We talk to Pippa Elliot, designer of God’s Own Rugs
Pippa Elliot, the artistry behind God’s Own Rugs is one of a handful of people in the UK hand-tufting rugs. She is based in a studio at the regenerated Portland Works, an old cutlery factory in the heart of Sheffield.
From simple, clean Scandinavian lines to the explosions of rich South American palettes the design and colour scheme of each hand-rendered rug is unique. Pippa uses locally produced yarn from one faithful supplier and each collection is limited. God’s Own Rugs is founded on a simple philosophy: Pippa designs and hand-makes the unique, enduring, beautiful things she herself would want to live with.
After decades of travelling the world as a tour guide, working as a freelance and exhibiting photographer and working in film, she has now turned her hands and attention to the creation of these beautiful rugs. It’s taken three years of trial and error and learning the tools and tricks of the trade to get to this point. But here she is with her first collection: ‘Autumn/Winter 2016’.
Where did your interest in making rugs come from?
I love rugs – and could never find ones that I wanted to buy – that aren’t mass produced. It took me a few years to take the leap and buy the equipment – then a few years to teach myself – there are only a few ‘hand tufters’ in the UK. Also I come from a fairly ‘wool-y’ family so my childhood was filled with spinning, dying and weaving.
Where does your love and appreciation of design come from?
I have an unhealthy obsession with aesthetics and colour!
Talk me through (very simply) how you go about making a rug.
The yarn is dyed to order—this is a slow three-week process. I hand-tuft on a vertical frame using a Hoffman tufting gun, which works with compressed air. I literally ‘paint’ the canvas with wool! To tuft a rug can take up to a week, depending on how complex the design is, and once the tufting is finished I apply a latex backing which locks all the tufts into place. The rug then goes through a week drying process before shearing and hand finishing the rug. Then its ready to walk on!
What would you say are your inspirations behind the rugs?
I’ve spent half my life travelling and working abroad – so I get inspired from countries’ cultural designs and colours.
Can you describe your work environment?
I have an amazing studio at Portland Works—an old converted cutlery factory. I have lots of natural light and am surrounded by other makers. I’m accompanied by my Jack Russell.
What do you listen to while you work?
When I’m thinking it’s Radio 4, when I’m tufting it’s hip-hop and when I’m shearing it’s 70’s disco!
How do you feel when you finish a rug?
I can only see the flaws—then I know its time to go home! The next day I’m happy with it.
What’s your favourite rug and why?
Any rug by Verner Panton. Great geometric colours and design.
Do you have any unusual stories about your rugs?
I was asked to make an S&M ‘slave’ rug, but wasn’t quite sure what it was, so politely declined.
You can learn more about Pippa and see more of her designs at http://www.godsownrugs.co.uk.