Floor Felt & Floor Cloth – Jeanette Sendler

28 June – 13 July 2008 at The Steeple, Newburgh. Jeanette Sendler arrived in Newburgh as a trained tailor with a background in theatrical costume design. She brought her own patterns with her for tailoriing, knitting and crocheting.

Over the course of a year, she has learned as much as possible about the 16-18th century weaving history of Newburgh and has been introduced to the history of brown linen, handwoven in Newburgh during the early handloom industry. A decline in this industry, which began to favour the production of fine quality, white linen, requiring specialised facilities unavailable in the town, followed. Eventually, jute, brought across the River Tay from Dundee, was used as a backing to produce floor cloth, later called linoleum, at the newly constructed factory.

Richly patterned fragments of original lino led her to think about the variety of surface design. This resonated with her previous research into the patterned felt flooring in central Asia. Felt making is an ancient craft and its roots go back to Central Asia where floor felts are used as carpets to sit or step on. Both floor felt and floor cloth are richly patterned and tell much about the cultural differences and changing fashions. As a felt makers, Jeanette Sendler has taken patterns inspired by the lino industry and worked them into felt, echoing the techniques of the early felt maker. Both methods of carpeting provide warmth, safety and comfort to our living environment.