Hooked on Rugs

Canadian Artisan Martina Lesar Kumer Creates Vintage-Inspired, Hand-Hooked Rugs

Drawing on a longtime love of textiles, Canadian artisan Martina Lesar-Kumer creates unique, vintage-inspired, hand-hooked rugs.
by: Leah Kerkman | Timber Home Living | View this article as a .pdf 

Hooked on Rugs: Working with textiles is more than just a job for Canadian rugmaker Martina Lesar-Kumer; it’s in the very fabric of her personal history. With a seamstress mother, swathes of material surrounded Martina during her formative years.  “I’ve always loved fabric, and I think having it around all the time as a kid made me lean toward it as an adult,” she surmises.

She ran her own interior decorating business in Canada for a while until she decided to close up shop to spend time at home with her four children. She says she fell into rug-hooking by accident. “I’ve always had this need to do something creative, and Play-Doh and crayons didn’t quite cut it,” she laughs. “I tried quilting and knitting, but something about the hooked rugs just really got to me.”

She took a class on the rug-making method at a local shop and was, well, hooked. At first, Martina hooked rugs for herself and for her friends. But the owner of the shop where Martina took her first class took notice of the unique rugs and offered to sell them in her store. From that humble start, Martina estimates she’s hooked about 60 rugs for others since she started creating them in 2000.

Martina admits that the process of rug hooking is “pretty simple,” although her creations can take upwards of four months to complete. She begins a new rug by sketching a design on a piece of burlap. Using strips of over-dyed wool for an antique look, Martina hooks the pieces into the design until the rug is complete. She stresses that every one of her rugs is unique, she doesn’t repeat designs.

Though the process may be uncomplicated, the rugs themselves are complex works of art. Inspired by antique rugs and folk art, Martina likes to use colors and designs that feel timeworn.  To be able to make rugs the way women and men did 100 years ago, that?s really appealing to me,? Martina says. The bonus? Every one of her rugs is designed to be used, not merely displayed on a wall. ?It?s important that my pieces are functional. With four kids in the house, “there’s not much that’s off-limits,” she chuckles.

And, who knows? Maybe Martina’s children will be inspired by her handiwork to become third-generation fabric lovers and second-generation rug hookers. After they’ve had their fill of Play-Doh, of course.

Martina’s rugs can be found at Renaissance, a gift shop in Erin, Ontario. For custom pieces, which range between $120-$150 per square foot -visit Martina’s web site.

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