Sometimes, the best place to find inspiration is right at home. Though Trish Andersen had a career as an event designer, fabricator, and stylist in New York, she soon she wanted to get back to her first love of fiber arts (which she studied in college). One day, she got a dose of faraway inspiration—which led her back to her hometown. "A friend sent me a video of people using a tufting gun to make rugs in India and I was absolutely enthralled and shocked that I had never heard of the tool before," she explains.
Though India is well known for its carpets, Andersen herself hails from a different carpet-centric city: Dalton, Georgia, sometimes referred to as the "carpet capital of the world" for its claim to fame as the birthplace of wall-to-wall carpeting. Andersen recognizes the full-circle moment in her career change: "I was brought back to my roots through a tool traditionally used to create beautiful carpets," she muses.
But her work is far from traditional, design-wise. Andersen uses tufting guns to create mesmerizing abstract splotches and drip patterns with spools of yarn or wool. Each fiber rug is like a mosaic you'll never want to look away from. "I taught myself how to use the tufting gun and literally cried after my first stitch," she recalls, "I was hooked and haven’t looked back since."
To start a piece of tufted artwork, Andersen likes to sketch on her iPad so she's able to really dig into an idea. "Working on something digital, I'm not afraid to make something ugly and it's less precious." She begins preparing her space by choosing a frame to help determine the size of the piece. "A tufting frame is essentially a big wooden square that has carpet tacks attached from the edges that allow me to stretch open weave polyblend fabric made specifically for tufting," Andersen explains. She stretches the fabric to make it taut and has a blank canvas to work on.
Next, she creates a "coloring book" for herself by drawing the design onto the stretch cloth. To fill the canvas with colors, Andersen looks around her studio for the spool of yarn that speaks to her. "I collect and buy yarn from all over—it's my paint, it's my palette," Andersen explains. You can never have too much color and these joy spun rugs are immediately brought to life when she puts tuft gun to canvas.
She then sets up a dolly, wood, and eye hooks to thread the yarn through so it runs smoothly. As Andersen tufts, she uses different motions as goes, going with the grain of the fabric. She also switches different tufting guns, colors, pile heights until her coloring book is completely filled in. She works on the backside of the piece first and peeks her head around to the front to see what was made. "You can't think too much about things. You really have to be confident in your choices," Andersen explains.
Patience and timing are key with tufting rugs—something that has dictated Anderson's business. The first rug Andersen made went viral on social media, and she gained further attention for a gorgeous rainbow drip runner she made for her stairs. After this buzz, she originally considered trying to collaborate with a large company to manufacture the rugs and bring them to market, but her mother reminded her of home. "I was talking to my mom she said “Why would you do that? You are from the Carpet Capital of the World!"
Today, Trish works with a company in her hometown to bring her drawings to life and into your home. "This project has been a wonderful way to connect with the town I grew up in," Andersen says. Home sweet home indeed!
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Medgina Saint-Elien covers everything your home needs. She writes about exciting new product launches, hands-on reviews, and the "lightbulb" moments in every maker's story. In overseeing key HB editorial franchises, including the Live Better Awards, Saint-Elien champions the work of BIPOC entrepreneurs in the design and beauty industries. In addition to House Beautiful, her work has been published in Byrdie, Snapchat, and more. Outside of work, the writer and poet can be found documenting her travels on social media and saving memes for future use.