The Hook Pusher
An Interview With Dianne Clinton
Coincidentally, even though we were never members at the same time, I first met Dianne Clinton through Sho back in 2013. One of the best known annual events at Sho is Scattered Ecstasies produced by Dr. Barry Brodie. This outstanding event features Poetry, Art, Music, and Theatrical Performance. It was at this event, the second show I participated in there, that I met Dianne. She is a multitalented artist, known for her beautiful abstract paintings and her long standing crochet business, The Hook Pusher. Recently, I sat down to share fresh made smoothies and chat with Dianne about her experience as an Associate at Sho; The Hook Pusher shop; and her exciting plans for future events at Sho.
When I first met you at Scattered Ecstasies, how long had you been painting and how did you become involved in the show?
I first started working at Nancy Johns Gallery and Framing in 2008, so that would be around the time I first started selling my paintings. It was actually Nancy who was originally invited to participate in the show and the invitation was extended to me. Since then, I have been asked almost every year.
Was it through this experience at Scattered Ecstasies that you eventually became involved here?
My first experience with Sho was really through Lorraine, Phil, Barry, and Sue at Nancy Johns Gallery and Framing. On occasion, we would build stretcher bars and canvases for Lorraine. Also Sue, Phil, Barry, and Lorraine would come to many shows at Nancy’s. So, I got to know them through seeing their support for the arts out in the community. As for the opportunity to open a store here, I got the info about the renovations at Sho through Greg DeHetre. I was looking for the right place to open a shop, and felt this was the perfect fit. It helps that it was so affordable.
I understand you originally started The Hook Pusher alone, as a freelancer. How long have you been in business?
This is my 10th year doing The Hook Pusher. I started by doing a fundraiser to raise money for breast cancer research by crocheting mittens in university. It was called “Mitts for Tits”. After this, people just started asking for commissions. With this, I got to be a little more malleable with my work. I also decided to start making a line of my own apparel.
Now that you’ve opened up shop, how many people are involved in The Hook Pusher?
There are 3 right now. There is Erin MacNeil, my business partner, myself and Ali Stewart. Sadly for us, Erin is moving to BC with her husband as he was transferred there for work. Fortunately, as Ali had already been filling in for shifts at the shop, she has decided to step in and fill in for Erin. She is the perfect fit. Erin will still be very involved in the shop, specifically through selling her patterns.
Buy the Not Your Nonna’s Market Bag crochet pattern here: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/678387456/not-your-nonnas-market-bag-crochet
What made you want to start selling yarn? Also, how has business evolved since you opened up shop?
Well, I started wholesaling yarn to cut my costs… but it was just too much yarn. It was taking over my whole house! Things have been going really well. Fall to winter it is ridiculously busy. As it dies down a bit in the summer months we have decided to start teaching more classes and offering workshops. In fact, the Crochet Club goes over really well! That’s really fun and there is a great group of people coming out.
Wednesdays 1-3pm, Thursdays 7-9pm
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Actually, there is something new that we have just launched we are super excited about! It’s called The Yarn Party! We are basically signing up groups of 5 or 10 people. We will come to their house and bring all the supplies. Everyone will create something from scratch, learning some new skills in a few hours. Since it is in their home they can personalize it with food and drinks as they wish.
Do you find that The Hook Pusher shop is creating more of a sense of community among crocheters?
Yes! Actually, this space itself is creating that. The fact that I have the Associate membership and I have access to all this space is amazing. This is where we can really meet and make relationships happen.
It’s interesting because I am really seeing a large diversity of different types of Creatives here. Although, this isn’t what I had imagined back in the day for Sho, it is actually way better. The more diversity, the more creative it seems to be.
Exactly! The more people want to be here. There are more people who want to contribute to this space for that reason. It’s more than just artists creating paintings. Every time I sit down to make something here I consider it performance art with the amount of people that flow through here every day. The process of making feels good to me. It feels like art, regardless of the end result.
I was pretty young when I first became involved at Sho. What was so interesting to me was how different everyone did things here. I learn by observing. Everyone here is so hands-on, and I find that super inspiring. Do you find yourself being inspired by the other artists?
Definitely! For example, I see Floydilou back in her studio painting every day and that makes me want to paint. It makes me want to create. Actually, it is this sense of community that made us want to show how we all work together here at Sho, especially since we share the common space in the back. So, we decided to yarn bomb a bike to highlight Bike Windsor Essex.
They had the tiniest little bike. I thought it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! That bike was going to be demolished since it was beyond repair. So, I said, “That’s the one I want!” It’s also perfect because it doesn’t take up too much space. I yarn bombed some of it, and so did Deborah Dunlop. When you see it, it just makes you happy!
So, speaking of working together, I hear that you are working together with other Sho members on a great event this fall! I believe it is called Fiber Sho?
Yes! Deb and Erin came up with it. Deb has a new shop here as well and wanted a grand opening in conjunction with something wild and fun! She and Erin met to discuss it. When Sue and Lorraine found out about it, they wanted to get involved as well. So, we are all now working together as a group
That sounds awesome. Tell me a little bit about Fiber Sho. What is it all about and when it is happening?
Basically, we want to show off fiber artists. We have over 30 vendors already! We haven’t really had anything like this in Windsor! The Roth Theatre will be filled with vendors. The garage doors will be up with the main entrance to the shops and studios open. The common area with be available for crafters. The original gallery space at Sho will be providing space for wall art like macrame. It’s a $3 entrance fee, which will include the opportunity to take a selfie with the amazing installation being created by Lee Sartori of Coco Crochet. A portion of the ticket sales will be going to a charity as well, which is being spearheaded by Lee. We will have food vendors like Little Foot Foods, 30ml Coffee and upstairs will be filled with vendors as well!
Additionally, Jodi Matte from Saturday Crafters, which is an awesome craft club for adults, will be running the crafty corner; running demos; and helping people learn some new skills. There are a few of us collaborating on a large yarn bombing project!
TK Fibers, who specialize in yarn dyeing and spinning, will be taking over the box office area. There will be some other great indie dyers as well. Finally, the other great yarn stores in the city will be here! So, we will have lots of supplies for artists to come and shop. We have some people coming from out of town as well! Everything is coming together so great. Much more news to come.
Wow! This all sounds so amazing. I can’t wait for the show! Thanks Dianne for sitting down with me and sharing your experience over the years with Sho. I am sure I am not alone in saying how excited I am for all your future endeavours!
Finally, I think it needs to be said how amazing Sho is for collaboration. It is very clear with the collaborative projects that Dianne has participated in and is planning with her shop, The Hook Pusher.
One of the things that I have chatted with Lorraine, Phil, and Sue about is there is a certain energy about the place that gets people excited. They want to create. When they start talking with others in the space, regardless of whether they are a member or not, they are enveloped in that feeling. It was manifest through the passion for creating something inclusive and innovative in Windsor through the principle members here at Sho. It all started from the very beginning, ten years ago. It attracts the non-competitive artist. I believe that is because everyone here is willing the share this special light that resides within Sho. There is no one star but a multitude of stars, ever growing in the galaxy that is Sho.
Written by Christy Litster
Christy Litster is a Visionary Artist living in Windsor, Ont., Canada. Her work ranges from mixed media abstracts to psychedelic digital mandalas. Visionary art aims to transcend the physical world and portray a wider version of awareness, often including spiritual or mystical themes.