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“When it’s on the floor, it’s a carpet. When it’s on the wall, it’s a blanket, ”said a local Navajo weaving collector. Yet, it seems, where a weave is displayed does not determine whether it is considered a rug or a blanket.

According to Shiprock of Santa Fe Gallery Director Paul Elmore, Navajo weavings from the late 1800s until around 1910 when the trading post was established were primarily made as wearable clothing for utilitarian purposes. , such as blankets and shawls. Once the wagon and trading posts set in and store-bought clothes were in fashion, Navajo weavers began making rugs from thicker, denser fabrics to sell instead.

No matter what you call them, using rugs (or blankets or shawls) on a wall adds dimension and warmth to a room. Textile wall hangings are also excellent sound absorbers and insulators.

Lydia Hodgson Stinnett discovered it by accident. She loved the circular walls of her house in La Tierra Nueva and found them unique. It wasn’t until she moved in that she realized the challenge of curved walls in hanging frames. With the help of an interior designer, Hodgson Stinnett decided to hang two large Navajo rugs for the hallway at the entrance to his house – one titled “Two Gray Hills” and the other, “Teec. Nos Pos “, which means Trees in a circle. Both rugs have a geometric pattern that complements the large cream-colored walls and brick floors in the house.

“I thought that whatever I hung up should be sweet and forgiving,” she said. Other artifacts that Hodgson Stinnett has collected over the years that he uses as wall decoration include a 1900 Nez Perce saddle drape that lurks over the dining room table. The curtains were usually hung over the rump of a horse behind the rider and were decorated with buckskin fringes that hung down either side.

“It’s from a leader, I’m told,” Hodgson Stinnett said. Chief Joseph, maybe?

For Santa Fe resident Jann Shepard, her love for textiles extends far beyond necessity and began in childhood. Her mother began collecting Navajo rugs in the 1940s and nurtured her love of the craft. For her, weaving is a living art form. Her home is decorated with Navajo rugs and other handcrafted fabrics that she places on the walls, as well as on benches and tables.

Placing rugs for many uses “gives you a different take on art and gives texture and warmth to a space,” she said.

A Ganado rug made circa 1900s, featuring the Spider Woman Cross weave pattern in natural sheepskin colors at Shiprock Santa Fe

In particular, Shepard favors the illustrated rugs that the Navajo often weave. She admires that each rug tells a story, expressing what is precious in the culture it came from.

“It’s nice to have that sense around you,” Shepard said.

One of her favorites is a weaving that shows a dad in a dining room serving kids peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. “It tells such a good story, and you can see the mountains in the background through the window.”

Shepard tries to encourage people to learn about this art form and recommends attending fiber festivals. “The Taos Wool Festival is a big show,” she said. “You can sit down with the weavers and talk about what they are creating. “

“It gives you a great perspective on the process and the labor-intensive nature of weaving,” she added, which begins with shearing sheep and dyeing wool.

“Learning the whole process gives you an appreciation for the craft,” Shepard concluded, which is probably why people choose to hang textiles as decorative wall art instead of laying them on the floor. .

Shiprock Santa Fe Carpet Gallery

A Navajo Wedge Weave made in the 1880s, on display in Shiprock Santa Fe.

Shiprock’s Elmore said it was a 50/50 mix of people looking for Navajo textiles – half want something for the floor and the other half want something for the wall. He often collaborates with interior decorators and directors to find the right weaves for a given space and proposed that Navajo rugs work well in contemporary homes which often have a lot of white in the interior.

“The double saddle covers work great too,” he added. “They are about the size of a painting and are easy to hang.”

Speaking of hanging, Shepard tends to use carpet strips with tiny nails that she says don’t interfere with the weaves. Other times, she attaches weavings to a quilt rod or plywood with Velcro so that the pieces lie flat against the wall, as if glued to it.

Fine Art Framers Managing Director Erika Palmaffy mounts rugs and other textiles for clients and said there are different ways to frame weaves, depending on how much a client wants to spend and how much. size and style of parts.

The hardest way to frame it is to stretch the piece’s floating montage in a shadow box, Palmaffy commented.

“This is the most complicated and expensive way of editing, but it makes an impressive presentation, like in a museum.”

Another method is to stretch the textile over a pre-stretched fabric attached to a canvas bar – usually poplar wood, without glass or plexiglass – or cut a piece of wood the same width as the textile and hang it up. .

That said, Palmaffy always recommends doing what’s best for the room.

It’s not a bad idea to put a few of your rugs on the floor too, Shepard added with a wink and a smile.


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