Part 5: Project 1: Option 3: Floral Compositions

Having looked back over my drawing research and drawings made in previous parts of the course, I looked at images on Pinterest and ello.co to find some inspiring drawings of flowers and foliage to inform this stage of the project.

Drawing Inspiration

Source: details about individual artists can be found on my Pinterest boards.

From this research, I can see that layering, mixing types of mark and types of media, simplifying forms and using carefully selected palettes are important for producing these enticing outcomes.

My approach was to use a wide variety of media and techniques for information gathering from the plant source material. The course guide stresses the importance of making new marks and sourcing new colour information to feed through to the development stage, so that was another point to bear in mind.

The source material was also to be varied, to provide interesting drawings to take forward. I selected a bunch of roses, a bunch of tulips and, taking inspiration from Elizabeth Blackadder‘s flower paintings: gathering inspiration from my garden: a chard leaf and views of plum blossom and a wider view of part of the garden.

I experimented with different backgrounds, lighting options and whether or not to include other objects, shown in the collage below are some of the experiments.

Coursework Part 5 collage

Another preparatory exercise was to make a mind map describing the flowers and making some associations.

roses mind map

#1

Gouache paint and chalk on watercolour paper. A3 size.

I wanted to start with something fairly ‘realistic’ and the colour of the roses suggested gouache paint to me as a medium – it’s chalky, opaque colour seemed an apt way of trying to capture the colour palette of the arrangement. I had added in the coffee pot as it made a good contrast to the bright colours, and I selected the sky blue wall as the perfect foil for the colour of the flowers. The colour of the flowers was echoed in the tea-towel and oranges.

I was pleased with the colour palette in this piece – although not identical to the original, I really like this range of hues from all round the colour wheel, with touches of brown and white. I think this looks rather old-fashioned (a quick Google search provides numerous examples of artists painting roses), but it could be simplified and rendered in other media, such as a print on textiles. Roses provoke associations with romance and love. The colour palette perhaps gives it a more modern vibe.

On the downside, the position of the arrangement on the paper was not good – the roses are all cramped up at the top.

P1290732

Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #1.

#2

Felt pen on smooth sketchbook paper.

In this drawing, I concentrated on the pattern and lines found in the flower heads and leaves. I thought that this was quite successful in capturing the pattern made by the petals and could imagine this line drawing layered over a patterned cream or grey background, or in red against a black ground to make a fabric design. Its simplicity means that it could work with a number of colour palettes. The fineness of the paper was perhaps more suited to the subject than the thick watercolour paper.

#3 and #4

#3: Pencil on cartridge paper. A3 size. (Two details shown).

#4: Pigma Micron pen and Aquarelle pencils on cartridge paper. A3 size.

Trying out a different, simpler arrangement, laying the flowers out like scientific specimens. One quick pencil sketch using a mixture of soft and hard lines. The second drawing is a simplified, version accentuating the form and features of the roses. I find that I prefer to make a realistic drawing first and then, having observed the source material closely, I can more easily identify the aspects that need to be included in the simplified version. It is a way of getting familiar with the subject. The simplified version is perhaps suited to illustrative uses, such as greetings cards or wrapping paper. The colour palette is ‘cute’ with pretty pastels.

#5

Pencil and gel pen on cream watercolour paper. A5 with 2.5 x 2.5 cm boxes.

Concentrating on tiny details, identified with a viewfinder. This exercise had been useful in Assignment 1, and I tried to highlight rose features that define the plant (leaf, thorn, petals, sepals etc.) The resulting snapshots provide some interesting patterns that could be developed in stitch. Tiny drawings in flat bright colour might be something to try on another occasion.

