Saturday, December 20, 2014

Rug Repair - When A Rug is Chewed by a Dog

A beautiful handmade rug is something that an entire family can enjoy across generations.  Every now and then, however, some family members can enjoy a rug too much - namely hungry pets that take a liking and chew off a corner or section of a beloved handmade rug.  The rug above is an example of this.  This rug is a hand knotted rug made in India with a Persian design that suffered a bite or two from a tiny puppy with a large appetite.  In our next posts, we will show you how we repaired the damage to the handmade rug and the final result.  

Friday, October 31, 2014

Beni Ourain Rugs

One does not have to be rug expert to appreciate the sublime beauty of Beni Ourain rugs.  Their beauty lies somewhere in between their color palette and their luxuriously long yarns which lend them a warm, almost decadent, feel to the touch.  Even their  geometric motifs are wonderful in their naked imperfections and calming in their relative simplicity.  They are equally well-suited to both tradition and modern aesthetics.  It is no wonder why Beni Ourain rugs have been a designer favorite for years.

Beni Ourain rugs, like all handmade rugs, require minimal care to last a few generations.  However, Beni Ourain rugs are different than other handmade oriental rugs in that the long yarns which make up their pile are particularly susceptible to having soil become embedded in them, and, in turn, having them fall prey to a potentially damaging moth infestation.  Paying particular attention to frequent inspections, thorough and frequent vacuuming, and annual or biannual professional rug cleaning will go a long way to ensuring that the beauty of a Beni Ourain rug will be enjoyed for a lifetime, if not more.

Take special care to choose a qualified professional rug cleaner to care your Beni Ourain rug.  As these rugs tend to have a lighter color palette marked by dark black or brown motifs, the potential damage of color run is heightened.  A qualified professional rug cleaner should take steps to minimize the risk of the darker color or colors from running into the adjacent light colored yarns of your Beni Ourain rug.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Costly Moth Damage in Handmade Rugs - Choosing to Prevent Rather than to Restore

This rug, lovely in its design and color palette, was the unfortunate victim of moth damage.  As is evident from the pictures, the extent of the damage was severe, and unfortunately, costly.  Luckily, preventing moth damage such as this is fairly straightforward.  Here are a few simple steps a rug owner can take to prevent moth damage:

1.  Use your rugs.  This might seem obvious, but just using and enjoying a rug goes a long way to minimize the risk of it falling prey to moth damage.  This is because moths tend to do much of their eating, and hence their damage, when a rug is being stored.  Often, when rug owners place their rugs in storage, they inadvertently create the perfect environment for moths to do the most damage.  For example, some owners carefully wrap their rugs in seemingly air-tight plastic and then store them in a dark closet.  This is arguably the worst way to store rugs as the ensuing dark and humid environment provides nearly perfect conditions for moths to feast on the rug's wool.  While there is no full-proof way to minimize the risk of moth damage entirely, if a rug must be stored, taking simple precautions can greatly minimize the risk.  For a review of those simple steps, please refer to this post which outlines a few tips.

2.  Regularly vacuum your rugs.  Moths thrive in soiled and dirty environments so making sure to keep rugs as clean as possible provides a good defense against moths.  Take care to vacuum under sofas, large tables, or any other items that are placed on top of the rug.

3.  Air out your rugs.  Every six months or so, if conditions allow it, take your rugs outside and allow them to bask in the sunlight and fresh air.  Summertime is a perfect time to do this.

4.  Rotate your rugs.  When you air out your rugs, rotate them 180 degrees when you return them to their usual location.  This will allow some areas of the rug that were previously hidden under furniture to be exposed.

5.  Inspect your rugs.  As part of your semi-annual airing out of your rugs, carefully inspect your rugs for signs of moths.  Look for white sticky residue, any eaten areas, or other evidence of present or past moth infestation.  If you do spot moths or moth damage, quickly isolate the rug and have it professionally cleaned to minimize any further damage and the risk of the moth infestation from extending to your other rugs or woolen products.

