Peter Stone “Oriental Rugs: An Illustrated Lexicon of Motifs, Materials, and Origins”
What I enjoy most about this book is the ease of use. It is essentially an encyclopedia of rugs, rug terms, rug construction, rug history, and anything you can think of that is rug-related.
It is very user-friendly if someone is just beginning, but it also feeds the curiosity of the more experienced in the field. I enjoy flipping it open and just reading random sections to learn something new, or in using it to help explain a term, or rug type, to a client.
This is also a visually stunning book. And rather than sharing “rare” rugs that you will likely never see in your lifetime, I find a great collection of rugs that we rug cleaners see now and then through our doors – so the content is relevant to those cleaning today, and those rug shopping today.
Another plus of this book is the extensive bibliography at the end, which lists many great rug books (classics and contemporary) organized by country/weave/topic so that anyone who becomes enamored with a specific rug they see can delve deeper on that topic.
I have purchased multiple copies of the hard cover book (for my own use and for gifts), and I also was thrilled to discover this to be one of the first Kindle edition rug publications I’ve seen. As an avid iPad user, now I have access to this great content no matter where I am.
Great rug books tend to come out with limited publications, and when they soon are no longer in print, the existing copies become extremely pricey to acquire. So get your copy now while the price is down right cheap. This can be on the gift list for any rug lovers in your life.
PRJ Ford “Oriental Carpet Design: A Guide To Traditional Motifs, Patterns and Symbols”
Many people who are first drawn toward rugs come in based on designs they like, or that the begin to recognize. This book lays out the most common field designs, border designs, motifs, and styles. You get a great visual education on how they vary from tribal weaving to city weaving regions.
The rug examples are excellent, as is the observations and historical descriptions. It helps to identify where certain symbols came from, and what they intended to represent. This is another great book to give as a gift because it is a beauty to flip through and randomly read sections from.
I especially enjoy the details on the various Turkoman gul designs, and have referenced those pages often when trying to determine which clan wove a particular carpet. With this book, as with the Stone book, the writing style is easy to follow and not stiflingly academic. (Though if you ever find yourself stumbling upon a particular rug term, the Stone book acts as a fantastic rug glossary in the format that it is laid out with.)
Janice Summers “Oriental Rugs: The Illustrated World Buyer’s Guide”
What I love about this book though is the format of how she lays out the rug identification process. Summers is the first rug author that I have seen that has provided an excellent front/back view of rug types, and the identifying characteristics in such a user-friendly manner.
In reading about a particular rug, you can know what identifiers that specialists look for, such as knot type (asymmetrical or symmetrical), weaving materials, weft count, side finish, end finish, etc.
This is a must-own book for anyone seeking to begin on a path of becoming able to identify which country a rug may have been woven in. It also is an excellent tool to use to help determine whether a rug may be from one village, or another, based on its characteristics.
The weaving region histories are not at the level of detail in this book as you will find in the Ford book, but this is a great general book to begin your library with, and one that you will reference often.
Marla Mallett “Woven Structures: A Guide To Oriental Rug And Textile Analysis”
This is a textbook on understanding the construction of rugs. Her focus is more on tribal weavings, and in particular flatweaves, but she does address pile rugs in the book as well.
What I love about Mallett’s book are her illustrations and drawings that very vividly “show” the reader how to understand a rug from a weaver’s point of view. You come away with insight on the nomadic lifestyle, fiber cultivation and preparation, and the intricacies of crafting a textile.
It was with this book that I began to look at rugs, especially tribal rugs, very differently. I gained an appreciation of the workmanship through the analysis breakdown provided in this book.
Mallett is an excellent instructor in print, and I am certain even more so in person. She also has a wonderful website (www.marlamallett.com) with a wide range of photos, articles, recommended resources, and rug education.
Many websites in the realm of rugs are garbled messes of outdated material, bad links, and just general chaos. Mallett provides one of the better organized, updated, and easy to navigate sites in our industry. I always learn something new from her website. Though the illustrations and photos in her book are primarily black and white, there is a tremendous amount of color on her website.
If you have a friend who is a weaver, collector, or a serious student of rugs – this is the book to buy for them (or for yourself). And if you have ever struggled with trying to understand the difference in different rug knots, or selvedge finishes, this book will clear it all up for you. Her drawings masterfully illustrate how rugs are crafted.
Rug Book Wrap-up
There are MANY great rug books out there. I expect my blog readers will chime in on some of their favorites in the comments (I encourage you to do so).
