Friday, December 10, 2021

When Water is the Enemy - Flooded Handknotted Rugs


A high quality hand knotted rug can withstand generations of wear, tear, some abuse, and decades of all that life can bring.  But there are a few things that not even the highest quality rug can withstand without significant damage:  sitting water.  When your home or space is flooded, it is extremely imperative to remove a hand knotted rug from sitting water as soon as possible.  The best course would be to have the rug professionally cleaned as soon as possible, but if that is not possible for some time, then removing the rug and laying it flat in a dry, preferably sunny and warm space would be the next best thing.  The key would be to allow for the rug to dry so as to prevent the fibers from rotting and the colors from running (any more than they already may have).  Laying the rug flat is important so that the colors don't run down. The rug above was damaged by a flood.  After the flood, the rug's owner wrapped up the rug in plastic and left it wrapped for some time.  Unfortunately, the rug now is beyond restoration.  The fibers have rotted and mold has started to grow.  Taking quick and important steps after a flood can usually prevent this kind of damage.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Hand knotted Tibetan Rug Damaged by Moths - Before


Hand knotted Tibetan rugs are beautifully distinctive for their bold graphic motifs.  But like any other hand knotted wool rug, Tibetan wool rugs are susceptible to moth damage.  The gorgeous Tibetan rug photographed above had several areas damaged by moths.  The warp and weft was intact because it was made of cotton.  We will share in the next post what our repair of this moth damaged section looked like.  Stay tuned --

Friday, July 30, 2021

Antique Persian Rug Cleaning

 This lovely antique Persian Sarouk rug was stored for quite some time.  Even though it was clean when put into storage, it became infested with moths.  It is never safe to store wool rugs for extended periods of time without setting up a regular inspection schedule during which the rug can be examined carefully for early signs of moth damage.  Luckily, the moths haven't eaten too much of the rug but the damage has already started.  This rug needs a thorough professional cleaning and repair to various sections throughout the rug that have been damaged.  Luckily not too much of the warp and weft has been affected.  We are looking forward to repairing this rug and making sure it can be enjoyed for decades to come.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Beni Ourain Rug Cleaning

Beni Ourain rugs are among the most beloved rugs in modern decor.  They can instantly ground a space while bringing a beautiful sense of serenity or a fantastic pop of color.  Their long pile gives a space a warm texture which complements both traditional and more contemporary decorating styles.  In all my years visiting clients' homes, I have not seen any space that isn't well served by a gorgeous Beni Ourain rug.  

Beni Ourain rugs can be a challenge to professionally clean because they usually have an ivory or white background with dark or vibrant colored motifs.  The contrasting colors can be risky to clean as the dark colors can sometimes bleed into the pale background.  This could mar the appearance of an otherwise fine rug.  For this reason, it is important to contract a company that has experience professionally cleaning Beni Ourain and other Moroccan hand made rugs.  Ask the company about the color run tests they perform.  Note that there can never be a guarantee that there will not be any color run as that is an inherent risk in the cleaning process.  However, there should be steps taken to minimize the risk.  Experience and skill will go a long way into making sure the cleaning process will result in a cleaner and brighter rug that can be enjoyed for years to come.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Repairing a Hole in an Oriental Rug.

After professionally cleaning the rug, we carefully reconstructed the damaged warp and weft.  The warp and weft (the grid like horizontal and vertical tan strands shown above and below) are what form the backbone of the pile.  They are what the knots are attached to.  Below is what the reconstructed warp and weft look like from the back of the rug.

After that step, we were ready to reknot the damaged pile.  We took care to match the colors and motifs of the original rug.  We believe a good restoration does not call attention to itself.  The reknotted pile is shown below with the yarns still long.  We will share the result of our repair in our next post.

As a reminder, this is what the damaged looked like when we received it.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Repairing a Hole in an Oriental Rug


Over time, even with the utmost care, a rug may suffer some damage.  This lovely Oriental rug had a small hole in its border.  The warp was relatively intact, but the pile had come completely out of a small area.  We first professionally cleaned the rug, taking care not to worsen the existing damage.  In our next posts, we will share how we repaired the damage.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Moth Infested Rug Damage


Anyone who has loved and lived with handmade rugs will know that even after an extended period of time, new "discoveries" can be made.  Sometimes a rug lover will suddenly see a motif that was previously "hidden" to her, or a particular color blend will stand out, or even a whole section of a border will suddenly be at the forefront to the person who stands and admires it.  These kinds of "discoveries" are a wonderful gift from the weaver who spent a great amount of time and care weaving each design, knotting each motif, and putting together the "story" of a detailed rug.  

