Under Your Feet. Ruthin Craft Centre 6 April-14 July

Under your feet: The Contemporary Rug is a celebration of rugs designed in the British Isles.

WAVE rug by Angie Parker. Photo: Article Studio

Many moons ago (we’re talking mid 1990’s), I visited the Christopher Farr rug showroom in London as a rug weaving graduate, and whistfully tried to figure out how I could get from where I was, to being part of the contemporary rug scene. I’ll admit that getting sidetracked by a rather lovely career in costume for theatre and TV clearly wasn’t the most effective way to do it.

However, fast forward to 2019, and I’m over the moon to share that there’s a new exhibition at Ruthin Craft Centre, where my handwoven rugs will hang alongside eighteen of the countries leading rug designers, including artists for Christopher Farr.

Under Your Feet: The Contemporary Rug
6 April – 4 July 2019
Park Road, Ruthin.
Denbighshire
LL15 1BB


The exhibition is bringing together many of my idols from the world of floorcovering design (see list below), and I’m thrilled to be there too.

I’m also really proud to be representing the tiny portion of UK rug designers who make their own rugs, and I’m delighted to see British rug weaving given this platform.

Angie Parker at the loom. Photo: Jo Hounsome Photography
WAVE rug on the loom in Angie’s Bristol Studio.

I weave a limited number of rugs each year in my Bristol studio and accept commissions from lovers of colour who are looking for a bespoke piece of floor art for their interior. More on that here. My distinctive and intricate Krokbragd rugs combine contemporary patterns with an instinctive and daring approach to colour.

Angie Parker. Fryktlos. Photo: Yeshen Venema


A few words from the curators; Jane Audas and Gregory Parsons.

Rugs defy definition. They might be craft, interior design, product design or textile art. A rug is a large presence within a room. It brings texture, colour, design and wit to an interior, where it will focus the eye and comfort the feet. Depending on the rug, it might pull together an overall interior aesthetic, or provide a significant visual exclamation point for an otherwise quiet room.

Some rugs are entirely made by designer makers. Sometimes design and production are separated out. This exhibition will showcase both types of rug; but for the latter the curators have chosen rugs whose ethical production methods are declared at source.

Helen Yardley. Force

Kate Blee Cast (for Christopher Farr)

This exhibition is a timely reminder that underfoot, or on a wall, rugs remain as vibrant and relevant as any other craft medium. And we have chosen to use the word ‘rug’ (instead of ‘carpet’) as we feel it talks to craft production and the smaller domestic setting in a way that ‘carpet’ doesn’t.

Makers in the exhibition are: Lesley Barnes, Kate Blee for Christopher Farr, Claire Gaudion, Adam Higton, Irene Infantes for Christopher Farr, Tania Johnson, Andrew Ludick for Ceadogán Rugs, Ptolemy Mann Rugs, Mourne Textiles, Patricia Murphy for Ceadogán Rugs, Alan Oliver, Angie Parker, Eleanor Pritchard for CASE, Rachel Scott, Margo Selby, Helen Steele for Ceadogán Rugs, Gunta Stölzl by Christopher Farr, Collett Zarzycki for Christopher Farr and Helen Yardley.

Margo Selby. Logan

The exhibition Under Your Feet: The Contemporary Rug runs from 6th April to 14th July 2019 at Ruthin Craft Centre, Park Road, Ruthin LL15 1BB, Wales. This exhibition will spread out before you a stunning selection of the best rugs by the best makers working today.

Fryklos (Fearless) #2 A Self Fulfilling Prophecy?

Have you ever wondered if makers have favourite creations in their portfolios?

Whilst I can’t answer for anyone else, the answer for me is yes!

It might change from time to time, but right now my absolute favourite is also the rug I’m most proud of. Fryklos.

PHOTO: YESHEN VENEMA

PHOTO: YESHAN VENEMA

Fryktlos (Fearless)/#2/Cream was handwoven in my Bristol Studio in the summer of 2016, in preparation for Decorex International. It’s partner, (Fryklos #1/Grey) now resides in a luxury apartment near Salfords Media City, and a huge part of me is really happy to still have this rug in my life. (Yeah, pretty poor business skills there, I agree!)

