Monday, June 27, 2016

Worn Persian Rug Repair - Result

After professionally cleaning the rug and removing all compromised fibers, we were able to assess the complete extent of the wear and damage of this fine Persian rug.  We reconstructed the missing pile striving to match the colors of the original rug's yarns and motifs.  Above is a photo of the restored rug.  
We have heard from some clients in the past that they actually favor the worn look, and we can definitely see the appeal.  However, some wear, while aesthetically pleasing, might compromise the stability of the rug and allow for too much loss of the rug's original weaving.  In these instances, it is always best to restore the rug to stabilize it and to ensure that it can be enjoyed for decades to come.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Restoring a Worn Persian Rug

After decades of steadfast service to its owners, this fine Persian rug had begun to show its age when it made its way into our workroom.  The white worn sections marked areas where the warp began to show through after sections of the pile, and therefore the rug's motifs, had succumbed to years of foot traffic and, we hope, fun family chaos.  As with nearly all of our projects, we first carefully professionally washed the rug to remove all the dirt embedded in the fibers and to have a clean palette  for our restoration project.  

Friday, June 24, 2016

How to Store Your Oriental Rugs

Many of the restoration projects that come our way are caused by improper storage of rugs and kilims.  Often, a little care taken before placing rugs in storage can go a long way to help preserve them and fight off the most threatening of creatures for a rug - the hungry moth.  At the outset, though, it must be said that the best way to store a rug is not to store it at all.  That is, a rug often is best cared for when it is used out in the open where it can benefit from mild sunlight and cross ventilation.  But if storing a rug is absolutely necessary, there are important steps that should be taken.  First, have your rug or kilim professionally cleaned.  A clean rug is not as appetizing to moths as a dirty rug.  Second, store your rug away from all other soiled woolen projects, including other rugs if possible.  Third, do not store a rug in a plastic wrapping of any kind.  If you must wrap your rug, use a cotton blanket that allows the rug to breathe.  Or, if possible, store your rug without any wrapping at all.  Fourth, store your rug in a well ventilated space that receives some sunlight.  If possible, use a cedar closet or cedar planks to help minimize moth damage.  Lastly, be diligent about periodically examining your rugs in storage.  Every few months, take the rugs out to let them breathe and conduct a thorough inspection for any signs of moth damage.  If you spot any signs, have the rug cleaned immediately before further damage is done.  Following these simple steps will help you provide a safe storage environment for your rugs and kilims.  

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Mexican Kilim Repair - Final Result

Above is the final result of our Mexican kilim fringe repair.  As we detailed in our last post, we first professionally cleaned the kilim, then removed all compromised fibers, rebuilt the fringes (warp), reconstructed the damaged weft, and bound the fringe in the style of the rest of the undamaged fringe. If you look closely at the photo above, you may note that there is a slight difference between the red yarn we used in our repair of the weft right above the fringe and the red yarn of the original, but with time even this slight difference will dissipate.  Below, as a reminder, is what the kilim looked like before we started our repair project. --

Mexican Kilim Repair - In Process

After professionally cleaning the Mexican kilim and proceeding to eliminate all compromised fibers along the fringed edge, we began to rebuild the damaged fringe.  The white vertical cotton strands in the next photos show the reconstructed fringe (which, in essence is the repaired warp).   Our next step will be to bind the repaired fringe to minimize the risk of unraveling and reconstruct all compromised weft. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Mexican Kilim Cleaning and Repair

Mexican and other Central and South American kilims and blankets are beautiful for their vibrant color combinations and fine quality weaving.  They are also subject to the same weaknesses as to their Middle Eastern and Asian counterparts, namely fringe damage.  The beautiful Mexican kilim pictured above had fringe damage that was beginning to extend into the field of the kilim.  We first professional cleaned the kilim and then removed all the compromised fibers along the fringed edge.  Our next step was to rebuild the damaged fringe and bind it to minimize the risk of future unraveling. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Isfahan Rug Project - Moth Damage and Damaged Fringe Repaired - Final Result

At the beginning of any restoration or repair project, we always professionally clean the rug.  This cleaning is especially critical when a rug has been damaged by moths as we try to be sure that any live infestation is eradicated.   It is often the case that the full damage inflicted by moths is not clear until after a professional cleaning is done.  After cleaning the rug, we then removed all compromised yarns (sometimes as easily by tugging at them as moths have already loosened them).  We then reknotted the missing pile and reconstructed the missing and damaged warp and weft.  Next, we bound the reconstructed fringe so as to minimize the risk of any future unraveling.  Below are additional pictures of our latest Isfahan rug repair project.

