Hand woven rugs, a dying art form in a changing world

The one thing you can say with certainty about the world today is that it is changing so quickly that very little is truly certain. The last hundred years have seen significant changes in nearly every industry. Modernization happens fast and with it comes great benefit to our society. Unfortunately, this benefit is often coupled with the loss of skilled labor, hand crafted goods, and traditional techniques. As sad as we at Serafian’s are to say it, weaving is proving to be no exception to this.

Right now, the question is not “Will traditional hand-weaving die off?” so much as it is “When and how will hand-weaving die off?” In the last ten years alone, we have seen significant dropoff in production from China, Persia (Iran), and India. The internet has changed the game of retail in ways few could have predicted. The impact of globalization is being felt keenly by the weaving industry. War, politics, and economics have created vast changes and challenges and there is little doubt that weaving has been heavily impacted by these factors. By far, the biggest factor in this change is the blooming and modernizing economies of the Middle and Far East.

Woman working at the loom. Oriental Muslim national crafts. Focus on the fabric.
Hand weaving is one of the most time consuming and labor intensive art forms on the planet..

Economic realities change fast. This is doubly true for countries with emerging economies. As an art form, weaving is very time consuming. Rugs are built literally one knot at a time, each thoughtfully placed and tied in by hand. A large hand woven rug can easily take over a year to make. By contrast, that same rug may only ever command a top price of a few thousand dollars. When you take into account the markups of various retailers and wholesalers, for an entire year’s worth of work, a skilled weaver may end up taking home less than one thousand dollars. It becomes easy to see how in a burgeoning economy the job of weaving eventually makes less and less sense.

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Every step in the weaving process takes both time and skill.  Even the “simple” act of dyeing wool is an art form in and of itself.

On the other side of the coin, but equally devastating to the hand weaving industry, are machine woven rugs. A large machine woven rug can be finished in a matter of hours instead of months or years. A machine woven rug will easily cost a third or less the price of a similarly sized hand woven rug. While the quality is not the same, their rapid, repetitive, and commoditized production actually lends itself to our modern internet driven marketplace. This creates even further pressure on the hand weaving industry, forcing many weavers to look elsewhere for employment.

While it is difficult to predict exactly when hand weaving will die out, it is easy to see its end on the horizon. There aren’t many art forms out there that are as time consuming and labor intensive and weaving. With so much time and effort behind the weaving industry, modernization, simplification, and change become inevitable. While it will be sad to see these treasures of the middle East disappear, it is easy to understand the forces behind this change. Time keeps moving forward, the world keeps changing, and one thing that is certain certain is that the weaving industry will change with it.

Know your fibers! – What to look for and be aware of when shopping for your ideal rug.

When you are looking to buy an oriental rug, is your first thought, “What material is this rug made out of?”. If not, it probably should be. For centuries, the standard has been to weave rugs out of wool or silk. Both of which are great fibers. Here at Serafian’s, we have seen how the industry has been changing in big ways. Over the course of these last years new fibers have found their way into the marketplace. In additional to wool and silk, we are seeing a lot more rugs made of both olefin and viscose.

Serafian's 2016
Knowing how long a fiber will last under traffic is an important questions when buying an oriental rug.

 

Wool and silk are by far the best fibers for rugs. Both wear incredibly well over time, insulate and protect your floor, and are even stain resistant on their own. Wool in particular has been has been the weaving standard for centuries. An average wool fiber has lanolin, the sheep’s natural oil, present in it. This helps to give the wool both body and pliability. A wool fiber can bend and flex hundreds of thousands of times over its life. This flexibility is key to its durability as a fiber. When properly cared for, good wool in a rug will last a century or more.

In the middle of the spectrum is olefin. Olefin is plastic that has been refined to look and feel like carpet fiber. The upside to this fiber is that is often comes from post consumer plastic, essentially recycled materials. The empty water and soda bottles that clog our rivers and oceans can be stretched, spun, dyed, and reused to make colorful decorative rugs for your floor. The downside is that it just doesn’t have the lifespan of good wool rugs. Where wool remains flexible for its whole life, olefin eventually begins to become stiff and will more readily start to break down. Where a wool rug will last a century or more, a good olefin rug is usually made to last 10 to 15 years. However, olefin rugs tend to be very inexpensive and while not as long lived as wool rugs, are generally a very good value for the money.

