Margery Bain Franklin rug making with Ronnie Mosseller

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ronnie Mosseller introduced me to a dear friend Margery Bain Franklin so I could hear the story of the rugs they have made together over the years. At 93 years old Marge may have finally put down that habit, but she still keeps herself busy. We sat down one hot afternoon in her cool apartment at White Oak to visit about rugs and life in general. Ronnie draws the picture free hand on the canvas, and what is this tool that you use? Ronnie: It&squo;s a wood shuttle hooker or needle. With wool. Marge: This is done on monk&squo;s cloth. Ronnie: What was the first rug you made for me? Family Crest Rug by Marge Bain Franklin Marge: That one. She points to the one on the floor in her hallway. Ronnie: The coat of arms. Marge: A family crest. Ronnie: That&squo;s a 3 x 5 rug. Marge: When you put in the lettering, you do it from the mirror image. Here&squo;s a good example. Marge pulls out her rug making photo album. Marge: You see I&squo;m working on the rug and here&squo;s the frame, and this is the way it turns out. Everything you&squo;re doing is backwards. Who&squo;s coat of arms is that? Marge: That was my first husband&squo;s. This is my last one. You&squo;re not doing any more? Marge: I&squo;m finished. Why are you done? Marge: It&squo;s hard on the back. You stand and twist and turn. My back decided it&squo;s too much work. I notice in the texture that parts are loops and parts are fuzzy, how do you do that? Marge: Ask him. Barn Rug by Marge Bain Franklin Ronnie: We go random shear. We cut it randomly and not all cut. You can get down to velvet cut, but we never do that anymore unless it&squo;s a great big formal rug. This is just 70% cut. Marge: I think he did a really tremendous job on this Cape Hatteras light house. Wow that&squo;s beautiful. Marge: My daughter has that one. How many rugs have you done? Marge: About 30. Many of lighthouses. Why lighthouses? Ronnie: She has a big beautiful book of lighthouses. Marge: Yeah, Dick has a book of lighthouses. How do you decide? Ronnie: She usually comes to me with her ideas and I sketch them out. Marge: My kids have most of them. Ronnie: What year was that first one you made? When was that? Marge: That was in about 1985. My first husband was still alive when I did that. It was a lot of fun. Ron has one in the governor&squo;s mansion, don&squo;t you Ron? Ronnie: Yes. Ronnie Mosseller and Marge Bain Franklin (photo by Wendi Loomis) How did you meet up with Ronnie and start doing rugs? Marge: My neighbor had his coat of arms done and it gave me the idea, &dquo;Well, I&squo;ll get my coat of arms done.&dquo; I went to Ron then and that&squo;s what got me started. Ronnie: I met Marge Bain when I was working with her husband in the little theatre. Marge: My name is Margery Bain Franklin, don&squo;t forget Phillip now. We were working with Tryon Little Theatre doing plays. Gayle and I were doing props and you were acting and directing. You knew he did rugs as well as theatre and so when you wanted to do the coat of arms you asked him how to get started? Marge: That&squo;s what got me started. How long does it take to do one of these? Ronnie: She&squo;s faster than anybody else. Marge: About a month because I take it home you see and do it here. That&squo;s why it only takes me a month. I have so much time on my hands now. What will you do with your time now that you&squo;re done with rugs? Marge: I&squo;m knitting and reading. Ron has such an eye for color, the way he merges things up, the sky. That sunset is beautiful the way it blends. Marge: I&squo;m not after publicity, write about Ronnie. But I did write about Ronnie already working with the theatre. Ronnie: I had been out of the theatre almost twenty years and they talked me into doing another one last year. Of course I couldn&squo;t hear the cues so they had to have two women there, one to open the door and one to say, &dquo;Now&dquo; and push me out. Marge: He was the comedian. Ronnie: Weren&squo;t you a prompter too? Morris the Horse Rug by Marge Bain Franklin&bsp;Marge: No, I was in props. It was when we first moved to Tryon. It was a good way to get acquainted is to join. Join the Tryon Little Theatre, join the church, so on and so forth. Ronnie: They put you to work don&squo;t they? I&squo;m telling you, something&squo;s going on all the time. Where did you move to Tryon from? Marge: Summit, New Jersey. My first husband and I came down and he died in 1987. I married Phillip in 1993. You met Phillip in Tryon? Marge: I met Phillip in an elder hostel in Canada. He was my brother&squo;s roommate. He was living up in Union City, New Jersey and I lived down here. Finally, four years later we got married. Can I ask how old you were when you got married the second time? Ronnie: What are you 94? Marge: I&squo;m 93 right now. Ronnie: You were about 70. Most of my family members didn&squo;t live long enough to consider remarrying at 70. Ronnie: That&squo;s a custom in Tryon. Half of the widows in Tryon remarry again. They may be 80 years old. Have you remarried? Ronnie: No. What&squo;s the secret to living so long and happily? You must have figured out something. Ronnie: Did you grow up on a farm? Marge: It wasn&squo;t a farm exactly. My family had four acres and they had a beautiful garden during the depression. They had a marvelous garden and we raised chickens so the chicken manure was good for the garden. It wasn&squo;t exactly a farm. Ronnie: But you had a healthy life that way. I had a great-grandmother that lived to 104. Marge, where did you live besides New Jersey and here? Marge: I lived in Louisiana for a while when my husband was working for Louisiana State University. Ronnie: What was he doing? Marge: He was in the registrar&squo;s office working the IBM machines. That&squo;s when the war came and he volunteered and got into the Naval Reserves. I came home to mama in New Jersey with my three kids. Then when the war was over did you stay in New Jersey. Marge: I stayed in New Jersey and became a legal secretary. My husband told me, &dquo;Every woman should know how to support herself.