As a reminder, below are before photos of the damaged rug taken before our repair project. --

Friday, May 6, 2016

Isfahan Rug Repair - Damaged Fringe and Moth Infestation

This beautiful silk and wool Isfahan rug fell prey to two of the most common problems that plague our hand knotted rugs - fraying edges and fringes, and moth damage.  A rug often is most vulnerable at its edges, especially the fringed edges.  Aggressive vacuuming, dragging of furniture across the edges, or energetic pets or children who pull on the fringes can damage the fringes and eventually the pile itself (which is protected by the fringes).  Moth damage most often occurs when rugs are placed in storage or when sections of a rug are placed under heavy furniture for a prolonged period of time without regular cleaning.  In the photos above and below, one can see the moth damage in the red knotted pile that looks to be partly eaten.  Our restoration of this silk and wool Isfahan rug addressed both the wool pile that was eaten by moths and the damaged and missing fringe. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Afghan Kilim Chewed by Puppy - Final Result

After cleaning the kilim, reconstructing the warp, and reweaving the weft, we finally completed repairing this lovely Afghan kilim that was damaged by a ravenous dog.  Unfortunately, the photo above of the result of our repair is a bit overexposed, but we hope you can see that we tried to blend in the repaired section into the original kilim as much as possible.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Afghan Kilim Chewed by Dog - Repair in Progress

After professionally cleaning this lovely Afghan kilim, we began reconstructing the warp (the vertical brownish-greyish vertical fibers in the photos above and below).  The photo below shows the completed warp reconstruction.  

Once the warp reconstruction was completed, we began the weft reconstruction.  The weft reconstruction includes the motif reconstruction.  We always strive to be sure to use yarns as close in color to the colors of the original kilim so as to minimize the visibility of the repair.  A great compliment to us is when clients can't find our repairs.

Below is another photo of our weft reconstruction in progress.  This lovely Afghan kilim was almost ready to go home to its hungry puppy!

A Dog Chewed My Kilim! Help!

It has been a long time since we have written, but we have been busy working on great restoration projects for clients.   This kilim was damaged by a well-meaning, but hungry, puppy who took a big chunk out of this kilim.  This is a Maimana kilim from Afghanistan and is lovely for its bold colors and geometric motifs.  Like many Maimana kilims, this kilim was woven with rich reds and autumnal shades of orange.  The damage spanned an 8-9 inch section of the border of the kilim.  The kilim's owner luckily saved the kilim before further damage ensued.  --

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Antique Caucasian Kazak Rug Repair - Final

So after reconstructing the warp and weft, we finished knotting the pile.  Above is a picture of what the area looks like after our restoration.  As you can see, no more mismatched patch.  The new section - both its colors and motifs -  blends into the rest of the rug.  The photo below shows the same restored area from behind.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Replacing a Patch in an Oriental Rug

We first removed the patch and all compromised yarns from the pile.  The rug looked like it had a neat square cut from its edge.

Next, we rebuilt the missing warp and integrated it into the pile of the rug.  The white vertical strands are the new warp.  They are seen in the above photo from the back of the rug.

In the next step of this Oriental rug restoration project, we reconstructed the weft creating the grid-like structure on which we knotted the pile.  The blue yarns in the bottom of the photo are the newly knotted pile yarns.

Friday, July 31, 2015

When One Thing is Not Like the Others - Using Patches in Oriental Rug Repair Projects

Handmade rugs are exquisite for their harmonious blending of a disparate range of colors, motifs, and even textures.  But occasionally one comes across rugs like the one pictured above that show what happens when someone opts for the easy (and vastly inferior) fix and stitches a piece from another rug to repair what was probably a tear, hole, or similar kind of damage.  The result is jarring to the eye and immediately draws attention to itself - exactly the opposite of what you want a good Oriental rug restoration or project to produce.  In the next few posts, I will share how we restored this beautiful antique Kazakh rug and how we bid farewell to the patch for good. --;  212-300-3348

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

On the edge: Rebuilding a Kilim's Fringes

Rugs, in some ways, are like people.  We are solid, strong, and close to indestructible at our core, but at the edges - those places where we are most exposed and where we most directly meet the world - at the edges are where we are most fragile and where we can literally unravel and come undone.  (NB: Tortured analogy ends here.)

Below is a picture of a kilim suffering that exact fate.  Notice how the fringes are completely missing, frayed, and altogether damaged in other areas.  Perhaps even more significant, notice how in the areas where the fringes are missing, the field of the kilim is starting to unravel.  Fringes, while decoratively pleasing at the edges of the rugs and kilims, are much more that simple adornments.  They serve a very real function - they prevent the field (the core, if you will) of a rug or kilim from being damaged.

