Posts Tagged With: rugs


A local city guide took us through this 18th century observatory with multiple sundials. He explained how they work.

Just putting his paper where the shadow intersects isn’t as interesting in pictures as his explanations. Everyone compared the sundial time with their watches.

Another ingeniously designed sundial is more complex and gives the time on any meridian  and can give the time all over the world. If you know how to read it. The main thing to understand is the sundials are still accurate to 2/10ths of a second.

This huge complex is divided into the months and constellations that define them, besides telling the time.

So here I am, standing under the Libra arch. On this sunny day you can see the shadows that register the time as the months go by. The dials registers the changes as the earth spins on its axis moving away from the sun and back.

Here Pam stands by her sign which if I remember right was Capricorn.

I wanted to take a picture of Pam and Otto, but this young woman stayed in the picture, too.

Next, we visited a block printing place. The cloth on the table has been hand printed by a craftsman with each part of the design, and each color individually stamped. One mistake and the whole piece is ruined. The boss holds up a small  print of an elephant.

He shows us some of the blocks used in the trade. All metal.

An expert craftsman aligns the next color on that same elephant print.

Now you see an added color, perfectly aligned.

All colors have been added for the final product. You see pink, green, blue, each  a separate stamp plus the original outline. But notice the block print behind how intricate the patterns and imagine the difficulty of doing a whole drape or wall hanging without a mistake. The boss gave the print to Theo.

In that same center we moved on to a rug maker. As you walk through the place, rugs cover the cement floors and everyone walks on them. In this particular company, the rugs have a special figure eight knot that the maker insists can never be unraveled by normal use including owning a cat that may want to dig its claws in. The worker is trimming it expertly with a shears so the rug is solid and flat.

Then we are shown this dirty rug getting a cleaning with a blow torch in one of those don’t-try-this-at-home methods. We watched as he cleaned a patch about 20 inches square.

Kris gets a lesson from a proud weaver who seemed to love the idea of getting away from a monotonous task for a few minutes.

A priceless smile.

This rug shows the backside, where the knots are so fine the back looks as good as the front side. It is an amazing thing to see the work of a handmade rug.

Then we get to visit a showroom. From the talk, the subject of camel hair rugs came up. I requested to see a them.

They showed me a rug that was 90 years old, and another over 100 years old. Still colorful, a few wear spots on the edges. The older rugs are more expensive then new ones. Camel hair rugs are uniquely tough. I couldn’t afford any of those old rugs, but bought a new one mixed with silk fibers. You can keep them in the sun from your window without worrying about the colors fading. It was much cheaper than the hand-woven rugs. Well, time will tell.

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DSC07516 (Copy)I’m a rug maker and I still have balls of wool that are waiting to be braided into rugs like this one. Not perfect, but usable. They are thick and hearty and colorful.

Yesterday, I received a phone call from a woman who said, “Are you Mary Matzek? You don’t know me but I saw your name in Reminisce Magazine about three years ago. You were looking for a set of rug braiders and I have them. I’ve been holding onto these looking for that magazine I misplaced, and I finally found it. Do you still want them?”  Her name is Marci Van Riper from Pennsylvania. I told her I’d gotten several sets. I have two sizes, 2 inch and 1 inch. Her set was 1 and 1/2 inch. She was keen on me having them after holding them for me for three years, so I agreed I could make a nice thin rug from old curtains for my bathroom.  She is 87 years old and I readily understood the idea of re-using things, fabric scraps for quilts, old sweaters for hot pads and baby soakers, , old wool coats and pants-never tossing anything that is usable, like rug braiders.

DSC07514 (Copy)This rug is thin and lies very flat, and it is very special to me. My mother made the center and the next two rows as a small bathoom rug from cottons. The light blue came from her first pair of “slacks” for which she got scolded from her father, because girls didn’t wear pants in those days. Years later, I  put on the last row with a pair of maroon pants I loved because the material was stretchable and allowed me to reach the pedals of the plane I was flying. I hated to give them away when they no longer fit. At the time I didn’t attach any significance to adding a row to a rug my mother made. After all, it’s just an old bath mat. Now, I appreciate that connection. Slacks, that represented something to her and flight pants that meant something to me.

DSC07515 (Copy)This is also a bathroom rug made from t-shirt strips, hooked through a mesh backing. Rug making is hardly done by hand anymore. I enjoyed making it and using it.

I wanted to pay for the cost of mailing the braiders but Marci would have none of that. She was adamant I not pay for the stamps since her brother had bought from their local post office, every Jenny stamp they had, 12 sheets of $2 stamps. The postal person, said, “you might as well have them all, here is a single left.” Stamps then came in glassine bags that you couldn’t see through. What he was hoping to snag was one that had been printed upside down. His investment paid off and that last single stamp is now worth $50,000.  He keeps it in a bank vault. She is still spending Jenny’s that were correct. I found out she collects stamps and we talked for about 30 minutes. What a marvelous woman she is!

