Making Mats from the Everyday

Designing mats seems to be a challenge for some; in response to this concern, Jennifer Archer developed a design class and so began the introduction of three techniques that anyone can use to create beautiful mats. Tamarack Branch scheduled hook-ins were used as class time. In the end, Jennifer made arrangements to show the completed pieces as a group exhibit at Devon House in St. John’s during October – November 2010.

The techniques presented were:

  1. Shadow box: starting with pencil and straight edge, we drew attached boxes, and within each box, drew a variety of patterns taken from our surroundings. The design was adjusted until it was pleasing, then hooked as a monochromatic. This basic technique evolved over ideas and discussions; the results can be seen in several of the mats that were created.
  2. Repeating patterns: starting with any common shape cut into three sizes on poster board, the pieces could be dropped at random on a sheet of paper, then traced around. The procedure was repeated until the paper was fairly covered with overlapping shapes. Viewed with a variety of colours, we explored resulting feelings, moods and secondary patterns as they emerged, until a mat design could be created from the tangle. Again, with further discussion, the technique was presented using planned positioning to create designs with orderly repeat patterns. Again, the technique is reflected in several mats in the exhibit.
  3. Linoblock cutting: Jennifer presented the class with patterns from old wallpapers. These were attached to pieces of linoleum, and using carving tools, the shapes were carved until the relief remaining could be rolled with paint, and stamped on paper or burlap, either at random, or in a planned fashion. By studying the results, we began to see patterns emerge, another great
    design technique!

On opening day, it was quite stormy; nevertheless there was a good turnout, and a couple of mats in the exhibit were sold. We all came away from these classes feeling much more comfortable in our ability to create unique mat designs. Many thanks to Jennifer for all her hard work!