Rug Creation

Rug Creation

Hand Made rugs are real works of art. They take many months and in some cases years to create. The skills used are passed down from generation to generation. Many of these skills date back many thousands of years and remain largely unchanged. Most hand made rugs are the product of cottage industries in their countries of origin, often made in traditional dwellings in remote villages. This remains the case in countries such as India, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey. Some countries, such as China, have removed the skills from the villages, and consolidated the production in large factory complexes. I will attempt in this section to give you a flavour of how a rug is made from start to finish in India. How to get from the Naksha (graphic depiction of design) on right, to the finished rug on the left. Please click on links below to view each process in more detail.

Spinning

Spinning

Before any weaving can be started, it is necessary to prepare the yarn. The first process takes place in the spinning plant, where the raw wool starts out in the shoot. It is combed to separate all the individual fibres and remove impurities, then laid out in a continuous mat. From here fibres are separated into uniform strands and spun into the final yarn. The yarn is then wound onto spindles, from which it is then taken off into hanks. These hanks are then ready for the dye house.

Dye House

Dye House

Before any weaving gets done, the yarn has to be dyed. Once the colour has been decided, the dye master will work out the colour recipe in the lab. The vats or dye pot will then be filled accordingly. The yarn is lowered into the dye solution which is kept boiling with the use of steam. In the case of small quantities, the yarn is kept turning through the solution for maybe 3-4 hours. The dye master then checks for accuracy of colour against the original pompom before the yarn is taken out and sun dried.

Tufting

Tufting

The tufting process is much faster than knotting. This makes it much cheaper, however it is not possible to achieve the same detail in design. In addition a tufted rug will not be anywhere near as hard wearing as a knotted rug. The first stage is the preparation of the canvas. For this the design is inked onto the canvas using a stencil. The wool tufts are then pushed through the canvas using a tufting gun. Latex is then spread over the back, in order to hold the tufts in place, this is finally covered over with a cotton backing.

The designs are then really brought to life through the skilled hands used in carving, this really helps to highlight the intricate details in the design. Finally the edges are bound and the rug is ready to be shipped.

Rod Weave

Rod Weave

tradition of weaving using a rod was developed in Nepal. In this case a loom would be strung with the cotton warps, in the same way as for conventional knotting. A rod would then be threaded between the warps. The thickness of the rod used, would determine the size of the knots, in turn dictating how fine the finished rug would be ie. The thinner the rod, the finer the knotting. The wool is then wound around the rod, colours being carefully placed according to the naksha, before being sliced through and the rod released. This is a much faster technique than conventional knotting, but produces quite a different look. The surface will appear slightly textured with a ridge affect running through the rug. Again once the weaving is completed, the rug is cut from the loom and sent for washing.

Knotting

Knotting

It takes a lot of time and skill to produce a quality hand knotted rug. A new design or colour scheme can take several months to perfect. Once the design and colour combination is approved a final naksha (graphic depiction of the design) is drawn up. This is given to the weavers along with the yarn. The loom is then strung with the cotton warp threads. A rug will then spend many months on the loom while each knot is skilfully placed by the weaver. The finest quality rugs may contain between 200,000 and 400,000 knots to the square meter. The higher the knot count, the more intricate, the detail which can be achieved in the design. The progress of the rug is checked several times during this period to ensure consistent quality throughout the piece. Once the weaving process is completed, the rug is cut from the loom and sent for washing.

Washing

Washing

The washing process is one which takes great skill, learned over many years. One mistimed stroke and a rug can be ruined. In addition, many different finishes can be achieved, depending on the type of formulas used during the washing process, it may involve a mild detergent or a herbal wash, depending on the desired look. The rug is first fully immersed in the water tank. Once removed it receives an initial plain water wash, followed by the detergent, before being rinsed again. Some rugs may be washed twice, to bring out a higher sheen. The rug is then left out to dry in the sun. It will now be ready for final finishing.

Finishing

Finishing

How a rug is treated during the finishing process, is vital to the final overall look. This is an area where a lot of manufacturers try to cut corners and you end up with a lack lustre rug. These process include:

i) Pencilling- This process involves segregation of each colour strand manually with the help of a sharp thick iron needle to achieve clarity of design and colours. In addition at this stage any excess cotton warp or uneven wool pile is levelled.

ii) Clipping and Carving – After the pencilling, carpets are sheared by hand held scissors until the pile is smooth and even. In some carpets the designs are carved to add that extra dimension to the design.

iii) Edge binding and Fringing – Edges of the carpets are bound after the clipping process. The fringes are the ends of warp which are tea dyed and knotted to secure the rug and hold it together and to give it a good finished look.