Thursday, November 7, 2013

Painted Floorcloths

In late September my friend Pam and I decided we needed to go to Sturbridge, MA. to see what was what.  We had been there during the summer and found a great shop that sold everything from antiques, candles, lighting, restored furniture to art and hand painted floor cloths.  We purchase a couple of small pieces of furniture and some hand dyed wool for use in a future project we were planning.  When we went back in September the shop had some new artwork and new floor cloths.  The pieces that caught our eye was a 16 x 20  canvas and a floor cloth of a penny rug.  

What is a penny rug you ask?  Well here is a definition I found on the internet [where else would you go for information???]:

Back in the 1800's most women had to make the best of the resources that they had, especially when it came to things such as splurging on decorations for the home.  So, they would keep the small bits and pieces of the wool and felt that they collected from their clothing, hats, coats, blankets, etc., and then use these precious bits of fabric to make beautiful decorations for their homes.

When they had a nice basket full of little snippets of fabric to work with, they would sort them into piles of similar colors.  Then, to form the desirable circular shapes, they would use a coin as the template to cut their fabric pieces from.  Using something as small as a coin would insure that the smallest of scraps could be used in the project.  This is how the term penny rug came to describe these little pieces of art.  What's also interesting is, the penny rug was not normally used as a rug at all, but rather, as a decorative cover for a bed, shelf, wall hanging or table runner.

This is a sample of a penny rug table runner I took off the internet:

Now to get to the point - Pam has been making penny rugs and doing felted appliqué for sometime now [and I have always admired how beautiful the art form was].  Pam and I have been painting floor cloths for years.  Now original floor cloths were painted on canvas cloth [the kind that comes on rolls before it is stretched on a wood frame]. . . that is not what we use for our cloths.  We paint on the reverse side of linoleum.  Yes, that is correct - the backside of linoleum remnants.  We cut them to size [or I should say
Pam's husband cuts them to size], we then use acrylic paints and then seal them with water based varnish.  I can't tell you how many we have made in the past.  So, on our ride home from Sturbridge we decided that we were going to paint pennies on a floor cloth.

After many decisions on how we were to accomplish this, our two minds came up with a pattern and we were off.  Unfortunately I do not have a picture of Pam's rug as she is gifting hers and didn't want me to put it on the blog.  Pam's rug is a little smaller than mine as I made a runner for my hallway, but we basically used the same colors for the pennies, she trimmed hers in a primitive red and we both antiqued our rugs before we sealed them…. 

The back of the linoleum ready for a base coat ….
Base coated with black gesso .  . .
Borders . . .
Painted pennies . . .
Finished piece in my hallway . . .

I had also painted one more floor cloth but I actually did use canvas cloth for this one:

This one is sitting in front of my kitchen sink…
the fold marks where I laid it over a chair to dry

will work out after a while  . . .

Yesterday Pam and I got together and worked on wool appliqué table runner - I'll post pictures when they are complete.


  1. I love your painted pennies, and the penny rug story. I just saw one of your penny pattern posts on pinterest (wow, say THAT three times fast!!) The rug is wonderful, with the little faux stitches. Beautiful work. PS - tell Pam she does not have to wait until Christmas to give me my rug. LOL

  2. I know you had mentioned, to me, awhile ago, regarding this project but it was hard, for me, to picture. I'm so happy you posted; I not only learned about what a penny rug is (thank you) but get to see your painted pennies on the linoleum; looks awesome in your hallway!

    Your painted piece on the canvas cloth is amazing! What a wonderful folk-art-like piece - I adore it!

    Love ya - M