Other discoveries, however, are not as welcome.  There are times after a particularly vigorous vacuuming session, a person may notice that fringes have started to be pulled away from a rug.  Or, perhaps more seriously, sometimes small holes or carved out areas begin to appear in a rug.  This particular damage is worrying because it can accelerate quickly.  These are signs of a moth infestationMoths can attack at any time, but especially when a rug is in storage, or in an area with poor air ventilation.  For this reason, it is important to remember to periodically inspect your rugs for any possible moth or other kind of damage.  The old adage is as true as ever - a stitch in time ....

Monday, April 19, 2021

Fixing a Bad Rug Repair

In our last post, we left you with this image below of a poor and temporary repair of a lovely hand woven kilim.  

To correct this repair, we cut out the patch and extracted the yarns that were deteriorating.  We were left with a hole pictured below.

To reweave the section, we tried to find yarns that would match the lovely muted palette of yellow, black/grey, and, most significantly, the rose / mauve of the background of the kilim.  Our restored section is photographed below.  Of course, no colors can be matched perfectly, but we believe this is a pretty close match that does not call immediate attention to itself.  Perhaps more importantly, the restoration was integrated into the kilim so it will withstand the test of time.


Thursday, April 8, 2021

What Does a Bad Rug Repair or Rug Restoration Look Like?


We understand that there are times when the least costly option is the one that is right for clients.   This is why we try to offer as many alternatives as possible to clients when they come to us for restoration and repair needs.  When possible, we try to offer both restoration options - which will bring back the rug to as close to its original state as possible - and repair options, which will address the immediate problem and protect against further damage.  Restoration options will be more costly, of course, because they are more skill and time intensive.  We strive that all our options - whether they be restoration or repair options - will be long lasting and as beautiful as possible.  
We occasionally get questions about what a bad repair would look like - and the photo above is a perfect illustration of that.  Our client had had this kilim repaired fairly recently and already the repair was failing.  You can see that at the edges, the warp and weft were starting to fray and in a very short time the entire new section would pull apart from the kilim.  This is a perfect example of why going with the least expensive option can turn out to be more costly in the long run.  This client paid for a bad repair, followed by a good repair just a short time later.  In the next post, we will show you how our project turned out.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Restoring an Antique Turkish Rug - Final Result


The photo above is the final result of our recent restoration project of a beautiful hand knotted Turkish rug.  As the before picture below shows, the damage to the pile was quite extensive.  The warp and weft were extremely damaged, and the pile was completely missing from an extended section.  We recreated the warp and weft and reknotted the pile in the style and manner of the original.  We took great care to match the colors to the original rug and also recreate the missing motifs and designs.  The rug is still very worn in various other sections, but the most significant damage has been restored.  This was a very fun to project to work on.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Restoring an Antique Turkish Rug


The old adage is an eternal truth - a stitch in time does indeed save nine.  And so we always recommend that a client have a small hole or tear restored as soon as they can.  But lives are busy and things get in the way, and inevitably we sometimes come across beautiful rugs that have large sections of pile that are completely missing, damaged, or torn.  These kinds of projects are quite time and skill intensive (and much more costly than repairing a small hole).  But they are challenging projects that are quite gratifying once done as we know a piece of history has been preserved for future generations.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

From the Desktop of an Antique Rug Restorer

This is one of my favorite views in the entire world.  And I am beyond grateful that it is of my own desktop.  I know that I am beyond blessed to love my work as much as I do.  I don't know what cosmic lottery I won to get to do what I love - to do for work what I would do anyway as a hobby.  But I remind myself every day that this is truly a gift.  Especially this year during what was such a challenging year for so many, I am grateful that I had this craft to turn to - to drown out all the worries.

