Q&A with Rag Rugger Victoria Goulden

I first came across the rag rug work of Victoria Goulden on Instagram and was immediately enthralled by her colourful, contemporary rag rug creations. So, I got in touch to see whether she would be willing to answer some questions and share more of her work. And she said “yes”! What’s more, she turned out to be a very lovely lady indeed. Check out her beautiful rag rug pieces below…

Q&A with rag rugger, Victoria Goulden:

Victoria Goulden Rag Rugger in Chelsea Town Hall

This month’s Q&A is with the lovely Victoria Goulden.

Hi Victoria, would you mind telling us a little about yourself and your background please? 

I never had much confidence with my artistic abilities coming out of school, but was always making things. I studied photography back in the eighties in Bedfordshire, and when my eldest son was tiny I started experimenting with papier-mâché… I loved the idea of sustainable art and created anything from jewellery to small cabinets in it. I moved to the Norfolk coast 20 years ago and have been happily hooking away here ever since.

The Norfolk Coast

Victoria now lives by the Norfolk Coast.

Is rag rugging your hobby? If so, do you have another job? 

I’ve been rag rug making for about 25 years now – rag rugging is my obsession. I also work as a barber, so I cut hair… and rugs.

Frida Kahlo Handmade pictoral rag rug

The detail in Victorias pieces is superb.

And how did you get into rag rugging? 

I noticed a book on rag rugging and was absolutely captivated by the colour, possibilities and history of the craft. 

Rag rug David Bowie Starman

Victoria is so brave to take on people – I definitely couldn’t do Bowie justice like she did.

I love how modern and striking your designs are – where do you get your design inspiration from?

I love colour, and design ideas crop up constantly, but I particularly love the art of Mexico and Frida Kahlo, so that’s a theme that crops up a lot in my work. Commissions are usually a specific design requested by a client open to my own interpretation.

Rag rug Frida Kahlo hooked wall hanging

Frida Kahlo is a huge inspiration for Victoria.

Rag rug koi carp

It’s nice to meet another colour-lover like myself!

Nearly a year ago, I created my biggest ever piece, the black and white cat piece called ‘There you are’ this one was purely from the heart as I lost my cat Sylvester to cancer and was beyond heartbroken. I poured all of that into creating a huge wall hanging and in terms of complexity and patience, that piece was a turning point for me creatively. He’s portrayed sitting by the pond in the garden under the blood moon we had around that time. His sisters and a few other animals are concealed in the background.

There you are rag rug artwork by victoria goulden

There you are by Victoria Goulden.

Sylvester the cat

Sylvester the cat

Sylvester the cat

Sylvester the cat

Rag rug cat hooked artwork by Victoria Goulden

Here you can see what it looked like when it was a work in progress.

How do you go about starting a new project? Do you plan everything meticulously or do you kind of improvise? 

I browse charity shops weekly for colours and textures that pop out at me, but if I’ve a specific project in mind I’ll go “colour shopping”.

Rag rug materials and clothing in colour order

Victoria uses old clothing in her pieces.

Green loopy or hooky rag rugging

Victoria does sometimes have to go out looking for specific colours.

Do you use old clothing for you rag rugs or have to find some other way of sourcing your materials? It looks like some of your designs are pretty intricate! 

Everything I hook is recycled clothing. I gravitate to fabrics that fray as well as the easier fabrics since I love the interplay of textures.

Rag rug skulls in grey and cream

Like me, Victoria enjoys the interplay of different textures in rag rugging.

Are there any fabrics that you particularly enjoy working with? Are there any you avoid? 

I love velours and a bit of sparkle. I also like finer fabrics with a bit of stretch in them as I pencil hook mostly, so I avoid heavy dense wools and the like… I don’t tend to make rugs intended for the floor anymore.

Rag rug animal skull

Rag rug animal skull

Which is your favourite rag rug piece and why?

My absolute favourite piece is “There you are” with Sylvester the cat, but other favourite pieces tend to be recently finished ones I’m still in love with. Also Frida’s “The Little Deer” isn’t up for sale.

Frida Kahlo's "Little Deer" rag rug artwork by Victoria Goulden.

Frida Kahlo’s “The Little Deer” rag rug artwork by Victoria Goulden.

Frida Kahlo Little Deer rag rug artpiece

This is what “The Little Deer” looked like when it was work in progress.

For you, what’s the best thing about rag rugging?

Texture, colour, and the creation of art from old clothes.

Rag rug seahorses

Rag rug seahorses

Rag rug jellyfish

Rag rug jellyfish

Which is your least favourite part of the rag rugging process? 

Finishing!

Rag rug lioness artwork

Rag rug lioness

How does it feel when you finish a rag rug piece? 

Satisfied, but kind of sad… always straight on to the next one. It’s a compulsion.

Rag rug tea cosy with a black rabbit

Rag rug tea cosy

Are there any artists/ designers/ other rag ruggers who you love or are inspired by?

Diane Cox, Grayson Perry, Judy Carter, Van Gogh, Klimt, there’s so many…

Van Gogh Starry Night rag rug artwork made using recycled materials

Van Gogh – Starry Night

Vincent Van Gogh rag rug artwork made using old clothing and fabric offcuts

Vincent Van Gogh

Other than rag rugging, are there any other crafts you love?

Mosaic, Creative Journalling, Upcycled art generally and papier-mâché

Any that you haven’t done yet but would love to try if you had the time?

Pottery, encaustics

Would you recommend taking up rag rugging to anyone or do you think people have to have a certain prior skillset in order to learn the methods well?

I think anyone can do this; it’s a simple and effective craft that can, and does, open up art and creativity to everyone.

Frida Kahlo rag rug skull

Frida Kahlo Skull

What are you working on at the moment? Can you share any work in progress photos? 

I’m drawing up plans for a piece on the Quetzal, native bird of Guatemala, as I’m going out there on their rughooking tour to skill share with Maya women in 2020. No photos just yet, but soon… I also have plans for 3D pieces based on coral reefs. Oh and a Tudor series…

Any tips to newbie rag ruggers?

Don’t stress it, you really only need a hook and a good pair of scissors to start; I actually rarely work on a frame. Have fun with it!

Waterlily on green pond

Water lily

Rag rug waterlily made in the hooky technique

Rag rug water lily

Where can people see more of your work? 

I have Facebook and Instagram under Victoria Goulden Art. All upcoming shows and workshops are listed on those platforms.

Rag rug octopus by Victoria Goulden

One of Victoria’s latest works on Instagram – Rag rug octopus.

And finally, you may have heard about our 2019 Eco Challenge to be less wasteful in 2019, do you have any tips or tricks to be more environmentally friendly in our day to day lives?

Shop local, avoid plastics and reduce/reuse/recycle.

So, that was Victoria Goulden’s beautiful work 🙂 If you’d like to be the first to see future Q&As with rag ruggers, why not join our Rag Rug Community on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/RagRugCommunity/or join our fortnightly newsletter here.

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As always, happy rag rugging!

Elspeth x

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[…] had a bit of practice, you can achieve pretty much anything you set out to in rag. Just look at Victoria Goulden‘s Frida Kahlo, for […]