Michigan Heritage Awards
^ MHA Awardees List ^
Laina Marie Lampi
2003 awardee, Clawson (Macomb County), rag rug weaver
Laina (Kehus) Lampi (b.1914) is an exceptional rag rug weaver in
the Finnish American tradition. As a child growing up in Tapiola, she learned
about weaving from her mother, who had learned in Finland; however, it would
be many years before Laina began to weave on a regular basis. Like many
young females of her generation who left home to seek work in big cities
in the 1930s, Laina went to Detroit, where she found employment. Eventually
she married and raised a family. Upon her mother's death, she received her
mother's precious loom, large, old and immigrant-made, which Laina values
highly and on which she has been weaving for forty years. She credits her
loom for her ability to make pleasing rugs. "A good rug," she
declared, "requires a good loom." (1)
Laina's technical perfection and expert use of colors are also the result of decades of
weaving. Like all Finnish American weavers, she is a consummate recycler.
Her rags come from old clothing, blankets, sheets, and towels people give
her or she finds at flea markets, rummage sales, and resale shops. Recycling
these discards into beautiful rugs is her special art. It also is her
way "to save the earth." Color is one of the standards she looks
for in rugs and her own sense of color is exceptional. Doris Allen, weaver
and fellow member of FinnWeavers (Farmington Hills, Michigan), lauds Laina's
artistry, "The technical construction [of Laina's rugs] can be achieved
by others, if they work at it, but the colors and designs are from an
artistic soul . . .Laina has managed to raise the production of rag rugs,
conventionally thought of as a utilitarian form, to an art form."
As a preservationist and proud Finnish American, Laina has consciously
taught her skills and knowledge perfected over the years with others in
her family who share her enthusiasm. She also has mentored many beginning
rag rug weavers. She has displayed her rugs at FinnFest and in the traveling
exhibition "A Living Legacy: Finnish American Rag Rugs." She
has demonstrated rag weaving and has made presentations about rag rug
weaving to other weavers' guilds. "My weaving life," Laina said,
"has been very fulfilling." (3)
The Michigan Heritage Award recognizes Laina Lampi's lifelong dedication
to and masterful execution of rag rug weaving.
(1) Personal communication, Yvonne Lockwood, 1991.
(2) Letter of nomination, 2002.
(3) Personal communication, Yvonne Lockwood, 1991.
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