6.  Have your rugs professionally cleaned regularly.  How often you need to have a rug professionally cleaned is dependent on the conditions to which it is subject.  Generally, professional cleaning of handmade rugs every two years is sufficient.  However, if you have pets, regularly walk with soiled shoes on in your home, or have other conditions which make it likely that a regular vacuuming schedule will not be sufficient to remove the deeply embedded dust or soil particles from your rugs, then it is recommended to increase the frequency with which you have your rugs professionally. cleaned.

These simple steps will help you decrease the likelihood that moths will shorten the lifespan of your treasured rugs.  --

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When the Advice is Not to Repair

As rug lovers, collectors, and restorers, we greatly appreciate the sentimental value that rugs can have, but are also conscious of the need to be mindful of cost considerations.  There are instances when we have to advise clients that - from a purely economic perspective - it is not cost effective to repair or restore a rug.  In instances when a rug is too worn or has damage that is too extensive, then it is necessary to consider alternatives to repair.  For machine-made rugs, the answer would be to discard them.  For handmade rugs, discarding them is hardly ever the answer.  This is yet another wonderful advantage of handmade rugs.  They have life beyond their original purpose.

So what can be done with rugs or kilims that are beyond repair?  If the rug is not too fragile, we recommend to first clean the rug so that it is ready for its repurposing.  Then, there are several options:

(1)  Pillows and floor cushions.  A quick look through any home magazine, home decor blog, or high street store will reveal a trend close to our hearts here - the rug or kilim pillow and cushion.  These are made by carefully cutting damaged or worn rugs and kilims, binding a simple edge along the cut sections, sewing a backing onto the "recycled" piece, and inserting a cushion insert.  The result is a one-of-a kind cushion or pillow that is both traditional in its handmade past, but is also modern for its "recycled" creation.  Many people buy rug pillows already pre-made, but there is no reason why an owner of a damaged rug can't make his or her own pillows and cushions out of a treasured rug.

(2)  Patchwork pillows or rugs.  This form of repurposing is a more ambitious alternative to the first option outlined above.  One could take several sections from an old rug or kilim and patch them together into a large pillow, or even another rug.  This is the rug world's answer to quilting.  The patchwork rugs that are popular today illustrate how modern and beautiful this repurposing can look.

(3)  Hanging.  Rug hanging is a common way to decorate homes in many parts of the world.  In Russia, for example, a large warm rug hanging on a wall behind a sofa is nearly as ubiquitous as rugs used for floor coverings.  This is a good solution for rugs or kilims that are too fragile for the floor.  Just be careful to distribute the rug's weight evenly so as not to damage the rug even more.

(4)  Unraveling for kilim or rug restoration.  This alternative is close to our hearts and may not be as practical for everyone.  But, for us, when we come upon an old kilim that is beyond repair, we unravel the uncompromised yarns from undamaged sections to use them in new restoration projects.  This is a great way to ensure that the yarns we use for restoration projects result in newly woven sections that can blend in with an older rug's muted palette.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Rug Resizing

Rug resizing is becoming an increasingly common request from clients who are either moving into smaller homes, or simply redecorating.  There are instances when we recommend against it, such as when a rug is an antique or of an exceptionally fine quality.  In those instances, unnecessarily modifying the rug would compromise its value.  But when a client has a beloved rug that is not an antique and is of good, but not exceptional, quality, and the client's circumstances require that the rug be made to fit into a new space, resizing is a good solution.

What is resizing?  Resizing generally means to make a rug smaller, though in rare instances it can also mean to extend the rug (resizing to make a rug bigger is much more costly than resizing to make it smaller as the new portion of the larger rug is woven or knotted by hand).  In some instances, resizing affects one edge only, such as by cutting along one side of a fringe.  This is the most cost effective form of resizing, but is generally only possible when a rug has a continuous design so that cutting one edge will not result in awkward asymmetry.