Lastly, at the bottom of our list, is viscose. Unfortunately, viscose fibers are a recent and very popular trend. Viscose is treated plant fiber that has chemically been made to look and feel like silk, but beware as this imposter is anything but! Silk is much more difficult to make in quantity and much higher in quality than viscose. Like wool, silk is a protein fiber that will last for years. By comparison, viscose breaks down quickly, losing its luster and plushness. This is due to the fact that plant fibers in general tend to lack the flexibility. Where protein fibers such as wool and silk will bend and flex, plant fibers such as cotton, jute, and viscose will much more quickly break down. This leads to an average life span that is much shorter.

Let the buyer beware. It is very common to see viscose rugs called silk by unscrupulous or even unknowing retailers, but there is a sure fire test to know which fiber you are looking at. Cut and take a small amount of the material in a set of pliers, burn it, and smell the smoke lifting off it. Viscose and similar cotton fibers smell like paper when burned where silk smells like burning hair. Where good wool and silk rugs can last for a century or more and olefin will last for a decade or two, I expect that most Viscose rugs will have an average life span of 5 to 10 years before real problems start to develop.

Two rugs on the floor
A Good wool rug can last for generations.  Olefin rugs will tend to wear out after ten to fifteen years and viscose rugs with likely wear our within five to ten.

For this reason, when you look to buy a good rug, it is always important to ask what it is woven with. Knowing what material your rug is made out of will quickly tell you a lot about its longevity. By no means is this the only factor in durability, but it is without a doubt the most important.

Keep your favorite rug looking its best for decades.

In our modern world, not much is built to last. Most furnishings are made to last between 5 and 15 years, after which they start to look a little worn and ragged. Fine Oriental rugs however stand out as a shining exception and can last for generations. This is especially impressive when you consider just how rough the traffic most rugs receive really is. Like most things, proper care plays an important role in preserving the life and value of your oriental rugs. Here are some quick tips to keeping your favorite rugs in great shape.

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When properly cared for, a rug can look great for decades.  Believe it or not, this rug is about 125 years old.

Keep your carpet clean
Dirt is the worst enemy of fine Oriental rugs. Dirt is abrasive, and when it gets packed into the base of the knots it will actually cut off the fibers from the pile. We recommend vacuuming your rug at least weekly. Your vacuum should have an agitator or beater bar, set so that it beats the surface lightly. Excessive pressure of the beater bar can cause extra wear. Also, we recommend every two years having your carpet professionally washed. Proper washing removes all dirt that has collected in the carpet, restores the original colors of the rug, and rehydrates the wool in dry climates. Professional washing can only be done outside your home, so never allow anyone to come to your house and do a surface cleaning on your rug. Most services that come to the home are set up to clean wall to wall carpets, and your Oriental rug is very different. It is especially important that you never allow anyone to “steam clean” your Oriental rugs as this can cause the colors to bleed, and strips vital lanolin from the wool.

Walk on your carpet (Barefoot if you can)
Oriental carpets are made to be walked on. In the Middle East, most people remove their shoes when they enter a home, leaving the dirt on their shoes outside. In America we generally don’t do this, so timely cleaning becomes essential. Rubber soled shoes are hard on rugs, and tear at the wool fibers, wearing them prematurely. Bare feet or stocking feet are best for the rugs whenever possible. Walking on the carpet massages the lanolin through the wool, giving the carpet a beautiful luster. It also discourages moths from laying eggs on the carpet.

Moth Resist vulnerable areas
Moths look for dark, moist places to lay their eggs. It is actually the larvae which do the damage to any wool garment or rug, not the moths themselves. At Serafian’s, we spray a colorless, odorless solution that discourages the moths from laying eggs on any susceptible areas. Whenever a wool rug is hung on the wall it needs to be sprayed with this moth repellent.

Rotate your rug to even out wear
It is common that we walk through rooms in certain ways, establishing traffic pattern that receive more wear. With time, this can cause uneven wear patterns to form in your rug. Rotate your rug 180 degrees every six months to keep the wear and tear looking more even and less pronounced.

Tips for Prevention - 03
Eventually, a hole can wear right through the foundation of your rug.  Rotating it 180 every 6 to 12 months helps to prevent this.