So, what makes this rug stand out from all the other things I’ve woven at this point in my life?

Firstly, it’s symbolic name. I frequently use a Scandinavian rug weaving technique called Krokbragd, so I translated the names of this entire collection into Norwegian. (They were originally created for the colourCoded exhibition at Devon Guild of Craftsmen and I added cream version later the same year).

Having a piece named fearless is proving to be a self fulfilling prophecy for my practice generally. I’m certainly taking braver steps that I would’ve imagined a few years ago.

PHOTO: YESHEN VENEMA

 

PHOTO: YESHEN VENEMA

The main reason for my pride in this rug, however, is in what it accomplished technically. As anyone who weaves Krokbragd will tell you, the underside edges can often look less than satisfactory. It’s just one of the drawbacks of creating such and mixture of colour and pattern on the right side, and you basically have to accept it. With the patterns and shuttle sequencing for this piece however, I really got the edging I’d been trying to achieve for ages.

 

PHOTO:AP

 

Also, a sure sign of a good quality handwoven rug is the straightness and neatness of the selvedge. (Ok, smug selvedge photo alert, but after years of practice plus some expert guidance I’m allowing myself to feel pleased with these edges).

 

PHOTO:AP

 

Reflecting on this rug has me thinking about the attachment a maker has with the work they’ve often invested hours, weeks and sometimes months in, and the mixed bag of emotions involved in marketing and selling them-Another reason why our small businesses are so very different to typical commercial ventures and why buying hand crafted is much more than buying the end product.

Experience has taught me that at this stage I can’t predict how long it will take to sell a handwoven rug like this.

Photo: The Forge

 

Some take 2 weeks, some 2 months and others 2 years. What I can predict, however, is the mixed feeling I’ll have when this one leaves *home*. (Though I’m sure delight will supersede mourning!)

 

Photo: The Forge

 

This rug will be one of the items for sale on my new on-line shop at www.angieparkertextiles.com – Coming soon.

Launch date to be announced in next newsletter. Sign up below to be the first to know.

Tis the season to….

…discover rather a lot of campaigns asking you to support local independent shops and creative small businesses!

Question is, do they make a difference to sales in the UK Craft industry?

I happen to think they do. Every single reminder that there is an alternative to buying the mass produced ‘land fill’ on offer at this time of year (and all year) has to be a good thing.

However, I also agree with The Design Trusts Patricia Van den Akker, in her recent post, that campaigns such as Small Business Saturday, #Just a Card, and most recently Not On The High Street Founder, Holly Tuckers #campaignshopsmall, only go so far in making a real difference….so much still has to be done to make the message effective.

My business isn’t particularly seasonal so the normal festive rules don’t apply, (I only make and sell between 10-12 of my original handwoven pieces of floor art each year), but I’m fully aware of the responsibility I have as a maker to tell my customers why I’m worth investing in.

So, here are just 3 reasons to buy handmade and local from smaller businesses this Christmas (and all year!)

  • Firstly, for every £1 spent on a small business 68p stays in the local economy*. I often retort at Contemporary Craft shows I’m participating in, that every sale of one of my niche handwoven rugs directly benefits at least 4 Craft makers as there are always at least 3 other pieces I can’t bear to leave behind at shows if I have any spending power!

A few of the treasures I’ve picked up from fellow makers. L-R ERADU Ceramics, Abigail North Ceramics and Jen Orm Ceramics. (Yeah, ceramic jugs are my weakness and I’d rather have these in my home than the takeaway meals didn’t have in order to be able to buy them!-)

  • Secondly, you are absolutely making a difference to a business. They run on tight margins and every single sale counts. I often see on social media that when you buy from an independent Craft business, a maker does a ‘happy dance’. Sod that! I’m not too proud to say that every sale I achieve generally results in a full on Salsa with a few par terres thrown in for good measure. Yes, they make me very happy!

Each sale means my business is growing and will carry on. Each sale means I get paid for the years I’ve invested in building up my practice and developing my original style. And each one means my daughters get to see their Mum succeeding in the job she loves, which is hopefully inspiring them to follow their dreams.

I’m thankful to have exceeded my targets for the first time this year, and if any of my customers are reading, you already know how much I value your investment. Thank you.