#6

Paper, textile, and mixed media, collage on mount board, 40.5 x 27 cm

A first ‘realistic’ attempt at this arrangement. The purple/pink blooms were already twisting downwards away from the main bunch. I used suggestions of walls and a table for the background with the painted lace fabric giving a cottage/’shabby chic’ feel to the piece. I also tried printing a background with lace, but that didn’t work well with watercolour, maybe with acrylic or oil paint it would have done. The stems alone are fascinating in the way that they twist springily out from the bunch and could probably be represented by couched yarn or similar. The colour palette of bright colours against a muted background is, I feel, successful. I can imagine these working well in a quilt or wall hanging. The placement of this arrangement on the page was more successful than the first painted roses drawing.

tulips mind map

#7

Wax on Khadi paper, size A4

This drawing explores the waxy quality of the tulips with wax applied with various tools to the paper. The drawing concentrates on the silhouette of the flowers and foliage. I experimented with pattern to represent the jug and background. The leaves and flower heads worked well with this media, but I’m not so sure about the rest. Using wax means that the paper becomes translucent when held up to the light where wax has fully penetrated the paper. This might be useful for free-hanging work. I like the monotone simplicity of this palette: shades of grey give it a subtle and sophisticated air – like a damask curtain fabric. One possible future development is to work on textile using a batik method, and to introduce colour.

#8

P1290568

Felt pens/POSCA pens on ‘marker paper’. A5.

Trying out a new type of smooth, coated paper, ideal for felt pens. It has a satiny sheen to it that suits the shiny texture of the plants. I used lines to try to capture the lines on the surface of the petals and leaves, and to show the way the light gleamed on them. The flower heads worked well in this drawing, and I can imagine using embroidery or machine stitch to recreate this linear pattern on textiles. I find the pink and orange of the flower at top left to be a particularly pleasing colour combination that would work well in fashion accessories such as scarves.

P1290728

Gouache painted colour stripes representing the palette found in drawing #8.

#9

Chalk and nail varnish on watercolour paper. A5 size.

It occurred to me that nail varnish had the right kind of colour and shine to it to represent tulip petals, so this was a quick experiment to see what it would look like. The viscous liquid is hard to work with, which means that only a rough approximation can be achieved. The shine is apparent on the finished drawing, but the smell of the chemicals is horrible, so I would probably not repeat the process. Thinking about it, one could probably make a whole picture using make-up (eye shadow, pencils, lip stick, blusher etc): a thought to bear in mind if the subject matter is appropriate.

#10

Acrylic paint on tracing paper. A4 size.

I wanted to try a close-up view of one of the ‘blown’ tulips looking at the details in the centre of the flower (inspired by the work of Georgia O’Keeffe), and using thick acrylic paint to try to capture the ridged, succulent petals in texture. The paper was really too thin for this type of paint (it wrinkled), but its waxy translucent quality did feel like a good fit for the subject matter. The simple colour palette of shades of red with touches of black and white was dramatic and could inspire eveningwear in the fashion world, or accessories such as an embossed, faux leather handbag. The thick acrylic paint did provide the most accurate rendition of the texture and weight of the petals.

P1290733

Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #10.

#11

Ink on watercolour paper; pencil on tracing paper; POSCA pen on cellophane. A4 size.

In this drawing I was exploring ways of layering marks and patterns (inspired by the work of Leisa Rich) and using the tulips to inform the created marks. Another link is Escher’s Three Worlds print in which a reflection of trees, the surface of a pond and the fish in the depths are shown. In my somewhat less accomplished piece, the eye is drawn in to notice the main top layer, and then the more faded and delicate marks beneath.

I think that this area is ripe for further experimentation: introducing colour, transparency and hidden areas; using cutaway areas; introducing texture. This could lead to dramatic artwork, ideas for printed and embellished textiles and free hanging layers which might be useful in home decor.

#12 and #13

Graphite block on cartridge paper; chalk and POSCA pen on Khadi paper. A4.

Exploring line in these two drawings of a plum tree. The first, graphite drawing concentrates on the lines and patterns made by the branches; the second introduces the additional layer of emerging blossom. I like the simplicity of these drawings and feel that the linear pattern of the branches could feed into textiles as a background pattern, or a close-up section (example shown at top left, above) could be developed into an abstract art work by itself. Black lines on a white ground look striking and austere. The introduction of blue and white gives the palette a Japanese feel.

P1290731

Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #13.

#14

Mixed media on cartridge paper. A1.

