Juried Status: Professional Virginia Artisan
Media: Fiber-Decorative: Rugs,
For anyone who didn’t grow up in the South, let me explain the name of my business. “I swan” is something women of a certain age (like my grandmother) might say because they’re too polite to say “I swear.” (Also, “I swany” but that might only be my grandmother.) So “Well, I swan!” is the old school Southern equivalent of, “Holy crap!” Implied: “Look at all these great rugs!”
My rugs are created using a method handed down through generations of strong women in rural Virginia. My great-grandmother, Minnie Mae Brinkley, was a mother, school teacher, mortuary beautician, farmer, barber, and artist. Minnie learned to make these rugs from her grandmother, and she taught my mom the craft during summers Mom spent on her Bath County farm. My mom handed the craft down to me when I was in elementary school, and I’ve been making rugs ever since.
Minnie created rugs from scraps of cloth, feed bags, and outgrown clothing; anything she could find in depression-era rural Virginia. In keeping with her spirit of adaptive reuse, I use upcycled and reclaimed materials in my own rugs. I’ve retained the same ‘rugging’ technique generations of Virginia women have used before me. In this way, I hope to continue a tradition we have been exercising for generations – using something tired and worn out to create something beautiful that provides comfort and simple luxury to our families.
My goal in producing these traditional rugs is to expose people (especially women) to the craft and what it means. That is, how this humble and simple craft produces beautiful, functional folk art and represents the resilience, creativity, and nurturing instinct of generations of women. It’s an important message for the women of the 21st century to know that we are powerful and influential in ways we never even thought of - just like their ancestors were, and just like our daughters will be.