Historic Floorcloths- Tracy Mc Carron

by admins on December 12, 2008


Article Written by Beth Merryfield

We would like to introduce our readers to

Tracy Mc Carron, our featured artisan from Historic Floorcloths in Avondale, Pennsylvania. When we first met Tracy in 2005, we were first impressed by the quality of her craftsmanship and her passion for floorcloths.  So much of herself is put into each floorcloth.  Tracy’s enthusiasm has led to national recognition in Country Living Magazine and a “really cool book called Dream Floors” (Tracy Mc Carron).  We are delighted to introduce Tracy and her art to you.

 

Tracy McCarron’s artistic journey began similarly to many of today’s working mothers.  After Tracy left her marketing position to stay home with her young son, she nurtured her creativity through painting floorcloths.  Tracy researched how oilcloths (also called floorcloths) were traditionally made in the 17th and 18th centuries and has adapted those  

methods into her art form.  In 2002, Historic Floorcloths was born.   Wanting to furnish her late 1800’s farmhouse with authentic floorcoverings, Tracy found it hard to find cloths in the marketplace that met her home’s unique needs.  Feeling tired of business travel and having a career that did not foster her creative skills, Tracy was finally able to apply her talent for design and passion for art.  Tracy lives in historic Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania, which is ripe with art and history and inspiration.  Residing in such a historic setting offers Tracy limitless inspiration. 

 

Floorcloths originated when Early American settlers used the worn out canvas from ship sails that could no longer be used for sailing.  Our forefathers were quite resourceful.  That is, the canvases or “crumb cloths”, were used in finer homes atop of expensive oriental rugs or tapestries to protect them from food and drink mishaps.  Original floor canvases were made in much the same way as Tracy’s floorcloths are made today. It seems that some of Tracy’s best selling designs were also most popular in Early America.  She notes that checkerboards and diamonds are popular in many different color combinations and the mariner’s compass is a close second.

Tracy's Floorcloth in a Custom Kitchen

Diamond Patterned Floorcloth in Kitchen

Mariner's Compass

Tracy currently sells wholesale and retail.  She has established relationships with a group of wholesalers.  Such artist-retailer relationships bring greater exposure to her products.  Due to the custom nature of her product, she typically has to work very closely with shop owners and therefore, has led her to develop some great friendships and business partnerships.

When Tracy was asked if she is discriminative about whom she sells to, she replied, “I am extremely selective when choosing an outlet for my product.  There are a few other floorcloth artists and some of their work is wonderful.  But I really feel that my product is of the highest quality and not very well suited to mass production/distribution.  It has always been a personal issue for me to focus on quality over quantity.  I am simply not willing to put out a product that I am not absolutely proud of and willing to use in my own home.  Over the years I have considered ways to increase quantity produced and I am not willing to make any compromises which would cause the integrity of my work to suffer.  My floorcloths have always been made exclusively by me, and in doing so they are up to my high standards.  I consider them pieces of art and would not be willing to sign my name to them if they have not been beautifully or expertly made.  Because of this I want to develop relationships with some key shop owners that have a similar outlook.”

 

Looking ahead, Tracy would love to have her floorcloths displayed in wineries and restaurants as artwork.  She hopes her cloths would be seen by more interior designers as her coverings easily lend themselves to be customized to the needs of clients.  Tracy launched a colorful and, of course, “kid-durable” (Q&W term), line of children’s floorcloths.  Tracy believes them to be right at home in children’s boutiques, kid’s bedrooms and nurseries.  All the while, Tracy keeps to her original interpretation and reproduction of Early American designs.  Tracy often adds a modern twist to classics, such as a traditional black and cream checkerboard with a fun orange border. 

 

"Kid-Durable" Floorcloths

 

Most of Tracy’s retail sales are through word of mouth, Country Living Magazine referrals, Interior Decorators and through participation in outdoor artisan venues.  Although she has a website (www.historicfloorcloths.com) she does not sell her floorcloths online.  We asked about potential conflicts with selling both wholesale and retail. Tracy responded, “a customer would not be able to browse (my website or a retail shop) and then purchase direct from me via the internet”.  Also, she does not include pricing on her site.  “This strategy has minimized any potential conflicts with wholesalers and allows pricing of my product as necessary for their business and clientele”.

 

 

We asked Tracy is she could offer any advice for shop owners & artisans alike regarding weathering a poor economy.  Tracy replied, “It is important to stress to the shop owners that these floorcloths are custom pieces of art which are made to last a very long time.  They can be periodically re-varnished to keep them fresh or can be left to age and take on the patina of a treasured antique.  I use the heaviest weight and most durable canvas available and in almost every case some or all of the design has been painstakingly painted by hand.  That means the finished pieces are truly individual works of art and will provide years of enjoyment for their owners.  It’s the old adage that paying a little bit more for a much higher quality finished product makes the most economic sense in the long run.”  It seems that despite a lagging economy, Tracy’s business continues to thrive as customers are willing to make purchases from and support American artisans while believing they are investing in tomorrow’s heirlooms. 

 

Undoubtedly, Tracy is a unique individual with a vision, and a passion for her trade.  “Do what you love and love what you do” is her motto, which is apparent with every step you take on one of her historically inspired, one-of-a-kind, pieces of art.

 

Contact Info:  Tracy McCarron

                          e-mail:  tracy@historicfloorcloths.com

                       Phone:  610-268-2805

                     Town/State:  Avondale PA and New Preston CT

 

Resources:

Dream Floors: Hundreds of Design Ideas for Every Kind of Floor by Kathleen S. Stoehr (Author)

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