Resizing along two opposite edges is another option and is the recommended course to follow when a non-continuous pattern exists so as to keep the pattern symmetrical.  If resizing along both the vertical and horizontal edges is necessary, then the pattern of the rug will also dictate whether it will be necessary to cut along just two edges or all edges.  This last option is the most labor intensive as it requires cutting and binding along the entire perimeter of the rug.  No matter how many edges are affected, resizing is an excellent way to make a beloved rug warm up a new space.  --

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hand Knotted Silk Rug Repair - Final Result

Below is the final result of our silk rug repair.   It was a fairly long process that began with a professional silk rug cleaning, removal of all damaged and compromised fibers, and rebuilding of the warp, weft, and pile.   

As a reminder, below is the same area before we began our rug repair process.  The colors remain unchanged; the photo below was just taken under different lighting conditions.

Finally, below is the reverse side of the rug's damaged area shortly after we began our repair. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Hand knotted silk rug repair - in progress

 After professionally cleaning the silk rug, we attached it to a temporary wooden frame to begin the repair process.  We removed all the compromised fibers, including the pile, warp, and weft and began reconstruction of the warp and weft, which in this rug were made of cotton.

 Our next step was to reknot the rug's silk pile along the first of the two damaged edges of the rug.  The picture below shows the repaired pile before we cut back the yarns to match the height of the rest of the pile.

We then rotated the rug to begin the repair process on the other damaged rug edge.  As with the other edge, we rebuilt the warp first as seen below.

Working in silk is generally more labor and time intensive as silk is a very fine material.  Furthermore, the stark geometric motifs of this silk rug do not provide a restorer many opportunities to hide any "mistakes" therefore requiring a high level of precision in all the knotting and weaving.  Both of these facts make rug repair projects such as this one an interesting and enjoyable challenge.  --

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hand knotted Silk Rug Repair - Before Pictures

When people think of hand knotted rugs, they often think of Persian central medallion rugs with their rich red and deep blue floral motifs.  But one of the wonderful things about hand knotted rugs is that they come in a vast variety of motifs and color palettes.  The rug pictured above is a good example of a geometric and monochromatic hand knotted rug.  Its palette of browns, tans, and golds is made even more visually striking by the silk yarns which comprise its pile.  The silk pile lends the rug a certain sheen which makes the same section of pile appear darker or lighter depending on the direction in which the viewer is observing it.  Unfortunately, this is hard to capture in photos.

This rug had various areas in need of repair, including the corner pictured below.  

Below is a photo we took of the back of the rug as we prepared to begin to repair the damaged corner.

Patchwork Rugs

 Patchwork rugs are made by sewing together various pieces of vintage rugs of different patterns, ages, and, sometimes, textures.  They are suitable for both traditional and modern spaces making them very popular in home design.  Some patchwork rugs are made by simply sewing different pieces of rugs together.  Other patchwork rugs are made by taking various pieces of rugs and kilims, sewing them together, and then dying them all a similar color.  Both dyed patchwork rugs (sometimes called "over dyed patchwork rugs") and undyed patchwork rugs are yet another way to recycle weavings and to extend the life of hand knotted and hand woven pieces.  Some patchwork rugs, through creative composition, are reminiscent of the rich tradition of American quilting.  

Caring for patchwork rugs is similar to caring for the hand knotted and hand woven pieces from which they are made.  Regular vacuuming is recommended, as is the professional cleaning of your patchwork rugs every two years or so, depending on the amount of foot traffic and other stresses to which the patchwork rug is subject.  Most of the damage that occurs with patchwork rugs is to the binding that joins the various pieces together.  Therefore,  careful attention should be paid to these areas when assessing whether patchwork rug repair is necessary.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Persian Rug Repair - After

After professionally cleaning this Persian rug, we removed all the damaged fibers, as well as all the surrounding fibers that had been compromised.  We then reconstructed the warp, weft, and pile.  Above is a picture of the selvage after our repair.  Below is a photo of the same area as seen from the back of the rug.  Often, it is easier to spot a repair or restoration from the back of the rug rather than the front.

Below is a photo of our rug repair in progress.  The grid-like area comprised of cotton yarns is the structure upon which we reknotted the woolen pile with motifs consistent with the original design of the rug.

