Tufting Magic

Tufting Magic

Published on Thursday, January 20, 2022. This article appears in the Winter 2022 issue of American Craft Magazine.
three colorful tufted rugs overlapping one another on a gray floor with a person wearing checkered slip on shoes and white pants standing on them

Mai Ohana in her studio with three completed commissions from 2021: Web (top), Orange Squiggle (bottom), and Berry Chain (right). Photo by Terttu Uibopuu.

From Instagram to #RugTikTok—the rug-making corner of the platform, naturally—rug tufting has gone viral. And no surprise: watching acid-green and Pepto-pink yarns punched at high speeds into shaggy carpets and trippy textiles is the kind of oddly satisfying content the internet loves.

Instead of the old latch hooks and punch needles of the past, today’s tufters reach for their trusty and (relatively) affordable tufting guns. After a design is prepped on tufting cloth, users punch dense loops of yarn into it, rapid-fire, finishing a rug in just hours or days.

For three young textile artists who started ahead of the trend, tufting is fiber art infused with playful design and their artful aesthetic, resulting in something uniquely theirs.

artist in white jumpsuit with black polkadots posing with vibrant hand tufted wall art with corner of wallhanging covering her face

Savannah, Georgia–based Trish Andersen takes a painterly approach to her tufted works and color-filled wall hangings. The Savannah College of Art and Design fibers grad was notably featured at Design Miami 2019 with a large-scale tufted series. Her more recent works have a trompe-l’oeil effect, resembling draped, dripping, abstract expressionist–like canvases.

trishandersenstudio.com | @trishandersenart | TikTok @trishandersenart

art studio with many spools of colorful yarn and a hand tufted wall hanging on display on back wall

TOP: Photo courtesy of the artist. BOTTOM: Photo by Adam Kuehl.

Inspired by Memphis design, interiors of the ’70s and ’80s, and what she calls “powerclashing” or using super-vibrant contrasting colors together, Hampshire College graduate Mai Ohana never shies from bold geometric patterns. Contrasting checkerboards sliced by mischievous squiggles, groovy two-tone marbling, and mod black and white are all signature patterns in Ohana’s popular online shop, launched in 2020.

maiohana.com | @maihohana | TikTok @mai_ohana

artist posing on floor with arrangement of colorful hand tufted rugs in displayed in studio against a black backdrop
assorted colorful hand tufted rugs

TOP: Photo by Carina Allen. BOTTOM: Photo by Mai Ohana.

assorted colorful irregularly shaped hand tufted rugs on a gray floor

Caroline Kaufman’s textural tufted works are composed of abstract elements that seem to float, weightless, in space. A Pratt Institute fashion design alum, Kaufman’s interest in knitwear and painting led her to tufting back in 2018, well before it took off on social media. She regularly posts tantalizing detail shots and works-in-progress on her Instagram (and TikTok to a lesser extent), straight from her picturesque Brooklyn studio

carolinerosekaufman.com | @carolinekaufman | TikTok @caroline_kaufman

artist posing beside tufting work in progress in an upright frame in a studio with an antique furnace

Photos courtesy of the artist.

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Cover of Winter 2022 issue of American Craft