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.