Prevent Sun Fading
The desert Southwest has particularly harsh sunlight which can fade the rug. Many rugs get exposed to sunlight unevenly, causing fading only on part of the rug. Turn your rug 180 degrees in the room periodically to avoid uneven fading. This also helps your rugs wear more evenly. Close shades and blinds when you are not in the room to reduce the direct sunlight on your rugs. There are also window films available that reduce the ultraviolet radiation from sunlight. These films are applied to the window surface, and help block harmful rays. Look for “Low-E” films.

Blot up spills with clear cold water
Spills and stains are an inevitable part of a rug’s life. You should clean spills immediately, as many drinks can permanently dye the rug. Blot up the spill with a fresh towel, and use a little clear cold water to dilute the stain. Keep rinsing (not too much water) and blotting until the stain is gone. If someone spills milk on the carpet, it is probably a good idea to have the rug professionally cleaned, as the milk can sour and leave an unpleasant odor. Coffee, red wine, blood, and dark sodas can all leave permanent stains, so get to them as quickly as possible. If you have a “wet/dry” vacuum you can use it to suck out excess water from the rug.

Pet stains
Our beloved pets sometimes have “accidents”. Urine is particularly bad about staining, because it is acidic, but becomes alkali when it dries, which can cause dyes to bleed. Also, left untreated, urine will leave an odor that is very hard to remove. For urine stains, use the same procedure as above, but mix in about 50% white vinegar and be sure to rinse thoroughly. A thorough professional washing is required to sanitize the rug after a urine incident.

Repair any damaged areas quickly
Most repairs are very simple when they first appear. Attend to any tears or damage quickly. When we wash rugs at Serafian’s, we often see major repairs that would have been very minor if they had been attended to just six months sooner. Left unattended, many simple repairs become major repairs.

With these simple guidelines nearly any rug can last for decades if not generations. It is not at uncommon for us to see rugs come into our store that are over 100 years old and have been in use for their whole life.

Rugs of the World – Kashan

When you think of rugs from the Mid East, what is the first image that pops into your head? For me, the image is magical flying carpets of legends and fairy tales. I picture Aladdin flying through the air on his magic carpet, the sprawling desert expanse unfolds below him as the horizon is dotted with the rooftops of ancient Persian castles and homes. It is a pretty fantastic visual, I know, but inextricably, I always picture him riding a specific type of rug, Kashan, one of the most classic Persian rug designs. One steeped in tradition from the city of its namesake.

In truth, Kashan is one of the oldest cities in the world. The city is thought to be one of the primary centers of civilization in prehistoric times. During the 11th century Sultan Malik Shah I ordered the building of a fortress, Ghal’eh Jalali, that still stands. The Sialk ziggurat, a man made structure over 5,000 years old is nestled comfortably in the suburbs of the Kashan. Even the name of the city comes from it original inhabitants, known as Kasian, whose remains date back as far as 9000 years.

In more modern times, the city of Kashan has become a major center for textile production, and rugs are one of its leading exports. Since the city of Kashan is one of the main weaving centers in Iran and its design traditions date back well over a century, the patterns found in Kashan rugs are considered to be among the most classic of Persian designs. They are defined by flowing, connected floral motif. Long, rounded tendrils, known as Islimi, span the body of the rug. These draw ornate curves connecting groups of large flowers, known as Palmettes. Many Kashan rugs have a strong central medallion, usually oval in shape. Some, however, lack a central motif and opt for an “All Over” design.

As with most weaving centers, many different levels of quality come from the city of Kashan. However, a common trait among most Persian Kashan is the use of high grade materials. As such, Kashan rugs are generally woven to last for generations. Persian Kashan use specific and traditional colors sets. Red or Ivory fields are offset with Navy medallions and borders. This creates a striking pattern where the body of the rug is sharply framed in contrast to its border.

One of the more recent trends in weaving is for other countries to adopt the designs of Persian rugs. Weavers in India and China will often copy the Kashan motif, working these classic Persian structures into into their more modern and mass produced rugs. This is not to say that these rugs are always of lower quality, but they are different. Kashan patterned rugs from India or China are often woven using non traditional colors sets. Blacks, browns, golds, and even greens will usually distinguish these rugs from their true Persian counterparts.

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Many rugs from both India and China copy the Persian Kashan design.  They are woven in different colors than their Persian counterparts, but are often just as high quality.

Whether you have a traditional Persian or copy from India or China, a good, hand woven Kashan is the type of rug that will last for generations. It is not uncommon at all for us here at Serafian’s to see such rugs come in for cleaning still looking good after a century’s worth of use. Steeped in tradition and classic motifs, Kashan rugs look great in nearly any space. Unfortunately, even with the best Kashan available in the marketplace, you probably won’t find yourself magically flying over ancient Persian ziggurats or expensive desert vistas, but you will have a little piece of Persian history in your home.

