Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rug makers: Anyone want to make a pantyhose rug and at the same time honor a dear woman's memory?

I was contacted by a person regarding a large quantity of hosiery her mother had saved up to make a rug, but it never came to pass. She would love someone who follows after her mother's craft to have them, the issue is arranging shipping. To protect this person's privacy, I shan't say where she is other than that she is NOT local to Chicago (so I can't just hop on the "L" and go pick them up) but if you'd be interested, drop me a line at my dedicated rug email address, as shown in the picture.

I don't know yet the quantity or weight. I told the donor I'd put out a note on my blogs to see who might be interested, to see if
  • There might be anyone who really wants to make a hose rug such that they'd be willing to cover shipping costs
  • There might be someone closer to her than I am.

On hosiery rugs, I'll say this: Though they are among the more difficult to make, they are absolutely luscious when finished. Walking on them is utter ambrosia!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A bit of fun- WTF is this?! And wanna bet if I can make a rug out of both?

While I've been away, I've been busily saving the environment one t-shirt or ratty pair of jeans at a time. Its amazing how much clothing people throw out, and I'm only getting a small part of it (I've met my fellow guerilla enivornmentalists... sometimes we work together to divvy up the diggings) from a couple of blocks radius.

I came across this today. Lets have some fun... see if
1) You can identify it
2) You can make up a good story for it if you can't.

(I do know what it is based on surrounding "archeological evidence.")

Next, I also came across the shoe below. (I didn't go digging for its soul-mate... ooh, ow... sorry... just too easy... ) because the location wasn't one I'd venture into without a hazmat suit... this was sitting on top of a lid.

Anyone want to make a wager as to whether I'll figure out how to use it in a rug?

I will you know... both of them!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lifestyle recycling in action... anybody wear a size 7?

This was just tossed aside in the middle of an alley... it wasn't even in a receptacle. Its already being worked into my latest plastic bag rug. The orange works great next to the "Chicago tribune bags" blue.

I found these in a treasure trove left behind by someone moving out nearby. This is the first time in my life I wish my feet were smaller! But I've not been able to wear size 7s since about 3rd grade!

So if any of you local folk have feet this size, get in touch with me! Otherwise, I'll donate it them to a worthy charity. But charity begins at home, so if one of my amigos or amigas could use these... they're yours!

Monday, February 18, 2008

The state of my rug art (3 rugs on which I'm working concurrently) Monday Feb 18- a cross post with both blogs

I've been studying Spanish so much today I've reached saturation-, so I thought I'd give a pictorial update on how my rugs are going, and give some more insight into what goes into this personally and artistically.

The first picture is my "50s rug" which had started out as the left overs from the anniversary rug yesterday. The first few rows are mostly those... then I started rescuing items or being given them which worked with the "dao" of the rug... and away its gone. I'll keep working on it so long as I keep getting colors which work well with it, or until someone sees it and says, "Stop, its beautiful as is, I'll take it!" I put the yard stick diagonally across it because its an oval, so as to give an average diameter.

I work on this rug purely to exercise my artistic muse... to engage and create beauty. I always have at least one rug going which serves this purpose... and I have another in the wings when this one is done. It will have more "pure" colors, and will both look and feel sensual (silks, satins, etc.)

This picture is a "2-fer" - It shows two similar rugs of a similar size, each is about 18" across.

The one on the left is a jeans rug obviously. I've not worked on it for a long time... what you see is pretty much 2 week's work on it. Then I started running out of jean material, having just finished the "Cheryl" rug. That situation has since been radically rectified- since I started more aggressively seeking to save clothes from an ignominious and eternal entombment in landfills, about 1/2 of what I've rescued has been jeans of various colors and sizes. I could probably make 8 jeans rugs with what I have now, at least half with leather centers as with the "Cheryl" rug, as I've also rescued several torn leather jackets. I probably will do that for my next jean rug, given how effectively the two materials worked in the afore mentioned rug.

The one next to it is my coat rug. You'll notice the addition of a navy coat as every third strip.

Art is still the primary reason to work on rugs such as these, but these unique materials have their own significance. In the case of jeans... there's nothing more "Americana" than blue jeans. In the case of the coats, its to prove my contention that with this craft, I really can come close to making a silk purse from a sow's ear. The material is brutally hard to work with. The center is wool and made me itch (Tess can't even touch the rug!), all three tend to fray out, etc. Stitching it takes a lot of work and burns a lot of stress off.

In that sense, both rugs are very similar. I don't have wood to chop or weeds to whack as I did when I lived locations more rustic and less populace, so these serve as physical stress relief for me. To some extent, any kind of rug does that, but these heavy and obstinate fabrics are uniquely well suited to rug making as the physical working out of stress. Indeed, if I keep making jeans and coat rugs, I'll wind up looking like Popeye gone goth!

Both rugs- like the 50s one above- are ones we'll either give to a friend for a major event, or try to sell. (Unfortunately, I'm the world's worst bargainer... I can't haggle my way out of a paper bag... so if anyone out there is an ebay or arts fair expert, I'd love to be mentored!)