It is hard to put into words what I love so much about restoring rugs.  Part of it is purely sensorial.  I love the different textures.  I love feeling the yarns between my fingers - the coarse wool, the smooth silk, the delicate antique yarns, the robust freshly dyed yarn.  I love seeing the vibrant electric colors of Moroccan rugs against the muted rich jewel tones of antique Persian rugs.  I even love the quiet hush of my hand rubbing against the knotted pile of a beautiful hand knotted rug.  I feel a deep sense of gratification as my work is slowly visually manifested into a pattern replacing a hole or a tear that had long ago compromised a beautiful piece.   And I feel a strange, but strong, connection to the weaver whom I will never meet, but whose work I hold in my hands for weeks, sometimes months.  I think about her life (because it is almost always a her) and wonder what her life was like, what she wanted to express in her art, what each placement of a motif meant to her.  I wonder if she meant to sell this rug - if she helped pay for something for her home with what she got for it, or if somehow this rug was meant for herself or her family and over the years, a grandchild sold it for something for his or her home.  It is almost always impossible to ever know, but I imagine all these scenarios through each knot and each loop.  And for hours, weeks, months, and years, this is what I do.  And it is among my life's greatest gifts.

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Final Stage of a Rug Restoration Project - Shearing Reknotted Sections


When a rug is knotted, or reknotted in the case of a rug restoration project, a weaver will use long yarns to knot wool motifs against a grid-like warp and weft.  The yarns have to be long-ish for a weaver to be able to manipulate them.  Because of their length, the knotted motifs close to the base of the rug are not always very clear to a weaver.  Only after the reknotting is done will a weaver cut the excess yarn down so that the pile is of a uniform (short) length.  The shearing can be done either with scissors or with a mechanical shearing tool shown above.  No matter how it is done, the shearing allows for the pattern to reveal itself more clearly.  This is a very enjoyable part of a restoration project as the shearing makes it look like the pattern somehow magically appears (and it also signifies the project is almost done!).

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Moth Infested Rug Care


There is nothing appetizing about this photo, unless you're a moth.  We've witnessed the incredible destructive power of moths over the years, but photos like this still astound me just by the immense power that tiny moths can exert over beautiful wool rugs.  One look at this photo will stun most people into wanting to do what is necessary so that their rugs avoid such a fate.  The good news is that it is relatively simple to do.  First, a regular cleaning schedule is necessary.  This includes regular vacuuming - once a week or even once every two weeks depending on how trafficked the area is where the rug is located.  This also includes periodic professional cleaning - once every two or three years depending on how trafficked the area is where the rug is located.  Next, regular periodic inspections are recommended.  An inspection can take just a few minutes to look over the rug to be sure that no moths are present, and no damage is starting to ensue such as near the fringes.  Regular inspections should coincide with a rotation of the rug so that any wear or sun exposure is even distributed.  These small steps are enough to having your beautiful rug avoid a fate similar to the photographed rug. --

Monday, February 22, 2021

Moroccan Rug Cleaning


Cleaning Moroccan rugs is a critical part of their ongoing care, which can minimize the risk of damage that comes from daily wear and tear.  Professional cleaning can remove particles that become embedded deep at the base of the pile, which in the case of Moroccan rugs is very long and plush.  Professional cleaning, coupled with regular vacuuming, removes the particles between the pile that when brushed against the fibers of the pile eventually wear them down.  The long term result of the particles brushing against fibers is general weakening of the fibers which eventually become holes.  Therefore, vacuuming and professional cleaning is not only recommended for hygienic purposes, but also to extend the lifespan of the rug, which could be generations long if done properly.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

How Often Should I Have My Handmade Rug Professionally Cleaned?

Every circumstance will be different, but in general we recommend handmade rugs be professionally cleaned every two years if the rug is subject to average foot traffic.  We recommend antique rugs be cleaned every three to five years, again depending on how much traffic the rug gets.  The reason a professional cleaning is important for handmade rugs is that regular vacuuming is insufficient to extract deeply embedded particles that can lodge themselves deep in the pile.  These particles can wear on the base of the pile causing friction that could eventually damage the yarns and, over time, damage the rug causing holes or worn areas.  
If a rug is not in a heavily trafficked area, and if no outdoor shoes are worn in the home, a professionally cleaning can be done less frequently.  Conversely, if outdoor shoes are worn in the home and the rug is subject to more foot traffic, then a yearly professional cleaning is recommended.  In between professional cleanings, we recommend weekly vacuuming (taking care not to damage fringes and edges), and periodic rotations of the rug to even out any wear or sun exposure.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Removing a Stain from a Moroccan Rug


