Archive for August, 2010

Pakistani rug makers hit by the flood.

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

The people of Winnipeg, canada, who are buying handmade rugs from Pakistan could be throwing out a lifeline for about 200 flooded-out artisan families- more work.

“That’s what they want,” said Yousaf Chaman, the director of the Mennonite Central Committee’s rug program. Chaman,  the Pakistan-born and raised American helps run a fair trade program for rug-makers whose rugs are sold at MCC’s Ten Thousand Villages stores.

“They have temporary help, food and shelter but the biggest desire we hear from the artisans is ‘I want to get back to work and to normalcy,’ ” said Chaman who visited the artisans in May.

“Beyond income, it’s the routine you have,” said Chaman, who spoke to his counterparts in Lahore last wednesday morning about the plight of the artisan villagers.

When the flood hit, 200 of the 850 rug-making families scrambled to save their unfinished rugs, looms and equipment. The anchors of the loom are unfortunately buried more than half an metre into the ground and had to be left behind.

“The situation is, so far, that they can’t get work. They’ve got no house, no loom installed. People are basically sitting in tents. Most of their houses are still under water,” said Chaman. It may take months for the water to recede and begin to rebuild people’s homes, he said.

Walking on Art

Friday, August 27th, 2010

With fall in the air, people are thinking about options on how to warm their homes. Laura Kirar, an interior and product designer with offices in Manhattan and Miami, suggests focusing on the floor. Hardwood, ceramic tile or concrete can feel nothing but chilly in the winter, and short of installing under floor heating. Soft floor coverings and area rugs are the best way to add warmth underfoot, says Kirar.

”I look at a room like I’m making a three-dimensional painting,” said Ms. Kirar, who has designed bathroom fixtures for Kallista; furniture for the Baker and McGuire companies; tile for Ann Sacks; and a line of rugs for Tufenkian, called the New Moderns. ”If the right rug’s not there, you just know that something’s missing.”

There are many options beyond standard wool rugs for creating a distinctive look and feeling, said Ms. Kirar, who used a mixture of wool and hemp in her rugs to give them a casual quality. She also incorporated patterns inspired by contemporary artists like Gerhard Richter and Sol LeWitt and the composer John Cage to give them a modern, playful look.

At Aronson’s Floor Covering in Chelsea, she took off her shoes and tested various alternatives to stiff, fibrous sisal. She especially liked the products from Merida Meridian with a woven blend of wool and paper cord, including a zigzag design called Rhythm. The material had a smooth, pleasant texture, ”like sisal but not as hairy,” she said, that would make an ideal runner with binding along the edges.

At the Kasthall showroom in Midtown, Ms. Kirar gravitated toward the long-haired rugs that resembled shag carpeting. Running her fingers through the fibers of the linen Sam rug, installed on a wall, she described it as ”silky but earthy.”

For spare-no-expense luxury, she stopped at F. J. Hakimian, also in Midtown, to see rugs patched together from pieces of 1940s Persian and Turkish kilim panels, in wool, cotton or goat hair, which can be ordered in custom sizes, from long, narrow runners to large living-room rugs.

”Of all the things I get to choose for my clients, rugs are my favorite,” she said. ”It’s like shopping for art.”

Things to think about when buying an oriental rug

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Oriental rugs have not only been valued for their artistry and durability, but also their association with taste and gentility, although now a days you don’t have to be a Brahmin to buy one. Now there is a glut of affordable oriental rugs on the market and now thanks to an end in 2000 of the 20-year ban on Iranian textiles there is now an expanding range of other floor covering options to be held.

Determining quality can be tricky due to the many subtleties in materials, design and craftsmanship. But if you use your wits, you can find a rug that not only suits you and your style but can also become a sound investment.

But before you let a dealer unroll a single rug for you, keep some basic guidelines in mind. For example decide how much you want to spend and where you want to put the rug. If it is going to be in the dining room, you will probably want it bigger than the table, possibly a dark colour to camouflages nasty spills. And just so you don’t come across as a rug noob, call the rug a “carpet” when it is more than 6 ft in length.