What you might not know if that this has enabled me to take my business up a gear. I’ve recently outsourced one of my designs to be handwoven oversea’s which means I can reach out to new customers with a limited edition rug.

Not too long ago I felt daunted by this idea and yet here I am, preparing to launch this new product, all because enough of you really wanted to brighten your home with a burst of my handwoven colour.

Has there ever been a finer example of a mutually beneficial relationship between that or a Craft maker and a customer?

Photo: AP

Prang – Detail
Photo: Yeshen Venema

A few of the pieces that have flown the nest this year. Photo: The Forge

  • Thirdly, you’re buying so much more than just the product. When I can, I buy handmade from makers I know because I totally value the skill and passion that goes into each piece.

I love the small arrangements of craft in our home and the beauty they bring to that part of our often chaotic house and I love getting similar feedback from the people who’ve bought my work.

Whilst the core of my business is niche handwoven rugs, they are also so much more than rugs. They’re 20+ years of weaving for the love of it with designs that just fizz out from me! They’re partly a legacy to my late tutor, Susan Foster, who taught me to weave rugs. And most importantly they’re statements that bring uplifting bursts of colour to your living space and give your home the unique and original style you’ve been looking for.

To sum up, buying from makers is the ultimate way to make these campaigns make a difference, but there are, however, other ways you can help. Talk to one person today about the things I’ve mentioned in this blog post and maybe share a few of the posts about buying local on social media.

Also you can keep up to date with your favourite indie businesses by signing up to their newsletters. I’m pretty sure most of us don’t have the time to send as many as the corporates and it’s useful to be in the know about new designs and special offers etc. My newsletter subscribers will be getting a very special loyalty early bird offer on my new limited edition rugs when they go on sale soon. You can sign up below if this might be of interest. (Almost made it though without mentioning a #BlackFridayesque deal eh?)

Finally,(really) huge thanks to those who work tirelessly and voluntarily to support UK makers through their campaigns.

Thanks for reading.

*Joanne o Connell. The Guardian 2013.

101 ways to commission an Angie Parker handwoven rug or textile artwork.

Ok, that’s slightly mis-leading. 101 examples would be a little arduous to read (and write).

What I’m really trying to say here is that every commission, by its very nature, is going to be different. And lets face it, that’s part of the reason you’re looking at commissioning and not buying ‘off the peg’ isn’t it? Luckily, it’s just an arrangement between myself and my clients, so we can keep it pretty simple.

Angie Parker Textiles Workshop
Angie Parker Textiles staff photo! Photo: Alice Jane Hendy

Let me run though a few pointers to show you just how simple it can be.

The first step comes from you.

Whether you discover my passion for eye-popping handwoven colour in a contemporary Craft gallery or through the power of the internet, a short enquiry email from you starts the ball rolling. I’ll get back to you to arrange a phone conversation (or more email if you prefer) to establish your thoughts on design, size, colour and budget. I’m easy to chat to and enjoy having these conversations and at this stage, I’m very happy to send you yarn samples, a quote, a time frame and a simple sketch, with absolutely no obligation.

I’ve a huge selection of wool and yarns for furnishings in stock, but if I haven’t got the exact shade you require then I can ask my supplier to custom dye the wool to match.

Typical initial conversations have included these questions:

  • “Can you weave ‘that one’ but use orange instead of yellow?” Yes I can.
  • “Can you do one ‘like that’ but longer” Yes, I weave up to 1m width but length can be what ever you wish. I can also join 2 or more rugs to create wider one, but this does impact the price.
  • “Can you do me a round one?” Afraid not (at the moment), sorry )-: (but I can recommend someone who can!)
  • “Can I weave part of it?” Yeah sure. We can arrange this.

Sometimes, I’m able to visit clients in their homes with example rugs & samples to help work through the design options, though I can’t promise that this will always be possible. Photographs are the next best thing so I’ll probably ask you to send over a few shots of your home if you’d like guidance about colours and designs.

Photo: Yeshen Venema

When you’re ready to proceed, I’ll then draw you up a more detailed sketch and give you a clear time frame in return for 50% of the total price.

I can even weave a sample (30x30cm) for a small additional fee.

