Here is the grey horse rug finished! Yay! I got it steamed and pressed last night; today got the binding on as I sit and watched "National Velvet" with Elizabeth Taylor!! What a great old movie, then I started watching "International Velvet" but didn't get all the way through it, tomorrow.
Someone asked me if this rug was for sale, yes it is. The rug measures 17x17 inches and is $350.00. Yes these rugs are pricey and I thought that I would post on here just what goes into making a rug like this. I send this along with a purchased rug.
Creating a Folk Art Hooked Rug
When my grandmother made rugs she tore old clothes into strips then used scissors to cut them into smaller pieces to be hooked into a burlap foundation such as feed sacks. She then drew a design of a house, beloved pet or something that was of importance to her, on the foundation. These rugs were to be used on the floor and not considered works of art. Today, the rugs that have survived are considered works of primitive art and are much loved and sought after by people like myself who are continuing the tradition of rug hooking.
My rugs are inspirations come from many places, things from my past, things I see everyday, family stories and of course the beautiful old time worn rugs of the past. The idea is sketched on paper and worked until it is just right. The pattern is then traced over with a black felt tipped pen; next nylon netting is used to cover the design and then traced with the black pen again. The netting now has the permanent pattern and will be laid over the backing; linen. The pattern is again traced through the netting onto the backing.
Before hooking the rug, the wool must be prepared for hooking. The wool is washed in a warm water in the washing machine; then dried in the dryer, then stored until time to dye it. The wool is wet before dying with a small solution of liquid soap to help it take up the dye. After soaking for several hours or over night the wool is ready to be dyed. The powdered dye, one color or several, is mixed together in a cup of boiling water, stirred until the crystals are dissolved. This is then added to a pot of very hot water and must be mixed well. To get the mottled primitive look, the wool is wrung out slightly and added, crumpled and scrunched to the dye pot;about one yard of wool. After “cooking” the wool for 30 minutes, 1/3 cup of vinegar is added to set the color. Wool is cooked another 30 minutes until all the dye is absorbed. The pot is then cooled; wool is taken out and rinsed well. The wool is put back into the washer and rinsed and spun out then back into the dryer. When it comes out this time it is the beautiful old antique/muted looking wool ready to be used in a hooked rug.
Wool is now selected from all the colors to be hooked into the desired pattern. After the selection is made the wool is torn into 4” wide strips to be run through the wool stripper. This machine cuts two strips of ¼” wide pieces. Although sometimes I prefer to tear the wool into ½” strips then cut (with scissors) into ¼” strips; this gives the rug a more antique look because the strips are a little more uneven.
The backing is stretched over a hooking frame and the process of hooking begins. Loops are pulled up through the backing from underneath with a wood handled hook. I use a #3 steel crocket hook set in a wood turned handle. The loops are pulled up through every second or third hole until the design is full. The loops are about ¼” or higher; all cut ends are pulled up to the front of the rug where they are snipped off even with the pulled loops. There are no loose ends of wool on the back of the rug. It takes many long hours to hook a rug depending on the design. The more detailed the design the longer the hooking time.
When finished hooking the rug is now ready for steaming; a cotton cloth is dampened with water then laid over the rug. Using a steam iron on wool setting steam rug all over, rewetting cloth as needed. Rug is steamed on front and back, then blocked and set to dry overnight. After drying overnight the excess backing is trimmed off the press under; then stitched down. Cotton rug binding is stitched close to the wool loops, the corners mitered and the inner edge of the binding is stitched down. The rug is then signed, dated and numbered.
To clean your hooked rug; vacuum regularly if rug is on floor; DO NOT use a rotary carpet sweeper, this could pull out the loops! Use a small drapery head attachment to sweep rug gently. Rugs that are hung or displayed on a table need only light sweeping from time to time to remove dust. DO NOT expose rug to direct sunlight! This will cause the rug to fade! To store rug, roll loosely with the loops outside; never store in plastic, this will cause the rug to mold. If something is spilled on the rug, blot up immediately with a white cloth. To clean, mix 1 teaspoon of Woolite, 1 teaspoon white vinegar and 1 quart of warm water. Dampen a white cloth and blot stain, let dry. I’ve also heard that rubbing alcohol can be used to clean a pet stain by blotting on and letting dry. Always test on a small corner. I’ve never tried either of these methods of cleaning, this is just a suggestion. You could contact a dry cleaner that knows how to clean wool rugs.
I hope this will help you to understand how these rugs are made. There is a part of me in each rug I hook. This is my passion; designing and hooking 19th century style rugs. I hope you enjoy the rug you have purchased and it will bring you many years of pleasure. With good care, this rug can be passed down for generations to enjoy.