Fringes are technically part of the warp of a rug ( or kilim ).  The warp is made up of the vertical yarns that, together with the weft, form the "backbone" of the rug.  When a rug or kilim is cut off a loom, the warp yarns that remain at the ends of the piece are what are known as fringes.  Often, once a rug or kilim is cut off the loom, a weaver will bind the fringes and, sometimes, even decoratively knot the fringes.  The binding and knotting is meant to provide extra protection against the risk that the field of the rug or kilim will unravel.

We restored the damaged fringe area of this kilim by creating a temporary loom on  which we extended warp strings into the field of the kilim.  This is a very time-intensive task, but one that will go a long way to protecting the edge of the restored kilim.  When the reconstruction of the fringe was complete, we added a simple braid knot at the edges for aesthetic purposes, but also for further protection.  Below is a picture of the final result of our kilim fringe restoration.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Should You Place an Expensive Oriental Rug Under a Dining Room Table?

You have undoubtedly seen it countless times in home decorating magazines, real estate listings, and HGTV shows:  the wonderfully decorated dining room with a large imposing table on top of a beautiful Oriental rug.  The rug instantly grounds the space; it immediately warms up the room.

But what are the practical implications of having a large (and probably expensive) handmade rug under a heavy dining room table?  Some have argued that rugs under dining room tables should be confined to pages of home magazines, but in reality are impractical.  Proponents of this position point out that there is the obvious risk of having food or beverages spilled on top of the rug which could permanently damage it.  They also argue that the stress that heavy chairs put on the pile when diners drag them back and forth to sit and rise from them can damage the rug.  Are proponents of this position correct?

Well, yes and no.  I agree that having a rug under a table where food and drinks are regularly served subjects the rug to the risk of staining.  But the risk is minimal as most of us don't normally drop our food and drink.  With younger children, the risk may be higher, but for the vast majority of people, I think the benefit of having a rug you love and a space that brings you joy far outweighs the unlikely risk that you will spill something on your Oriental rug that you can't easily clean or have professionally cleaned.  And as for chairs damaging your rugs, the risk exists, but it can be minimized.  It is true that I would not recommend placing a very valuable or fragile antique Oriental rug under a dining room table, but for the vast majority of handmade rugs, a dining room is a fine place for them to be enjoyed.

Following are some guidelines to follow to protect a handmade rug that is placed under a dining room table:

  1. Place protective "feet" under all table and chair legs.  Periodically ensure that the protective coverings are securely attached to the chair legs.  The protective coverings lessen the risk that any sharp edges will damage your Oriental rug's pile.
  2. Place a good quality rug pad under your table.  Again, this will minimize the risk that the weight and stress of the table and chairs will damage the pile of your rug.
  3. Vacuum your rug regularly and often so as to remove any crumbs that can become embedded in your rug's pile.  As always, avoid vacuuming the fringe.  Instead shake the fringe for loose food and dust particles.
  4. Blot all spills immediately.  Do not rub; blot with a damp white towel.  If you are worried about staining, have your rug professionally cleaned after any significant spills.
  5. At least once every four months or so, examine your rugs for damage, including possible moth damage that can occur under heavy furniture (in this instance, under heavy table legs).
  6. At least once every four months, rotate  your rug.
  7. Have your rug professionally cleaned once a year.

By following these simple guidelines, one should be able to enjoy a beautiful handmade rug under a dining room with minimal risk of damaging it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What are the White Knots in My Rug? Why Does My Rug Have White Knots After I Had it Professionally Cleaned?

Occasionally a client will call and ask us to explain the appearance of white knots in their rug after we return it to them after a professional cleaning.  Did the professional rug cleaning somehow do something to the structure of the rug that somehow created white knots?  No.  The fact is that white knots that become visible after a professional cleaning were always there in the rug; it is just that a thorough professional cleaning removes the dirt or dust that masks their appearance and which allows them to blend into the field of the rug unnoticed.  Below is a photo of a cleaned rug with some white knots visible in the pile:

But why are those white knots in a rug in the first place?

White knots (which are sometimes different, less noticeable, colors) are usually a product of one of two things.  First, they are a byproduct of having limited available materials during the weaving process.  White knots are actually part of the warp of the rug.  Warp yarns are the vertical yarns which are affixed to the loom.  In the picture that I took below of a weaver in a village near where I grew up in central Anatolia, the white cotton yarns are the warp of the kilim that is being woven:

As you can see from the photo, quite long white cotton yarns are needed for the warp.  In a larger rug, the warp will obviously be even longer.  Sometimes, weavers do not have access to very long continuous yarns so they have to tie different strands of yarn together - thereby forming a white knot.  Sometimes the white knots are pushed to the back of a rug so that they are less visible on the face of the rug.  Other times they are left on the face of the rug but they are not noticeable because foot traffic soils the cotton so that it eventually blends into the field of the rug.  Other times the white knots are not visible because they are buried within the knots of a rug.  However, over the years when the knots - the pile - become worn (and therefore shorter), the white knots become visible.  They don't suddenly form - they were always there, but the shorter pile now makes them visible.

