Gone but not forgotten
Floorcloths have their origins in the United States as far back as the early 1700’s. Textiles at that time were considered too precious to be used on the floor so floorcloths were found only in the finest of homes. Most early floorcloths were imported from Europe by individuals as well as merchants, but after the American Revolution Americans began to rely more upon their own skills rather than importing the skills of Europeans.
During the 1800 s home furnishings, including floorcloths, became more accessible to the middle class and could be commissioned through workshops and many homeowners created their own. By 1872 floorcloths could actually be mail ordered through Montgomery Ward. Towards the latter half of the century floorcloths were headed towards factory production.
With the eventual accessibility of loomed rugs and the rise of linoleum during the last quarter of the 19th century, floorcloths fell from favor. However, a new interest in floorcloth painting arose during the 1950’s and 60’s, but their popularity has waxed and waned since then.*
For a complete history of Floorcloths as well as design and techniques please refer to The Complete Book of Floorcloths by Kathy Cooper and Jan Hersey published by Lark Books of Asheville NC in 1997. Or go to this Link to preview the book: http://books.google.com/books?id=q50Hhz4xPJMC&pg=PA135&lpg=PA135&dq=tara+loughlin,+floorcloths&source=bl&ots=Of26kNHYua&sig=7DC-qKUawp-41xTnyvj8SyuZB3Q&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result
I specialized in floorcloth painting during the 90’s receiving some national attention from publications such as Country Home and Country Home Folk Craft magazines as well as inclusion in the “Complete Book of Floorcloths” mentioned above. Posted on this page are those publications and some examples of the work I was doing then.
I’m frequently asked why I don’t do floorcloths anymore and the answer is a logistical one. Not enough studio space or ventilation. Plus the work is so labor intensive that I never earned enough money to justify the time, creativity & materials.