Your next decision is whether to buy a modern or an antique rug. Though there are exceptions, the best-quality rugs are either very old or very new but will also be made in the old traditional way, to the opinion of most dealers and collectors- “There has been an effort in the last few years to return to the way rugs were made a century ago,” said Mark Hopkins, president of the New England Rug Society, but that happened to be before the widespread use of chemically treated wool, synthetic dyes and mass production techniques which discouraged weavers’ creativity. “Some of the new rugs are like the antiques in that they are unique, one of a kind, works of art,” said Mr. Hopkins, a retired advertising executive who has a large collection of Oriental rugs.

Prices will vary according to design, provenance and condition, but you can get comparable antique, and new, room-size Oriental rugs for  around £2,000 to £10,000. Rare collector’s rugs, like a 12-by-14-foot Sultanabad, circa 1870, may go for a large sum of around £100,000 to £200,000.

Berber Rugs in Morocco

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

A boucherouite, (pronounced boo-shay-REET) a word derived from a Moroccan-Arabic is a phrase meaning torn and reused clothing is a rug made in Morocco. The carpets it describes, made by women for more domestic use, is a variation of the humble rag rug, without the humility. With their zany patterns and jolting colors, these household items look dolled up and ready to party; naturally more suitable for framing than for trampling underfoot, one would think?

The style developed fairly recently, a result of socio-economic changes. Since the middle of the 20th century nomadic life in Morocco has been seriously on the decline since the production of wool from sheepherding has much been reduced. During the same period, though, Berber culture has come to the attention of the global market, and Berber carpets have been ever more popular.

Faced with a call for increased output and a scarcity of natural materials, Berber weavers have had to rethink parts of their craft. This has meant, among other things, supplementing wool with recycled fabrics and cheap synthetic fibers like nylon and Lurex, and various plastics.

The Euklisia rug

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

An innovative rug that’s been described as the world’s first sleeping bag has been re-made and is going on display at the Newtown Textile Museum. The Euklisia rug (patented by Newtown entrepreneur Pryce Jones in 1876) was exported to many places around world in the late 19th century. Documents show he sold 60,000 the rugs to the Russian army, the British army also bought them to use in the world wars. There are records of civilian uses too – among missionaries in Africa and pioneers in the Australian outback. No examples of the rug appear to have survived – but researchers on a BBC Wales TV series, Wales and the History of the World – recreated one using the original patent material. Presenter Eddie Butler said: “It was great to see this Welsh fist brought back to life.” Pryce Jones, who was apprenticed to a draper at the age of 12, became a business powerhouse in mid-Wales after publishing the world’s first mail order catalogues. He finally had hundreds of thousands of customers around Europe, including many royals. Newtown Textile Museum is open from May to September 2010. – BBC news online

Sisal rugs

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Looking for an eco friendly rug with natural charm that will blend with either casual of formal room settings? Then a sisal rug may be the answer.

Sisal is a fibre extracted from the leaves of the Agave plant, originally native to Central America and now cultivated extensively in Brazil, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique.  The Agave plant is very robust, preferring an arid climate; no artificial fertilisers and little or no chemical herbicides are needed for its cultivation. Sisal fibres, which are extremely strong, are shiny and vary in colour from white/cream to pale yellow in their natural state although they can be easily dyed and are generally colourfast.

Spun into a yarn, sisal has been used in rugmaking for hundreds of years, particularly in a tight weave known as boucle, although flat weave and rib patterns are also popular. The result is a rug that oozes natural charm, is durable, anti-static, non-toxic and easy to clean. A regular vacuuming will prevent embedded dirt damaging the fibres, liquid spills should be blotted with a dry cloth, taking care not to rub liquid into the fibre, stains should be blotted with a rag dipped in a solution of soap and water, or vinegar and water, and then blotted dry. Dry cleaning powder is also available for sisal rugs as excessive moisture can have deleterious effects on the fibres. For this reason, sisal rugs are not suitable for bathrooms or other excessively moist or humid environments.

A Little bit about Persian rugs

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

The art of carpet weaving has existed in Iran since ancient times. This is proven by  the 2500-year-old Pazyryk carpet, dating back to 500 B.C., during back to the Achaemenid period.

The first documented evidence on the existence of Persian carpets came from Chinese texts dating back to the Sassanid period (224 – 641 AD).

This art underwent many changes in various eras of the Iranian history to an extent that it passed an upward trend before the Islamic era until the Mongol invasion of Iran. After the invasion, the art began to grow again during the Timurid and Ilkhanid dynasties.

