Rene Trim’s weekly arts & crafts round-up: Reviving the penny rug tradition


Ottawa Farmers’ Market now indoors & year-round!

Starting this Sunday, January 11, Ottawa will have its first ever year-round, indoor farmers’ market as the Ottawa Farmers’ Market kicks off its Winter Market at Lansdowne. It is the Market’s promise that all goods are sold by the vendors who produce them so – regardless of what it is you are buying – you will be supporting local as all vendors are from the area. The Winter Market will be held every Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm in the Aberdeen Pavilion.

A tradition revived: penny rugs

Danielle Potvin's penny rugs

Penny rugs first appeared in Canada around the middle of the 19th century. Made by (thrifty) ladies from scraps of wool or felt from old clothing, blankets and hats, these rugs were often backed with old burlap bags or feed sacks.

The name “penny” rug is derived from the use of coins as templates for circles that were cut out of fabric. These circles were then stitched in blanket stitch fashion to create designs that – apart from circles – often included scenes from everyday life such as flowers, birds and hearts. Sometimes, real pennies were incorporated in the rug to give it extra weight.

A penny rug is a decorative item rather than a functional one; they are meant to serve as a covering for beds, tables, dressers and mantles rather than to be put by the front door. They were also popular as wall decorations or pillows.

In 2004, Gatineau artist Danielle Potvin started to revive this popular folk art by creating handmade naive pieces, using ancestral Canadian rug making techniques. Danielle refers to herself as “eco-artisan” because she only uses recycled wool and cashmere – which is why she can often be found browsing thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets, looking for that perfect wool blanket or sweater. The process she uses involves sewing pieces of fabric of different shapes onto a cloth backing.  The appliqués may be built up to as many as three layers in order to give depth.  The pieces are then embellished with embroidery in contrasting colours.

Danielle’s work can be found in private and public collections such as the Canadiana Fund, created to enhance the beauty of official residences for the Prime Minister and the Governor General. She participates in select artisan market across the region; for more information, please check out her website.

Danielle Potvin's penny rugs


Herbal Swap and Barter Night

The Ottawa Herb Society is organizing a herbal swap and barter night on Monday 12 January from 7 pm to 9 pm at the Citizen Building Community Room at 1101 Baxter Road. Please note this is NOT a selling event; you can only swap or barter your herbs, herbal products (that you made) or herb related items such as books. Admission is free for members of the society and $5 for non-members.


That’s all for now, folks, have a creative week!


Rene Trim

Rene is the chair of the executive committee of the Ottawa Valley Crafts and Collectibles (OVCC) Guild. The OVCC organizes art & craft shows featuring local artists and artisans from the Ottawa Valley.


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