Spring is in the Air – Protect your Rugs from Moths and Carpet Beetles

While spring brings welcome rain and flowers blooming, it also brings bugs. Lots of them. Wool moths, Tineola Bisselliella and carpet beetles, Anthrenus Verbasci. If any creatures on the planet can be called the enemy of oriental rugs, it’s these little buggers. These pesky intruders literally eat through the wool of your rug, causing damage quickly and quietly.

Too frequently, beautiful hand woven Persian or Navajo rugs come to Serafian’s for cleaning only to find the rugs have been destroyed by moths or carpet beetles. Worse yet, they often move swiftly, leaving a trail of damage in their wake.

Moth - 02
The damage in this rug occurred in about 1 to 2 weeks time.

The lifespan of the average carpet moth is very short, the larvae phase lasts on average about two weeks to a month, and the adult phase about another month. Only the larvae eat wool, so while you are more likely to see the adults fluttering through your home, it’s the larvae that do the real damage. Unfortunately, this means that a rug can go from undamaged to having a huge hole in just a couple of weeks. Carpet beetles, however, do damage over more time, with a much longer lifespan and some subspecies living as long as three years. Unlike their moth counterparts, carpet beetles will eat at your rug for their entire life. In either case, quick identification, elimination, and prevention are the keys to keeping your rugs safe.

For a little more information on Moths, check out our very “Tongue-in-cheek” video here — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvgxRnEqJKg

How do you identify them? For wool moths, keep an eye out for the adults flitting around your home or the eggs laid on the surface or on the back of your rugs. The large moths that we see every year here in the early months of summer are no threat to your rugs. Adult wool moths are small, about the size of a grain of rice. They are tan in color with no particular design or pattern on their wings. The eggs look like grains of sand held together by spider webs.

Moth - 01
The eggs themselves are tiny, about the size of a grain of sand.  The silky webbing from the parents hold the eggs in place.

Carpet beetles are tiny, about the size of a pinhead. You can identify them by finding either the beetles themselves or by finding small black or brown husks or shells. In both cases, the insects like to attack dark and undisturbed areas on your rugs. So look for them under your furniture, rolled up in your closets, and on the backside of any rugs hanging on the walls.

Moth and Carpet beetle larva
These critters are pretty tiny. – Pictured above, the larval forms of each.

Elimination is a little trickier. You need to not only eliminate the moths, beetles, and eggs on the rug itself, but also any that might be in the surrounding area. Most insecticides are effective at killing any living infestation, but unfortunately not that great at killing off the eggs. Also, any use of insecticides in the home comes with risk to one’s own health and safety. Instead, we recommend you have your rugs professionally washed by a cleaner who knows how to eliminate these infestations. Proper temperature control and handling will eliminate any eggs that have been laid into the foundation of your favorite carpet. As for your home, thorough cleaning of any area exposed to infestation is very important as the eggs can slips into the cracks of your wood floor or down into your wall-to-wall carpet. As with your rugs, we recommend utilizing professional cleaners. If after taking these steps, the moths or beetles persist, it’s time to get in touch with an exterminator.

As with most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Various sprays can help to repel moth infestation, regular inspection goes a long way to identifying a problem before it spirals out of control, and proper wrapping and storage of unused rugs can easily prevent infestation. Always remember that if you take a little time to ensure that your rugs stay moth and beetle free, it will ensure your favorite rugs stay beautiful and valuable for many years to come.

A Buyer’s Guide to Hand Woven Rugs: How to Quickly Judge Quality in Hand Woven Rugs

When it comes to hand woven rugs, it can be tough to know exactly what you are looking at. In truth, while there are many factors that go into determining the quality of a rug, there are four to focus on.

First is knot count, or knots per square inch. In a hand woven rug, each not is tied one at a time, and much like the pixels on your computer screen, the number of knots per inch affects the resolution of the design in the rug. Most rugs are woven at 100 to 150 knots per square inch. Some of the finest rugs in the world are woven at 1,000 knots per square inch. The number of knots in a square inch tells you not only how fine the rug is, but also, how much time and work went into the rug. If a rug has twice as many knots, it took at least twice as long to weave. For this reason, knot count, more than any other factor, affects the price of your rug.