As a reminder, below are pictures of the front and back of the damaged area before we undertook our repair of the damaged edge of this rug.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Persian Rug Repair - Before

The fringes and selvages of Persian and Oriental rugs are usually the areas most vulnerable to damage.   The picture above depicts a damaged area of selvage with the warp still somewhat intact.  The rug is a modern Iranian rug from the Shiraz region.  

Above is a picture of the damaged area as seen from the back of the rug.  In our next post, we will share the result of this Persian rug repair.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Chinese Art Deco Rug Cleaning and Repair - Result

After removing all the damaged and compromised yarns from the Chinese Art Deco rug, we strengthened all the compromised warp and weft and reknotted the pile.  The picture above shows the reknotted area before we cut the yarns to the same length as the rest of the rug.  

 The final step in our repair was to cut down the yarns of the reknotted area.  The photo above shows the final result of our repair of the worn and damaged area of this fine Chinese Art Deco rug.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Chinese Art Deco Rug Cleaning and Repair

Chinese Art Deco rugs are generally brightly colored and bold additions to a room.   Similar to Persian, Turkish, Moroccan, Nepalese, Tibetan, and other handmade rugs, these Chinese rugs benefit greatly from regular professional cleaning and prompt attention to worn and damaged areas.  We recently provided professional cleaning and repair services for the Chinese Art Deco rug pictured above.  First, we thoroughly cleaned the rug to ensure, in part, that all the yarns we used for the repaired areas matched the clean yarns of the rug.  Second, we proceeded to repair the various damaged sections.  One worn section we repaired is pictured above.   The first step in repairing this area was to remove all the damaged and compromised pile (the light greenish beige area at the center of the photo above).  We were fortunate to have the warp intact so were able to use the structure for the reknotting.  In our next post, we will share the next phase of this handmade Chinese rug repair.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spring Cleaning Tips: How To Minimize The Risk of Moth Damage in Your Wool Rugs and Kilims

If you live on the East Coast and survived this difficult winter, you - like me - must be happy that spring has finally arrived.  The snow finally has stopped falling, the weather has begun to warm, and there are even hints of flowers and greenery blooming.  Amidst all the wonderful beginnings that spring brings, there is one danger that peaks around this time that threatens to damage - even destroy - our beloved wool rugs, wool kilims, and wool textiles.  What is this silent and deceptively tiny danger?  Moths.

Moths have the potential to silently, but thoroughly, eat through your most precious wool rugs.  What can you do to prevent moths from damaging your wool rugs?  Below is a list of tips to minimize the danger posed by moths:

  1. Thoroughly inspect your wool rugs and kilims at least once every three months.  Know what to look for.  Below is a picture of a live moth infestation.  Look also for loosened knots of wool.  Loosened and compromised knots might indicate that moths have begun their destructive activity.  Note also that moths seem to have a preference for certain colors (actually, a preference for the dyes used to create certain colors).  Therefore, sometimes moth damage will look like someone has carved out certain colors but left others alone.
  2. Vacuum your rugs regularly.  Professionally clean your rugs every two years or so, or more often if the rug is in a highly-trafficked area.  Clean rugs that enjoy a bright and well-ventilated space are rarely subjected to moth damage.
  3. Avoid storing rugs for any extended period of time.  If you must store your rugs, do so in an area that allows the rugs to breathe and be exposed to light and air.  Never wrap your rugs in plastic and store them in a dark closet.  This is the worst way to store rugs as the dark, oxygen-deprived, humid environment creates the perfect environment for moths to flourish and begin their destructive activity.
  4. Isolate any rugs that show signs of a live moth infestation to avoid spreading the moths to other rugs or woolen products.
With minimal care and occasional monitoring, you can protect your rugs, kilims, and other wool textiles against the small and powerful moth.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Antique Turkish Tulu Rug Restoration - Final Result

As we highlighted in our recent posts, after professionally cleaning the antique Turkish Tulu rug, we reconstructed the missing warp and weft.  We then started knotting the Tulu pile and left the yarns loose in the same "shag" style of the original Tulu.  The pictures below were taken in different lights and therefore appear to be of different colors, but they are of the same area of the rug.

