Colleen Wike displays one of the fabulous rugs she makes in her studio space. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Fibre art hooks Chemainus’ Wike from her background

Childhood memories lead to utilizing her talents in later years

It didn’t take much to get Colleen Wike hooked.

Even though she didn’t start until later in life, Wike’s talents for hooked rug art came naturally.

“My great grandmother did it, both grandmothers and my mom did it,” noted Wike.

She’ll be displaying some fine examples of her fibre art during the Polka Dot Trail tour running Friday, Sept. 29 from noon to 4 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

You can find Wike on the Trail at her Sage House Studio, 9945 Willow St. in Chemainus, a beautiful seaside location near Kin Beach.

Her studio is so named because “I’ve got lots of sage plants growing around in my garden,” she indicated.

Wike looks at rugs in a totally different way since taking up the art.

“They were just where you wiped your feet,” she quipped. “And then I looked at them, I was about 40+, they’re quite amazing. I got hooked – literally.”

Wike grew up in the Elmira and St. Jacobs area of Ontario that features a strong Mennonite heritage. She lived there 45 years before deciding it was time to move on with her husband.

“We came to Chemainus and bought the first house we ever looked at on Chemainus Road,” Wike indicated.

They lived eight years there and she’s now been in her current place on Willow for 13.

Wike downsized considerably when she came to these parts, but maintains a small gallery with a studio.

She works part-time in the gift shop at the Chemainus Theatre. “I just wanted to keep my mind sharp,” Wike pointed out.

“My body’s kind of worn out. I can’t actively engage in the hooking part more than two hours a day.”

The art can be very taxing and she might complete about six larger pieces a year while limiting the time she spends on it.

“It depends how complicated they are and how large they are,” Wike reasons.

“It’s pretty much a hobby. These things don’t pay for themselves. I do it because I love it.”

She’s sold about 75 pieces. “I don’t hang onto any of them.”

Wike has taught workshops in the past at her other location, motivated by people’s fascination.

“It’s really quite easy,” she added. “It’s only one particular stitch you do.”

Once Wike got into it, she found various parts of the experience from her upbringing came back.

“I kind of helped my grandmother when I was really little, cut up fabric and things like that,” she explained. “It was pretty much unheard of out here, except for a few small pockets.”

This is Wike’s third time on the Tour and she’s happy to welcome visitors into her studio to have a peak.

“I really love having people come. It’s like the old days when I had a store and people came in.”

Wike was actually a chef at one time in Guelph, Ont. and ran a gourmet food store so she possesses many talents.

She doesn’t restrict her fibre art to any particular style. “I’m all over the map,” Wike said.

The variety is readily apparent from a walk through her studio and many tourists take advantage of the opportunity to check the items out on a regular basis.

“I have a small body of work this year,” noted Wike. “I sold so many pieces, I couldn’t catch up.”

Be sure to pick up a brochure, located at various places around town, for full details of all the artists on the Tour.