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Meet Helen Condon
Custom Rug in Tompkins Corners, NY

© Bill Rothschild

How I Learned This Art

Over fifty years ago my grandmother, Sarah Campbell Taylor, taught me how to make braided rugs using discarded wool clothing. Nothing was wasted during the years of the Great Depression and, although I was born after it was over, I learned how to use whatever was at hand. The first big rug I made was nine foot round and sat under my dining room table. During a gathering at my farm house, my Mom’s friend, Al Coolidge, was found crawling under the table exclaiming, “Here are my prom pants!” His wife had given me some woolen clothes from a trunk in her attic and apparently his off-white, wool prom pants were included.

Using the skills in braiding and matching colors learned at thirteen, combined with a better way of joining the braids learned from Sally Cheney in Hebron, Connecticut I have honed these skills to form my life work. My husband, three children, and I moved from Connecticut to upstate, NY to “live off the land” in the late 70’s. Although I could make candles, rugs, soap, clothing, build a small shed, kill chickens, feed the beef cow and milk the goats, we still needed more money than from part time work to live comfortably. We bought another restaurant, both worked full time and I became a vegetarian. No more need for beef! I started selling braided rugs to supplement our income.

About My Rugs

I now make wool braided rugs in a studio in Parishville, NY. Half of our town is located on the northwestern edge of the unique, six million acre Adirondack Park. I presently offer two series of patterns in a 2 ½ x 4 ½ foot oval rug; English Country and The Adirondacks. The Adirondack Series, which includes the Blue Heron, Marcy Sunset, The Creamery, October Forest, Adirondack Camp, and August Wildflowers, gives a description of things found here in this unique part of the world. While studying theater in Liverpool, England I designed my English Country Series; Tiffany Dragonfly, Paisley Shawl, and Salmon Crepe. The descriptions of these are found on this site listed under rugs. The Sunflower Rug appears here also.

The Grange

"The Grange" - Home of Adirondack Rug Braiding

I also make custom rugs. After the early death of my husband and realizing the restaurant business afforded us no benefits or retirement, I wondered how I could make a living. The opportunity to make a rug for the firm of David Barrett Inc. presented itself. The finished product was the largest rug I had ever attempted; 15' x 18' (pictured above). Besides creating handcrafted braided rugs, I also repair braided rugs. If you require this service, please use the Contact link for addtional information.

I now work out of my studio on the second floor of the Grange Hall in the town of Parishville. The building was built in 1863 as a boarding house and used for that purpose until 1923 when it was purchased by the grange and used as a meeting place with plenty of room for dances on the second floor. The 30’ x 50’ studio is flooded with light from its many long windows and gives me the opportunity to spread my work out on large tables. I'm surrounded by bolts of fabric and wool clothing in colors which inspire me.

I use many tweeds and plaids to blend the plain colors from light to dark. Rugs made in this way offer the homeowner leeway in choosing the room they will enhance. The Blue Heron rug, for instance, has three shades of light to dark blue including Wedgwood. But then, unseen and subtle, it contains gold, green and shades of gray. This makes it a rug that can be used not only in a predominantly blue room but also blends with green, brown, and mustard gold.


I’m a charter member of the Northern Adirondack Trading Cooperative formed by former Senator Hillary Clinton, the Vice-President of eBay, and Karen St. Hillaire, Executive Director of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce. I also belong to St. Lawrence County Arts Council, Friends of Gibson Gallery, historic Sagamore Great Camp, and TAUNY - Traditional Arts in Upstate New York. I was artist in residence the summer of 1995 at Sagamore in Raquette Lake.