So how can you tell how many knots per square inch? To count the knots, use a ruler and examine the backside of the rug. In most rugs, each square you see is an individual knot. Simply count the number of squares both horizontally and vertically across the length of an inch then multiply the two numbers together. It’s important to note there are two types of knotting common in hand weaving. Asymmetrical (Or Persian) knotting leaves a single square on the back for each knot. However, the style of knotting known as symmetrical (Or Turkish) knotting leaves two squares on the back for each knot. If you notice that every single knot seems to have a twin, you are probably looking at a rug that uses the symmetrical knotting techniques. For these rugs, simply take whatever knot count you came up with and cut it in half.

The second factor to look at is thickness. As a general rule, the thicker the pile on a rug, the longer it takes for the rug to wear out. This is the easiest of all the factors to judge. It is simply defined by the heights of the pile. As a nice side benefit, thicker rugs tend to be softer underfoot and much more comfortable to walk on.

Third on our list of factors is weave density. Like thickness, this factor greatly affects the durability of your rug. Density is determined by how tightly packed together the fibers of your rug are. When a rug is more densely woven, the fibers provide each other with more support which helps to prevent excess wear from use and also keeps dirt from settling into the foundation of the rug where is grinds at the roots of the weaving. To test density, take your fingers, and try to run them into the foundation of the rug. The more difficult it is to do this, the more densely woven the rug is.

The fourth and final factor is wool quality. A good wool has an oily and supple feel, where a poor quality of wool will feel dry and “brashy” to the touch. A good wool will be more able to bend and flex though years of heavy use, where a bad wool will break apart under traffic and tends to wear out much more quickly. This is probably the most difficult of the four factors to judge, but the general rule is that a good wool feels good to the touch, while a bad wool, not as much.
Just remember to look out for the four big factors, knot count, thickness, density, and wool quality. Generally speaking, as long as you keep these in mind, you will have a good idea of what you are looking at when buying a hand woven oriental rug.

Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. They offer free pick up and delivery in the metro area for the bi-annual rug cleaning. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com

What’s Hot in Home Decor for 2017

Social media has changed the way we decide on what’s hot and what’s not. Ten years ago, fashion was what the industry told you it was. Today, fashion is what we, as a community, make it. In 2017 what’s trending is anything eclectic and rustic.

If there are “Looks” that can be called the forerunners of 2017, they would be Industrial Farmhouse, Rustic Americana, and once again Boho Chic. Each of these styles brings a unique mix of traditional, contemporary, and personal styles.

Boho Chic epitomizes personal style and choice. Rich with color, bold, and full of unique character, Boho Chic was the go-to fashion pick of 2016 and will remain big in 2017. Decor in a Boho Chic home springs up from a single focal design point, like a colorful rug, a bright and beautiful wall hanging or tapestry, or even a unique statuette. From there, the sky’s the limit. Bright and bold, jewel tones, flowing fabrics, and disparate design elements are at the heart of Boho Chic. If you love it, it works, that’s the bottom line. Fill your space with color and kitsch and you have achieved that Boho chic look.

Similar, but with it own distinct twist, is Rustic Americana. A more aged and classic look, Rustic Americana opts for a slightly more conservative and muted design approach. Painted wood furniture, rescued looks, and warm earth and wood tones form the basis of Rustic Americana. Think old and American. Don’t be afraid to let your inner patriot out a little when decorating with this theme. American flags can be hand painted onto nearly anything from dilapidated wooden furniture to old metal toolboxes. Quilted fabrics, aged wood colors and textures, hooked and braided rugs, and (of course) the stars and stripes really pull the look together. Much like with Boho Chic, a space can be brimming with unique and stylized pieces.

Then lastly is my personal favorite, Industrial Farmhouse. Much like Rustic Americana, this look combines aesthetic of reused items and the warm feel of wood and earth tones. However, it has an overall much cleaner look incorporating a lot of metal, white, and grey tones. As the name implies, this look uses a considerable amount of metal. The look uses mixes of metal and wood showing up in furniture, accent items and accessories, and even in unique spots, with items like paper towel and key holders. Brass, copper, and steel tones all work together to create a very distinct and clean, yet cozy feel. Stark white counter tops and couches are used alongside colorful accents. Simple and elegant rugs such as the Magnolia Home line from Joanna Gaines are used along side rich blue and rust pillows or throws with simple geometric patterns create depth and color.