Inspired by Alicia Galer‘s wonderful drawings, brimming with mixtures of marks, I decided to try a distant view of part of our garden (most of the plants I have drawn so far have been in mid to close views). This also showed plants in a natural state rather than arranged in a vase, and was worked on a larger size of paper. I enjoyed making this drawing – using which ever medium and technique seemed suitable to the subject (eg, felt pen for the spiky chives, blended chalk for distant or indistinct foliage, sponge printed paint for the new leaves; splodges of thick white paint applied with a bunch of fine wooden dowels for the blossom). This method generated a variety of types of mark, including overlapping areas, that could be taken forward for development into stitch. The palette is restricted to greens, browns, and grey with a touch of yellow.

#15 and #16

#15 Aquarelle pencils and felt pen on cartridge paper. A5.

#16 Oil pastels on cartridge paper. A5.

Comparing fast and slow study of the subject: the Aquarelle drawing took an hour or more, the oil pastel drawing was completed in a few minutes. The first drawing captured more of the succulent texture of the leaf and stem, but there is something lively and recognisable about the quickly-made drawing. The colour palette of the first drawing is one that I like: cherry red, muted green, and purple with white highlights. The leaf quickly dried out and flattened, which is something to bear in mind when using source material that can degrade.

P1290730

Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #15.

#17

Photograph, metallic thread, beads on glossy photographic paper. 15 x 10 cm.

Inspired by the work of María Aparicio Puentes, whose work I had seen in some previous research, I took a macro photograph of a willow catkin and added stitch and bead embellishment over the top. I considered quite carefully the amount of stitch and the placement of the stitch, as well as the colour palette to use: opting for sparkly pink and silver to add an interesting extra layer of texture and contrast to the image, without overpowering it. The lines echo and extend the stamen and perform the function of highlighting the structure and pattern of the catkin.

I liked this technique and the outcome, and can imagine using it in collage work or as a way to add a layer of interest and texture to 2-D images. The colour palette of soft brown, yellow, white and pink with a touch of green is very Spring-like and delicate: the sparkle evokes a frosty morning.

P1290729

Gouache painted colour stripes representing image #17.

Summary

What have I learnt in this Project?

  • To make a quick outline to check the position of the subject on the page.
  • Begin with a ‘realistic’ drawing and use the information gathered to generate more simplified images.
  • Layering marks can give depth and interest to a piece and should be translatable into exciting stitch and textiles.
  • Mixing media and using colours and marks appropriate to the subject was a freeing way to work and generated interesting material for further development.

 


References:-

Websites:-

http://blog.aliciagaler.com/ Accessed 14/04/17

http://www.georgiaokeeffe.net/oriental-poppies.jsp Accessed 14/04/17

http://www.mariaapariciopuentes.com/ Accessed 14/04/17

http://monaleisa.com/archive/ Accessed 14/04/17

http://www.scottish-gallery.co.uk/artist/elizabeth_blackadder Accessed 14/04/17

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Worlds_(Escher) Accessed 14/04/17

 

Part 5: Project 1: Option 3: Floral Compositions: Action Plan

I have chosen to pursue the work created for Part 1, Project 3: Picking and Portraying, which involved drawing and mark-making inspired by flowers and plants.

After reviewing the original drawings, and selecting any that I feel are particularly successful or interesting and/or offer further development, I will choose fresh source materials to create a new arrangement (or several arrangements) to draw from. I would like to draw tulips, and may combine these with foliage and flowers or blossom from the garden. I will experiment with different backgrounds and lighting options and additional objects.

I will approach the task by trying a range of possible compositions, and by trying to gather different information in each drawing. I will give attention to selecting appropriate grounds, tools and media to work with. I will make a mind map to suggest associations with the source material. I am aiming to combine densities and type of mark in this new set of drawings. In my initial research, I was intrigued by Alicia Galer‘s lively drawings of plants, and will try to emulate her range of mark-making in some of my work. I will try monotone as well as colour drawings. Paint, collage and mixed media drawings will be explored. I will also make simplified versions, and more abstract marks concentrating on smaller areas of the composition, or small areas of the initial drawings.


