Family Heirloom Antique Hooked Rugs - Past and Present


While cleaning out rooms and closets at my family home that my great grand parents built (c.1908),  I was delighted to find these two hooked rugs (I also found several antique quilts but I'll leave those to another post).  I first found the large one with the black and rose border.  It appears very old and is definitely handmade as evidenced by the use of both black in some parts and brown in other on the outer border, as well as the inner background includes both a cream color as well as grey - the creator obviously used what they had available.  I felt a connection to this rug that was probably made by one of my ancestors.  The backing is burlap, which has frayed and tattered at the edges.  I immediately began to search the internet on how to clean and preserve this antique treasure.  The search piqued my interest in creating hooked rugs.  This all coincided with me having the flu followed by a long recovery time.  Not feeling good enough to be very active, I decided to experiment with rug hooking.   I had actually started a small piece several years ago, but I didn't really know what I was doing and I had not completed it.  I pulled it out, along with my yarn stash and quickly finished it.  

This design is available as a pattern.

Completing the piece was very satisfying so I found some burlap in my fabric stash and started on another design of a bunny (from a photo my daughter had taken).  

This rug is available finished or as a pattern.

I soon finished the bunny and decided to try to adapt part of the floral motif from the large antique rug I had found.  By this time I had ordered monks cloth and a #10 Oxford Punch Needle.  

This design is available as a pattern.

Since creating these first designs inspired by my ancestors' work, I have now created several hooked/punched rugs based on my fine art paintings and have more still in the works.  Finding the antique treasures gave me a connection to my history - it began a creative exploration and conversation of integrating my past and present, and moved my art in a direction I have found very pleasing and rewarding.  Much love and care goes into a hooked/punch rug and I think this is somehow still evidenced in the obvious handmade nature of the work.  This conversation extends to my students and those who purchase my finished pieces and patterns.  I love the idea that when I create a design for rug hooking/punching, my creation is not done.  It is has continued life and evolution through the creative work and family life of others.  And this extends to the future generations of those who hook/punch my designs.  One day, another artist may find the work that was lovingly made by their ancestor and be inspired, like I was, by the love and care that went into making a beautiful yet practical work of art for their family.  

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