So you see, I always have multiple rugs going... rugs to please the eye, rugs to sooth the soul, rugs to take along to the doctor's office or pharmacy.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The long promised videos of us talking about our Anniversary Rug

Click for full sized image

I've been wanting to do a video series with my wife where we talk about this rug since I finished it during her last hospitalization. This morning, I said to her, "Honey lets do it" and we did.

For each video, I have both the high res but slower speed Veoh version, and the lower res but quicker for slow connection Youtube version. An extra in this post is the ORIGINAL version of part 2. When we first shot it, it ran too large to upload to Youtube, so we quickly reshot it, watching the time more closely. Thus, for video 2A there is only the Veoh version.

Part 1- Tess' show and tell

Veoh version

Online Videos by

Youtube version

Original Part 2, Veoh only
We both talk about the rug and the clothes and love behind it

Online Videos by

Part 2 reshoot
We both talk about the rug and the clothes and love behind it


Online Videos by


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Administrativia: The contact form & Please send questions and suggestions for improvement of tutorial videos

On email and the comment form

I added a comment form to the bottom of every page. I tried to put it in the sidebar, but the widget wouldn't fit no matter what I did. The verification code can be a ROYAL pain... it took me 6 tries to get it right.

You can always send me email to the dedicated email address I posed earlier. When I have the time, I'll modify the image on the page header to include it, but right now... that somewhere below sorting my ties by color and length on my list of priorities.

Please send suggestions for how I can make the beginners' tutorials better

Two people over at Youtube have had some very helpful suggestions, but I've just not had a block of time to put into it which has coincided with my wife being well enough to assist with the camera work.

So until then... keep the comments and questions coming! Really- no matter how picky or seemingly trivial, I want to know how I can make my tutorial videos better and more useful. When those planets do align, I'll incorporate as many as I can.

(One bit of "behind the curtain" info for you though- I do NOT have software which is capable of editing and adjusting the brightness, sound, etc., on videos, nor a machine which has the "horsepower" to run said software, so... if those are issues, we'll do our best with where we shoot the videos etc., but our hands are pretty tied on this count.)

So post them here as a comment, send them to the email, use the comment form, what ever...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

How do people chose the fabrics, colors, designs, and themes? - EG, why I paused my 50s rug, and why I'll be back at it

First, a little fun- Hilde inspecting the 50s rug and the new material for it... which she then proceeded to scrunch up into a nest... for the story and a picture without the dog blocking the way, see below

Hilde inspecting the new rug mat'l for the 50s rug

Each artisan has his or her own favorite way to make these rugs. Some use bands of similar colors, some bands of contrasting colors, some get very involved and create patterns or designs such as swirls [see my "Berger park rug" for one of my only and definitely my best example of this], others are more free form. REGARDLESS of the artistic plan behind the rugs, most rug makers I know like each rug to have a theme of some sort- baby clothes, clothes from a particular era or person, etc.

This makes sense since most rug makers... what ever other reasons they do the craft... share these two common motivations:
  1. To use (recycle if you will) clothes or other items which are no longer suitable for their original purpose.
  2. To create something which represents a person, era, theme, etc.
As I get the chance to post more of the videos of my mother telling the stories behind her rugs, you'll notice that these two themes always play a role in hers. One rug she showed us has the graduation gowns of several of her grandchildren, another the coats her mother wore, and so forth.

I like to refer to these rugs as "memory rugs" and they are one of the most popular kind people make. My "magnum opus" anniversary rug is of course just such a rug.

Some people even like to take clothes which remind them of a BAD time in their life- say, the clothes given to them [or left behind] by a lover or spouse who later hurt them- and make something GOOD of it. They like the idea of getting pleasure out of something which had been painful.

From this you can see why my mother and I (and doubtless others) refer to this craft as our "therapy." Besides the innate psychological benefit of the artistic endeavor and the benefit of "doing something with your hands" there is something incredibly satisfying about converting "trash" to treasure. This is about as close to making a silk purse from a sow's ear as you can get!

(On "art therapy" I should note that it is indeed often used with people suffering severe psychological or medical problems. Indeed, it is a key element of the holistic approach of the Diamond Headache Clinic.)

Regarding my general artistic approach

I've made so many rugs over the 30+ years I've been at this that I've tried most all the various approaches, but my favorite one is the free form abstract one you see in my Anniversary Rug and my 50s rug. I used to try to plan my rugs out from the center to the final stitch, but I found that added too much stress, and I do this to relieve stress, not create it.

Credit where its due- Tess helped me develop the particularly abstract technique I usually employ now, and I love to get her input on my rugs in progress. Tess has exquisite taste, plus, she actually knows the names of the colors I'm using, *grin*

Astounding as it may be to those who know me from other spheres of life, I don't really have the vocabulary to describe what's going on in my mind when I put these colors together. I use contrast and congruence of color and tone extensively, but someone trained in art could explain why- say- the colors I chose for the 50s rug work so well. I also like to incorporate repeating patterns or themes in an almost fugue like way, but again, it would take someone more versed in music to properly express it.

