Penny rugs are a decorative art made by appliqueing round cloth medallions onto another piece of cloth in a pattern. As with many fabric crafts, penny rugs were first made when materials were scarce, as they were during Civil War times. Small scraps of wool and felt were attached to a rough fabric such as burlap or felt using a blanket stitch to make a table runner or mat; they were too delicate to actually use as rugs.
I first learned about penny rugs from Aunt Jean, an artist who created a series of decorative pieces in primary colors, and I was thrilled to be the recipient of her art work.
When I saw a penny rug style runner at Marshall’s, of course I grabbed it off the shelf. Creating a tablescape around a beautiful historical fabric story is right up my alley.
Starting with my bare table, I created the base with the runner. I’ve been wanting to use the little stool that my son made in junior high shop class for a centerpiece, and this homespun setting was its perfect mate. My Partylite lantern and some turquoise accents set the right tone with the stool.
Adding a rustic ceramic jug filled with silk sunflowers and leaves continued the earthy color scheme. The turquoise hand thrown pot, used here as a wine holder, adds a jolt of sky-blue freshness.
The blues in the centerpiece allowed me to bring out Oksana’s good china again — you’ve heard about my next door neighbor’s tableware before. Its intricate blue and gold pattern joins together the geometrics of the penny rug and the abstract of the napkins.
The color of a beautiful autumn sky is once again reflected in the glass accent plates and the blue Ball jars.
Ball jars say “home” to me because I spent many hours working with my parents canning garden produce while I was growing up. I have a collection of old jars saved from my father’s basement, but these were new this year. They are a heritage edition celebrating Ball’s 100th anniversary. “1913 saw the launch of the launch of the first true “Perfect Mason” jar. These limited edition jars are a celebration of the heritage featuring period-correct blue color and embossed logos on the front and back” (amazon.com). Pairing Bill’s pottery mugs (more here about the mugs) with the Ball jars felt like just the right homespun touch for this tablescape.
This table is full of curated items from my collection and from artist friends’ stock, including Debbie Watson Glass, but sometimes one’s best ideas are just happy coincidences. I found these napkins on sale at World Market and I just loved the colors. When the turquoise theme came together in this tablescape, I knew my bargain napkins had found their home.
People sometimes ask me how long it takes to set my tables, and that’s an interesting question. For this one, it’s been percolating in my head since I bought that penny rug runner in August. I’ve been gathering materials together all fall, but the actual table setting doesn’t take much time. I encourage novice tablescapers to build a collection of classic pieces that will be useful over and over again in your entertaining. And just like anything else, you can develop your eye with practice. You don’t need to be overly ambitious; you should be able to eat at your table and not just look at it! As soon as I am done photographing my tables, we begin to use it and continue throughout the next week.
Don’t forget the little details — the jewelry of your table.
Here’s my best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. To paraphrase Raffi in Baby Beluga, all you really need is a song in your heart, food in your belly and love in your family.
I’m linking up today with the creative bloggers at The Scoop at Confessions of a Plate Addict, We Call It Olde at We Call It Junkin’, Centerpiece Wednesday at The Style Sisters, Let’s Dish with Cuisine Kathleen, Open House Party with No Minimalist Here, and Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch. Be sure to stop by and say, “Hello!”
Got my bags, got my reservations,
Spent each dime I could afford.
Like a child in wild anticipation,
I long to hear that, “All aboard!”
Music and lyrics by Bud Green, Les Brown and Ben Homer (1944)