Painted Floorcloth Commission

I recently completed a commission for a painted floorcloth and here it is!  It measures 7.5' x 10.5'. So, what's a floorcloth?

Floorcloths are one of the earliest forms of floor coverings. They originated in France in the 15th Century and were introduced to the colonies through Britain in the 1700s. 

Commissioned floorcloth - 7.5' x 10.5'. Traditional diamonds in center with marsh animals in border.

Also known as “olycloths”, "painted" or “crumbcloths”. Originally they were made from recycled ship's sails, linseed oil, whiting and pigments. The earliest floorcloths were utilitarian (usually painted in one color) and used to cover dirt or wooden floors. Oil cloths (“Olycloths”) received their name from the heavy amounts of linseed oil mixed into the paint. 

With the development of linoleum, floor cloths went into a decline. However, since the 1970's there has been a resurgence of interest in floorcloths and they have become a fashionable alternative to area rugs.  A floorcloth can last for decades. It can be wiped clean with a damp cloth or mop, which makes it very practical.

Install of painted floorcloth with diamonds in center and marsh animals and grasses in border

The process of creating a floorcloth has not changed much except to take advantage of current acrylic paints and primers and polyurethane as a protective surface.

This was a fun collaborative with my neighbor, who had lived in a historic house for many years and had floorcloths scattered throughout. She now wanted a design that would combine traditional with contemporary and with a lighter palette. Here the historical motif of diamonds is incorporated into a contemporary painting of marsh animals in a more coastal palette. We looked through many nature books and I mixed colors until we found just what she had in mind to create a personal and unique floor covering.

Close-up of painted floorcloth with marsh animals and grasses. In the studio.