Friday, May 18, 2012

Finding a Pearl of Great Price

Here's Friday's Vintage Find.

I didn't think twice when I saw these
 vintage burlap rug hooking backings. 
Their previous owner just barely got them started. 
 Her pulled wool color choices are beautiful.

What do you think?

Both rug patterns had Pearl K.McGown named as the designer.
When I looked her up, I found quite a story.
I'm ALWAYS ready for a story.

(Can you imagine this rug finished?)

Pearl McGown, born in 1891,
 learned rug-hooking from her mother
As early as the 1920's she began designing rug patterns. 
When commercially made rugs
came on the market,
 Pearl feared the hand-made art would vanish. 
Her "hobby" eventually became her business.

(This rug backing is from the Old Sturbridge Village Period 1973)

Pearl would go on to publish a book on rug hooking during the 30's,
and teach rug-hooking to about 140 wounded veterans
of World War II during their long hospital stays.
She would even have women send her their very scarce burlap
so that she could apply her rug designs to them during war time.

(rug hooking wool)

In the early 50's, Pearl McGown and family began the
McGown Teachers Workshop
where rug-hooking fans
could learn the craft and become teachers themselves.

(This rug backing is from the McGown Teachers Workshop Period 1956)

By the 70's, Pearl McGown was in her late 80's. 
She and her family were still involved with the rug-hooking,
but needed to sell the business on to Old Sturbridge Village.

I love Pearl McGown's deep love and devotion for this craft. 
To think of all of her designs (over 1,000),
 and her business, and her books,
that she managed with her family
without internet, cellphones, copiers, etc.

My large rug backing is from the
Old Sturbridge Village days (1973).
The geometric rug backing is from the
McGown Teacher's Workshop Days (1956).

Pearl left an interesting legacy that still exists today with the
National Guild of Pearl K. McGown Rug Hookcrafters, Inc.
whose membership has grown to about 1,500.

If you'd like to learn more about Pearl's fascinating story
 or find a Pearl K. McGown instructor near you,
 visit the Guild's website by clicking here .

As soon as I can bear it, I will eventually be placing the rug backings in my Etsy shop along with the rug hooking wool.  (Alas, I cannot afford to take on another craft project despite my desires.  Although I'm sure if I had met Pearl, she could have convinced me.)

Best wishes for your weekend!



  1. Oh...Can you imagine having such a beautiful rug? It would be amazing. I hope someone finishes it and makes it beautiful.

  2. This post is so full of wonderful history and I love the rugs, too bad you will not be putting your hand to them but I totally understand about taking on yet another project. Thank you for sharing this interesting and new to me history!

  3. Oh wow! That is beautiful. What a rich history. That indeed would be stunning finished. Thanks for sharing this beauty!

  4. Such pretty rug. Believe a finished one would be beautiful.