The use of painted canvas floorcoverings, also known as “oyl cloths” dates as far back as the 14th century in Europe. When people came to this country they were looking for ways to reproduce some of the furnishings they were used to back home. Resources were limited, but worn sails from ships provided them with a base to paint and cover the floor with.American primitive paintings often depict subjects standing on boldly geometric floorcloths; William Burnet, Governor of New York and Massachusetts during Colonial times, had floorcloths listed in his household inventory; and later, George Washington ordered floorcloths for his Mt. Vernon retirement home. Canvas was more readily available than other rug and carpet supplies, and the ease of cleaning made floorcloths particularly desirable. Placed over wide boards, the heavily painted canvas cut cold drafts from below, and were cool underfoot in summer.

Floorcloths are still an extremely practical floor covering. They are easy to clean- just damp mop, and last for decades when heavyweight canvas and high-quality paints are used. Reproduction geometric designs can work beautifully in rooms decorated in styles ranging from pre-Colonial to post-modern.

Today, Canvasworks floorcloths are made from the same 100% cotton heavyweight canvas (with a sewn hem and mitered corners). Environmentally-safe, water-based paints and finishes are used in place of yellowing varnishes and slow-drying paints of years ago. Each Canvasworks floorcloth is put through a series of steps to ensure a finished piece which will lie flat and maintain its shape, colors and finish for years to come. For more information visit Canvasworks' website or call the Vermont studio (802)263-5410.

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Comment by Donna Hambric on August 21, 2009 at 2:05pm
I have been looking for a floorcloth class in the DC metro area. Does anyone have any advice?
Comment by Lisa Curry Mair on August 21, 2009 at 2:13pm
We have floorcloth kits available which include complete instructions. Also, later this fall I'm planning to add Online classes. Check my website for details.
Comment by Donna Hambric on August 25, 2009 at 8:04pm


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