 

Reference:-

Website:-

http://www.aliciagaler.com/ Accessed 03/04/17

 

Coursework: Part One: Project 1: Selecting and Identifying

Exercise 1.1 The Archive

I contacted Dumfries Museum and put in a request to see some of their archive textiles. Lydia Cant, The Museums Officer – Collections (East) kindly replied with a link to the online archive from where I was able to select three items to view: a rag rug; a Sanquhar knitted child’s pullover; and a patchwork quilt.

Lydia made an appointment for me to come and view, handle and draw the items on 1 July 2016. All three of the items were in storage and had to be retrieved for my visit. Lydia wrote down all the information on the three items, held at the Museum for me, and laid the exhibits out, one at a time on a tissue-paper covered table in her office.

There were a number of restrictions in place: photographs must only be for personal use (I will therefore not be able to post them on this blog); only pencil to be used in close proximity to the exhibits; and handling must be carried out wearing protective gloves.

The three differently-textured and sized objects offered a range of surfaces to draw.

Exercise 1.2 Substance and Story

Item One: Rag Rug

Substance

1 What is the textile made from?

The rag rug has a hessian backing (made from jute fibres, possibly from a sack – but no printing (eg, advertising logo) was visible on the reverse). The rug was also lined with hessian. The pile is made from a mixture of recycled clothing, including wool,  cotton and possibly other textiles. There are a mixture of weights from medium to thick. Ribbed knitwear, stripes, and patterns are visible on individual fabrics.

The archive label (an old exhibition label), describes the rug thus: “Rug has been produced by hooking strips of rag through a hessian base.”

The museum staff care for this piece by wrapping it in acid-free tissue paper and storing it in a large archival lidded box. Individual items are stored on top of one another in the box, separated by further sheets of acid free tissue, with heavy exhibits at the bottom, lighter items towards the top. This protects the items from moisture, pests, light damage, dust, etc.

In general, modern rag rugs can be vacuumed using a hand-held tool (not the beater bar of an upright) either with or without some plastic mesh to protect the fibres. They can be cleaned by hanging on a washing line outside and beating with a carpet beater, or similar, to remove dust and dirt. Spot cleaning can be carried out, or immersion and a squeezing action used to wash the rug in a bath of water. Gentle soaps used for cleaning wool are recommended. The rug can be drip dried before lying it flat to dry fully. Care should be taken in moving the rug, so that strain is not applied to the backing. If stored, they should be rolled with the pile outermost.

2 Production Methods

The rag rug has been hand hooked by pulling strips of recycled fabrics through a hessian backing to form loops approx 2 cm in height, now flattened with wear. The fabric strips looked very wide (approx 1.5 – 3 cm, some folded) (described as ‘Primitive’ in the US): the border having the widest strips. A tool like a large crochet hook in a wooden handle is often used, although I have seen antique, improvised tools, such as a modified large key used (the unlocking mechanism removed and a hook made in its place). Basic shapes are marked on the hessian first (for example, using a burnt stick from the fireplace). In this case, the cat, border and possibly the scallop shapes may have been marked first, then filled in with rows of hooked textiles. The woven jute backing may have been from a recycled sack, and the pile from recycled clothing and other household fabrics. These included a mixture of both knitted and woven textiles, such as wool and cotton.

The outer border is made up of dark colours: blacks, greens, browns; the background is a mixture of creams, browns, pinks, blues, a touch of turquoise, checks, stripes, plains, patterns; a few spots of greenish black (I did wonder whether these dark splodges in the otherwise paler background might have been repairs, or more likely resulting from a shortage of the paler coloured fabrics). The black cat has eyes that look as if they are made from twists of fleece, perhaps used to give a more round shape to them then could have been achieved with a loop of fabric.

