Alice Duncan-Gardiner is a textile artist based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington who makes tufted wool rugs that we like very much.
How long have you been making rugs and why did you start?
My grandfather gave me a little latch hook kit in 2018 and it kind of grew from there. I made a lot of digital-based work while studying towards my fine arts degree at Elam, and I loved turning some of the patterns that had come out of that work into these quite tactile pieces. I purchased a rug gun during the first lockdown in 2020, in order to speed up the process and so that I could make bigger rugs.
Can you tell us how they’re made?
The rugs are all tufted. I have a frame set up in the spare room at home, and I use either a cut pile or loop pile gun depending on the look I’m wanting – at the moment I’m really into the detail the loop pile can provide! I use all deadstock carpet wool from factories in New Zealand, in order to try and make my work more sustainable. The rugs are backed with a latex glue and a heavy cotton fabric to protect them before the seams are overlocked.
What inspires the designs?
I love colour and pattern – grids, checks and ruled lines. I love finding patterns in the built environment and I also love playing with unexpected colour combinations inspired by the range of deadstock wool I’ve collected. My initial sketches are usually based on photos I’ve taken – maybe a little detail in a window, or the different colours on a building. I then develop these sketches into a repetitive pattern. One of my favourites is a photo I took of a building I saw in Japan, opposite the train station in Shibuya. It was covered in a lattice pattern made of repeating “L” shapes that created the appearance of a 3D grid. I’m currently working on turning this into a rug.
What are you up to now?
At the moment I’m home with my three-month-old baby, Willa, while working on the rugs. I also make knitted vests that feature gridded patterns too.