- Associated Press - Monday, June 19, 2017

TILTON, N.H. (AP) - In 1968, after 15 years of work, Janice Jurta’s father-in-law, George, got a patent for a machine that braided the wool needed for rugs.

With his new invention in hand, George opened Country Braid House with his wife, Marian.

Now, nearly 50 years later, Janice runs the company established by her in-laws, selling about 200 braided rugs a year and netting government contracts to breathe new life into treasured historic artifacts.

Last week, Country Braid House, whose current offices in Tilton sit a mile down the road from the company’s original location, was awarded a $45,000 federal contract to replicate a 1943 braided rug in the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City, Ind.

Jurta said the rug, which will be sent out to the former president’s home at the end of the year, comes with a number of difficult specifications.

“The contract was for the original colors of the rug, so it has faded so now there’s an issue with, do we go to the real colors … or, since everyone is looking at that, do we match it?” she said.

The process necessary to assemble a large braided rug is incredibly labor-intensive, Jurta said.

“We make braided rugs from wool cloth … we strip it, we braid it and then we hand-lace it,” she said. “When we hand-lace it, there is no exposed stitching on either side, so they’re truly reversible. You can also, by hand-lacing it, make it into shapes. Other than just an oval and round, we can do rectangles, we can do octagons, we can do circles within circles.”

The rug will be assembled by Jurta and her one full-time employee, Nancy Fogg, who is a sort of jack-of-all-trades at Country Braid House.

Fogg said the process of creating one of these rugs could take anywhere from a few days to a few months.

“They’re all different sizes, dependent on what they are. You have to cut and sew pieces together, and it takes a little more time,” she said.

The government contract represents an impressive growth of the business since Jurta and her mother-in-law took over in 1989.

When they took over, Jurta said, they were just starting to advertise their rugs for the first time, choosing a classified ad in Yankee Magazine.

“One day we got a phone call from people in Massachusetts who said, ‘We’d like to come up and take a look at some braided rugs,’ ” she recalled. “They ended up buying $1,500 worth of rugs. So that was our initial foray into advertising. … after that, Marian was the biggest fan of classifieds.”

Jurta said one of the biggest projects the company has taken on was a commissioned a 10-foot-by-54-foot rug 20 years ago, a braided rug she says is world-record-size despite the fact it hasn’t been verified by Guinness.

“We ended up renting the railroad station in Northfield during the summer of ‘97 and spent three months making it,” she said.

Jurta noted that the company has made rugs that now sit in homes and offices across the United States and the world, including six rugs at handmade craft commerce website Etsy’s headquarters in New York.

Even though they make so many rugs a year, Jurta said the rug for the Lincoln home was especially meaningful.

“We’re honored to be able to do it - it’s pretty cool to be a part of history,” she said. “I think when they see it, even though it’s a three-strand rug, I think they’re going to like it. I think it’s going to be fabulous.”


Online: https://bit.ly/2rwJ72H


Information from: Concord Monitor, https://www.concordmonitor.com

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