The second reason why a rug (or kilim) sometimes has white knots is because during the weaving process, the weaver pushes down her knots with a beater comb and by doing so sometimes tears the warp strings. When the weaver does this, she or he has to tie another warp string to the broken warp so that the weaving can continue.   Some view broken warp strings as a sign of a weaver's inexperience.  Others view broken warp strings as a sign of inferior quality of the warp's material.  The truth is that it would be impossible to weave an entire rug without occasionally tearing some warp strings or having to join a few warp strings together.  The white knots, therefore, are the inevitable byproduct of having a rug made entirely by hand.

We did receive one call, however, from a client who had just purchased a rug and was worried about the "white knots" that she suddenly spotted in her rug.  Her use of the term "white knots" led us to believe that what she was referring to was the simple warp joining that we described above.  However, that was not the case.  The "white knots" that she described were actually moving and were not white knots at all.  They were actually moths!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What to Do When You Choose Not to Restore Your Beloved, but Damaged, Oriental Rug

In our last post we discussed the various factors that go into a well considered decision against undertaking a full restoration of a damaged Oriental rug.  Although good quality handmade rugs can literally last a lifetime - actually, several lifetimes - there are instances when a full restoration of a damaged hand knotted rug is not prudent.  What can be done in those instances?  We have outlined in the past what options can be done to "recycle" the sound parts of rugs, but what happens when an owner wants to continue to use the piece as a rug and not as a wall hanging or furniture cover, etc?  In these instances, a more limited repair might be advisable.  Limited repairs on significantly damaged areas should focus on:

1.  Reinforcing all compromised fringes and selvage sections.  Generally, if a rug has a sound perimeter and it is not subject to significant stresses (such as high traffic or heavy furniture passing across its pile), a rug with a slightly damaged pile but sound perimeter can still last some time before it is too far gone.
2.   Repair any significant tears.  It is always ideal to restore tears so that the pile is reknotted in the style and manner of the original rug.  In a limited repair, however, merely sewing a tear can buy an owner some time (and save some money on the repair).
3.  Patch pieces from other rugs into existing holes in your damaged rug.  This is not a permanent solution by any means, but it can buy an owner a couple of years with their beloved rug.
4.   Sew a canvas backing onto a damaged rug.  This again is a temporary solution, at best, but it can provide an owner with some time with his or her rug without undertaking a costly restoration.

Note, however, that even these limited more modest repairs should follow a thorough professional cleaning if a rug exhibits any sign of current or past moth infestation.  Moth damage can happen quite quickly so regular periodic inspections of rugs is highly advised to prevent unnecessary destruction of beautiful sound rugs by pesky moths.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Is it Worth Repairing My Persian Rug? Should I Restore My Oriental Rug?

We get asked these questions at least once a week, if not almost daily.  Often, the people asking either have inherited a beautiful, but worn, Oriental rug, or the people have found a damaged, but lovely and well-priced rug to purchase, or the people asking are just examining a beloved rug that has stood guard in their house for years slowly losing areas of pile and levels of structural integrity.

Answering the question of whether it is prudent to invest money and time repairing and restoring a damaged rug is difficult, as the answer must consider a number of factors.  First, of course, there is the question of what is reasonably feasible.  While it is true that practically any rug can be restored, sometimes a rug is "too far gone."  This is often the case when a rug has been kept in an environment that is too humid or too dry, or the rug has been subject to moth damage for too long.  Second, there is the factor of the monetary element.  Sometimes a fine antique rug will increase in value with a good restoration and therefore a restoration can be seen as prudent investment.  Other times, however, when a decorative rug is very damaged or extensively worn, the time and money it would take to restore might be more than what it would cost to buy a new rug.  Third, there is the element of sentimental value.  This can be underestimated at times, but from personal experience, I know that I have spent countless hours, days, weeks, and months, restoring gorgeous rugs that belonged in my great grandmother's dowry - not because the rugs themselves are of high monetary value, but because their value to my family's own history is immeasurable.  For me, they are as priceless as any possession can be.  They are a testament to a great tradition - and a woven letter from my own ancestors - that I have the privilege of seeing and appreciating every day.  And which I hope to pass on myself one day.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Antique Rug Repair - Process and Result

There are times when a rug - often an antique rug - is so worn and damaged that a complete restoration that would address all the damaged and compromised areas of the rug would be too cost prohibitive.  In those instances, we recommend clients address the most pressing damaged areas - often at the edges of the rug.  The edges of a rug - both the fringed sides and the selvages - are especially critical for the life of the rug because without sound edges, the entire field of the rug is at risk of unraveling.  For this reason, addressing the damaged edges can often preserve the piece for a few more years if one is not proceeding with an entire restoration.

