The Making of Braided Rugs
The first floor covering in the United States was the braided rug. Braided rugs were practical and durable and added warmth and color to a room. Usually the tradition of making a braided rug was handed down from one generation of women to another. Often out of necessity, girls learned to make rugs out of old coats, dresses, blankets, or suits while working with their mothers and/or grandmothers. Although the hours were long, the materials needed for making braided rugs were few and the process not complicated. The activity of making braided rugs often helped form a bond between those who made them and the products they created.
In the latter part of the 1900s the art of braided rug making had a revival. Rather than being made out of necessity, braided rugs were made primarily to decorate homes giving a room a “homey, cozy” look. This type of rug was also a reminder of a simpler time.
Today, the art of making braided rugs is not being handed down from one generation to another as it was in the past, but there are still some women braiding rugs. I am one of them. The following paper offers a brief history of braided rugs, the basic process for creating such a rug, and a look at the people who choose to create them.
Keywords: Women and craft, Braided rug making
Dr Shari Stoddard
Associate Professor, Art, Central Washington University
Previously I taught at Ball State University and the University of South Carolina.
I have presented at international, national, regional, and local conferences on topics such as including aesthetics and art criticism in elementary school curricula, cooperative learning strategies, and reflective thinking. I received the 2001-2003 Western Region Binney & Smith Crayola Dream-Maker Grant, and in 1998-1999 the Mary McMullan Teacher Incentive Grant from the National Art Education Foundation. My chapter Including Aesthetics in a Second Grade Curriculum: It Can Be Done has recently been published in the book Teaching Art in Context: Case Studies For Preservice Art Teachers.