FUNCTIONAL and practical, a doormat isn’t usually given much consideration beyond a simple "welcome" message. But what if your doormat was, in itself, a work of art?

That’s exactly what Glasgow-based artist Kelly Sloan is creating. The 27-year-old runs Sloan Tufting, an online business which makes customised doormats and rugs, made to order from start to finish.

“I didn’t really see myself going down the route of making rugs,” Kelly laughs, “but it’s actually really creative.”

The Herald:

Raised in the south side of the city, she studied fashion and textiles at Cardonald College and then a degree in textiles at the Glasgow School of Art. She learned about the process of rug-making during a competition at college – which she won – where she made a rug for a Scottish carpet firm who put her design into production.

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But it wasn’t until lockdown, when Kelly saw people on TikTok making rugs, that she decided to try manufacturing her own designs. She bought a tufting gun (a handheld machine that rapidly feeds yarn through a needle and punches it into fabric) and the rest, as they say, is history.

“It was supposed to just be a hobby,” Kelly explains, “but I soon got into selling my pieces.”

She started selling some of her own designs, based on artwork she had created for her final project at uni, but soon realised there was a lucrative market in making individual commissions.

The Herald:

Clients have asked for mats in the design of their postcode, business logo or even the surname of a newly married couple for an innovative wedding gift. Kelly receives all her orders through her Instagram page (@sloantufting), where she also posts videos showing the process involved in making her rugs.

“It’s similar to making a carpet,” she explains. “I’ve got a large frame, which I stretch some open weave fabric across, really tight. Then whatever design I am doing, if it’s my own design or one I’ve been sent, I put it on my iPad and project it on to the fabric. It has to be projected inverted so that it shows up the correct way on the front. Then I thread the gun with different colours of yarn, push the button and away it goes, before sealing and finishing it. It can take a couple of days to do each rug, but making the design is often the most time-consuming part.”

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As a small business owner, Kelly is keen to support other independent firms when it comes to sourcing her material.

“I try to get my raw materials locally, in Glasgow. There’s a wee shop I go to in the Gallowgate called Bargain Wool Shop, every time I’ve gone I’ve been able to get the exact colour of yarn I want. It’s really handy.

“If I have a strict deadline and I’ve run out of yarn, it’s easier to just jump in the car and get to the shop in 10 minutes. As a small business, I would rather support other small businesses than be buying online all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I will get glue to finish the backing from Amazon, but where I can, I shop local.”

The Herald:

Alongside running Sloan Tufting, Kelly also works in film and TV, but finds the downtime between productions the perfect opportunity to focus on her craft. She welcomes new commissions, of any sort, with doormat prices ranging from £140 to £180 depending on size and design.

What better way to welcome people to your home?