Happy Independence Day! It’s time for cookouts, fireworks and spending time with family. So today, in honor of Independence Day, I thought I’d share a project that I began this morning which is patriotic in its own special way; a lowly rag rug. And no, it’s not because it’s not red, white, and blue, which as you can clearly see, it is not.
Rag rugs have a long history in America, experiencing popularity during both the Arts and Crafts Movement and the Great Depression. They are representative of a DIY mentality deeply rooted in our identity as a nation, as well as embodying the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra that has become ever so popular and necessary in these tough economic times.
Recently, I came across this video on Etsy with The Crochet Dude, who teaches a really great way of joining strips of fabric together that is very secure and doesn’t involve sewing or knotting, which could completely come apart when washing.
Then last night I was lying awake in bed thinking of where I and my business, zween, are going (or rather, not going). It’s something that I’ve been struggling with for a few months now and which has been a source of perpetual exhaustion and confusion for me. Why are my projects feel so disconnected? Why can’t I just use one type of material like yarn or fabric or fleece or clay? Why can’t I just make one type of product like clothing, or jewelry or household items like everyone else? WHY CAN’T I FIND MY VOICE???
For weeks I’ve been stumped. I still am. This is a process.
After giving it some thought in the context of finding where I’m going with my business, as I discussed in this post, I decided that one direction I could really see myself going with my work is the realm of reworking and remaking objects to make them once again functional and/or beautiful. This is something that has been an underlying interest of mine for years; wanting to use materials and resources in a sustainable and responsible way. If you are in any way a creative person at all, which I assume you are, you know what I’m talking about. We work with what we have.
It’s within this meandering train of thought that I came to start this rag rug. Do I see myself making 3o more of these? Five more of these? Probably not. As it is, I’ll probably have to completely re-do the one you see here, as it’s not lying as flat as I’d like. But it’s part of that process that I was talking about. So maybe I don’t make something that I can sell, or even use myself after the first try. The point is that I made something and by making I am also learning. In the words of Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
On the other hand, there are some aspects of this rag rug that are working for me. For example, I really like that I’m finally able to put some old bed sheets to use. I bought these sheets years ago at a thrift store, with the intention of using them for a project of some sort as they were no longer useful as bed sheets. They are old and worn, faded in the middle, and have some stains and the occasional hole.
The idea for this blog post and title came after a closer look at the tag sewn into the hem of the bed sheet I was deconstructing. It is labeled as Made in USA. So the original product (bed sheets) where made in the US and now the new product, a handmade rug, was also made in the the US. Made and re-made in the USA!