The second in a series of artisan profiles by contributing writer Emerald Atkins.
100 years ago, before “sustainability” became a concept, before the word “recycling” even existed, a traditional American craft embodied both: rag rugs, the art of creating rugs from worn clothing & cast-off textiles. Across the country housewives melded thrift and creativity, beauty and usefulness into functional works of art.
At Lark Textile Design owner/designer Janet Thomas builds on this legacy. In her hands, the unintended sustainably of yesteryear has become a directed goal in the production of custom hand-woven and constructed rugs.
“Although I use new materials now for my rugs,” she says, “they are industry 2nds and cast offs. Perfectly good for walking on but not good enough for your window coverings or upholstery. I am a scavenger at heart and that mindset makes it really easy to fit into the context of today’s sustainability concerns.”
Textiles were an integral part of Janet’s life growing up, to the point of obtaining a degree in textile design from the University of Washington – afterward, she began making rugs for galleries and shops, then began working with designers and the wholesale market of custom home furnishings. Of central importance to her are projects that highlight the hand-woven quality of the rugs and develop a mood and atmosphere in a room specific to each individual client.
There is little waste in the studio, for use is found even for the “leftovers” from larger projects, which are turned into smaller area rugs and sold. The carbon impact of the business is reduced by the simple elimination of excess shipping: the rugs are made here in the United States and sent directly to the customers. For Janet, sustainability is a natural offspring of long-term thinking that goes far beyond business practice:
“Working in a sustainable fashion just makes sense to me,” she says. “It is not an effort, more a design challenge. Anyone who has ventured into the world of trying to make a living weaving will tell you that innovation is a must. It is my hope that by looking at all aspects of my business in a sustainable way is not only good brain exercise for me today but helps generations to come by reducing my baggage that is getting dumped on them. Everyone has to figure out their own way to make a difference. What I consider to be the most important aspect of sustainability is education. There are millions of great people out there that just need to be informed.”
Lark rugs are available in high-relief or flatwoven style, of which many choices are available for viewing and order at the “Portfolio” section of the business’ website. Along with the traditional wool, cotton, and synthetic yarns, her work may also include fabric ribbons and even suede and leather, which is particularly interesting worked into a high-relief rug. (The latter are works of art in their own right and would make striking wall hangings.) With custom projects Janet works closely with each client, working up a Colors For Approval card from the fabric & paint samples provided by the customer and then – if the client wishes to do a more in-depth evaluation – for a charge creating an optional 16” x 16” square sample which be used to determine how well the finished rug suits its intended environment.
The practical beauty of Janet’s work can provide the opportunity to engage a larger audience in the ideals of sustainable interior design, and perhaps further along into the ideals of mindful living. How better to begin such a conversation than the furnishings of one’s daily life?
Lark Texile Design may be visited here.
Queries may be directed to:
Lark Textile Design
720 Sunset Pond Lane #2
Bellingham WA 98226