Rug tufting seems to be everywhere these days. You open any of your social media apps and you will see time lapse videos of people tufting your favorite pop culture characters and logos customized with their own artistic touches. Where did tufting come from, and how long have people been using these techniques to make unique pieces of art?
What is Tufting?
Let's start with the basics! Tufting basically is the process of making a 3 dimensional textile surface. The videos you see online usually use two different techniques: cut pile and/or loop pile. Cut pile is when the yarn is pushed through cloth and cut on the outside, giving the finished product a “shag” appearance, whereas loop pile creates a continuously looped run of yarn all connected, giving it a more durable and tight finish.
A Little History
Tufting has been around for a very long time and has many different methods and styles. The oldest found work with a tufted appearance can be dated as far back as 200 AD, and is thought to be of Egyptian-Roman origin. However, there are also pieces found from native South Americans that could be older. The modern process of tufting was brought to North America by European immigrants in the late 1800’s. It wasn’t until the 1920’s that some serious advancements were made. Machines similar to sewing machines were invented to improve the process. Some of these machines had up to 10 needles, making mass producing rugs a profitable and efficient method. By the 1950’s rugs and carpet were all the craze! It was a way to keep your floors warm, it created a non-slip surface, and reportedly keeps up to 50% of dust out of the air!
Tufting is not only a beautiful way to express yourself but also can be practical. The reemergence and accessibility of tufting to the public has made custom rugs and wall hangings easier to acquire and gives you the ability to buy from local artists. Tufting has now become easy to do from the comfort of your home, or if you don't have the space or tools, there are now places that offer classes and studio space with all the supplies and equipment you’ll need. Here in Kansas City there are several maker spaces that offer it, ours being one of them.
If you live in or ever visit the Kansas City area and want to try your hand at tufting, stop by Secret Handshake Studios.