&dquo; That&squo;s when I went to school to learn typing, shorthand, and bookkeeping and got a job with a law firm. I was a legal secretary about 25 years. Ronnie: Your husband was modern thinking and smart. Marge: I thought that was very good advice. Especially now a days. Ronnie: I have a question. When you made your first coat of arms rug didn&squo;t you come into the classes? Marge: I made it at your studio when you had the old church. Dick made me a frame and I did a few on my own. Ronnie: Then you started making them at home pretty soon after that. She was the easiest student I ever had. Marge: I enjoyed doing it at home rather than working at Ron&squo;s place for a while and get my back tired and have to go home. It was easy to do it here because I could lie down on the couch and rest my back and get up and do it some more. Ronnie: If I had thought and followed the thing that she did like that I wouldn&squo;t have wound up with nine students filling up my rug shop every week. Marge: I often wondered about those people working on rugs at your shop, &dquo;Why don&squo;t they finish them.&dquo; Ronnie: I know. They allegedly were coming and then, &dquo;I&squo;m not coming in this week. I&squo;ve got something to do.&dquo; The rugs stayed there for 7-10 months. I realized that I was not making any money off that. Marge: I&squo;m always anxious when I start one, I want to finish it. It was fun to do. Ronnie: Marge doesn&squo;t know what the word procrastination means. What type of knitting are you doing these days? Marge: I&squo;m making a sweater for my daughter-in-law. I&squo;ve done a lot of knitting. I enjoy that. When did you get started with hand crafts? Marge: I always did l
ike to sew. I made clothes for myself. Years ago I had one of these treadle machines. Now I&squo;ve got a beautiful feather weight Singer sewing machine, but I haven&squo;t been doing much sewing lately. I don&squo;t need anything. When did you start sewing and knitting? Marge: When I was twelve years old I went to a boarding school. My great aunt was a nun and I went to a church boarding school. I had to go down to the convent to visit my great aunt. She taught me how to knit and I&squo;ve been knitting ever since. I like to work with my hands. In fact I was going to become an artist. I was going to have art classes at the high school in Summit. I told mother I had signed up for the art class and she said, &dquo;I want to go too.&dquo; I took mother too and the class was filled and I said, &dquo;Okay ma, you take my place and I will go home.&dquo; Mother went to painting and this is one of hers. This is up at Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. I have several of hers and the kids have several of hers. When did you finish your last rug? Ronnie: About two weeks ago. Marge: Yeah. Are you sure you&squo;re not going to do any more? Marge: Nobody believes me. Ronnie: You never know. She&squo;s said that seven times, or four times. The rug hook piece that you use, where did you find that? Marge: I think I got that from a flea market because I had been hooking using Ron&squo;s needles. It has a big hole in it doesn&squo;t it? Ronnie: I&squo;ll show you how it works. We run two threads at the same time so we can run two different colors at the same time or two different shades. That&squo;s how we do that blending in the sky. It just goes back and forth like this in the canvas and it makes a stitch every time it goes in. How long have you known Marge? Marge: We moved to Tryon in 1974. Gayle and I joined Tryon Little Theatre and I met you. Ronnie: In 1974. After that I directed Blythe Spirit and you all helped back stage on that in 1975. Marge: I remember I had five words to say in one of them. Usually I was in props, but in one play I had five words to say. I was the maid. Ronnie: You can&squo;t remember the play? Marge: I can&squo;t remember the play, no. That was a long time ago. We didn&squo;t work on props forever. I just wanted to get acquainted in Tryon when we first moved here. I guess we worked in props about five years. Then I became a legal secretary. I didn&squo;t have time for props. Ronnie: What other organizations did you get involved in besides the little theatre? Marge: Well I did bookkeeping for the cancer society. Ronnie: Volunteering. Marge: I worked at Carol Anne Farms. I worked for Bud Slater. Ronnie: I did a 100 rugs for him. Marge: I used to work with him a couple of days a week just for a couple of hours. Ronnie: They&squo;re a sweet couple. Marge: Oh, I know. So sweet. I worked at the Habitat Resale Store. I had about four volunteer jobs. I worked for the Red Cross. Hobby Horse Rug by Marge Bain Franklin Do you ever slow down? Ronnie: I think she made that last rug not in a month, but in about three weeks. Marge: Well I don&squo;t have anything else to do. That&squo;s why I finish them so fast. Ronnie: Most of my students take six or seven months. Marge: I think that&squo;s one of my favorite ones. It hangs right there where you can see it from your chair. Marge: Look at the shading he&squo;s got in that, the shading on the left. There&squo;s shading on the lighthouse itself and shading on the sky. Marge: Isn&squo;t that beautiful. I love the fence. That&squo;s a lighthouse up in Maine. I took a picture of it when we were visiting Maine. It is beautiful.

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