Having survived the ravages of Katrina, Daron Douglas's New Orleans cottage
is today filled with the brilliant colors of her hand-woven fabric rugs. Not only did her loom survive, her rugs seem to be
flying off the shelves (figuratively, of course).
"I've sold more rugs in the past two years than I ever have, " she says, almost surprisingly.
However, for those familiar with Daron's craft, the popularity
of these unique rugs should not be a shock. And although she typically has about three orders at a time, she's careful to
keep the craft personal.
"I want to make
what I envision," she says. "I don't want to try to figure out what people want."
Being surrounded by art, water and music in New Orleans, Daron has rarely experienced
a weaver's block. Inspired by the light of Lake Ponchatrain, her blooming garden and Joan Mitchell paintings, she is following
an unbroken family tradition, and continues to weave recycled pieces of fabric that catch the light and spread it across wide
bands of color.
Or as she explains the process,
"Weaving rugs is a way of playing music with these impressions, a way of bringing them underfoot into everyday life,
a way of bringing new life to my grandmother's tradition."
Daron has been weaving for years, and she continues to enjoy the craft of making rugs. The weaving process is fairly
physical, but, she admits, does not require much thought. She gleefully recalls a memory when her son, Colin, a toddler at
the time, equated her weaving to "building a rug."
Compared to the abundance of quilt
and rug makers near her hometown of Blaine in rural East Tennessee, NOLA didn't initially have the same demand or appreciation
for hand-woven rugs. But that soon changed. Today, Daron is contented as an artist in the heart of New Orleans, because the
area is a sanctuary for creativity.
|"There are a lot of artists here, and the community is very supportive of that," she says. "I
feel freer to try new things."
In Louisiana, one can find the fruits of her loom (pun intended)
at Louisiana Loomworks in the French Quarter. Because her materials are all scrap fabrics from the local Upholstery Unlimited,
her rugs are textured and organic. The owners of Loomworks began to notice that Daron's rugs seem to stand out among the
others in the shop.
"Mine were different," Daron said. "They're more primitive."
Now that she has a new loom (in addition to her grandmother's), she has begun making much larger pieces, some ten
feet in length and four feet in width. Daron seems to thrive on variety, as the process of her weaving always contains an
element of wonder.
"I try to put an edge on a color, but you never know how it's going
to fall," she says.
Sometimes Daron likes to flip through art books for inspiration. Upon seeing a painting she
likes, she will pick out a few spot colors to create a fresh design. With this technique, although the finished product is
a surprise, the result has been successful because "someone's artistic instinct has already worked with the color palate."
If you can't check out her most recent work in New Orleans, her rugs can be found at a number of different galleries
across the country. Daron also can create a custom rug based on a photo, a piece of fabric or even a story from one's childhood.
To contact Daron or find out more about her work and where to find it, visit her website.