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Reproducing an Antique Rug

By: Pam Upton

1897 Sheep, 26" x 40", #6, 8-, and 9-cut wool on linen.  Adapted from an anitque rug and hooked by Pam Upton, Lake Crystal, Minnesota, 2012. 

Primitive, folk art, naïve—all of these terms describe the antique rugs I love to reproduce.

I am especially drawn to rugs that look like the artist used whatever she could get her hands on: Rugs that were drawn out on old burlap or linen with a piece of charcoal or burnt stick from the fireplace. Rugs that look like the artist ran out of a worn-out shirt she was using and substituted the closest thing she had to fill in with colors that weren’t quite right yet ended up being just perfect. Rugs with a simple subject that meant something to the creator—her farmyard, the family cat, the flowers in her garden. Rugs that were designed by the rug hooker and not a stamped design sold by traveling salesmen.

I search out these old rugs and study them for hints of what the artists’ lives were like. Did she see dancing bunnies in the field yesterday? Was the running horse one of her own? I am charmed by the simplicity of the design and the obvious love of the rug makers for their surroundings.

This article is from the September/October 2012 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.

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