Below is a picture after we started knotting the missing pile.  As you can see, there is still visible warp and weft on which we had to knot more pile.

Finally, below is the final result of our antique Turkish Tulu rug restoration.  Again, the different light that we used to take the pictures makes the rug's colors seem different, but they are the same color.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Antique Turkish Tulu Rug Restoration - Mid Process

As is our recommended and usual practice, the first step in our antique Turkish Tulu rug restoration was to professionally clean the rug so that the yarns used in the restoration would match the cleaned rug.  The next step was to rebuild the warp, which helps to form the "backbone" of the rug.  Pictured below is the reconstructed warp.

The next step was to reconstruct the weft, which with the warp will hold the Tulu "pile" in place.  Pictured below is the reconstructed warp and weft.

Seen from the reverse side of the Tulu, below is another picture of the reconstructed warp and weft.

Seen from the front side of the Tulu rug, below is a picture of the reconstructed warp and weft on which we will knot the Tulu pile in the next phase of our restoration.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Antique Turkish Tulu Rug Restoration - Before

Turkish Tulu rugs wonderfully characterize what is so fantastic about handmade textiles.  These weavings - which date back centuries - are at once modern and traditional.   They can bring a touch of whimsy to a traditional decor, or bring a sense of history to more modern or contemporary spaces.  Tulus have influenced a great number of weavings, including the recent shag craze of the 1960s and 1970s in this country.  The antique Tulu pictured here is a typical Tulu - monochromatic and seemingly simplistic.  The somewhat random texture of the front of the Tulu is what gives it its beauty.

This Tulu had several worn areas, more visibly seen from the reverse side of the kilim pictured below.  After professionally cleaning the Turkish Tulu rug, we began the search for an appropriate mustard yarn to use for our restoration.   We will share the next steps of the restoration in our upcoming posts.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Antique Turkish Kilim Cushion Cover (Cuval) Repair - After

The result of our latest antique Turkish kilim cushion restoration is pictured above.  As a reminder, below is the cushion before we commenced the restoration.

To repair this fine Konya cuval, we first professionally cleaned the kilim cushion so that we could choose yarns for the restoration that would match the cleaned yarns of the original cushion.  We were fortunate to find a similarly aged Konya kilim that was beyond repair.  We unraveled the yarns from that kilim to use in this restoration.  We reconstructed the damaged warp and weft taking care to rebuild the motifs to match the original motifs woven into the cushion.  The brown diagonal "stripe" was the major focus of the restoration.  Now that this beautiful Turkish kilim cushion is restored, it can be stuffed with either cotton or other form of batting, and enjoyed for another generation.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Antique Turkish Kilim Cushion Cover (Cuval) Repair - Before

The flat woven technique has been used for centuries to make a wide variety of gorgeous textiles - from kilim floor coverings to tent covers, tent dividers, hay bags, saddle bags, tapestries,  salt bags, and cushion covers also known as cuvals (pronounced chuvals).  Pictured above and below is a beautiful example of a hand woven cuval from the Konya region of Turkey.  It was made circa 1910-1920 with all vegetable dyed, one ply, hand-spun wool.  Pieces such as this have become very collectible in recent years.  As you can see from the photos, this cuval, with its stunning muted palette was in good condition except for a central row where the warp and weft was severely compromised.  The picture below with the white background highlights the damaged area.

To restore a piece like this, we strive to use yarn from a similarly aged piece, if possible.  The reason for this is that new yarn would be too bold in color tone and would not allow the restored area to "blend" into the original.  Furthermore, we strive to use yarn colored in the same manner (i.e., with vegetable dyes) and constructed in the same way (i.e., single ply and hand spun).  For this project, we sourced the yarns we used in the restoration from another antique Konya kilim that was beyond restoration.   This highlights yet another wonderful benefit of owning and collecting kilims - even when they are old and seemingly beyond utility, they can still be used to restore and repair other kilims.  Nothing ever needs to go to waste - a rare, and wonderful feat in today's world where so much seems to be disposable.