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Rugs - Some Applications

( Originally Published 1914 )

In developing these old-time methods many other problems in handicraft are suggested, though not actually worked out. For instance, by knowing how to stencil the burlap foundation in the chapter on the hooked rug, one can make all manner of at-tractive and useful couch covers, cushion covers, and curtains. The dye recipes may be used on fabrics in different ways for experimental purposes. Silk scarfs can be dyed in fascinating colors with the recipes for wool dyes, for dyes which dye wool will also dye silk. Indeed in the dyeing of useful things there is no end. The home dressmaker and milliner will find that odds and ends of silk and ribbon, feathers and laces, which need refreshing or a change of color can be dyed at a saving of expense and temper, especially when the commercial dyer has promised to match something exactly and has just as exactly failed. Then too the work can be done at home and at once. There need be no waiting for a week or more for something that is needed in a hurry.

Suggestions for pillows, table covers and mats are found in the chapters on the knitted and the crocheted rugs. The processes used in the needle-woven rug and in the Colonial rag rug make interesting textures for furniture covers, hangings and portieres. Indeed I might go on suggesting many new forms to which to apply these methods but it is much more interesting for each handicrafter to discover and develop them individually. Two heads are better than one and some entirely new process might be originated by carrying out some application especially appealing to each worker. The now familiar processes developed and used by the modern handicrafter grew in this way out of the pioneer handicraft of Colonial days.

Two methods which have been fully developed in this chapter and applied to special problems are the reserved bedspread and the stenciled oilcloth. The reserved bedspread is dyed by the same process used in the chapter on the knitted rug. The stenciled oilcloth is a revival of an old and practical application of stencil-craft.

The Reserved Bedspread: This novel and effective bedspread is made by the process called "printing by reserve." A process which besides having been used by our great great-grandmothers in Colonial times to shade their knitting wool, has been used from time immemorial by the natives of many eastern lands. The Indians of Asia, the Chinese, the Japanese and the Javanese used it and still use it to-day. The idea in this method is to make the pattern by tying up certain portions of the cloth so tightly that the dye cannot penetrate it. A piece of cloth is pinched together and wound around with thread. Sometimes a stone or a pebble or a child's marble is tied up in the cloth. The fabric is then dipped in the dye and on untying the thread, a characteristic ring appears in the color of the original cloth.

The material needed for making this re-served bedspread is two and one-half yards of coarse, unbleached cotton sheeting two yards wide. Hem the ends with as narrow a hem as possible, either a rolled hem or a napkin hem. Divide the whole piece into six-inch squares and mark off the squares with blue marking chalk. An easy way to do this is to mark off the side and ends at the edges at intervals of six inches and then draw lines across the cloth from side to side and end to end. A yard stick makes a convenient ruler for making straight lines and can be slipped along as the line lengthens. After the cloth is all marked off, begin and tie up small pebbles or marbles as the case may be at every point where the lines or the squares intersect. Also tie one pebble in the center of each six-inch square. After the pattern is all tied up it looks like a rather curious jumble, but on untying, the effect is most interesting.

Dip the spread before it is unwound into the indigo bath or into any one of the dyes recommended in the book, using of course only dyes for cotton. Indigo is a serviceable color but if one has no vat, then the sulphur blue can be used recommended in the chapter, a word about dyes.

Any dye can be applied to this process either an oxide as is the case in indigo, iron buff, or manganese brown, or a dye which re-quires boiling. If tightly wound even in protracted boiling, the dye will not penetrate the protected or reserved portions. Besides spreads, curtains, cushions, couch covers, even kimonos and scarfs may be made attractive by this method.

In carrying out designs where line and spot are used, use bird shot for indicating the line and marbles or stones for the spots or larger rings.

The Stenciled Oilcloth: This is most serviceable and suitable for a bathroom in a country house or for any room where the boards are old and worn and one does not wish to lay a parquet floor. The material needed is a closely woven piece of burlap or canvas. Canvas is the better material to use. The piece of material should be the size of the entire floor with an allowance made for a half-inch hem all around. The seams must be sewed together after the manner of boat sails, by lapping the selvages about a quarter of an inch and sewing along the edge of each selvage. The seams should run in the same direction as the boards in the flooring of the room, as they are apt to wear out less in this way. The outside edges of the piece of canvas must be hemmed by turning under once and sewing on the machine.

Clean the floor thoroughly and let it dry, then fill up all the large cracks and holes with putty. Let the putty harden. Then give the floor a coat of paint for priming. Any coarse barn paint will do. Paint the floor in sections and as the sections are painted lay down the canvas while the paint is .still wet, stretching it and tacking it at the same time to keep it flat. After the canvas has been laid on the wet paint, let it harden a day or two. Then give the can-vas itself a priming coat of white lead or some heavy gray paint. Let that coat dry. Three coats will be needed to make a good job. Gray deck paint is the best to use and it can be colored by adding powdered color or by paint ground in oil.

After the last coat is so dry that it can be wiped off with a wet rag, apply either of the stencils as borders along the edge of the room. The last coat must be thoroughly dry before the stencil is applied, as a dry surface can be easily wiped off if a mistake is made.

Stencil No. 1 shows the swan and wave motif used as a border. It can be applied in cream and medium blue on a background of medium green or gray. The figures representing the swan must be stenciled in the cream tone. The waves in the medium blue. It can be also used on a light blue background with the same colors. The lotus pattern or stencil No. 2 can be applied with these same color schemes which are especially suitable for a bathroom. Stencil No. 2 can be used as a border or as an allover pattern. As an allover pattern surrounded by an outlined square it has an effect of tiling. A floor covering made in this way will outlast an ordinary oilcloth, and last as long as an expensive linoleum, standing many years of rough wear. It is the same method used on the deck of vessels and yachts, and is thoroughly waterproof and dust proof. These-same stencils may be applied to pieces of one toned linoleum or even grass-cloth and make attractive bathroom mats.

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