3 Where is the textile from?

There was no maker’s label on the rug, but it was donated by Dalswinton Mill, Auldgirth in 1979. There are examples of rag rugs dating back to the late 19th century, although as this piece is undated, we can’t be sure that it isn’t more recent. (Only by removing and analysing the textiles that have been used in the pile, could a more accurate date be arrived at, although because people store and use older fabrics, the best one can do is to say that it was not made before a certain date, for example if it contained a 1970s dress fabric of known manufacturer, pattern and age, it could not have been made before that fabric was available … unless the fabric was used to make a more recent repair!).

The earliest example of a rag rug found in this country is mentioned in Emma Tennant’s book Rag Rugs of England and America. The rug is said to contain Battle of Waterloo Uniforms (themselves dating to 1815). Many rag rugs were used to destruction and early examples are therefore rare.

There is much debate in the literature as to where rag rugs first developed, and it may be that the technique sprang up independently in different parts of the world. In the UK, the practice may have been introduced by Viking settlers or traders to the inhabitants of The Shetland Islands, and so to the rest of the country. The making of rag rugs was common in the UK between the late 19th century, and the 1920s, when it declined as factory-made carpets became affordable. The practice was revived during WWII, when resources were scarce, and has again gained in popularity with the renewed interest in sustainable living and recycling. Nowadays, with the more colourful textiles available, a more artistic approach is often taken by the maker.

In Scotland in the 19th century, jute fibres imported from India were made into hessian in Dundee. The Verdant Works website has some historical details about the process, and conditions for the people who worked there. Hessian was used for the backing of the rug, and as the base through which the recycled textiles were hooked.

If the rug was disassembled, it might be possible to trace some of the fabrics by their patterns to the original manufacturers if pattern books were still in existence. Other fabrics may be home knitted or woven ones made from wool, cotton or linen .

The nearest town to Auldgirth is Dumfries: a possible source of woollen yarn and woollen goods. “Dumfries’ importance as a port of trade and commerce peaked in the 1840s, especially hosiery manufacture and the wool trade” is quoted from a survey of Dumfries and Maxwelltown (surveyed 1847-51).

In his 1891 book The History of Sanquhar (Sanquhar is a town in Dumfries and Galloway), James Brown describes how every family had a spinning wheel and made their own yarn from sheep’s fleece, the resulting yarn would then be sent to the weavers and woven to their requirements. At the height of the weaving industry, in the 18th century, Sanquhar was home to up to 150 hand-looms. He also describes the demise of the smaller weaving establishments following the invention (first patented by Edmund Cartwright in 1785) and adoption of the power-loom in the late 18th century.

Cotton Mills were to be found at Gatehouse-of-Fleet in Dumfries and Galloway in the 18th and 19th centuries: a possible local source of cotton textiles.

4 Problems Encountered

As is usual with older rag rugs, little importance was attached to them, being a domestic, functional and disposable item, so there is no labelling on the piece, and no known information on the maker or date of production.

Traceability might be important for archival care of the rug: the type of fabrics used and age of the piece may dictate how it is cleaned, displayed and stored. Traceability might also be important in historical terms, as mentioned earlier, there is debate about where in the world this technique was first employed. If a very early piece was found, it could provide useful evidence to back up or disprove a particular theory. Knowing the country of manufacture might also be important if an artwork needed to be exported for some reason (such as being sold to someone in another country), or an attempt could be made to reclaim it by its country of origin, if it was found not to be British.

Anecdotal information may help to fill in gaps. In fact, Dumfries Museum launched a newspaper appeal to local people for memories of rag rug making, and examples of rag rugs, when they held their 2011 exhibition on the subject.

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My Mother was born in Wigtownshire, Dumfries and Galloway in 1944, and these are her memories of her Mother’s (my Grandmother’s) craft work, including rag rug making.

“My Memories of My Mother’s Handicrafts

Mother was born in 1908, the eighth of nine children, to a tenant farmer in Galloway, Scotland. Money was not plentiful, so early on in life she was taught to sew and knit, to make do and mend. Clothing on the whole was made to last but in terribly drab colours. 

I was also part of a large family, the sixth of ten children. Mother’s handicraft skills were well tested keeping us clothed and adding small touches to make the home as comfortable as her small income allowed. With two older sisters, I loved wearing the smocked gingham dresses mother made. Once the smocking was complete she finished the main sewing on her treadle Singer sewing machine, a well-used item.   She enjoyed her leather work, making items such as purses and bags using thonging. 

