Rug Design 101: Central Motif

Different people start thinking about the elements of the rug design in different orders. Whenever I'm drawing my designs, I usually start with a central motif and then I add the rest of the elements around that. This is the part of the rug design that makes most people nervous because, let's face it, most of us didn't take an art class beyond sixth grade, and, well, for most of us our drawing skills reflect that.

But not to despair! As long as we have a computer, assess to a copier, and sharpies in hand, we have all we need. What is most important (even vital) is that we are able to find good visuals to use.

So TIP 1: find pictures of whatever it is you want your central motif to be, print them out, and paste them into your RUG ART JOURNAL. Be aware of copyright laws though, and stick with public domain materials. There are numerous websites offering free clip art and Dover publishes a rich treasury of public domain art for reuse.

TIP 2: use your own photographs

TIP 3: use common objects which are especially useful for drawing templates. Just trace around the bottom of glasses, plates, and bottles and you will have instant perfect shapes. I designed Jack in the Red by picking up autumn leaves, photocopying them, cutting them out, and arranging them on my foundation. Then I drew around them. Other natural objects to trace around are hands, feet, rocks, tree branches. There is a story of an old guy who laid his cat down on his foundation and just traced around her! Why not? The results will be unique and funky.

TIP 4: if your rug is for a particular room in your house, perhaps you might pick up inspiration from the décor like fabric or wallpaper or quilt blocks from a bedspread.

TIP 5: don't be afraid of using letters, from your own hand or printed out from your computer. Consider how easy it is to select fun fonts and size them to fit the space perfectly.

Rug Art Journal: For Mission Concepción rug, my central motif is taken directly from the photograph my husband took. All I did was print out an 8 by 10 of the photos, went to Kinkos, enlarged them by 200%. I then took my sharpie and drew a dark line around the outer edges of the elements in the photo (see FIRST PHOTO). Then I went over to the BIG copier (the one that does blue print size) and I enlarged it again until I had the size I wanted. Then I went home and am in the process of arranging the different elements on a piece of paper the size of the rug I want to hook. So I cut around the different elements and am placing them here and there on this sheet (see SECOND PHOTO). I'm not satisfied with the placement yet, but I'm getting there.