Back in 1990 I invented the first ever Potholder Rug. It was a creative epiphany where my hands and head were working together in silence addressing an issue of material waste that was piling up in my production studio where 40 people worked to bring my designs to life. There was a substantial percentage of used clothing coming to us in bales purchased for production that was not suitable for any of my product lines. As the piles of this discarded material grew, I was motivated to turn that material into something marketable. Since the day of the first Potholder Rug (which I still have and use!) I have made and sold thousands of them. They are made in custom sizes, custom colors and are the most amazing cushiony floorgasmy rugs I have ever experienced. To walk barefoot on one of these babies is to find foot joy – a virtual foot massage in every step!
As my teaching career is now front and center stage my Potholder Rug Intensive is my all time best selling class. Up until this year all my classes have happened in person in different settings but always in person. I have taught extensive 4 or 5 days workshops at yoga retreat centers, weekend workshops in the heart of County Galway Ireland and 40 minute quick lessons to my sister’s kindergarten class.
Somewhere in that mix people have told me that they plan to use the technique to make rugs and sell them to raise money for their daughter’s friend who lost everything in a fire. I have had a wedding party come to the studio to make a large rug for their bride and groom using materials collected from wedding invitees. I have seen my rugs change lives by offering stay at home moms a source of income (and pride). Career paths have changed, inspired by the simple making of a beautiful rug as students have gone on to start their own creative businesses. When my son was little we made a rug in his classroom using a discarded piece of clothing from each child. The rug was beautiful! A woven collage of the children and their energy turned tangible. That rug inspired my Community Rug Weaves.
All of this is important information if you are looking to contribute to the solution to the ever-growing global textile waste conundrum. With fast-fashion being the norm these days, not only are there mountains of used and discarded clothing gumming up our landfills, there are literally mountains of cutting room scrap waste in the third world countries where all this disposable clothing is manufactured.
There are a few things that each of us can do to turn the tide of excessive textile consumption. First, think about how much clothing you actually need and buy quality, made-to-last, brands using natural fiber. Before you buy new, check the used clothing shops in your area for the pieces you are seeking. Generally good quality clothing is resaleable and the super junky stuff doesn’t make it to the sales rack. Commit to taking good care of the clothing you have, mending holes, reaffixing buttons, and the like. I have a growing library of free tutorials if you need help getting started. You can also recycle household textile waste by turning worn out t-shirts, sheets, and towels into rags reducing the need for disposable paper towels.
And, for those of you who are interested in stepping up your household textile recycling you can learn to make Potholder Rugs! We are working on making that possible right here in the coming weeks. Stay tuned as we put the pieces in place for a super fun hands-on online class!
While we are over here figuring out how to make this all work, scroll down and leave a comment. Share with me any recycling tips and tricks you have or let me know if you are interested in my Potholder Rug class. If so how will you use the finished rug/s?