Reviving a Tradition: Penny Rugs at the MVTM
What’s a penny rug?
Penny rugs emerged in the mid-nineteenth century when thrifty homemakers used wool scraps from old clothing to create decorative table toppers, seat covers and rugs. The wool was boiled in water and, when dry, the felted wool was cut using coins as templates—hence the name. These were then stitched onto a cloth backing and embellished with embroidery. A penny would often be sewn in for luck.
Come and discover these wonderful pieces of Folk art in Danielle Potvin’s exhibition “A Penny Rug,” which runs from October 4 to December 10 at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum. Meet the artist at the vernissage on October 8 from to 2 pm to 4 pm.
Gatineau artist Danielle Potvin began to revive this traditional folk art in 2004 using time-honoured techniques. She refers to herself as an “eco-artisan” because she uses only recycled wool in her creations (e.g., coats, sweaters, blankets, vests, and scarves). She can often be found at thrift stores and flea markets searching for that perfect piece of wool! Inspired by the natural beauty of the Gatineau Hills, she creates naïve designs and shares her passion at events in Canada and abroad. Her work can be found in public and private collections, such as the Canadiana Fund, created to enhance Canada’s official residences, such as those of the Prime Minister and Governor General.
Make your own penny rug
Danielle Potvin will offer two one-day workshops at the Museum: on Saturday October 22 and on November 12. No previous experience is required. Students will use simple techniques to create wool appliqués from felted, recycled wool that are then blanket-stitched with embroidery pearl cotton thread. As tradition demands, students will hide Canadian coins in their artwork.
Workshops will run from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a maximum of six participants per workshop. Students will receive full kits for their creation. Cost is $75, including the kit. More details can be found on the Museum’s website at mvtm.ca. For more information or to register call the Museum at 613 256-3754. The Mississippi Valley Textile Museum is located at 3 Rosamond St. E. in Almonte.