Sheree Sorrells of GraffitiMats shares her wonderful designs and the concept behind her business.
ABI: Given your background as a rug weaver, how did you transition to making GraffitiMats?
SS: I have always been attracted to ‘art for the floor,’ and throughout my career I challenged myself to make the best possible floorcovering in both design and function. This motivation has led me to explore many techniques of expression.
I was drawn to the idea of floorcloths by a question from one of my rug clients….”Which of your woven rugs would be the best to put in front of the kitchen sink?” And because this very simple question is the bundling of design, color, and high performance durability; the truthful answer was “None of them.” The kitchen sink, being the heart of the work center in any home is the killer spot for a rug….any rug. So I cast a wistful eye to the durability factors of a painted floorcloth.
But I did not consider myself a painter. I was a weaver.
In my rugweaving, I used a lot of beautifully shaded solid color fabrics, and it was one of my joys to combine these colors with their textures into unusual applications. I began to experiment with designs laid on canvas with solid color fabrics, and I liked the result. It was so completely different from rugweaving because it was quick, spontaneous even, to create in this way. I liked the freedom.
One day, my experimentation worked.
ABI: What do you consider your greatest strength in designing your line?
SS: The color sense I developed during rugweaving is by far my strength. It is the most often comment from my customers. This is the part I enjoy the most as well.
ABI: You’ve thought carefully about your products and what they offer to customers. Please share that with us.
SS: Well, don’t get me wrong…I love painted floorcloths, and have a tremendous respect for floorcloth painters. I make traditional painted floorcloths too.
But I felt there was a market for a less expensive item that could be customized, and was suitable for busy and messy families. As I began to work with the technique of fabric collage, I decided I wanted it to be different than a traditional painted floorcloth. Better. So I tackled the negative issues as I saw them, of a painted floorcloth.
- I wanted it to be a production item. Reproducible and offer customizing in color.
- I wanted it to have great durability and service.
- I wanted to create items that were original, and even though production, not all the same.
- I wanted it to be less expensive (than a hand-painted item)….offering options for smaller items such as placemats and coasters.
- I wanted a flat hem to reduce the danger of tripping, and eliminate the curling of corners so often seen on painted floorcloths.
- I wanted not to have to wait for paint to dry.
- I wanted to be able to offer employment in my community as a cottage industry.
ABI: What are your plans for growing your business?
SS: We have been primarily a retailer since the beginning of GraffitiMats. But we would like to move to wholesaling. We’re ready, we have a phenomenal product, and we can handle the production. We have sold over 15,000 tablemats since we started. Some of our customers have 4 or 5 GraffitiMat floorcloths in a single home.