What it comes down to... to get a bit metaphysical on you... is I try to "feel" the Dao [or "Tao" - basically "inner way"] of the rug, and as I add a new color, I assess whether it is of the rug's Dao or not.

The pictures below show this in process. I'd somewhat stalled out on the 50s rug because the balance of things... the contrast and congruence... was starting to show signs of running out as I ran out of some of my earlier colors. Then today, I rescued several items which- as you can see in these pictures- will work very well indeed. So I'll cut them up and keep going. The coat rug is a nice concept- and I hope someone will like it such that I can either give it to a friend or sell it- but this 50s rug is a thing a beauty, and with a sick wife, my struggles in one of my classes, the horrible stories on the news of IEDs and gunmen run amok in the local suburbs, I could really use some more beauty in my life right now!

50s rug with new mat'l
Click for the full sized image

PS- Besides the dedicated rug email shown in the picture in the previous post, I have added an email contact form to the blog. It is the lowest item on the left sidebar. So please feel free to contact me with questions, suggestions, etc. It gives me as much joy to spread and share this craft as it does to practice it!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Radical idea- an email address which WORKS | The "Febreeze" did the job | Rug circles?

Grrrrrrrrrrr............. after I posted that last night, I tried sending myself emails... unsuccessfully. So I finally buckled down and created a good dedicated rug making email address.

I used the "coat rug" at one week as the background for it.

It turns out I don't need to ditch my latest rescues after all- the "Febreeze" and "Lysol" worked after all.

None the less, if you're a beginner in the NE IL or NW Indiana area, and would like some help, or some easy mat'l to work with, email me. I've got enough sheets now for my wife to stay happily rugging for at least 2 years.

In my dream world... we could even get a "rug circle" going... sorta a folksier and less intense version of "stitch-n-b~tch". Again... if you're in "The Region" and game, let me know. If you're not, then you don't understand, so don't worry about it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Any rug makers want some "rescued" sheets and blankets? -or- Any way to get rid of smoke odor besides soaking something in "Febreeze"?

I found some perfect rug material destined for an ignominious home in a landfill and saved it from that fate- 2 blankets, a sheet, and a blanket which was coming apart (so I finished the job and it yielded two sheets.)

The problem is- the unwitting donor was a MASSIVE smoker, and tobacco smoke is a major trigger for my wife's migraines.

I've "Febreezed" and "lysoled" them heavily, but I'm not optimistic that it will reduce enough of the smoke odor for me to be able to work on them.

So... if any of you rug makers would like them, drop me a note at the address in the image above. If you're local to Chicago that'd be easiest, but if you're elsewhere, just pay shipping and they're yours.

One sheet is royal blue, twin
One blanket is white, twin
One blanket is camouflage, twin
The "converted sheets" look like they're queen size

The reason I think these- especially the sheets, would be ideal for beginners is that they make for nice long strips, the fabric doesn't give or stretch or fray. You do need to use very wide strips- maybe 2 to 3"- but they're exactly what I recommend for beginners... especially after my disaster in trying to give my beginner rug maker wife corduroy to use, *grin*

The blankets are a little tricker- you need excruciatingly thin strips- no thicker than 1/2", and the joints tend to rip out if you're not careful, but they make wonderfully cushy lush rugs.

Monday, February 4, 2008

All of the sudden... I'm almost done with my "50s / pastel" rug

This is the rug I've been working on lately. It started out as a way to use the scraps from my "magnum opus" anniversary rug, but it took on a life of its own.

The salmons and purples were ones allocated to Tess which she decided to not use in her current rug.

Many of the colors which start showing up from row 7 onwards are things I "rescued" from going into landfills. As I've found new items, any which would work with the chromatic or tonal theme of the rug, I've integrated into it. In the last couple of rows, you'll see a couple new ones appear which I just came across in the last few days. The new burgundy was a covering of a beat up couch left outside my friend Snark's place. The dusty rose striped strip, a battered bathrobe. Going back a few rows, the really bright salmon was the lining to a ripped and stained coat. (When we are given or I find coats, sweaters, etc., which someone could use, we find a way to donate them. Often my MiL Barb gives them to the cold homeless folks she sees by work. We don't want to give them directly to people here, as that's not using good city schmartz.) (I really wish we had some sort of collective here where people could take items- not just clothes- which are usable but which they no longer need, and other people who donate could take them.)

So... if anyone fancies this, speak up now, and tell me how large you'd like it to get. Else, I'll probably take it up to about the customary 26", and decide whether I want to go to the trouble of trying to sell in ebay or etsy, or just keep it around until we have the occasion to give it to a deserving friend.

When I'm done with this rug I'll start another similar rug- I have one gym bag filled with cut fabric, and another with fabric which has been prepped (zippers removed, etc.) but not made into strips.

These colors are VERY much not our idiom, which is why I'll be either selling or "gifting" it, but this has been immense fun. Maybe somebody with better knowledge of music or art than I have could tell me what I'm doing, what the unifying theme is. I know I'm doing some sort of tone play- using complimentary and contrasting tones, but I don't know the technical terminology... I just know it looks AWESOME. Its also fun to work my new "discoveries" into the rug as I go along.

Questions, comments?

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