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Rag rug owner looks for permanent display for his large collection

PUBLISHED: 22:14 20 August 2017 | UPDATED: 22:14 20 August 2017

John Miller who is looking for a permanent place to display his rag rugs. Picture: Lucy Begbie

John Miller who is looking for a permanent place to display his rag rugs. Picture: Lucy Begbie

Archant

A man who believes he has the largest collection of East Anglian rag rugs wants them to be on permanent display in the town they came from.

John Miller believes he has the largest collection of rag rugs in East Anglia. Picture: Lucy Begbie John Miller believes he has the largest collection of rag rugs in East Anglia. Picture: Lucy Begbie

John Miller has collected his 80 colourful rugs from Diss ‘through sweat and tears’ over more than twenty years.

And now he wants to display his collection to inspire others to return to traditional craft making including rag rug making.

He said: “ My hope is to rekindle the interest in rag rug making as an artisanal activity to encourage local craft making activities.

The idea is to inspire people into recycling materials into creative objects that are both beautiful and useful.

Families made rag rugs out of old clothes using sacks as a backing. Picture: Lucy Begbie Families made rag rugs out of old clothes using sacks as a backing. Picture: Lucy Begbie

They need to be on display in Diss where they originally come from.”

The collector’s rugs are made out of recycled clothing cut into strips - even tights and trousers were used and given a second life.

And families making the rugs would also use the clothes from their deceased as a reminder of their loved ones.

Mr Miller’s passion for rag rugs began after a visit to Turkey where he stayed in Istanbul for a month with a Turkish friend.

John Miller was inspired to collect rag rugs with his purchase of kremlins bought on a trip to Turkey. Picture: Lucy Begbie John Miller was inspired to collect rag rugs with his purchase of kremlins bought on a trip to Turkey. Picture: Lucy Begbie

It was when they were touring Central Anatolia that they came across two old kremlins at the bottom of a pile of carpets.

The rug collector bought the kremlins for next to nothing and he still has them hanging on his walls at home.

Kremlins are the poor man’s carpet made by the nomads, and the collector started to wonder what the English version of these would be.

“Rag rugs were made so poor households could have the luxury of a warm rug on a hard stone floor - they used to use a sack as a backing cloth,” he said.

“Rag rug making is one of the few traditions in this country that survived the two world wars.

“It is lovely to see a new interest in rug making and it would be wonderful to put my rugs on display to encourage an upsurge in artisanal activities which includes rag rug making.”

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