When designing a tile we draw upon elements found in Turkish, Persian, and Moroccan rugs. Here we had a chance to turn the process around: to design a rug, inspired by tile.
Every rug starts with a concept and a sketch. Sketches are done in pencil, paper, paint, computer program, or in our case a slab of clay and a plaster mold. We pressed, glazed, and arranged tile to create an elaborate tile rug. Nepalese artisans then spent months translating it into wool and silk.
Made up of 70% Tibetan wool & 30% raw silk, the wool used in the production of our rug is considered a blended wool. Blending is achieved by carding the raw materials. Carding is a mechanical process that disentangles, cleans, intermixes and aligns the individual fibers for subsequent processing.
The tabletop or floor charkha is one of the oldest known forms of the spinning wheel, still in use in Nepal. The fibre is held in the left hand and the wheel slowly turned with the right. Holding the fibre at a slight angle to the spindle produces a necessary twist. The desirable blended woolen yarn is ready for dying.
Dyed and Dried
Pot dyeing is a long established and traditional method of dyeing wool in Nepal. Natural Dyes are usually extracted from herbal plants like indigo, mulberry, saffron, turmeric, rhubarb roots, walnut, camellia tea, and a wide range of vegetable dyes. The yarn is placed into a large pot filled with boiling water and turned on a wheel to ensure that the color has effectively permeated the wool. Once the dyeing process is complete, the yarn is left to dry naturally, and then balled.
Nepalese rugs and carpet are woven in the Tibetan Knotting System on a vertical loom of wood or iron. Hand-knotting the warp, or vertical thread, is made using a rod which determines the pile height of the finished carpet. Once a row is completed the rod is hammered tight against the row below. The weaver then cuts along the rod with a very sharp knife, cutting open the pile. Our rug has over 150 knots per square inch.
When the weaving process is complete, the rug is taken off the loom for trimming. Metal combs are used to brush out any excess wool. After this, specially designed long-pointed Tibetan scissors are used to start the trimming process. A soft skilled hand moves over the rug for several days. The level of the pile is smoothed down, patterns and colors are made distinct and clear. In our case, trimming was used to add in grout lines from the original tile rug design.
After trimming the rug undergoes a strenuous washing. Large wooden paddles are used to squeeze out the excess dye.
Finally, after months of work, our carpet was stretched and shipped to Boston for it's September 8th unveiling!