Piece by student for Loop and Cut’s tufting class © Loop and Cut

Painting with Thread, Tufting
If you find your daily life somewhat boring, try painting on some fabric with thread. What you draw becomes a rug. We invite you to the world of tufting, a type of textile weaving to make rugs, with a belief that it will help your creative mind to grow and de-stress.
Small, humble rugs that are ordinarily made 60x45cm in size have always been dismissed and neglected. Wherever it came from, or however it was made, those rugs were put to eternal sleep on a tiny floor space in the kitchen or bedroom as soon as it entered the house. As a matter of fact, Korean ondol culture requires no floor rugs. However in the world of tufting, these tiny rugs are central figures. ‘Tufting’ is a weaving technique in which several strands of thread are inserted on a piece of textile, and it was originally devised by Scandinavian people who wanted to stuff yarn into their mittens to prepare for a long, harsh winter season. In tufting, if you embroider on the wrong side of the fabric, the thread comes up on the right side of the fabric. Tufting was initially done through needlework, but the invention of the tufting gun made the production of tufted rugs and carpets possible.
룹앤컷 터프팅 클래스 수강생들의 작품 © 룹앤컷

룹앤컷 터프팅 클래스 수강생들의 작품 © 룹앤컷

Pieces by students for Loop and Cut’s tufting class © Loop and Cut

A few years ago tufting became a globally popular activity as some foreign painters showed how they drew on a piece of fabric using thread and a tufting gun. The unique color combination and form of their artwork attracted enough public attention. These kinds of rugs are more popular as wall hangings. Recently, Koreans started noticing the charm of tufting. They go to tufting classes to create their own rugs. Tufting studio ‘Loop and Cut’ started tufting classes for the first time in Korea and the classes are fully booked until a month later, only by word of mouth. Shouldn’t you have a crafting talent and esthetic sense to design and make your own rugs? Fortunately, Eom Hyun-cheol, head of Loop and Cut, says anyone can make a great rug by tufting. We asked Eom about the charm of tufting and his classes.

“Tufting is a weaving technique anyone can enjoy. We only teach you the technique. That way you can make what you need at home.”
Eom Hyun-cheol, head of Loop and Cut
Q. What got you into tufting?
A. I had worked in the advertising and music video industry for about 20 years, and had a bad burnout two years ago. At the time I was helping Studio Atcoat with its international purchasing work on the side. When I was about to throw in the towel, I happened to watch a video footage of people filling yarn on a huge backing cloth(background fabric in tufting) holding tufting guns. That was the first time I felt interest in tufting and I bought a tufting gun to give it a try. Then it was all banging my head against a stone wall. I broke about six tufting guns. (laugh) We are the official dealer of tufting guns. It took two years to open the classes because I felt like I had to learn how to fix the guns to a certain degree unless it’s motor-related, as someone who not only sells it but also teaches the trade. So I studied that for quite a while.
엄현철 대표가 개인 작업 중인 배킹 클로스

Backing cloth that Loop and Cut head Eom Hyun-cheol is working on

Q. What is the charm of tufting and what is important in tufting?
A. First, it is fast. You can get a certain output in a short time. And you get different results using the same color depending on what thread you use, how you use it, and how you adjust the pile height. What you probably need to have is an esthetic sense? I think it’s a personal realm though. When my students bring me their designs, I explain what’s difficult or impossible. I don’t evaluate them. My biggest role, I think, is to give them the knowhow on using the machine. So more than half of the training in my tufting classes is about familiarizing yourself with the tufting gun. How comfortable you are using the machine determines your outcome.
터프팅 시연 중인 엄현철 대표

Eom demonstrating tufting

소음을 막아주는 헤드폰

Headsets to block out noise

수강생의 작업대

Work tables for students

Q. How do you proceed with your tufting classes?
A. We reserve seats on a first-come-first-served basis. There are three sessions over the course of three weeks. Before the class starts, you are asked to send in a design of your choice. We decide on the pattern through consultation. In the first session, you learn about the basic principle of tufting and how to use a tufting gun. It helps you understand tufting and its materials. You also learn how to set up a backing cloth, draw a design, and pick yarns to use. You get to practice tufting and start working on the actual design before the session ends. The second session is a full-on tufting time. The third session is the bonding and binding steps to complete your work. After the three weeks, you get yourself a rug roughly the size of 60x45cm.

