For some time now, a select group of talented men and women have been enjoying the art of making punch needle rugs from the Oriental Rug Designs collection. This group of artists continues to punch these rugs and astound anyone who has the opportunity to see their work. It is our hope that this web site will enable everyone an opportunity to be the creator of their legacy by punching a rug from Oriental Rug Designs. If you enjoy traditional hooking, needlepoint, cross stitch, or any other form of needlecraft making these rugs will be more rewarding because of the quality and look of these rugs. When you have completed your rug you can place it on the floor and every one will admire it.
Frameless Punch Needle Begins
In 1925 a woman living in Braintree, MA saw her neighbor’s Chinese rug and thought to herself, “Bet I could copy that!” Her name was Vesta May Marston, and she started with burlap bags, unraveled sweaters from a local thrift store, and a pencil-like punch. She used the pencil punch and the balls of yarn and pushed the yarn into every hole of the burlap. She copied the original Chinese design of her neighbor’s rug.
When her friends saw the rug she made, they all wanted to learn how. Hence, Vestamayd Rugs was created. Being a creative woman of fine taste, Vesta May combined traditional motifs to make original designs and prided herself that no two designs were alike.
Soon she was teaching her friends, neighbors, and members of Braintree women’s club. Her success was literally overwhelming. About that time, Mrs. Vera Van Schagen showed up at Vesta May’s house looking for yarn to punch into a canvas she got as a gift. Little did she know at the time that she was to be Vesta May’s last student. She was at the right place at the right time, because she purchased this cottage industry for herself.
Mrs. Van Schagens worked hard at making the Vestamayd Business a success. She instinctively knew that the yarn needed to be expanded, the punch modified, and the backing tightened. It took her five years to perfect the punch and find backing that can withstand 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. She also got to work on many new designs after some of the antique Oriental rugs hanging in Boston museums.
Her husband, William Van Schagen quit his job to help his wife with the business. He was able to reproduce the designs by making silk screens to print on the tighter backing. This eliminating all the hour spent on hand drawing the designs. The whole family was involved with making this business successful.
Vestamayd competition Halli Associates, Inc.
Halli Lg Visse
A local neighbor saw how successful Vestamayd was and decided to open the same business with different designs. That company was named Halli Associates, Inc.
I was exposed to Halli in 1980 while visiting a friend in Connecticut. My friend had taken a few lessons and was making a small Sarouk rug. I picked it up and immediately wanted her to teach me how to do it. I think I watched her punch a 10” row and I wanted to try. I sat there for an hour punching away, and I knew I had to buy my own rug. My friend told me that she could take me to her teacher and I could buy my own rug. Needless to say, I purchased a small Chinese rug called Shou and a large Persian Tabriz. I then scheduled lessons to take place over one week, since I didn’t live in Connecticut and wanted to learn as much as I could during my time there.
Vestamayd had a competitor with a large selection of designs that were different. At the time there were many teachers throughout New England area selling and teaching several women and men the art of frameless punch needle rug making. Halli eventually went out of business in about 1998. It was sad to have all those gorgeous designs to go away.
I hear from people who started a rug from all of the frameless rug companies mentioned here. Frequently I am asked to help with a rug from Halli. The only problem I have is that Halli had 4-6 different colors that I cannot match.
In 1988 Mrs. Van Schagen’s Vestamayd rein was over, she decided to give the business to her only two adult children, Jan and David. Jan lived on the west coast, and David stayed in Braintree. The Mississippi River was the dividing line for customers. Eventually Jan renamed the company Oriental Rug Designs, and David named his American Heirloom.
Initially they both had the same designs but with time each introduced different designs. All of the designs are categorized as Caucasian, Persian, Turkish, Turkoman, Chinese, Modern and Southwest.
Oriental Rug Designs sold in 2004
In 2004, Oriental Rug Designs owners, Jan and Jim Fox decided it was time to retire. Dale and Julie Charette purchased Oriental Rug Designs located in Missouri, and brought it to Ohio. The business was set up the in our home, thinking until I generate dependable income I wouldn’t have to pay rent for a store front. It was so convenient that I never moved it out of our home.
Immediately, we had to bring this cottage business online and give every customer the opportunity to see ORD’s entire collection. We learned how to make silk screens so new rugs could be generated. Our pamphlet was introduced so customers had pictures of finished rugs without going online.
2021 is the year we launch this new web site.