Floorcloths

They still make floorcloths.
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(Photo: Kindra Clineff)

(Photo: Kindra Clineff)

Lisa Curry Mair uses a traditional procedure for making floorcloths: Heavy canvas is prepared (shrunk, primed, sanded, filled), and then the design is applied using block-printing techniques, stenciling, or hand painting. Sealed with a tough finish, the floorcloths become stainproof, washable “carpets.” Mair has made over 1,500 floorcloths in patterns from historical to contemporary, and up to 40' long by 18' wide. (She also creates custom wall murals on canvas for installation in clients’ homes.) “Floorcloths date to 15th-century France; Washington had one at Mount Vernon,” says Mair, a museum consultant. “In 1739, John Carwitham produced a series showing floor decorations widely used in designing floorcloths in the 1800s.” Shown: a Carwitham design with marbling, and an oriental rug pattern with fox heads and horse heads in the border. (Incidentally, that floorcloth has seen 12 years of wear in a house with dogs!) Canvas-works Designs, (802) 263-5410, canvasworksdesigns.com

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