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Brief History of Floor Cloth

The use of floor cloths as painted decorative floor coverings began in early eighteenth-century Britain. Also known as oylcloth, painted carpet, common carpet, or summer floor mats, floor cloths were initially used by the wealthy to decorate entryways, hallways and dining rooms. Some were also used under dining tables to protect more expensive carpets from spills. They began to be used in America as early as the Revolutionary War. Initially most were imported from England, but soon there were domestic makers as well and the art form remained popular until around 1860 with the advent of linoleum. There was a revival in the 1950's through the popularization of authentic American crafts and the restoration of vintage homes.

Numerous books have been recently published on making floor cloths. A few are listed below that are in print and available for purchase.

Selected Bibliography


The Complete Book of Floorcloths: Designs & Techniques for Painting Great-looking Canvas Rugs
by Kathy Cooper, Jan Hersey

From Library Journal
Cooper, a floorcloth artist, and Hersey, a home furnishings writer, show how decorated floorcloths can be used in today's home. ... Lavishly illustrated with examples of the works of over 60 floorcloth artists, the clear, easy-to-follow directions describe how to make a basic checkerboard-patterned floorcloth and continue with eight other projects.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Floorcloth Magic: How to Paint Canvas Rugs for Decorative Home Use
by Lisa Curry Mair, Giles D. Prett (Photographer)

From Library Journal
...Mair's inspiring work offers step-by-step instructions for preparing, painting, and finishing a floorcloth. Color photographs of professionals' cloths in a variety of styles will inspire amateur and experienced painters alike.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.



Fabulous Floorcloths: Create Contemporary Floor Coverings from an Old World Art
by Caroline O'Neill Kuchinsky

From Library Journal
Kuchinsky, whose design firm specializes in custom-designed decorative accessories, provides basic instructions for creating floorcloths. She begins with advice on selecting a color scheme, the materials needed, preparation and care of the canvas, and a review of decorative methods used in the creation of floorcloths. The 15 projects are labeled simple, intermediate, and advanced and are described with well-illustrated, easy-to-follow instructions. (LJ 5/15/97).
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
























































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