The one craft I remember quite clearly was her sitting by the fire of an evening slowly working her way through a rag rug. Each room had at least one rag rug by the fire or a bedside. Any garment that was outgrown, ripped or worn out at the knees and elbows was saved. The best pieces of the material would be saved. They would later be cut into strips and put in the rag rug box by the kitchen range. Most of the  strips were still drab in colour. One has to bear in mind that, for instance, girls’ knickers were navy, bottle green or dark brown and boys’ shirts and trousers were mainly grey. Those were lightened by flannelette sheets and woollen blankets. In fact any item beyond repair was utilised. Sometimes blankets were put to boil with heather, gorse blossom or moss added to give better colour. The woollen material would not only be dyed but would shrink and become felted. This made them easier for Mother to cut into strips with her old steel, long- bladed scissors. 

The canvas for the rugs was a hessian sack. These sacks had one side and bottom seamed. Once this stitching was removed the hessian was flattened out. Even the jute thread that was removed from the seams was used again to turn in a narrow hem similar to the top of the sack. This flattened material dictated the size of the rug. Some hessian was coarse and others much finer.  Mother had a different method depending on the hessian thickness.

Edged hessian
Hemmed hessian

Method 1 for the coarse hessian which had larger spacing in the weave. A large steel crochet hook was required. This had a rounded top to the handle (see photograph below). Each strip was folded, the round end of hook used to push the fold through the hessian. Adeptly flipped over, the hooked end then pushed through three threads on to draw the fold back through to the front of the hessian where the ends were drawn through the loop as with present day rug making. Using three strands each time to loop over gave a good tightly made rug. Once the top was completed a backing of old curtaining or similar finished the item.

Rag rug making hook
A crochet hook or button type hook was used for one inch strips for looped rugs.

Method 2 for the finer hessian: it was done using large pointed bodkins (see photograph). Narrower strips of about half an inch were used. These were threaded through the bodkin eye, down passing two threads, back up through before removing the bodkin and double knotting the strip. This method was slower but produced a neater firmer rag rug. These were generally used in the bedroom alongside the bed. Much nicer to stand on straight from a warm bed than the cold linoleum floors. Again old curtains came in useful to neaten the back and edges. 

Two types of bodkins used for narrow strips.
Two types of bodkins used for narrow strips.

The rugs were hung over the washing line and beaten from time to time. I cannot recall them ever being washed or shampooed as we would today. Even after much use they still looked homely. An excellent way of recycling.  I do wonder if some are still around now. 

Only if making a rug for the WRI* Shows would Mother endeavour to make a design. Most were done randomly with perhaps a deeper border. 

My sisters and I were always keen to give a helping hand and soon learned the techniques. Mother had two short lengths of different widths of timber in her box. These were used for cutting the strips to the correct lengths. Simply wrap the strip completely round and snip off. Repeat and soon there would be a pile off strips all exactly the same. This ensured the finished rug had a neat, even pile.

We also learned to knit from an early age. She taught me how to turn the heel of a sock and to graft the finger of a glove, how to read a knitting pattern, how to crochet, how to do French seams and double yokes on dresses.”

Jane Paintin 4/7/2016

* [Scottish Women’s Rural Institute]

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Story

1 Visual Examination

The rag rug I studied at Dumfries Museum was darkened, discoloured (browned) and faded, with frayed edges in places; a split to the backing hessian and a few missing loops of pile. It was a little gritty and dusty. However, it still appeared to be robust and useable. This piece is undated, but a date from pre 1920s or mid 20th century seems most likely. The tear to the backing hessian has been repaired using white cotton string by the Museum.

I imagine that this would have been made at home for use in the home, using recycled family clothing and household textiles (as was done in my Mother’s childhood home). The central cat is a charming touch and probably depicts a beloved pet.

