Last week Tom and I took a drive out to Hardin County, Ohio, to search out an Amish rug maker we had heard of. We had seen her work on a previous buying trip to Hardin County but not been able to find her. We knew what road she lived on, and we knew her name. What makes things a bit tricky is that in this part of the countryside, there aren’t any house numbers. So the directions we had received went like this: “She’s on such-and-such road, a few miles south of town.” You can turn off your GPS, friends. It’s time to wing it.
Luckily, a drive through Amish country is always a joy. I could never see enough of Ohio’s flat, verdant cornfields and farms. Just look at this baby we saw – she’s all legs. (And she didn’t want her picture taken. She kept hiding behind her mama.)
Anyway we did find the rugmaker we were looking for, and though she wasn’t home, her husband Ezra was happy to show us her workmanship. They were low on stock the day we arrived, but we did find five or six Amish rag rugs we really loved, and we’ve just added those to the market.
Ezra was an older man. He told us he and his wife have been married for 58 years and that he had just retired from farming, so now he spends his time doing woodworking with his grandsons and helping his wife with the rugs. I inquired about the loom which was on display in his spotless workshop, and he was all too happy to demonstrate and educate us on how it worked. (In fact, I have to say, he seemed rather surprised that we’d not seen a floor loom in action before.)
Here’s the antique loom on which the rag rugs were made:
This loom was a complicated piece of machinery. It moved the white threads so that a shuttle could be passed between them, and then with the push of a different pedal it moved the threads a different way. I asked Ezra how old the loom itself was and how long he’d had it. He thought it to be very old but wasn’t sure of its exact age – when he bought it, it had been out of use and on display in another Amish family’s home for about 25 years. He retooled it and got it working again.
Ezra said it takes him about 1-1/2 hours to weave a rug, not including the time to tie all of the end-knots by hand. And that doesn’t count the time it takes to prepare all the fabric – to cut it into strips and then sew the strips together, end to end.
Anyway, we’ll be going back to see Ezra and buying more rugs from his family in the future, but I wanted to share the photos with you and tell you about our visit. I hope you’ll stop by the market and take a look at Ezra’s beautiful handiwork.
Have a wonderful day, friends!