Q. What’s the first thing you say to your students?
A. “Wash your hands, please.” (laugh) I make sure to tell them it is a physically challenging activity. The tufting gun we use is about 3kg. Holding it for three to four hours drains your energy quite a bit. All my students say it was tough work after their first session. It’s because you are using muscles you didn’t use often as you try to maneuver a shaking gun to draw a design. They also feel the gun noise is too loud. By the end of the second session, they say it’s not as loud and not as heavy. During the third session, they know for sure the gun feels lighter. It means they got used to the tufting gun in three sessions. That’s one of the biggest reasons we divide the course into three. If you see video footage, tufting may seem easy. You just move the whirring machine up. It is not easy to control the gun. You need some getting-used-to and breaks in between.
터프팅 클래스에서 사용하는 터프팅 건

터프팅 클래스에서 사용하는 터프팅 건

Tufting gun used in class

Q. I imagine there is some sort of fun in handling the tufting gun.
A. Of course there is. It’s hard to explain, but it is a great feeling when a yarn gets hooked through the backing cloth with a repetitive clicking sound as I move my body. And sometimes there is a moment when the gun syncs perfectly with me. It may sound exaggerated, but I feel like I’m becoming one with the tufting gun.

Video © Loop and Cut

Q. Who takes your classes? Is it okay not to have a great esthetic sense?
A. College students, artists, tattooists, they all differ. There was a college professor as well. Many of them told me they knew about tufting but couldn’t find a place to learn the technique. The students have come from literally across the country, including Pohang, Gangneung, Jeju Island, etc. I’ve said it’s important to have an esthetic sense, but it is not a must-have. Among the inquiries we have, many are concerned with their lack of dexterity. I think there’s nobody who can completely ruin their work in tufting. Even if you make a mistake, there is a bit of wriggle room where you can say it is meant to be that way. (laugh) Whatever design you have, once finished, it will look quite nice.
수강생들의 작품 © 룹앤컷

수강생들의 작품 © 룹앤컷

수강생들의 작품 © 룹앤컷

Works by tufting students © Loop and Cut

Q. What kind of materials do you use in class?
A. We use yarns designed for rug-making. Depending on whether they are made of wool, nylon, or acrylic fibers, yarns offer different touches. We insist on using 100-percent wool yarns. They are relatively more expensive but for the rug to have a nice touch and appearance when finished, wool yarns are the best choice. It’s okay to use different types of yarn at home after class, but in class I urge my students to use wool yarns.

Q. Does the tufting gun work with other types of yarn instead of a rug-making yarn?
A. It can be done. The quality, however, will not be appropriate for a rug. It is like painting with a brush. There will be issues with the end product if it’s meant to be a rug. We believe quality materials lead to quality outcomes. So we are picky with our materials. We also try to give more accurate information to our students or customers. Depending on what kind of information you have, your work efficiency could vary a lot. We try to fill those gaps for them.
Wool thread for rugs

Wool thread for rugs

룹앤컷의 시연작들

Loop and Cut’s demonstration pieces

Q. What type of personality would you recommend tufting to?
A. I wish many people would just come and experience it. That “Aha” moment after you understand the mechanism and successfully use the tufting gun. It’s an awesome feeling. If you have that experience and want to learn a bit more and more, soon enough you will have a rug of your own. Our three-part class holds it all. I’m not promoting our course. It really is worth a try. I recommend it to parents with young children. Painting with a tool will give you an unexpected catharsis.

Q. I’m curious about the goal of Loop and Cut.
A. There is a note on my Instagram that I wrote as a beginner. I want to create an environment where more and more people can join tufting and have fun. It’s still my priority. We only run a course for beginners but are planning curriculums for more advanced tufters. We are also preparing a space for our previous students who want to do more tufting with us. My second goal is that we achieve something that’s entirely ours. We are closely monitoring the situation to see what we will do. More accurately, it’s not an option, but the issue of timing. Above all, I hope people will find tufting fun. I would like our students to think the Loop and Cut studio was a fun place to be.

Loop and Cut

Tufting Studio Loop and Cut
‘Studio Atcoat,’ a textile crafting studio with extensive knowhow in Korea’s textile industry, opened Loop and Cut in April 2020 after two years of preparation. As a sub-brand of Studio Atcoat, Loop and Cut is in charge of everything related to tufting. The name comes from two yarn styles in making rugs—loop pile and cut pile. It is the only place with professional tools and materials along with tufting classes. The studio offers not just classes but tufting guns, yarns, and other tools as well for those interested in purchasing them.

Inquiry +82-2-541-6209 /
November 2020 Editor:Kim Hyewon
Photographer:Hae Ran

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  • November 2020
  • Editor: Kim Hyewon
  • Photographer: Hae Ran
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