Rose Pearlman is a Brooklyn based punch needle artist, author and teacher, who was one of the early artists to help revive the popularity of this craft and draw attention to punch needle through her clean lines, modern shapes and soft colors in her work and on Instagram. I had the pleasure of meeting Rose in the fall of 2019 during a trip to NYC, and not only does she create beautiful work, she is a lovely human being as well! I am so pleased to present this interview, giving some additional insight into her creative background and inspiration.
Tell us a little bit about your background. What were you doing before Punch Needle?
Prior to picking up a punch needle, I was a teaching artist in NYC public schools and museums. My focus was in the visual arts and it centered around a curriculum of world cultures. This job required me to come up with quick, low cost art projects that could be taught to help students understand complicated techniques and concepts.
How did you get started with Punch Needle?
My mother made hooked rugs with a traditional rug hook all throughout my childhood, so I was familiar with the medium from a young age. But it wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s did it occur to me to try it for myself. It was easy to learn, convenient and soothing, and it fit perfectly into my lifestyle as a new mother.
We'd love to hear about your creative process.
Many of my punched objects come from things I would like to have in my home. Cushions, bolsters, bags, children’s toys, wall hangings. I love to find new ways I can make my rugs useful and at the same time incorporate different types of fibers.
How do you stay inspired?
A walk in the city is sometimes all it takes when looking for inspiration. When I can, I love to go into independent boutiques and shops. Discovering beautifully constructed children’s toys, clothing, and home goods fills me with new ideas and insights. Museums, public gardens, and galleries also inspire me.
How has your work evolved over time?
I have become more refined and simple in my designs of small objects and wall hangings. Especially concerning accessories, I think about texture and very simple shapes. I like to keep the palette very tonal and neutral. However, the large floor rugs are still all about the abstract composition, lots of bright color, and durable rug yarn.
What is your favorite part about the work that you do?
I love the versatility of rugs. With the same simple technique, you can make everything from an heirloom quality floor rug to a wearable accessory without having to learn complicated skills. It’s a great medium for experimentation and self-discovery. It’s easy to learn, and easy to adapt other mediums and different techniques into the process.
How would you describe your work?
My abstract rug work is about line, form and shifting planes. I often see my large color rugs as either landscapes or still-life’s, using geometrical and organic shapes of color.
What materials and tools do you use? Do you have any favorite supplier recommendations for tools, material or yarn?
My tool is the #10 Regular Oxford Punch Needle (I’ve used the same needle for over 10 years). My rug yarn is from Seal Harbor Rug Co.
What advice do you have for other artists or creatives looking to try punch needle?
For anyone looking to translate their visual ideas into fiber, the punch needle is your tool. It’s so easy to learn, and doesn’t involve any gridding, counting stitches or complicated techniques. It’s also very repetitive and soothing and can be a great way to de-stress. There are so many ways you can create with a punch needle; the options are limitless.
Where do you see your work going in the future?
In both my punch needle work and my other craft projects I try to simplify the process, and use what I might already own. I love discovering easy projects that can be made using recycled materials and common everyday supplies that can be easily transformed into functional, well made objects.
My craft project tutorials can be found in on the blog ‘Reading My Tea Leaves’ and my new rug work can be found on my Instagram.
What are 3 other fun facts about yourself that you would like to share with the Punch Needle Community?
1) I live/work in a small Brooklyn home that I share with my teenage son, toddler daughter and husband. So my ‘studio’ is the couch or kitchen table.
2) I get most of my craft ideas at the hardware store
3) I’ve always wanted to be a basket weaver.
To learn more about Rose and see more of her work, check out her website and her Instagram.