Weathersfield, Vermont - April 29, 2011
It might be fitting that inside an old Weathersfield farm house lies an age-old craft. Lisa Curry Mair makes hand-painted floor cloths.
"It's what happened before linoleum was invented-- they used canvas to make rugs. When linoleum came along floor cloths disappeared and now I'm reviving it and trying to bring it back," Mair explained.
And it's not an easy process. The rugs start out with heavyweight canvas which Mair shrinks, primes, cuts and sews hems on. Next, she paints them with a base coat of maritime paint. Then comes the fun part-- painting.
"We do a lot of basic checkerboards. People seem to love the rhythmical patterns of it," Mair said.
Reporter Gina Bullard: How do you get your lines so straight?
Lisa Curry Mair: Just practice. It's a matter of having the paint the right consistency and having the right brush.
Another hot selling design is the mariner's compass. Mair said, "It's often used for floor cloths because they used old sails off of ships when they started making them, so they had a lot of nautical themes."
Mair has the durable rugs throughout her studio and home.
Bullard: They're really pretty like this one. I'm afraid to walk on it. Can we walk on it?
Mair: You can walk on it. It's been out here and people walk all over it at shows.
A thick protective layer is the final stage to make them tough enough to stand up to things like dirt, kids and FedEx deliveries. Upkeep is easy-- soapy water does the trick.
Mair sells the rugs all over the United States, but says the hot spot is down south to traditional homes. This day she was working on a 40 x 12 foot piece for a museum in Mississippi.
"I love working on the big ones," she said. "It's a real challenge and to see it in a historic home and people coming in and see it-- it's pretty neat."
Her smaller designs cost around $250; larger ones go for $1,500 and up. Mair takes custom orders for the rugs; she likes to incorporate pictures or stories that people tell her into the design. Her favorite one is in her dining room.
"It represents our house," she said.
And she'd be lying like a rug if she said she didn't love doing it so close to home.
"Just living at home making something and selling it," she said. "It's not a strange thing for Vermont and Vermont really supports people who do that. I feel very at home and lucky to be able to do that."
A 14th century craft that's still flooring people today.
Gina Bullard - WCAX News - Made in Vermont
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