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gail bean fine art   •   a collection of floorcloths, paintings, drawings, and notecards

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about floorcloths

The History of Floorcloths

Floorcloths, sometimes called oilcloths, were some of the earliest forms of floor covering dating back to England in the 1700’s. They were popular in the United States during colonial times. Floorcloths were used to cover drafts in hardwood floors and were less expensive than wool carpet. The development of linoleum and other less expensive floor coverings all but removed floorcloths from American homes in the mid 1900’s. There was a resurgence of them in the 1970’s because of their variety in pattern and society’s interest in contemporary art. Today there are numerous artists who produce floorcloths for homes and businesses, their styles as varied as the customers for whom they create.

About Floorcloths

Floorcloths are made from durable, heavyweight 100% cotton canvas. All have a sewn hem with mitered corners. The raw canvas is primed with gesso and the design painted with acrylic paints. The final painting is covered with five coats of polycrylic, a tough clear coating that keeps the cloth durable and pliable.

With proper care, floorcloths provide years of pleasure and hold up to substantial daily use, including children and pets. Floorcloths are used on hardwood, linoleum, or concrete floors, but are not suitable for placing over carpet. They are an alternative to area rugs.

Care and Use

Place the floorcloth on a clean floor. It is important to remove even small particles of dirt as they could create “bumps” that could permanently distort the cloth. Furniture may be placed on top of the cloth, but put protective glide caps on the legs. The floorcloth should be kept clean. Mop with water and mild soap or use a mixture of vinegar and water. Avoid gritty cleansers or harsh chemicals. Do not put in the washing machine. Floorcloths are not for outdoor use. When storing, do not fold or bend. They are best stored flat, but can be rolled.


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