As any owner of a beautiful hand knotted rug knows, spills and stains are an inevitable part of having these beautiful pieces be the foundation of our home spaces.  If you ever have an unfortunate spill, we recommend blotting the excess liquid immediately.  Please take care to blot.  Do not rub as that may cause color run.  Then take a damp (not wet) white towel and natural soap and carefully try to remove any stain.  Be careful not to rub too hard or across colors.  Also be sure that the cloth is damp, not wet.  If you can not remove a stain, a professional cleaning may remove the stain.  If the stain has been left to sit, or if it is a stain of red wine or other difficult stain, a separate more in depth cleaning process may be necessary.  In the worst instances, if the stain is very prominent and a cleaning can not eliminate it, you can reweave that area.  But in most instances, a cleaning can greatly reduce the appearance of nearly all stains.  Even if  small evidence remains, it shouldn't detract from the beauty of a handmade piece.

Monday, February 1, 2021

How to Save a Rug's Fringe - Binding


Rugs are most fragile at their edges, in particular, their fringed edges.  This is because fringes can get sucked by vacuums, pulled by heels, kids, or pets.  Fringes are merely extensions of the warp which, together with the weft, form the backbone of a rug.  When a weaver finishes knotting a rug and cuts the rug off the loom, she or he leaves a little warp at each edge of the pile.  This is not merely decorative, the fringe is left so that the pile is protected a bit.  The fringe acts like a barrier between the piled section and external stresses, in a sense.  For this reason, it is important to protect the fringes, so that they, in turn, can protect the knotted pile.  One way of protecting the fringes is to bind the fringes so that they remain intact.  One way of binding is as shown, vertical zig zag threads which hold the fringes and anchor them back into the pile.  This is one way of ensuring the fringes remain intact and can preserve the pile of a beloved rug for decades to come.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Moroccan Rug Cleaning - Cleaning a Work of Art


Professionally cleaning any authentic handmade rugs can be a challenge.  One must be sure to clean the rug thoroughly, but also be sure neither to damage any sensitive fibers, nor cause any color run.  For Moroccan rugs, this last consideration is especially important.  Many Moroccan rugs, such as the very popular Beni Ourain rugs, have very pale backgrounds against more graphic dark designs.  This is a perfect recipe for unsightly color run if a dark color is allowed to seep into white or cream wool pile.  For this reason, doing a color run test in a small discrete area is of paramount importance.  While there is no full proof way to prevent color run (because it is impossible to assess definitively if dyes are color fast before testing them all), a color run test can go a long way to help prevent damage.  Damaging these beautiful works of art would be a shame, and it is important to take the utmost preventative measures to ensure that a professional cleaning is done as safely and properly as possible.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Goat Hair Kilim Repair Project - Before and After


Goat hair is a difficult material to work with because it is very coarse.  Despite that, however, goat hair kilims can be very beautiful as their natural color and texture lend themselves to wonderfully stark contrasts and graphic patterns.  This kilim restoration project compelled us to work with goat hair.  As the photo above shows, an area of goat hair yarns was damaged.  We reconstructed the goat hair warp and weft, and embroidered the missing motifs.  Below is the after shot of the damaged section.  Another enjoyable kilim restoration project completed! 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Turkish Kilim Restoration

One of the most enjoyable aspects of working on Turkish handwoven kilim restoration projects is the immediate improvement that one can see as the project progresses.  When restoring a hand knotted rug, the result is somewhat delayed until after the newly knotted sections are shorn down.  But with a kilim, the restoration results are immediately visible and gratifying.  Restoring a kilim almost feels like painting in that way, albeit much, much slower.  Kilims are a delight to live with, as are the more ubiquitous hand knotted rugs.  Kilims are flat woven and tend to have more geometric motifs because of the nature of the weaving process.  The designs can be wonderfully bold and intricate, making them look like paintings for your floor.  They are a treasure to behold, and a gift to restore.