Art can be fragile. After hours, days, months or even years of toiling away, most artists don’t want your sticky fingers, muddy shoes or whatever else anywhere near their creations. Put it on a pedestal. Hang it on the wall. Admire it from afar. But “do not touch” — the rallying cry for art museums across the world.
“Wet dogs welcome” is more the style of Winterport floorcloth maker Addie Peet.
Addie’s art isn’t fragile. It’s practical. A pure whirlwind of different contemporary designs and colors, hand painted on canvas that she personally shrinks, cuts, irons, sews, pretreats, primes, paints and locks in with a durable, healthy layer of clear coat.
And then throws on the floor for your everyday use.
Addie wants your sticky fingers and muddy boots on her art. She’s spent almost 10 years making sure practically nothing the average homeowner can throw at her floorcloths will do any sort of harm.
“I think it’s intriguing. Just the thought of basically using a piece of art for a rug that you stomp your feet on,” she explained while perched on the edge of a chair in the seating area of her spacious, bright home studio space. “My intention is to bring back the lost art but to make it durable and functional and have it last.”
Addie’s medium, floorcloths, is one of the earliest forms of floor coverings. She explained that “way back” people would use old sail cloth to either protect their floors or simply put down on the dirt so they had a floor. It gradually transformed into “a kind of industry” in Europe, only falling out of popularity around the turn of the century with the introduction of linoleum, which was less expensive, higher production, and equally durable, moppable, and decorative.
Which is a really shame, according to Addie.
“I had seen a few older ones and thought, this is genius. Why is this not happening still,” she said. “I think the practicality of them really was what urged me to kind of figure out, okay, is there still a place for this in this world.”
Traditionally floorcloths feature a lot of stenciling and ornate detail work — but that’s not really Addie’s style. While she stays fairly true to the traditional process of making them, she marries that with modern styles in order to create something that is decidedly non-traditional.
Marrying modern products with traditional means of making is kind of Addie’s thing, actually. Besides floorcloths, she also makes decorative canvas flags, printed using hand-cut blocks on her father’s old, antique Chandler and Price printing press.
She grew up around the press, respecting, admiring, and loving its tradition, inspired by the fine craft of making things. She didn’t grow up with the intent to be a floorcloth maker, but she feels the press was a big part of why she did.
“The reason why I do this for a living is because I really enjoy making practical, functional pieces that can be put to use,” Addie said. “And I just really enjoy making.”
Addie Peet Design