With both Boho Chic and Rustic Americana, the look can be almost cluttered. Think of it as organized chaos. There is tremendous space to create and develop one’s own personal style. With Industrial Farmhouse, the look is more structured, but clean and inviting. The space can feel very relaxed and open while at the same time cozy. While the first two invite you to get lost in the eccentricities of the decor, the latter invites you into the room to kick up your feet, take a deep breath, and just relax.

In 2017, there’s a “hot” look for your home, whatever your personal aesthetic is. From eclectic and kitschy, to clean and comfortable, 2017 is going to be a great year for making your space beautiful, fun, and most importantly: you. Happy New Year!

Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. They offer free pick up and delivery in the metro area for the bi-annual rug cleaning. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com

What Makes a Good Rug?

The rug industry had long been known for fast talking, hard driving salesman with a reputation for being less than completely honest with their customers. It’s where the term “carpet bagger” came from. Some basic tips will protect you as you begin your rug buying process.

There are three main types of rug construction – Hand Knotted, Machine Woven, and Tufted.

Hand knotted rugs are generally considered to be the best. They are woven one knot at a time on a loom. First, the weaver will take a strong cotton, wool, or silk and create the warp loom. These threads run from the top to the bottom of the rug. Taking a strand of colored wool and knotting it around two warp threads in the foundation creates each knot. Starting at one end of the rug, the weaver takes different colors of wool and, like pixels on a computer screen, and creates the design.

Once a full row of knots is woven, the weaver will weave in a weft thread. The weft thread runs perpendicular to the warp threads and literally weaves back and forth between them. This creates a tremendous amount of strength in the rug and also holds the knots in place.

While incredibly strong, the hand-knotting process is painstaking and time consuming. A room-sized rug can easily take well over a year to weave. Hand woven rugs will generally wear better than any other rug in the market and not surprisingly, cost more than their counterparts. A good hand knotted rug can easily last 50 to 100 years with proper maintenance.

Machine woven rugs are manufactured quickly with large machines. While there are a few different types of machines that will construct a rug differently from one to the next, machines are not capable of creating the same structure as hand weaving. Rather than having wool knotted and tied onto the foundation, most machine woven rugs are made with a simple “half wrap” technique where the colored fibers are held in place with much less strength than in hand woven rugs. The benefit of machine woven rugs is that they are much less expensive and simpler to produce. The average lifespan of a machine woven rug is between 20 and 25 years.

The last style is tufted rugs, which straddle the line between machine woven and hand woven. They are made by hand using a tool known as a “tufting gun.” This is a simple tool that can be used to shoot a U-shaped tuft of wool into a cotton or jute grid. Because people use the tool, it’s often referred to as “Hand Woven.” However, this type of rug is not hand woven at all. The tool produces a look and feel much like the hand knotted rug; however, it is prone to wearing out much more quickly. To combat this, manufacturers will glue a canvas backing to the underside of the rug. This helps to hold the rug together, but in time the glues will degrade and the rug will begin to fall apart and may even produce a latex smell. Most tufted rugs are woven to last around five to 10 years before they begin to degrade.

So how can the consumer tell the difference between these types of rugs? The easiest to spot is the tufted rug – buy looking underneath and finding the canvas glued to the bottom. When it comes to the other two, take a section of the pile and squeeze it along the long end. In a hand-knotted rug you will see the wool wrapping around the warp threads. In a machine woven rug, the thread itself becomes exposed as no wool wraps around it.

Look at the illustrations to better understand basic rug construction.

knotting-styles

Please note that within each category there It are large varieties with differing quality as well as subtle differences that can help a rug to last longer or cause it to wear out more quickly.

However, by understanding the basics, you will be better armed to make the right buying decision.

Want to see a quick video on everything mentioned here in the article?

Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. They offer free pick up and delivery in the metro area for the bi-annual rug cleaning. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com

Why Professionally Clean Your Rugs?

It’s easy to tell the difference between a fine Oriental rug and wall-to-wall carpeting. One is an heirloom that will be handed down through the generations, and the other should be replaced after 10 to 15 years of wear and tear. One has designs and patterns stemming from centuries of cultural tradition and love, the other is typically monotone. It may seem obvious, but when it comes to cleaning, one needs careful care and attention, while the other can be quickly steam-cleaned.

