Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fake Braided Rug

For Goodnight Moon I needed a large circular braided rug for the center of the room. It needed to be round, grey (to eventually give a moon-like appearance) and 10' across. After a brief search online it became very clear that this was not something I was going to find. It had to be made.
Before I show you pictures I have to acknowledge my friend Katy who I hired to help me with this show, and who did almost all of the labor on this project.
A traditional braided rug is made from strips of wool, but wool is expensive and I wanted something thicker so I would end up with larger braids (and the process would therefor be faster.) The three colors of grey fleece were cut into roughly 2" strips and then braided together. Katy kept the braids somewhat loose to help speed the process.

to keep a rough idea of how far she was getting (and partially to keep the whole thing from turning into a tangled mess) Katy wound it on the floor as she went. 
Later, when Katy had used up all the fabric I bought we took the time to lay the whole thing out neatly and flatten the braids. It went from being roughly 4'-6" across to just at 6', something to keep in mind if you take on a similar project. 
Here is the rug after the first day. Unfortunately the 10 yards of fleece I purchased wasn't enough, so back to the fabric store. 
A real braided rug is time consuming and difficult because all of the braids need to be stitched together along the entire length of the spiral. To speed the process for this project we decided to glue our braids to a backing instead.
Katy stitched together two widths of grey canvas to get a 10'x10' square and then started gluing, spiraling out from the center. the gluing helped to spread the braids out to their widest to cover as much area as possible with each braid. 

The gluing also allowed us to leave small gaps (which add up over a 10' rug). With the grey canvas backing being a close enough color to some of the fleece, the gaps all but disappear from just a few steps back. 

As Katy was gluing the braids she discovered that we should have purchased longer glue sticks (she used so many, that adding new sticks was the most annoying part of the process). She also discovered that one giant long braid wasn't the best idea. If we had done it in shorter length pieces, she would have gotten tangled less, and spent far less time untwisting the braid to get it to lay straight. 

After laying out that same first day's braid on the canvas we had closer to 7' of diameter. We still need more, but this is a great start, and I'm going to bring pictures into rehearsal to make sure we want to go the whole 10' we planned before continuing. 

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