are 2 efforts at exploring this characteristic common to paintings & quilts. While the maquettes (preliminary sketch) appeared flat, the actual quilts show unexpected special illusion!
As the editor of the book: The State of the Art Quilt: Contemporary Quilts for the Collector, Barbara states in the preface “The objective of Quilt Expo (once an annual exhibition at Sands Point Preserve, Sands Point, New York, this one was in 1985) is twofold: to present a pictorial survey of today’s quilt scene for examination by the collector, and to direct serious attend to the study of the contemporary quilt as an art form.” She goes on to say “The present volume is intended to continue the admirable work of its predecessors but also to suggest another path: namely, the study of quilts in the context of art, not merely craft, history.” She advised collectors… ”Very simply, buying contemporary quilts is a good investment.”
Barbara discovered that many of her original quilt designs were being reprinted in magazines without attribution or compensation. So, she started researching copyright law – which brought her to law school & her 2nd career, in litigation.
Fiber Artist – Knitter & Crocheter
Knitting & crocheting were not quit as passionate a pursuit as the other fiber arts in Barbara’s life, according to daughter Heidi. They were more of a pleasurable hobby. Barbara enjoyed creating colorful & geometric patterns in knitted & crocheted pillows, sweaters, scarfs & other wearable art & décor.
Lawyer & Litigator
Barbara was a top lawyer & litigator, practiced at Waters McPherson McNeill law firm.
She served on the Charles & Mildred Schnumacher Foundation Board for over 20 years. The Foundation focuses on charitable giving. They value the importance of enhancing & improving the lives of others, supporting diverse programs in the fields of human services, education, Jewish causes, health, performing arts, scientific research & animal advocacy.
Barbara championed many worthy organizations with a particular passion for Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.
After several futile attempts to repair a broken necklace of treasured antique trade beads, Barbara became so intrigued that she took a course in beading & learned the Japanese method of knotting. This stimulated her to try her hand at “quilting” seed beads around a core.
Barbara “seamlessly” transitioned from stitching hundreds of fabric pieces into 2-dimensional quilts to weaving thousands of minuscule glass beads into 3-dimensional globes. From this concept, Barbara created unique necklaces, earrings & bracelets. That marked the start of her 3rd career.
She accomplished her goal of handcrafting an original expression applicable to contemporary usage by using a sustainable, renewable & common material, i.e., sand fused into glass - & she redefined the seed bead industry with one-of-a-kind, fine handcrafted jewelry.
New York City
In 2000, Barbara married Ira Weinstein. The couple had both lost spouses due to cancer. Barbara sold her apartment on the Upper East Side & Ira sold his house in Great Neck, Long Island. Together they started a new life together on the East Side/Sutton Place. Their 58th Street town house was the perfect place to remodel & make their own. While the work was being done, they went to auctions every weekend, collecting rugs & furniture for their new home. Barbara had just retired from practicing law. A 2002 article (see below) in the New York Times said…
There were still a few things to be done on the house. Ms. Packer is planning to make hooked rugs for the staircases. “She has a commission to do the steps,” Mr. Weinstein said.
The bedroom below has an beautiful antique quilt hanging on the wall behind the bed, collected by Barbara & Ira. The immense & stunning oriental rug on the floor compliments the wall color and the décor in the room.
Below is the sitting room in the kitchen, shelves were decorated with Ira’s extensive collection of Moorcroft art pottery – made in the 19th & 20th centuries in England, much of it with botanical themes. Above the fireplace is a hooked rug of a primitive bird/peacock, collected by Barbara & Ira.
In the photo below of the entry, an elaborate geometric quilt, hanging on the left wall, greets arriving guests, the quilt was designed & made by Barbara. You can see the details & colors in mirror reflection.
The Climbery at 201 Buckwheat Bridge Rd, Germantown, New York was Barbara’s 1820s elegant country house surrounded by fieldstone walls. But it was so much more!
Purchased by Barbara around 1988, the property had 1 Clematis growing on there – it served as inspiration. Barbara was the garden designer of this private 7-acre garden with the 2nd largest collection of Clematis in North America. There were 30 beds contain 5-6000 vines of almost 600 Clematis varieties, plus trees, shrubs, perennials & a few annuals. The gardens bloom continuously through the summer with lots of tree peonies, iris, peonies, lilies, astilbe, wisteria, lilac, lupines, delphinium & more. Sculptures abound, along with 5 lotus ponds, a boxwood garden, & potting shed.
The Climbery was also Barbara’s not-for-profit foundation, established to promote the growth & interest of Clematis. “We want people to grow it as regularly as they do roses,” Barbara said. “They are easy to grow, colorful, fragrant & versatile with lots of varieties. All I am is the missionary.”
To say she was devoted to The Climbery would be an understatement. But devoted seems to be her modus operandi.
Barbara was a longtime collector who had a wonderful collection of folk art, period furnishings, cigar store figures & samples. One of the key items in her collection was a folk art sculpture by Stephen Huneck (1948-2010), you may know him for his wonderful dog art.
Many of Barbara’s treasures found a home at The Climbery. Other treasures were collected by her & husband Ira together, between 2000 when they married & his passing in 2016. Those treasures found special places in their Manhattan - East Side/Sutton Place town house.
Here are just a few examples of items in Barbara’s collection:
19th century framed Patriotic needlework. Sight 14" x 16", overall 17" x 19".
19th c. paint decorated Immigrants trunk. 55" x 19" x 22".
Early Canadian painted wall cupboard. 45" x 20 1/2" x 54".
Barbara was a dear longtime friend and customer. She had a great eye for outdoor sculpture, folk art, period furnishings, and textiles. This taste reflected in her jewelry making as well as her hooked rugs and quilts. She amassed a large collection of objects which we were honored to sell on behalf of her daughter Heidi who has been a pleasure to work with!
Seth Fallon, Copake Auction
Barbara led a fascinating life & had a wonderful career. She managed to have a unique balance between her creative & business ventures. It’s rare that one can excel in both & it seems that she not only did, but flourished. She is also another example of both an artist and a collector – another rarity. So, kudos to Barbara for excelling yet again! It was a pleasure to pay tribute to her!
I hope you enjoyed this story behind the rug!
And as this particular Hutchinson rug implies….
Spend a little time with someone you LOVE today!
Come see The Honeymoon rug at Rug Hooking Week August 16 - 19, 2023 at Sauder Village, Archbold, Ohio! It's a piece of our Fiber Art History!
Read more about the fascinating lives & humorous hooked rugs attributed to James & Mercedes Hutchinson --- check out the Rug Hooking Traditions - Book Series!