“Art for the Floor”
Step On It Floor Mats was born out of a love of design, function and whimsy resulting in creating unique hand painted floor cloths, table accessories, pet mats and wall hangings. I have a background in clay, worked for twenty five years as a dental hygienist, adjunct professor at community college and several years teaching ESOL (English to speakers of other languages) to adults in a family literacy program. I now am doing what I love.
History: The art of making floor cloths has been around since the Renaissance, beginning in France or England. People began covering portions of their stone or plank floors with sturdy cloth, often sail cloth, to protect it from traffic with shoes. Sometime later, people began embellishing the utilitarian cloths with colorful patterns. We also know that by the 18th century, floor cloths routinely covered floors in both Europe and the American colonies because artists depicted them in numerous woodcuts and paintings of the times. These designs often used repeating large geometric patterns.
Process: The process begins with raw canvas which I order in large rolls. Then the canvas gets measured and cut, soaked in a hot bath, dried and pressed. Then it gets measured again and the back border glued down with mitered corners. The cloth is then primed with Kilz, an anti-mildew paint and two layers of the base color are painted on with water based acrylic paint. The patterns are either painted on free hand, or rolled against my own stencils and stamps made from foam and scrap wood. The stamps are used for repeating patterns such as borders or schools of fish. I create fabric collages by stiffening fabric with decoupage medium so that I can cut sharp edges which then gets glued onto the painted canvas. I love finding interesting fabrics in the remnant bin or at tag sales. When the designs are complete the mats are coated with four coats of a marine based urethane. All in all each mat gets seven layers of paint!
Inspiration: The Sea has remained a large source of inspiration for designs. I am drawn to colorful, vibrant tropical fish, ocean waves and boats. I studied design at Buffalo State University in the 1970s and am excited by the play of color contrasts and design choices that make your eye move on the canvas. I get inspiration from repeating designs and motifs from the Pre Columbian Americas, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Sub-Saharan Africa, Colonial North America and many years living in New Mexico where the sky is big and desert colors pop out of the landscape. My intention is not for realism but for my own impression of a particular subject. I’m looking to create a mood, be it meditative or bold and funky. Many of the mats have a center rectangular window which serves to highlight the subject and make it ‘pop’.
Playing with fabric and recently learning how to screen images onto the canvas is deepening my exploration of this unique art form. My aim is to create a product both utilitarian and beautiful . My years working as a potter gave me a background in combining function and aesthetics. Why not beautify your home with a hand painted floor mat!
Table runners and whimsical place mats made from upcycled vinyl flooring remnants are now available. These are also coated with several coats of urethane to ensure long term use and durability. These smaller size mats give me a chance to play with new designs and ideas. After hearing from many customers that the mats are “too beautiful for the floor”, I am experimenting with vertical designs intended to be enjoyed as wall hangings. More fun to come!
Thanks for your interest in my work!