Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tutorial - Hand Colored Rugs on Velvet

Some time ago I saw some lovely rugs from the 1980s on Ebay made by Ione Van Beckum and advertised as “hand painted”.  I was amazed at the detail – intricate designs in lovely colors.  I wondered how she did this with paint on velvet type cloth.  I looked up an article about her in Nutshell News (April 1981, p. 38 if you have it) and attempted to use her techniques to create my own rug.

One of Ione Van Beckum's rugs

Nutshell News article about Ione Van Beckum

I realize that I am no Ione Van Beckum!  Her colors are so subtle, her borders so perfectly even and her ovals perfectly shaped.  But I will share how I did my version  - the round scalloped one shown at the top of this blog (along with hints from the article).

1)    According to the article, she used cotton velvet or no-wale corduroy (I found off-white cotton velvet.)

2)    She backs it with “muslin sewn on with tiny little stitches” .
I didn’t back my velvet.  But I did use muslin (double layer) to make fringe (see further down). 
To get the scalloped shape I created a pattern using drawing tools in Microsoft Word (it was not easy).  I cut the rug out then sectioned it (using water erasable sewing marker) so the design could be spread out evenly.

3)    She paints the design using waterproof marking pens.
I looked for permanent markers and had a hard time finding delicate colors.  Office Depot sells fine point Sharpie pens in many colors.  But so many of those were bright and dark colors.
Finally I found some more delicate colors on Amazon by “Bic” brand.  I purchased a 36 count set called “Fashion Colors” in “Ultra Fine” tip size.  Though I can see where a wider tip would come in handy for shading in larger areas.  I didn’t buy any of the wider tip though.

I tested colors by marking each color on my fabric and writing the name of the color so I could remember which was which.  Sometimes the caps didn’t match the actual color when written on the velvet.
I also practiced making different designs and motifs:

4)    She draws the designs free-hand (how did she do that??)
I drew some by hand (scrolly border) but used some paper patterns to create sort of a “stencil” so I could make my repeat motifs the same size and shape.  You can see in the following photos.  I used light and dark tones for shading and adding details.  The photos show the colors of pens I used.

(Moonstone Yellow used for scrolly design)

The plan was to create two different designs, each on half of the rug.  One was more of a border and the other had a couple of different scroll French style motifs.  This was kind of a practice rug.  But I ended up using it in a dome project where half the rug was in one room and the other half in the other room (you’ll see in later photos).

5)    She applies the colors in tiny dots to assure even shading.  You can see this in the photo of Ione’s rug but I didn’t do this.  I didn’t really fill in any background.

6)    To fringe a rug, she pulls threads from both the velvet and muslin, carefully brushing out the pile.
I made my fringe by folding over a length of muslin and fraying the raw edges (two thicknesses).  I then cut the fringe straight and glued it around the scallops of my rug. I covered the edge with unraveled bunka (below).

7)    She then ages the rug with a pale beige marking pen. (I didn’t age my rug)
In the photos below you can see my finished rug.  Much simpler than Ione’s but she probably took more time than I did.  This is a simple technique if you can use some stencils or patterns and have the pens in colors you need.

Here is a better view of the side with the scrolly motifs:

Here are some more photos of other rugs by Ione.  She is a very talented lady.  The oval one is from my own collection.

 Next blog - maybe a slipper chair??