For this repair, we rebuilt the foundation at the damaged section of the fringe as shown above.  Next, we began to reknot the missing pile as shown below.

After the knotting was completed, we cut down the yarns so as to match the rest of the rug.

Pictured from the reverse side of the rug, below is the repaired area.  With proper care, and if placed in an area where it is not subject to too many stresses (i.e., heavy foot traffic, moving chairs, etc.), this rug has years of enjoyment left to give.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

New and Vibrant v. Old and Elegant - Reflections on the Occasion of an Antique Rug Repair


One of my favorite memories of growing up in Turkey is of the vast carpet "farms" that dot the spring Anatolian landscape.   The "farms" are a collection of a village's weavings which, when completed, are cut off the loom, shorn, and set out to "bake" in the sun's spring rays.  The sun helps the rugs' colors set and helps the rugs gain their regular shape.  It is a lovely sight to behold - a fantastic explosion of color on the Anatolian plain.   Moreover, what these farms represent - the continuation of an ancient and ancestral tradition - is even more beautiful.

Yet while these and other new rugs are lovely with their vibrant and saturated colored yarns, it is the muted color palettes and worn piles of antique rugs that have often captured my imagination.  These older worn pieces are literally a woven history of so many different peoples.  I certainly can appreciate and deeply admire when an owner of such a piece does not want to discard or replace it in favor of something new.

The piece above is a beautiful antique rug that has various worn areas where the pile is almost entirely gone and the foundation is clearly visible.  To completely restore such a piece is often cost prohibitive as it would involve rebuilding the foundation in various areas and reknotting the pile so as to match the original - a time-consuming and difficult task.  In some of these instances, a more targeted repair is recommended.  For example, for the antique rug pictured above, it was important to stabilize the edge so that the piece would not unravel.  In our next post, we will share how we repaired this area so as to extend the life of this beautiful antique rug. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Wabi Sabi and the Exquisite Beauty of the Imperfect Rug

There are people who approach a rug purchase armed with official sounding ratios, desired measurements listed to the fraction of an inch, and a swatch of an exact hue that would coordinate with a desired color palette.  But much of the beauty of rug making and rugs themselves is situated in what some may deem imperfections or deficiencies.  The beauty of nomadic rugs and kilims is in the irregularity  of their shape, in the unexpected break in symmetry, in the surprising harmonious chaos of a color explosion.  To forsake these rugs because they do not possess a high sounding ratio of knots per square inch would be to miss the opportunity to appreciate and possess something truly unique - something that reflects the imperfections inherent in art - the imperfections that some would argue as I do - that are the true essence of art.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Handmade Rug Chewed by Dog - Final Result after Repair

Above and below are pictures of the final result of a recent project we undertook to repair an Indian handmade rug that had been chewed and damaged by a dog.  As we outlined in our previous post, we professionally cleaned the rug, rebuilt the compromised warp and weft, reknotted the pile, and bound the newly constructed fringe.  The picture above shows the final repaired section from the back of the rug; the picture below shows the repair from the front of the rug.  As these pictures highlight, a repair can usually be more clearly seen from the reverse side of the rug where the long tufts of yarn are not present to hide any repairs or restoration.  The longer yarns of the pile on the front of the rug provide a convenient disguise to most repair and/or restoration projects.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Rug Chewed by Dog - Repair in Progress

As with most of our hand knotted rug repair and restoration projects, the first step we took to repair this rug was to professionally clean it.  It is advisable to professionally clean a rug at the beginning of any repair or restoration so that the yarns used in any newly knotted area match the (clean) colors of the original rug as much as possible.  In addition, periodic professional cleaning is recommended for all handmade pieces so a repair and restoration is a good occasion to ensure that a cleaning takes place.
After the rug was cleaned, we rebuilt the missing and compromised warp, which can be seen above (the cotton vertical yarns).  We subsequently reknotted the missing pile (not shown in the photo below which is the reverse of the rug) and rebuilt the compromised weft.  Below is a photo of the repair (as seen from the back of the rug) near its completion.