What I wanted to do here was to share the ones I grab most often to reference and recommend to others, and the ones that make great gifts to others, or to yourself if you are in the process of beginning your rug library.
(FYI: All of the links provided in this post are general links to general listings. I have shortened the URL’s for convenience sake, but these are NOT affiliate links, so please don’t worry that buying through these means that I am making anything on the sale. I am not. I just wanted to save you some time searching for a listing by providing you the direct links.)
One final request for those of you who already own these books, or plan to buy and enjoy them. PLEASE share the recommendations with others if you like them, and post your reviews on Amazon also if you can. Any of you who have written a book, you know the amount of time/energy projects like this take, and how much work was put into each of these books. Let’s show our appreciation by sharing great rug education with others.
Happy Rug Learning!
P.S. I am officially the “international” Rug Chick! I had the pleasure of working with Modern Rugs UK in crafting a rug care guide section of their website. If you are looking for some quick rug care tips, go take a look at their site => http://bit.ly/modernrugUK – they also have a huge collection of rugs for sale to UK rug shoppers.
My mom Kate, our team, and I are super excited that our company (K. Blatchford’s Rug Cleaning in San Diego) made today’s Home section of the New York Times (4/4/13). Columnist Linda Lee wanted advice on the proper care for rugs, and what rugs are worth buying today.
Any of you who are looking for a local rug cleaner to use for your rugs, please visit my directory of rug cleaners I know and trust. These are peers I’ve known for decades, or companies who I have trained personally.
Our first of four Textile Pro teams. There are 100 companies who have graduated this advanced program.
If you know of fantastic rug cleaners in your area that I should know about – feel free to email me their details. Everyone on my list I have either been to their shops myself to “see” what they do, or I’ve worked with them through training programs. There are many “hacks” in our industry ruining rugs, especially those who clean rugs in the home instead of taking them out to properly wash them, so this is my way to try to connect rug owners in need with good cleaners.
Hand woven rugs take months, sometimes years, to weave. They are a piece of a weaver’s heart and soul, and they need to be cared for accordingly. Great wool rugs last centuries. We tell our clients that we are a part of that rug’s life, because it will outlast us many times.
Hopefully this information, and this blog, will help keep more of these pieces of art to have a longer, cleaner, and happier life.
Happy Rug Cleaning!
P.S. If you are a professional rug cleaner and are interested in taking my next course, which is on Rug Identification Basics, the details for that course (a combination of online lessons and in-person instruction in San Diego) can be found at www.rugclass.com. It’s always a great idea to have a “business” excuse to come to San Diego… and bring the family!
The biggest fear most rug cleaners have regarding rugs is that the rug might bleed while in their care.
Bled Afghan rug.
The fact is, with proper training and the right tools and solutions, even the most fugitive dyes in a rug can be successfully cleaned…
…you just need to know what you are doing.
And interestingly enough, the biggest bled rug disasters I’ve seen in my career have been when cleaners have brought me rugs that they should have not cleaned in the first place, and they could have avoided their disaster through the simple step of doing a proper dye test.
If you do not know know how to do a proper dye test, here is how I do one.
I use hot water for my test, but you can also use a high pH spotter. And if the dye bleeds when you test with either of those items, you need to test with your DYE STABILIZER solution to make sure you can safely clean the rug. If it bleeds with your stabilizer, you are in trouble.
My latest article in Cleanfax Magazine on Why Dyes Bleedis down below. I’ve linked to the entire PDF article so that you can print it out to reference. All of the photos of bled rugs are real rug disasters from cleaners who did not know that the way they were cleaning the rugs was going to ruin them. Unfortunately they were all very expensive mistakes… much more expensive than paying for proper rug training would have been.
Hopefully this helps explain any past dye migration challenges you have had, and gives you some insight to avoid disasters in your rug cleaning business.
Happy Rug Cleaning!
P.S. Looking for more rug care training? Jim Pemberton and I have the most comprehensive real-world textile program in the industry for oriental rug and fine fabric care. If you want to be a Textile Pro, take a look at the details on our Textile Pro page.
Cleanfax – Why Dyes Bleed
There are a multitude of reasons why a rug’s dyes may run during cleaning. In fact, I wrote a post on several of those reasons behind how a rug’s dyes can bleed on you.
Blue dye migration on Wilton wool rug.
The careless cleaner approaches a rug as if they are all the same. “Wool is wool, what’s the big deal?”
Most don’t bother to do a dye test. Why? Honestly, I’m not sure why. It should be done on every rug, and it only takes a few minutes. This can be done with a high pH solution, or my personal preference of testing with hot water in a small area on the front AND the back.
