Thursday, June 2, 2016

How Would You Describe a Primitive Rug?

A loyal follower has asked me some questions:  What makes a Primitive rug different from others; is it details or lack of details?  Are there certain colors you would place in a Primitive Rug that wouldn't be used otherwise?  Are the cuts of the wool smaller or larger in a Primitive Rug?  Thank you Carolyn for giving me fadder to write about on my blog.

I'll give my personal thoughts on the subject but more than likely if 10 people were asked there would be varied answers.  My explanation of a primitive rug is, as she said....lack of detail and with a bit of naiveté.  
The rug above is a primitive and naive style and most likely hooked in at least a #8 strip or larger.  Can't remember where I borrowed this photo, probably Pinterest.  Notice the dark and quiet colors but there is contrast and some color.
The scrappy cat hooked mat also qualifies as a primitive design, you can tell it is a cat even tho it lacks the realistic features.
The original antique known as Boyerstown Dogs pictured above may be a little more elaborate than the scrappy cat, but this (IMHO) still qualifies as primitive.  In primitives there is no artistic perspective as you can see the owl is equally as large as the cow and the mother dog is larger than the two buildings.  I don't know what strip sizes were used to hook this rug but even with the use of light background and color, it still shouts primitive to me.
My girl Shadow was hooked using #8 cuts but I don't consider this primitive since it is too realistic looking.  So a wide cut doesn't necessarily determine a primitive design.
The rug above, if I had to put it in just one category I'd classify the hooked people as folk art.  But sometimes folk art and primitive may be synonymous.  
The two roosters above I feel fall into the joint category of primitive and folk art.  I'm thinking out loud (har har, typing) now and maybe I feel that way because of the color factor.  Both the people and the colors in the roosters add to the folk art part.

I would love to hear everyone's thoughts on this subject and Carolyn, you really made me put on my thinking cap, thanks for that.  Now I'm definitely looking forward to that issue of ATHA magazine so I can read others thoughts on this very subject.

As for the cut of primitive rugs..... originally rugs were hooked just to cover the floors out of necessity and women used what they had as scraps of various textiles whether it be narrow or thick.  They ripped or cut everything by hand as no one had a Townsend back then.  I've even had a teacher suggest hand cutting wool uneven to get the look of an antique primitive rug.  I've done that but takes more time.  So often I'll use different sizes in the same rug to give that same effect.

Would love everyone's feedback and thoughts.  And hope everyone has a great evening.



  1. Oh, I absolutely LOVE that first rug! Perhaps you should challenge us with it...hint, hint :)
    Anymore, I never use the same cut of wool for an entire rug. I think primitive rugs are naïve, simple, pleasing to the eye.
    Great post. Food for thought.
    Hugs :)

  2. All I can say is bravo I would say that was a great explanation.

  3. I always think of folk art as having its roots [perhaps colors, or style of design?] come from a cultural, shared background. Think PA "Dutch" quilts. It has the influence of a wider group. Primitive, to me is self taught, working alone with one's visions, no pesky art class rules of proportion or perspective. It also has more of a make-it-do aspect, limited resources, used effectively, charmingly.


    gone to the beach

  4. Definitely a great answer,,,, love the rugs,,,, I do alot of primitives, , but use brighter colors,,,, in alot of mine,,,, love them,,, thanks saundra,,,

  5. One more thing I'd add is......the use of of other cotton, yarn, linen (not foundation linen), etc. It's the art of "making do"!

  6. Hi Saundra,
    Thanks for your great explanation and for this great post!!! I admire the perfection of a beautifully shaded rug, but for me, primitive is what makes my heart happy!!! Thanks so much for sharing and it is wonderful to read others thoughts as well!!
    Have a great weekend!
    Warm Hugs~

  7. Primitive to me is picky-picky, no fussiness...I like everyone's definition


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