When it comes to your fine Oriental rugs, steam cleaning is detrimental to the integrity of the rug. Wool contains lanolin, a sheep’s natural oil, which gives the rug its sheen and lustrous appearance. It is also a big part of what creates durability and longevity in the wool fibers. Unfortunately, the heat and detergents used in steam cleaning strips this lanolin out of wool. Very quickly, this will affect both the appearance and durability of your rug. Additionally, it is nearly impossible to completely rinse out the detergents from wool. Unlike nylon, which as a fiber is created to be smooth, wool has a naturally scaly structure. Detergents tend to get trapped in these scales. This compounds with time, as detergent residue attracts even more dirt, causing your fine Oriental rug to become grey and dirty even more quickly than it did before. Controlled, thorough and proper rinsing is the solution to this problem and unfortunately typical wall-to-wall cleaning methods (like the steam cleaners you can rent at the grocery store) just don’t cut it.

The only proven effective methods of cleaning Oriental rugs are cold water flood and immersion washing. Both these methods involve the use of cold water, large quantities of it, and carefully controlled methods to ensure dye stability. Additionally, rather than relying on harsh detergents, these methods use gentle shampoos to scrub the dirt from your rugs. The low temperatures help to keep the lanolin in your rug intact, preserving its long-term durability. The moisture penetrates deeper into the fiber helping to remove the deep and ground-in soil. Most importantly, the high volumes of water are the key to removing the excess shampoos ensuring the long-term beauty of your rug.

Serafian’s Oriental Rugs has the largest rug washing facility in the Southwest. To see a video on how Serafian’s does its washing, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hryLmj6_1-k

Wall-to-wall carpet is expected to be replaced every decade or so. Yet a good hand woven Oriental rug will last for generations. Where steam cleaning is a fast way to clean the carpet in your home, it’s a sure way to damage your favorite fine rug. Regular and proper cleaning is the most effective way to preserve the beauty and value of your rugs, and professional immersion and cold water washing methods are the only safe and effective way to have this done.

Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. They offer free pick up and delivery in the metro area for the bi-annual rug cleaning. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com

Transform A Room By Changing the Rug

Sprucing up a room design doesn’t have to require a huge budget. In fact, using an area rug can completely transform the look and feel of any room. House & Home editors Joel Bray and Jennifer Koper devote a YouTube video to showing three completely different looks by changing only a rug. See it here at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLFP1I-pSFc

A good rug cannot only be the focal point of the design, but it can become the foundation of color and structure around which everything else can be added.

Rugs are a time consuming and difficult to create art form. A hand-woven living room sized rug can take months if not years to make. Because of that, you are much more limited in your options with rugs than with almost any other part of your design process. It is easy to find fabric to match a rug, but much more difficult to find a rug to match a fabric. Let the size of the rug, the shapes of its design, and the colors in it field and border guide your design process.

The first rule of thumb is to find a rug that you love and pick colors that complement. Unlike most furnishings, rugs can last for decades, even centuries, so find a piece you really love. Once the rug is found, find a couch or chairs that work well, drapes and blinds that complement the colors in the rug, and other design elements you want to incorporate with and around your decorating style.

Generally speaking, oriental rugs never really quite go perfectly with anything. But their colors can be used to anchor the design together. So when you follow this thinking, rugs tend to work with everything.  

When designing, keep in mind space and proportion. The rug can overwhelm or cramp a space if it is not planned properly. Always use the old carpentry advice, measure twice, cut once, or in this case, measure twice, buy once. Give a minimum of a half-foot around the edge of the rug to help frame the space. More of a border is certainly acceptable, but when rugs crawl right up against the wall, they look awkward. If the rug just barely fits under your coffee table, it probably is too small, let it fill the room a little more. Additionally, since they are on your floor, rugs more than any other furnishings create and define the boundaries of your space. A larger rug will make a space feel more pulled together and coherent, where a slightly smaller rug can make a space look and feel more open and spacious.

Feel free to vary your textures. Varied textures in a space create interest and dimension. Whether your rug is a solid shag, an ornate Persian, or a simple tribal kelim, the texture of it is a great place from which to build the textures in your room. The smooth surface of a leather couch will contrast a tribal or shag rug. The rustic texture of a throw can offset the ornate design of classic Persian motifs.  

As long as you keep color, proportion, and texture in mind, decorating around your rug is easy and a great adventure. If you are completely stumped or overwhelmed, the retail team at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs are always available to help. Just take a picture of your space and we will find the right pieces to pull it all together.

Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com