A Flair for Floorcloths
A Flair For Floorcloths
The Henry Gould Farm sits at the base of Vermont’s picturesque Mount Ascutney as it has since the early 19th century. In the carriage house wing of the Gould farmhouse is Canvasworks, Lisa Curry Mair’s primary workspace.
A Flair For Floorcloths
The Henry Gould Farm sits at the base of Vermont’s picturesque Mount Ascutney as it has since the early 19th century.
In the carriage house wing of the Gould farmhouse is Canvasworks, Lisa Curry Mair’s primary workspace. Mair is a throwback of those earlier times. Her painted canvas floorcloths are made, as they would have been hundreds of years ago—one painstakingly slow step at a time. She designs each piece, lays it out on paper then transposes it to a prepared canvas “blank” floor cloth before painting it. She uses little more than paints, brushes and a sewing machine to create each work of floor art. And painting isn’t her only old-way-of-doing-things activity each day. The farm’s old dairy barn is home to Mair’s four horses that she and her daughter tend to and ride daily. In the winter the woodstove needs stoking, and walkways need shoveling; in the summer the flower gardens around the pond in the backyard need attention too.
Even though Mair tends to stay close to home her work does not. Over the past fifteen years, since the beginning of Canvasworks, she has created over seven hundred floor cloths that have made their way all over North America. Her book, Floorcloth Magic (Storey Books, 2001) teaches readers how to make their own. Parts of her website and blog encourage everyone to try their hand at painting on large canvas. “If people can slow down, sit still and put a little piece of themselves into something that can last a lifetime, they will experience the satisfaction of making and leaving their mark. In these times of hurried, scattered days filled with endless lists and mindless chores, a little bit of that satisfaction can go a very long way.” (canvasworksfloorcloths.com)
For Cameron Howard the road to the art of painting floorcloths began with a love for cooking and the culinary arts. She followed that path from New York, to Boston, to Maine and, finally to Vermont. Eight years ago, she put the culinary pot on the back burner and turned her passion for creating to weaving. From there, she segued into the decorative painting world that, in turn, led her to traditionally handcrafted floorcloths. And, that’s when she created Dunberry Hill Designs in West Townshend, Vermont.
Cameron enjoys the more traditional designs, like the Mission style or the American Folk motifs, but says, she likes kicking it up a bit. “The possibilities are endless to enhance the basic floorcloth with decorative painting applications.” One of her newest techniques is to incorporate tissue paper to give an old world crackle look, and if sanded, an antique look. She also enjoys creating French Country and Pierre Deux styles. And attributes that to her first love of French food!
Her process involves very heavy 100% cotton duck canvas at #4 weight. She says she has only found one supplier for it in this country. She shrinks it, hems it with mitered corners, so it lays flat, then primes and paints the design. She lets it dry and then finishes it with five coats of durable water-based varnish. What sets her apart are the different decorative painting applications she uses on the basic floorcloth. She encourages her clients to think a little outside the box. Her new studio gallery also offers hand-stenciled or painted placemats. (dunberryhilldesigns.com)