My computer was out and my neighbor, Brian came and fixed it this morning. He suggested I put into a pool for the California Lottery. Normally, I would have said no. But, after hearing about the Jenny, I handed him a ten. Fool, my brain said. Ah, what the heck, maybe my luck will hold.



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The famous Antiques Roadshow, exciting. A chance to have treasures you’ve hoped would be worth a million or maybe a couple hundred thousand, valued by professionals. Maybe you would be on TV?

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We brought my low-end Sony camera. Jim took my picture headed for the end of the line. I was told they had 400 people registered to arrive for the day. My vouchers were for the 11:00 to 12:30 slot.You donate $150 for three items.DSC05053 (Copy)

Because I had a small Chinese silk rug, we were sent to the Asian Arts room. It was interesting to see how it worked. Chairs lined up before three tables of evaluators.

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Here I am, in second place and I’m excited, considering this a possible high value rug because I had a Turkish rug dealer tell me it was worth $25,000. He explained that Chinese rugs have over 2000 knots per square inch while Turkish rugs have half that. He said the Chinese didn’t know what they had until recently. Now their rugs sell for very high prices.

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Isn’t it beautiful?  This is the back of the rug.

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This is the front of the rug.

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The evaluator told me about the famous pictures. It is a scene called The Dream Of The Red Chamber, and, she said, “…it lacks the male villain.”  There is a book about these figures and it was interesting to hear about it, but she doesn’t value  rugs and I had to leave and go to the room for  Decorative Art.

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The  evaluator  was Deric Torres from the auction house, Clars. He dismissed my rug as not valuable, worth less than I paid for it at an estimated  $800. He also said the Chinese mix in fibers and the silk may not be silk, and they are an untrustworthy investment. However, I have a tag, receipt and provenance for mine, so I would have no trouble proving it was pure silk.  Now if it were a Turkish rug, said he, it would have some value.  Oh, well. I figured the Turkish rug dealer exaggerated, but I didn’t expect it to be below the price I paid for it.

However, he got very excited about my Teka or Teca vase that he is holding. He showed me on the computer that it is worth $3,949 dollars, undamaged. I’ve had it for at least 20 years and last year my housemate hit it with a vacuum wand  and chipped it and then vacuumed up the chip. This happened while I was gone so I couldn’t even retrieve the chip. Now the estimated value is 1700 to 2500 if you can get someone who wants it very badly. I think that is very unlikely, but it does  validate my choices. I paid $12 for it at a Murphys second-hand furniture store in the 80’s.

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The third item I brought, an Israeli  vase, which is badly damaged, he valued at $600. I sometimes think they just want you to go home happy, if possible. It has an interest history, at least to me.

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On a trip to Disneyland in 1986 with a bunch of exchange students, we stayed at my daughter’s apartment on Katella Blvd. not far from Disney. I stopped at a gallery and saw this piece priced at $300, way out of my budget at the time.

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It hung in my mind and I drew it from memory, and this is what I remembered. Not very accurate but for whatever unknown reason, I kept the drawing as a reminder of it.

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In 1988, I went back to Disney with a another car load of exchange students to my daughter’s apartment, and here was that Israeli vase damaged, badly glued, on sale for $75. I bought it and rolled up my little drawing and put it inside the vase where it has sat very much loved on my dining room sideboard.

Torres told me it would cost as much as its value to have it restored, so, my broken down vase, that I always referred to as my chess piece, is worth what I paid for it— maybe more.

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After our long wait in the decorative arts room, evaluation over, we went to the Virgin Sturgeon for lunch, a  place recommended by staff at KVIE.

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From a window seat by the river, we watched the boats and took a leisurely lunch before the 2 hour drive home. It was a fun day, I learned gobs and I’ll probably go back next year and let them surprise me again with more “junk.”



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Fitting this beautiful building into a single frame on my camera didn’t do it justice. Built in 1893 as a city hall, then converted to a courthouse for Hurley, WI., it is now a museum and the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. The original clock, still runs. We go to so many museums, I always try to find items you won’t see in any other locale.

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This is Iron country and mining was prominent, so I stopped in the mining room first. This is the head frame of an iron mine.  But, I quickly got bored with mining technology. We had limited time because the museum closed at 2 p.m.; we arrived  at 1:oo.

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The electrical switches on the walls are buttons. The wiring is enclosed behind a trim board on the wall’s surface.

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In Hardwood, I spent time with the Dan DuFresne family. Dan DuFresne was like an uncle to me. This milk separator looked very much like his.

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But, I had never seen a milk cooler such as this. Dairy is big in Wisconsin, too.