I then set about weaving your bespoke piece of floor art in my Bristol studio.

I can email photo’s to you if you’d like to see your rugs progress, or you might just choose to have a surprise when it’s complete.

Once off the loom I then finish the piece by hand and stitch on a discreet label before carefully packing.

Delivery is then arranged, usually with my favourite specialist art handlers, upon final payment.

FRYKTLOS (FEARLESS).
PHOTOGRAPHER: YESHEN VENEMA

If, for any reason you’re not entirely over the moon with your rug let me know right away. I always build up a good relationships with my clients, so they know they can contact me with any concerns, safe in the knowledge that I will do my utmost to rectify. (Disclaimer-I’ve not actually had an unhappy client yet, so I’m thinking on my feet with this one).

Finally, each commission is a special to me as I’ve been assured my rugs are to my customers. This really is a mutually beneficial way of doing things.

You get a bespoke, quality handcrafted piece of floor art which brings a burst of uplifting colour (or monochrome design) to your home. An expertly woven heirloom that lifts your spirits and brightens your day in the way that only handmade items do.

And me? Well, your investment means that I can continue to grow my business, fulfilling the dream I had at college over 20 years ago, and much more.

And you thought you were ‘just’ commissioning a rug!

If you like what you’ve read but aren’t ready to commission a piece, why not follow me on Instagram or Twitter so that you’d don’t have to worry about remembering my name in five years when you’re leaving work and your collegues want to get something special for you? Better still, sign up for my quarterly news here.

*I’m working on a more comprehensive FAQ’s page which will be coming to my website soon.

What do recycled plastic bottles have to do with handwoven rugs?

Who wouldn’t love to see less plastic bottles going to waste?

I know that I’d love to see this unnecessary strain on our troubled planet eradicated in my lifetime. A first step towards this is to stop buying plastic bottles. A second is to support this initiative by Sadiq Khan to have more water fountains to re-fill reusable bottles. However, none of this is going to happen over night, and we are stuck with an abundance of plastic bottles to recycle.

So what does this have to do with handwoven rugs? Well, it turns out that an innovative yarn, PET (polyethylene terephthalate), is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, and also has the look and feel of wool. How brilliant is that!

Not only does it have the look and feel of wool, but it’s also waterproof, hardwearing and in a nutshell, a perfect choice of yarn for a handwoven rug for modern living.

Over the past 12 months I’ve been busy working on ways to give more people the opportunity to have an Angie Parker Textiles colour bursting rug in their living space, and outsourcing my designs to be handwoven oversea’s is an ideal way to achieve this. (I only hand weave around 10-12 rugs each year and quite a few people have expressed an interest in a more accessible product from me). Choosing a yarn to fit the bill led me to PET, and the rest is history…..or rather, the future, as I’m expecting my first consignment of limited edition rugs in the next few weeks!

Now for the exciting creative part. Which of my bespoke rug designs did I choose to launch this new strand of my weaving practice?

Well, it simply had to be a typical riot of clashing colour and pattern didn’t it?  And although the original is currently bringing a burst of uplifting colour to the living space of a lovely London couple, I’ve used elements of my first Bodacious rug to start the ball rolling.

I designed a second Bodacious earlier this year (using the Krokbragd rug weaving technique once again), with added pops of glitter and an asymmetrical pattern to create a clear distinction between the originals, which are handwoven by myself in my Bristol studio, and the limited edition designs which are handwoven by skilled weavers in India.

Here are a few shots of the original and I look forward to sharing the new rugs with you in the next few weeks. I also hope to get them on sale before mid December if anyone is looking to gift some vibrant handwoven colour this Chr**m%s. (I don’t mention that word in November!).

 

The bespoke handwoven rugs created in my Bristol studio for exhibitions and to commission will remain at the heart of my practice.

 

Inspired by the street art in my South Bristol neighbourhood, the new rugs will be bursting with uplifting colour.

 

With over 20 years experience of designing in Krokbragd, this traditional Scandinavian rug technique was the perfect choice.

Subscribers to my newsletter will be offered early bird discounts, so if this is of interest to you sign up at the bottom of the homepage on my website.

You can see archive shots and the progress of new rugs on my Instagram page here.