2 Design elements, details, decoration and construction story

This rug is perhaps more decorative than many of the period, which were often of the ‘hit and miss’ variety, (a bag of mixed fabric strips would be picked from at random to form a mottled effect when hooked or prodded), sometimes a central motif such as a diamond or circle was included in red fabric, if available, and the rugs often had a darker border. The repeated scallop shapes and central cat portrait in this piece are quite decorative. The way in which a rag rug is hooked from strips of fabric, gives rise to the possibility of forming a pattern. A single shape can be outlined and filled in with fabric, then simply followed inside and out with further rows of hooking to produce a striped ‘echo’ effect.

3 Nostalgia

Anecdotal evidence (such as that found in Jenni Stuart-Anderson’s 2003 book, Rag Rug Making) tells of how a new rug would have pride of place in front of the fire or in the ‘best room’ for visitors to admire. Older rugs might be swapped to another room, sometimes used for extra warmth on a bed, or underfoot in the kitchen, and eventually end up in the dog kennel or for some other use: one lady mentions the oldest rug insulating a potato store! There were many stories of whole families or groups of friends and neighbours making a rug together: children cutting strips; the adults prodding or hooking around a framed piece of hessian. It seemed to be a sociable pastime in the colder months, with a useful product at the end of it. However, some people still associated the rugs with being poor, and remembered having been forced to make them.

I certainly feel a sense of connection with this piece, having made five of my own rag rugs/wall hangings, using recycled clothing from my family, supplemented with charity shop and auction finds. I can look at my rugs and remember where most of the fabric came from, who wore it, when it dates from and all the memories associated with the people and textiles.

When I was browsing the Museum’s collection online prior to choosing my objects, these three pieces immediately felt familiar and connected to my life. I felt that they were all handmade by ordinary people (although the sweater is actually machine knitted, as it turns out), and two of them reflected my own interest in recycling. When studying the rag rug I found it interesting to follow a line of fabric and speculate about the original garment that it came from – a sock?, a braid or ribbon at one point, perhaps from a sailor dress, thick knitwear like a jumper; patterned fabric that may have been curtains or a cushion cover; blue and white striped cotton like a work shirt; herringbone weave wool that might have come from a suit or jacket.

A rag rug was an inexpensive way to create some comfort for a home; could be a sociable and inclusive activity; and would make the most of scarce resources.

Emma Tennant, a contemporary rug maker, says “For me one of the greatest pleasures of designing and making rugs is the way that it sharpens my perception and appreciation of even the simplest details in life.”


Sources:-

Written Notes:-

Cant, L. Rag Rug – DUMFM: 0207.62 handwritten notes taken from Dumfries Museum’s database 1/7/16.

Paintin, J. My Memories of My Mother’s Handicrafts remembered and written down on 4/7/16

Books:-

Brown, J. The History of Sanquhar (2nd Edition) (1891) J Anderson & Son, Dumfries

Margetts, M. (ed) Classic Crafts: A Practical Compendium of Traditional Skills (1989) Guild Publishing, London

Stuart-Anderson, J. Rag Rug Making (2003) Traplet, Worcestershire

Tennant, E. Rag Rugs of England and America (1992) Walker Books, London

Vail, J. Rag Rugs: Techniques In Contemporary Craft Projects (1997) Quintet, London

Articles:-

Cuddihy, D. Rolling Back The Years To Ragtime The Glasgow Herald, 7/3/89 Website archive:- https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2507&dat=19890307&id=MDNAAAAAIBAJ&sjid=MlkMAAAAIBAJ&pg=5208,1792878&hl=en

Liptrott, S. Dumfries Museum Helped By Standard Appeal 25/2/11

Updated 25/10/13 in The Dumfries & Galloway Standard. Website archive:- http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/dumfries-museum-helped-standard-appeal-2576689

Websites:-

http://maps.nls.uk/townplans/background/dumfries_1.html consulted 3/7/16

http://www.rrsdiscovery.com/index.php?pageID=131 consulted 3/7/16

http://www.dumfries-and-galloway.co.uk/sights/towns.htm consulted 3/7/16

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/cartwright_edmund.shtml consulted 3/7/16