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I kind of whisked through the rooms because our time was so short. This kitchen scene has nothing new in it but it reminded me so much of hard Michigan winters. Wet clothing drying by the kitchen stove was a fact of life, especially with kids getting wet and chilled coming in to dry off,  then half an hour later, wanting to be bundled up again to go outside and play in the snow.

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Then I discovered the weaving room. Five women were working on woven rag rugs. I counted five looms in the room. Two women were working the looms. This one uses polyester materials sewn in strips with mixed colors. Polyester wears like iron and keeps its bright colors longer than natural materials.

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This weaver was using a loosely woven rags for her rug. There is a garment factory in town and the materials used here would go into the dump if they hadn’t set up a non-profit rug making center in the museum using these old hand looms.

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I’ve seen weaving demonstrations before, but I didn’t know that as one rug ends, (no more material of the appropriate color) two cardboard pieces are slipped into the warp and another rug of the same size is started. Eventually, the weaver will cut between the two pieces of cardboard and the stray threads of the warp become fringe.

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This woman is tying the fringe on a denim rug she just completed. She separates and strands into an uneven number say five or three and ties them by hand into a knot.

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This woman made this rug to order. The customer wanted something that resembled Navajo rugs. She had to wait until the right color material landed on their doorstep. This rug sells for $40.

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They have material packed away, choosing colors, planning rugs. I was enthralled. DSC08978 (Copy)

This is a one of a set of four placemats.

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I was hooked. There are so few things you can buy when you live in a motor home. I bought three rugs and skipped the rest of the museum, which I highly recommend should you ever get to Hurley. Hurley sits on the  Michigan/Wisconsin border.

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Yesterday, the sun shined brightly and we soaked it up. Jim worked on the mal functioning auto lock on the passenger side door of the Bronco. I washed a couple of rugs and hung them out to drain and dry in the sun. It felt good to move about and feel the sun on our faces.

We did the laundry and bought home-made tamales from Rosa’s on the way home. Delicious late lunch. We  sort of melted into the cushions and read the rest of the  day and just snacked for dinner. On the way home I saw a sign for a frame shop, Hall Of Frames. I’m often impressed by the clever names people choose for their businesses. I don’t always get the picture, but I indulge in clever signs whenever I get a chance.

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Dog grooming.

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This sign is in old town Gallup, NM,  outside of a business near a park. I once had a small retail store and I understand this completely.

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Of course, strange but  serious signs are funny too,  like this one on a desert walking trail.IMG_2091 (Copy)

You don’t see one of these very often. It is part of General Patton’s Museum in California where they tested tanks and other war equipment at one time.

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Others are just fun. (The blur is my fault.)

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.In Tombstone Arizona where the waiters and waitresses wear guns, unloaded, I’m sure. The customers are not allowed to wear guns.

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An ad on a T-shirt.

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I think this was a game shop, cards, poker chips etc. in Las Vegas.IMG_3107 (Copy)

Stapled to a power pole in Bisbee, Arizona.

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A cookbook for sale in a motorcycle  museum.

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This curious statement on a business window in Harlingen, Texas,  intrigued me. Driving by it a second time, I found out the new business going in will be a bike shop. Can’t reason it out. Obviously something I don’t know about bikes and bikers.

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Well, this one is easy to understand. It is posted at my Italian neighbor’s house, and she is a hoot.

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I helped work on the paint job yesterday. I painted five window frames and two doorways,  which required having the doors open to the wonderful, cool weather we had yesterday. My son was having problems with his back and I decided I could do it myself. I enjoyed it, but there are eleven doors in this house and many windows still unpainted. So, we will be at it for two more days, at least.

With open doorways, I decided to get all the projects stowed in boxes under desks and in corners up off  the floor and consider which one to start with. DON’T PUT OFF ‘TIL TOMORROW…  you know what I mean.

A book on brew-tasting I wrote when the craft beer movement first got started. Unsold. I thought I should put it together. Scrapbooks of trips left unfinished. To many to name.

All week long, I’ve washed and sorted through a barrel of wool for rug-making. Braided, hooked and rag rugs are beautiful and long-lasting.

This is an unfinished hooked rug I started too many years ago.

I’ve braided eight area rugs. This one is in my living room. The biggest one I made was four-foot diameter circle rug that I’ve given to a friend.

Two small ones designed to be place in front of chairs so the carpet doesn’t wear down in one noticeable place.

A washable rag rug for the bathroom. It is made of cotton, not wool. I enjoy making rugs and the end result.

I’ll store the wool until cold weather sets in. I didn’t photograph the number of quilts I’ve cut and haven’t sewn. Or art projects unfinished. I’m never bored, as intended. But, I  think I have YEARS of projects on hold. Oh, well. It’s like fun in the bank.



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