Skip to main content

Bertha Voisine braided rug

 Collection
Identifier: MCC-00484

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of one multicolored oval braided rug made by Bertha Bouley Voisine. All the braid strips are a half inch wide when doubled and are machine sewn prior to braiding and lacing of the rug. The middle part of the rug has some red, white, and blue colors and the outer part of the rug has some red, purple, and gray colors. It measures 35 inches x 21 inches.

Dates

  • 2000

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions on access.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has not been assigned to the Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes

Biographical

Bertha (Bouley) Voisine was born on July 27, 1913 to Alsime Bouley and Hedwidge Marquis of Fort Kent, Maine. Bertha was the only girl in the family and worked on her father’s farm with her brothers. Her mother taught her how to knot, sew, and braid rugs. She married Alphonse Voisine on October 27, 1947 and had two sons. She was a relentless woman raising chickens, sold and delivered eggs and vegetables earning the name ‘la bonne femme carotte’ (the good carrot lady). She cut hair for fifty cents a head and entire families went to her home for haircuts. She loved to cook, go fishing and playing bingo.

Having worked hard all her life, she did not throw anything away. Bertha would collect scraps of material and would braid it into colorful rugs to sell. She became quite popular for this unique talent and through a University grant program, she began teaching this skill to others. She was named Master Rug Braider by the Maine Arts Commission for her contributions to the traditional arts of the St. John Valley. She has rugs on display at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, the University of Maine at Orono, and at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. Bertha passed away in 2009.

Historical

Braided rag rugs have been around for centuries, and with good cause. A braided rug was a staple in early, Colonial American culture. Settlers would use scraps of clothing and other excess materials to make a floor covering that would provide warmth and protection for a particular home's inhabitants and guests.

Braided area rugs can be constructed in a variety of different ways including a banded braid construction, cloth braid construction, flat braid construction and yarn braid construction. Banded braid constructions boast wide bands of either solid colored or variegated braids made from predetermined patterns to offer an appealing, thick look. A cloth braid construction is indicative of a time when outgrown clothing was cut into strips and then hand braided into a floor covering. A flat braid construction is a common construction as it is one of the easier and classic methods. Simply intertwine three ropes of fabric and/or yarn, and you will have yourself a braided rug. A yarn braid construction evolves from yarn in its initial state to a uniquely finished area rug.

Braiding is an extremely old yet versatile technique that has been modernized over decades to display its appeal and charm.

Extent

.79 Cubic Feet (1 box ) ; 35 inches x 21 inches.

Language of Materials

No linguistic content; Not applicable

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material was purchased from Mrs. Bertha Voisine for the Acadian Archives permanent collection
Author
Anne Chamberland
Date
2020-07-16
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Acadian Archives Repository

Contact:
University of Maine at Fort Kent
23 University Drive
Fort Kent ME 04743 United States