Abigail Smallcanyon began helping her mother when she was three years old. She says by age six she had the hang of it. That was when she sold her first rug to a trading company in Shiprock, New Mexico. Now she is in her early twenties and making beautiful rugs. Her process of naturally dying her wool is what makes her rugs stand apart from commercially dyed pieces. This process is very labor intensive, and Abigail has taken a series of pictures to show that process.
She begins by collecting things such as rabbit bushes, tree leaves, tree bark, white clay, and juniper as pictured above.
After she has collected the ingredients for dying her rugs she puts them into a pot and brings the water to a boil.
She then adds the wool to the pot and turns the wool so each side absorbs the color.
This turquoise color is achieved by mixing rabbit bush with thorns bullheads.
Sunflower seeds have created a shade of purple.
Sunflower seeds and red roots create this gorgeous pink color.
Many times the desired color can not be accomplished with natures ingredients and innovation is required. Here Abigail is testing Kool Aid packages for an orange color.
After the wool has been dyed it is taken from the water and rung out. Susie, Abigail’s mother is shown above taking the wool from the water. She will also shake the wool to get out the leaves, thorns, and other ingredients that have stuck to the wool during the dying process. The wool will then be hung to dry, after it is dry it will be untangled and rolled into balls.
The home made loom pictured above is used by Abigail to string her warp, which is very tough sheep or goat wool. Once she has done that she ties it off and moves it to the loom she will use to weave her rug. The loom shown is very large and shows one of her rugs being started.
All of this hard work pays off. Her finished rug is amazing. If you wish to see the rugs by Abigail and her mother let us know. We will be happy to send pictures.