Braided rug exhibit weaves history into art at Vt. Folklife Center

MIDDLEBURY — A new exhibit is on display at the Vermont Folklife Center. “Re-imagine the Braided Rug,” featuring the work of West Fairlee rug braider Delsie Hoyt, went up on Feb. 4 and will be up through April 29.
As an artist, Hoyt was inspired by the unique creative vision that her Great-Grandmother, Annette “Nettie” Nelson, of Ryegate, Vt., brought to the craft over a century ago. Nettie’s unique, braided “pinwheel” design was a major break from rug making conventions of her time and is now in the collection of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum at Colonial Williamsburg.
“I seek to challenge conventional notions of what a braided rug can be through experimental designs that range from swirling galaxies to pastoral Vermont landscapes,” Hoyt explained.
“I never graph out my designs,” she said. “For me, the colors, pattern and scale of new and recycled wool plaids, checks and tweeds suggest elements of a composition and provide its depth and texture. Incorporating recycled clothing into my work honors the virtue of thrift so integral to the craft, and the limited amounts make each work one of a kind.”
Hoyt’s rugs have been featured on television and in magazines and books including Mary Sheppard Burton’s “A Passion for the Creative Life” and Norma Sturgis’ “The Braided Rug Book.”  She teaches and demonstrates at craft schools, “braid ins,” and museums across the country.
The Vermont Folklife Center is located at 88 Main Street in Middlebury. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. For more info call (802) 388-4964 or visit www.vermontfolklifecenter.org.

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