Notes On a Floor Cloth

Notes On a Floor Cloth

Mark Chamberlain
Sep 13, 2011

It's a coincidence that it's Art, Craft and Collections month here at Apartment Therapy, as lately I've had so many questions from clients on just such a theme. Can you make stain out of paint? Can you make Pompeian frescos out of paint? Can you make a floor cloth? Let's look at the latter in particular.

Floor cloth was used in times past when one couldn't afford a carpet, which was a luxury item. Instead, you simply painted on canvas and nailed it to the floor. Do a quick google search and you'll see contemporary versions in compass point patterns, curly cues, and cute kittens.

I became intrigued at the idea briefly last summer when I was involved in a showhouse and we wanted to do a whole room in pattern on pattern, but they wouldn't let us paint the floor.

More googling will provide instructions on how to produce a floor cloth, but quite simply it the same thing as an easel oil painter stretching a canvass: you stretch a canvas over bars, gesso, draw and paint to your heart's fulfillment, and then topcoat with poly. Make sure you use a floor polyurethane as it's designed to move and stretch. After you remove your canvass from its frame, trim back the excess and miter the corners before you glue back the edges. My one question in all of this is, how do you nail it down, brass tacks?

For my experiment I chose a bold Chinese fretwork pattern. I've never found anything wrong with the combination of Farrow&Ball Railings 31 over Skimming Stone 241, where we're placing a warm light next to a dark cool. I'll close with a photoshop illustration of what your finished project might look like.

Images: Mark Chamberlain

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