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The Hunterdon County Rug Artisans Guild was founded in April 1977. We currently have over 130 members from nine states. The mission of the Guild is to perpetuate the tradition and art of rug hooking, to encourage creativity, to provide the means for an exchange of ideas and information and to promote educational activities to enhance the interest in rug hooking. Monthly meetings in Flemington, New Jersey offer programs for someone new to rug hooking as well as the seasoned artisan. Members have opportunities to participate in hooking demonstrations, rug exhibits, rug camps and “hook-ins”. A supportive environment is provided for those new to the craft and for those looking to refine their technique. New members are always welcome!

Origins of HCRAG and the Development of Craft Guilds in Hunterdon County

In 1976 a cooperative effort between Hunterdon County Adult Education and the Office of the Aging was started under the Older Americans Act. Under this project, art and craft courses were taught throughout the municipalities of Hunterdon County with the guidance of Josephine “Jo” Knobloch. The success of the classes led to establishing a Rug Artisans Guild with the purpose of preserving the cultural heritage of traditional rug hooking. It was self-sustaining, requiring annual payment of minimal dues, which were used to pay guest instructors. Members, in turn, gave exhibits and demonstrations within the community to continually educate and keep the public aware of their existence and gain new members. The Adult Education Office advertised the Guild’s programs and provided meeting space.

With the success of this project called “Project Arts and Crafts for Hunterdon Aging” (PACHA), “Jo” Knobloch was offered a full time position as Special Projects Coordinator for Adult Education. She soon used the rug hooking guild model and organized the patchwork & quilting, needlework, and knitting and crocheting guilds.

Members of the various guilds and participants in other art and craft classes were creating so many quality handmade pieces that Jo Knobloch sought and gained approval for opening an outlet store where these creations could be sold. Thus was born “Golden Talents,” which was located in Liberty Village in Flemington, NJ. Golden Talents operated successfully as a self-sufficient business for 28 years.

The guilds originally established by Jo Knobloch still exist and continue to meet and support Hunterdon County. Items created by their members are exhibited each year at the Hunterdon County 4-H and Agricultural Fair at the County Fairgrounds in Ringos, NJ.

Jo Knobloch’s guidance to “her guilds” stressed working cooperatively with the community as one of the finest ways possible to show appreciation for their past and continued support.

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