vintage wall hangingI decorate, therefore, I am. I was at an estate sale in Stockbridge, Mass., recently and found the most wonderful vintage wall hanging for my hallway. It is perfect — absolutely perfect — against the passionate peach walls, which coordinate with the passionate peach streaks of color in the resilient tile in the hall, original to the house. And the wall hanging itself — beautifully rendered!

vintage wall hangingThe artistry in this wall hanging is a marvel, a delight. It seems basically to be a “weaving”. The long strings were tied vertically, high to low… then the vase full of flowers was woven in with chunkier yarn.

vintage-wall-hanging-4Above: The artist was Primm ffrench — that’s her woven signature, above. This house was full of all manner of wonderful treasures.

vintage vctAbove: This hall has always been an interesting space — the vintage vinyl composite tiles are just 6″ x 6″ square — an odd size.  The wall hanging is sized perfectly — that’s a lot of blank wall in a kind of tight space — and while the wall hanging is large, it’s also quite “airy” because of its peek-a-boo design. It’s like — it was designed just for this spot!

vintage-wall-hanging-11vintage-wall-hanging-10vintage-wall-hanging-9vintage-wall-hanging-8vintage-wall-hanging-6vintage-wall-hanging-5vintage-wall-hanging-1vintage-wall-hanging-3vintage-wall-hanging-1-2This is the kinda crafty artistry that we could all try our hand at. But, I bet it is wicked difficult to pull off well. Primm ffrench had it goin’ on.

Part of the story is that I almost didn’t get this. I noticed it on the wall shortly after I came in. There was no price tag, so I asked about it. The helper said if the tag was gone, that meant someone had claimed it. I was at the sale for quite a while, though… and maybe an hour later, finally checking out, the wall hanging was still there. I asked the leader of the sale what was up. He helped me go take a closer look — and sure enough, the price tag had fallen behind a piece of furniture in front of the wall hanging.


I’m so happy this lovely work found its way into my house. It gives me a zing of happiness every time I approach it.

  1. Mary Elizabeth says:

    A great find! Haven’t been to an estate sale in ages. I need to get some things done at home first. Does anyone know the name of this art? It isn’t exactly macrame, but it seems related.

  2. sherree says:

    Hi Pam,
    I love that piece; it looks great in your peachy hallway 🙂 I was wondering about the flooring in the hall area (closest in the 1st photo). Is it cork squares? I have them all over my house under the floating floors and carpet that the former owners laid. Unfortunately they painted the entire house without using drop clothes and spilled and dripped paint all over them. We would like to get the paint off and refinish them but don’t know how 🙁

    1. pam kueber says:

      Yes — original cork. I had the same cork in the foyer “refinished” once — just like wood floors, they guy scraped off the top layer. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t perfect, but it worked. We then used a super duper poly over the top. It was clear: We could only do this once — not enough thickness do it more than that. Remember my Precautionary Pam basic spiel: Test what you are dealing with first so you will know whether there’s vintage nastiness.

  3. lisa in Seattle says:

    No idea whether it would work with cork, but I used a product called “Crud Cutter” to get the paint off linoleum-like floor tiles (very similar to the ones in the OTHER photo, but not 6″ squares. Paint dripped and poured all over!) It was a huge job but the result was terrific. I squirted on a heavy layer of Crud Cutter, let it soften, scraped with a large putty knife, then more Crud Cutter and a sponge mop to get off the rest. According to the label, the chemical is not toxic, and I have to say there were no bad fumes.

  4. sue says:

    As someone who used to do needlework and gifted my creations, I always am a bit sad when I see pieces in the thrifts. I think about the work that went into the piece and I always hope that someone (like you), will come and buy the piece and it will begin a new life. I totally understand that times change, tastes change and life goes on, but unique pieces do hold a different, special type of energy.
    Good thing you were persistent!

    1. Mary Elizabeth says:

      Sue, I know exactly how you feel! I made so many crewel and needlepoint hangings and pillow covers for friends and family, and they all were appreciated and hung up or used, but they have now disappeared. I wish when the people who receive such gifts change their decor they would just say, ‘I’m getting rid of all my owl things (or whatever), and since you made this for me, I wondered if you would like to have it back to keep as an example of your work.” Maybe they could tell the maker how much they have enjoyed it, etc. There must be a way of doing this lovingly so it doesn’t seem rude.

      I made a quilt for a young couple when they married, and they were very excited, as I had chosen the colors to go with the bedding, etc. they had put on their registry. However, when their cat started clawing it, they took it off the bed and put it in a closet where it would be safe The next time they saw me they told me what had happened and offered to give back the quilt. We discussed the problem and what they might do about it, and they opted to put the quilt on the wall instead of on the bed. I was so grateful that they were open about the problem and were willing to give it back rather than see the work destroyed.

    2. pam kueber says:

      I totally agree — I see all the needlework, framed or on pillows, at estate sales, and I think about the woman (usually) of the house doing all that work, and I want to buy it all. Oh: The afghans, too! At my local Salvation Army, they typically have at least half a dozen lovely vintage crocheted afghans for sale for a song — and some of them are spectacular. Alas, I must already have 6 (8? 10?) vintage afghans, including the one my grandmother made for me….

      Surely, though, this stuff is not going into the dumpster if not sold. *coverseyes* at the though

      1. Mary Elizabeth says:

        I think we all know about your afghan addiction, Pam. 🙂 I think one of the reasons they show up at Goodwill and Salvation Army is that color palettes change between the time they are made and the following decades. For example, I see a lot of brown and orange or avacado and gold combinations that were obviously crocheted or knitted in the 1970s.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Yes, I guess I could have made this clearer — this was the estate sale at the ffrench house. I have a link to her obituary in the story.

  5. Marta says:

    I think there are a few issues with vintage needlework. For wall hangings, particularly if they’ve been in a kitchen, they can get really dirty. A lot of people don’t have any idea how to go about cleaning them, or simply don’t want to bother.

    A gentle vacuuming with a clean upholstery brush is often enough to bring a piece back if it hasn’t been exposed to greasy cooking fumes. Dirtier pieces can be removed from their frames and hand washed, or taken to the dry cleaners to be cleaned and reblocked. The latter is like magic. It’s also the safest way to deal with materials that you aren’t sure are colorfast.

    With afgans, there was a big period of time where not only was it downright impossible to get attractive colors to work with, the synthetic yarns were about as comfortable as wrapping yourself up in Brillo. You can make that better by adding liquid fabric softener to the rinse cycle when you launder them. A dryer sheet isn’t enough.

  6. Jacquie Y says:

    What a precious piece of art, and your wall color is perfect showing through, it highlights the whole piece! (I thought I was the only one hooked on afghans) :o) I have wayyyy many! It is hard to pass up knowing the time and effort to do them. They are also works of art to me..also some quilts are just as special. I just love the treasure hunt..can’t help myself.

  7. carrie says:

    I work at a thrift store, and its amazing how much embroidery, hand knitted, and crocheted items are donated. They are very dated, and you wonder about the ladies that put sooo much time and love into these projects. Its dis-heartening when they get tossed due to the age of the item. I have retrieved many items from the dumpster, and sold them on eBay. I currently am restoring a 1961 trailer home entirely with eBay proceeds. (:

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