Other careless cleaners do in fact do the dye test, but then they think if they use a dye stabilizing or dye locking solution that the rug becomes bulletproof to bleeding on them. That’s just not true, especially if the rug has colors that crock on a towel during a dry or damp towel.
The red dye crocks on to a damp towel.
When color crocks on to a cotton towel when it’s dry, or when it’s just damp, this is a serious problem. Especially if the color is a dark one.
In the case above, this is a tribal woven rug from Afghanistan. In some tribal areas, especially war-torn ones like in this weaving region, water is not always readily accessible to provide the thorough washing and scouring of the wool to remove the excess dyes and other impurities from the wool. So you have a rug that has some excess dye in the wool, that is going to move when it gets wet with a wash, so you better be seriously skilled to be able to handle that when it happens.
But sometimes the crocking is not from excess dye, but from color that has been added AFTER the rug was woven.
We call these rugs over-dyed rugs, and you will see these types of rugs come in two types:
1) TEA WASHED RUGS
A large number of rugs today, especially coming out of India, Pakistan, and China, are being given a tea wash treatment. This is a brown dye that is sometimes called henna wash, or also called having your rug “antiqued,” because it gives the rug a more muted look which makes it look older.
India tea washed rug
The tones vary from browns to golds to yellows. They make the rug darker, and also make the white cotton fringes beige or brown.
The better quality rugs are properly soaked in the dye to allow for even application, or are given multiple layers of application to ensure a good saturation and bonding of the tea wash dye to the rug fibers.
The lesser quality applications are sprayed on, usually on just one side, and it is often these lesser quality treatments that will crock on a dye test. This means that no matter how gentle you are with your cleaning process that over-dye is coming off. It’s like a spray-on fake tan… good until it’s time to take a shower.
Grin open the fibers and you see the bad tea wash job.
When you grin open the fibers you can see if there has been an over-dye treatment with tea wash. You can also see it on the fringe tassels by untwisting them to see if there is white under the beige tone.
Cleaning the fringe removes the tea wash dye on some.
And while you are closely inspecting the rug, look also for other pre-existing damage, because often a tea wash application is given to rugs to try to cover up damage such as pre-existing rug dye bleed or other stains.
It’s important to share with your client that the rug has been over-dyed with this tea wash treatment BEFORE you clean it, because likely some of it will come out no matter how gentle you are with your process. Especially if it crocks on you, that over-dye is coming off even if you choose a dry compound cleaning method.
But, at least it CAN be cleaned. You just need to share that this if it tests as a poorer quality application, that the rug has essentially been given a “spray-on tan” that needs to come off if they want it to be properly washed.
A much more perilous over-dye treatment isn’t dye at all… it’s ink.
2) INKED RUGS
Rug dealers for years have tried to hide small areas of damage on antique rugs with using India ink, or painting of worn areas to make them less noticeable.
Today this practice has unfortunately expanded to create some truly dangerous rugs.
New Hamadan rug bought on-line, and covered in INK.
The rug above is an example of one of the dangers of buying a rug on-line on one of these mass market retailers. When you buy rugs locally, at least you get the opportunity to “try it before you buy it” and take it out on approval. But more importantly you can do things like take a handkerchief and do a little dye test in the store just to make sure you are not buying inferior goods.
For a rug cleaner, this rug would be a nightmare. Every single color of this rug has been colored over with ink, which is why it has that blotchy, dark look to it. And when you grin the fibers open you can see that there is dark ink on the tips of the fibers.
Tips of the fibers are purple ink, base of the fibers are blue.
Taking a completely DRY towel to the face of this rug picked up every single color.
Dry towel picks up red from the rug easily.
Getting this rug even damp would make the inks pool together and make a mess not only of the rug, but of your wash floor.
So when you do your dye test on a rug, and it crocks, you want to investigate closely to see if it’s possibly ink applied to the fibers, because a dye stabilizing or locking solution is not going to do a thing for ink.
This rug, and others like it, is flawed product… and is not cleanable. And in the case of the rug being shown, the ink from the rug moved on to the underneath wall-to-wall carpeting which led to a much more expensive problem for the owner to handle.
Today more than ever, with the push to cut corners on production costs and get rugs to market faster and cheaper, there are more traps for rug cleaners today than ever before.
But if you are careful, and very thorough with your fiber and dye tests, and your pre-inspection checklists, then you can avoid the biggest rug disasters out there.