Eye Dazzlers

During the Transitional Period (1880-1900) from blanket-making to rug-weaving, Navajo weavers often applied bright commercial dyes to their handspun wool or used brilliantly colored commercial yarns in their rugs.  Borrowing from the elaborate serrate diamonds of Mexican Saltillo sarapes, they created eye-dazzling geometric designs with this new color palette.  Such “eye dazzlers” were popular with trading posts and tourist buyers.  Neither blankets nor rugs in their weight and texture, they were often used as table runners, sofa covers, room dividers, hall runners and wall hangings.

Above:
Eye dazzler rug
ca. 1890-1910
Tapestry weave, dovetailed and diagonal joins
0.955 x 1.44 m; Fringe 00.075 m
56.693 x 37.598 in.; Fringe 2.953 in
(Inc. Fringe)
Catalog No. E-2660
Gift of Ira W. Wolfner, 1953

 

“In the Transitional period (1880-1895), Navajo weavers shifted from making blankets to producing curios and rugs like this, woven with yarns from a commercial mill in Germantown, Pennsylvania. The popular bright synthetic colors and zigzag patterns represent the well-named ‘eye dazzler’ style.” —Ann Hedlund

“I love this one. Why can’t I do something like that?” —Sierra Ornelas

“You can. You’ve got to do it, though.” —Barbara Ornelas

Function Fiber Type Ply-Spin-Twist Color Dye Count *
Warp Cotton String 4 z S White None 20
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Blue-Green Synthetic 46
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Yellow Synthetic 46
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S White None 46
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Dk Green Synthetic 46
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Lt Green Synthetic 46
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Maroon Synthetic 46
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Brown Synthetic 46
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Yellow-Green Synthetic 46
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Dk Blue Synthetic 46
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Purple Synthetic 46
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Variegated Green Synthetic 46
Ecord Wool Germantown 3(4 z S)Z Brt Green Synthetic 2
* threads/inch

 


 

Eye dazzler rug
ca. 1890-1910
Tapestry weave, dovetailed and diagonal joins
1.215 x 1.8 m; Fringe 00.060 m
70.866 x 47.835 in.; Fringe 2.362 in
Catalog No. E-3580
Gift of the Estates of Mary Kidder and Charles Rak, Douglas, AZ, 1958

 

“You usually reserve the middle for something that’s personal. Your best design goes in the middle.” —Lynda Pete, sister of Barbara Ornelas

“I don’t understand why the weaver put that stepped design in the center. I’ve never seen a rug with a pattern like this. Some patterns are real soft and small, and then there’s this big bold design right in the middle.” —Barbara Ornelas

“The diamonds are offset—it starts with three triangles on the bottom and ends up with four on top. And then the middle design’s points fits into each pocket, or valley.” —Michael Ornelas

“The weaver made the bottom and top stripes different sizes. She had to compensate for what she was doing. The pattern creates two layers and a sense of depth—bold to something so tiny.” —Sierra Ornelas

Function Fiber Type Ply-Spin-Twist Color Dye Count *
Warp Wool Handspun -- z -- Dk Brown None 6
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Red Synthetic 51
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S White None 51
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Black Synthetic 51
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Forest & Turq Green Synthetic 51
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Yel Grn Faded To Khaki Synthetic 51
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Pink Synthetic 51
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Gold Synthetic 51
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Blue/Dk Purple Synthetic 51
Ecord Wool Germantown 3(2 s S)Z Red Synthetic 2
Other Wool Germantown 4 z S Same As Weft Synthetic --
* threads/inch

 


 

Small eye dazzler rug
ca. 1880-1910
Tapestry weave, interlocked and diagonal joins
0.625 x 1.01 m; Fringe 00.065 m
39.764 x 24.606 in.; Fringe 2.559 in.
(Inc. Fringe)
Catalog No. E-4651
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John Murphey, 1961

 

“Trader J.B. Moore from Crystal Trading Post, New Mexico, wrote, ‘All fine weavers like to make these Germantowns, as the yarn is already spun and dyed for them, and they can weave it into smooth and beautiful patterns’ (1903). Did he exaggerate for the sake of salesmanship?” —Ann Hedlund

“I was never taught to make diagonals in my weaving. My family never wove like that, so it’s not something that grabs me now. I understand how, it’s just not me.” —Barbara Ornelas

“I’ve never tried, but I’d like to. If it came out wrong, I’d just take it out and try again, or go back to making steps. I would have a backup plan.” —Michael Ornelas

“There’s all this extra counting involved. It’s not that much harder, it’s just a different way of learning.” —Sierra Ornelas

Function Fiber Type Ply-Spin-Twist Color Dye Count *
Warp Cotton String 4 z S White None 10
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Purple Synthetic 46
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Green (Blue) Synthetic 46
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Red Synthetic 46
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S White None 46
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Tan Synthetic 46
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Maroon Synthetic 46
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Golden Yellow Synthetic 46
Ecord Wool Germantown 3(4 z S)Z Green (Blue) Synthetic 2
Other Wool Germantown 4 z S Multicolor Synthetic --
* threads/inch

 


 

Eye dazzler runner
ca. 1880-1910
Tapestry weave, interlocked and diagonal joins
0.945 x 2.21 m
87.008 x 37.205 in
(Inc. Fringe)
Catalog No. E-4670
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John Murphey, 1961

 

“When you look at old rugs, the weavers always seemed to know where the middle is. Just like when I start one of my tapestries, I always can tell where my middle is going to be. If I’m helping my mother or my sister, I tell them, ‘I think your middle is going to be here.’ Sometimes it’s a little over or maybe a little under, but not a lot.” —Barbara Ornelas

“This weaver put at least three different rug patterns into one piece, and it still works!” —Sierra Ornelas

“Weavers applied multicolored fringes like this to decorate and hide the knotted string warps on each end. Runners often adorned tabletops or sofa backs in Anglo homes at the turn of the 20th century.” —Ann Hedlund

Function Fiber Type Ply-Spin-Twist Color Dye Count *
Warp Cotton String 4 z S White None 11
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Red Synthetic 51
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S White None 51
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Purple Synthetic 51
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Lavendar (Gray) Synthetic 51
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Lt Blue Synthetic 51
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Green (Blue) Synthetic 51
Weft Wool Germantown 4 z S Yellow Synthetic 51
Ecord Wool Germantown 3(4 z S)Z Gray Synthetic 2
Other Wool Germantown 4 z S Same As Weft Synthetic --
Other Wool Germantown 4 z S Olive Green Synthetic --
* threads/inch