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.  --