Over time the materials used in carpets, including wool, silk and cotton, will decay. Therefore archaeologists are rarely able to make any particularly useful discoveries during archaeological excavations. What has remained from early times as evidence of carpet-weaving is nothing more than a few pieces of worn-out carpets. Such fragments do not help very much in recognizing the carpet-weaving characteristics of pre-Seljuk period (13th and 14th centuries AD) in Persia.

The weaving of pile rugs is a difficult and tedious process which, depending on the quality and size of the rug, may take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete.

To begin making a rug, one needs a foundation consisting of warps strong, thick threads of cotton, wool or silk which run the length of the rug and wefts similar threads which pass under and over the warps from one side to the other. The warps on either side of the rug are normally combined into one or more cables of varying thickness that are overcast to form the selvedge.

Weaving normally begins by passing a number of wefts through the bottom warp to form a base to start from. Loosely piled knots of dyed wool or silk are then tied around consecutive sets of adjacent warps to create the intricate patterns in the rug. As more rows are tied to the foundation, these knots become the pile of the rug. Between each row of knots, one or more shots of weft are passed to tightly pack down and secure the rows.
Depending on the fineness of the weave, the quality of the materials and the expertise of the weavers, the knot count of a hand made rug can vary anywhere from 16 to 550 knots per square inch.

When the rug is completed, the warp ends form the fringes that may be weft-faced, braided, tasseled, or secured in some other manner.

Fibres and materials generally used in Carpets and Rugs.

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Carpets and Rugs can be made from many singlular or blended natural and synthetic fibres. Fibres are chosen for durability, appearance, ease of manufacture, and cost. In terms of scale of production, the dominant yarn constructions are polyamides (nylons) and polypropylene with an estimated 90% of the commercial market.

Nylon

Nylon is the most common material for construction of carpets. Both nylon 6 and nylon 66 are used. Nylon can be dyed topically or dyed in a molten state (solution dying). Nylon can be printed easily and has excellent wear characteristics. In carpets Nylon tends to stain easily because it possesses dye sites on the fibre. These dye sites need to be filled in order to give Nylon any type of stain resistance. As nylon is petroleum-based it varies in price with the price of oil.

Polypropylene

Polypropylene is used to produce carpet yarns because it is inexpensive. It is difficult to dye and does not wear as well as wool or nylon. Large looped Berber carpets made from this fibre are usually only suited for light domestic use and tend to mat down quickly. Berber carpets with smaller loops tend to be more resilient and retain their new appearance longer than large looped Berber styles. Commercial grade level-loop carpets have very small loops, and commercial grade cut-pile styles are well constructed. When made with polypropylene (also called Olefin) these styles wear very well, clean easily and are suitable for areas with heavy foot traffic such as offices.

Wool and Wool-blends

Wool has excellent durability, can be dyed easily and is fairly abundant. When blended with synthetic fibres such as nylon the durability of wool is increased. Blended wool yarns are extensively used in production of modern carpets, with the most common blend being 80% wool to 20% synthetic fibre, giving rise to the term “80/20″. Wool is relatively expensive and consequently a small portion of the carpet market and a large percentage of the rug market.

Polyester

The polyester known as “PET” (polyethylene terephthalate) is used in carpet manufacturing in both spun and filament constructions. After the price of raw materials for many types of carpet rose in the early 2000s, polyester became more competitive. Polyester has good physical properties and is inherently stain-resistant because it is hydrophobic, and, unlike nylon, does not have dye sites. Color is infused in a molten state (solution dyeing). Polyester has the disadvantage that it tends to crush or mat down easily. It is typically used in mid- to low-priced carpeting.

Another polyester, “PTT” (Polytrimethylene terephthalate) , also called Sorona or 3GT (Dupont)or Corterra (Shell), is a variant of PET. Lurgi Zimmer PTT was first patented in 1941, but it was not produced until the 1990s, when Shell Chemicals developed the low-cost method of producing high-quality 1,3 propanediol (PDO), the starting raw material for PTT Corterra Polymers. PTT is similar to polyester, but its molecules have a “kink”, similar to a spring, that makes the fibre more crush resistant, resilient, and easy to clean. PTT also does not have dye sites, and is inherently stain resistant because color is infused in a molten state. Carpets made with PTT dry quickly and are resistant to mold.

The binding in woven carpets and rugs is usually cotton and the weft is jute or hessian .