Fashioning an Identity: Making Art Rugs from Recycled Materials

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By: Linda Friedman Schmidt

As an artist, I see things differently than many people. I use rug hooking to make something beautiful out of discarded clothing, and in the process, I help create a more beautiful planet and a more appealing life for myself. The parallels between rug hooking and my life become more and more obvious as I continue to create. Once clothed in sadness with a disturbing past, I now shed old layers and transform myself. I reconstruct the worthless into worthy, the bad into good, the devalued into valuable, the powerless into powerful, the sad into glad, the ugly into beautiful, the ordinary into extraordinary—and you can do it, too. 

I deconstruct cast-off garments and transform the traditional craft of rug hooking into a contemporary, non-utilitarian art form. I don't spend lots of money on the best wools because I can get similar results by recycling old garments made of natural and synthetic fibers while helping preserve our environment at the same time. Any and all discarded clothing can be used for hooking as long as you are willing to do the cutting by hand. Getting the image you want takes patience, perseverance, concentration, and attention to one detail at a time. I hook with painstaking attention to the nuances of colors and shades to evoke feelings.

This article is from the March/April/May 2011 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.

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