Navajo Madness

What Women Really Think
Oct. 12 2009 11:58 AM

Navajo Madness

/blogs/xx_factor/2009/10/12/going_native_american_with_rugs_and_textiles/jcr:content/body/slate_image

One of my favorite stores in New York is Paula Rubenstein Ltd. , home to all kinds of anti-mass production curiosities including giant balls of string (and barbed wire), a driftwood lamp the size of a sixth-grader, and the most comprehensively fabulous collection of Navajo blankets you'll ever see. They don't necessarily come cheap-this is Soho, not a thrift store in Wyoming-but I consider each one a work of art.

Advertisement

Native American motifs have swung in and out of vogue for decades: Ralph Lauren has long recognized that Navajo sweaters are just as American as preppy cableknits and Western-themed movies have kept the look alive. But there were some dark years in the 1990s for the colorful stripes, diamonds and checkerboards I love so dearly: Think Barbra Streisand album covers or the Arizona Jeans Company at J.C. Penney. A Navajo-printed denim jacket (paired with a turquoise bolo tie) or an entire duvet set may never look chic, but let's ponder some updated applications for our predecessors' handiwork:

-Upholstery: why not upholster an occasional/slipper chair in one of these incredible rugs ? If yours is a museum-quality I wouldn't cut it up, but if George Smith and ABC Carpet can cover entire sofas in old kilims I see nothing wrong with repurposing a geometric blankie. Try centering a diamond design on the seat and back.

-Wall decoration: Hanging rugs and textiles feels a little grandiose, yet I love the idea of three or four unmatching blankets on square canvas stretchers hung against a long neutral wall. Would also make a graphic headboard panel.

-Furniture adornment: faithful reader Evan sent this pic of his kilim-covered Parsons dining table -pretty genius, no? This is definitely a DIY project fit for a sturdy cotton rug, not a blanket, but a good glue/staple gun and some elbow grease would do the trick. Maybe start with an Ikea side table and pay special attnention to mitering the corners, as Evan did here.

Image of Navajo rug via Len Wood's Indian Territory .

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Science

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

We Could Fix Climate Change for Free. What Exactly Is Holding Us Back?

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 6:09 PM Here's Who Voted to Fund Syrian Rebels and Get This ISIS Conflict Really Cooking
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 5:56 PM Watch Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, Bill Hicks, Mitch Hedberg, and More on New YouTube Channel
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 5:26 PM If Fixing Global Warming Is Free, What’s the Holdup?
  Health & Science
Jurisprudence
Sept. 17 2014 4:49 PM Schooling the Supreme Court on Rap Music Is it art or a true threat of violence?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?