|The Wee Romp 2010 Willie Rodger, made by Jonathan Cleaver, Private Collection, all photos courtesy Dovecot Studios|
I haven't spoken much about Dovecot's production of rugs, as the period of my thesis stops before rug tufting was introduced at the studio. Rugs are, not surprisingly, faster to make and therefore more affordable. They provide extra revenue which can help to support the tapestry weaving element of the studio. Rug tufting is the only part of Dovecot production which includes a mechanised tool - the tufter. It looks a cross between a drill and a gun, and shoots little forks into the supporting canvas of the rug, from back to front. Here are some images Jonathan took during the tufting process:
This pictures are taken of the back of the work, which is where the tufter stands. It can be a messy process, as you can see from the loose bits of wool stuck to the canvas, with Jonathan finding pieces of wool felted into the pockets of his jeans days later! The use of mechanised tufter does take away some of the artistic control of the weaver, but only to a small extent. More than one colour can be fed through the tufter, so the weavers still use colour blending to achieve different interpretations of design. Plus, the more intricate the design, the more skilled the weaver needs to be at controlling the tufter. It can easily run away itself (I've tried it!).
Once the tufting is complete, the back of the rug is sealed using latex and another layer of canvas. When it's dried, the rug is cut away from the frame and laid flat. The front of the rug is then smoothed using a machine which looks a little like a small lawn mower, with a hoover attached to suck up the trimmed pieces of yarn.
Hey presto, you have a rug!