Oriental Rug Dyes – Natural & Synthetic

We have seen that one of the ‘revolutionary’ aspects of modern rug production has been the return of natural dyes. Not long ago, shoppers who were interested in new rugs (or who couldn’t or wouldn’t spend the money to buy antiques or semi-antiques) had no choice but to buy rugs with synthetic dyes. Today, though, natural dyes are an option in new rugs and, in fact, you will have to decide between natural and synthetic dyes if you buy one. The choice is important because, aside from everything else, natural-dyed rugs cost roughly 30 percent more than synthetic-dyed rugs. Let’s look closely at oriental rug dyes and how they compare. Natural Oriental Rug Dyes You will find that I use several words for natural dyes: ‘natural’, ‘vegetal’, and ‘vegetable’. I prefer ‘natural’, but use the others simply because I get tired of typing out ‘natural’ time after time. ‘Vegetal’ and ‘vegetable’ are slightly misleading because one natural dye, cochineal, is made from an insect and is not vegetal at all. Once a manufacturer of Turkish kilims told me proudly that she makes her rugs from ‘organic’ dyes. I seemed to remember from high-school chemistry that ‘organic’ refers to any material that is carbon-based, and I questioned her closely about organic dyes. She admitted that she bought the dyes from a Swiss dye maker. I’m still not clear what ‘organic’ dyes are, exactly, but something tells me that they are not mixed from roots. Rugmakers of the Middle East and Asia have used natural dyes for thousands of years. In the classic model, weaving is done most often by women and dyeing most often by men. In some important rug-weaving areas of the Middle East, dyers make reds from dried, ground madder root and (less often) from cochineal, blues from indigo, yellow from weld, green from sequential dyeing in indigo and weld, brown and camel from walnut husks, other colors from many other vegetal substances. Every area has its own indigenous materials from which dyes are made. Some dyeing takes place in two steps. First, in a process called ‘mordanting’, yarn is dipped into a hot solution of alum or iron, which prepares wool fibers to bond permanently with dye. Then the yarn is placed in vats of hot dye where it is cooked for shorter or longer periods of time and at higher or lower temperatures, depending on the dye and the shade desired. Natural...

Incorporating Oriental Rugs into your Interior Designs

Browse through fifty years of Architectural Digest, and you will find that Oriental rugs are featured in at least one home in every issue. In fact, Oriental rugs have been prized in Western interiors since the 16th century. Why? Because they make rooms look wonderful, and they do it instantly, without any trouble at all. Besides that, they’re practical. They’re easy to care for and they last for decades. Designing with Oriental rugs is surprisingly easy. Essentially it’s a matter of trying rugs at home until you find one that looks great. One needn’t be an expert to judge what looks good, and, in fact, the most important thing is to find a rug or carpet that you really love. 1. If possible, start with the Oriental rug. A hundred and fifty years ago, Edger Allen Poe wrote that “the soul of the apartment is the carpet.” He meant that the carpet is the foundation of the décor, and all else flows from it. The moment you choose carpets for a room, you establish how the room will be laid out—into one large space, for instance, or, using several smaller rugs, into discrete areas such as the space before the fireplace or the area behind the sofa. Secondly, when you choose the rug or rugs for a room, you establish the colors that will look good in it. It is far easier to buy furniture and fabric to complement the carpet than the other way around. Emmett Eiland’s Oriental Rug Company can help make it easy to choose furniture and fabric to match your carpet by providing you with a free 8 by 10 professional photograph of any carpet you buy from us. Take the photo with you for reference when you are shopping for furniture. 2. Using this website is a good way to get started. On it you can easily familiarize yourself with the styles of Oriental rugs that are available, their cost and so forth. You will be able to search by many parameters simultaneously. For instance, you may want to do a search for new rugs between 9 and 10 ft wide by 12 to 13 ft long, with natural dyes, formal designs and blue fields. Or nearly anything else. Keep in mind that not all of Emmett Eiland’s collection is online. To see everything in stock, visit the store in Berkeley. Eventually you will want to try rugs at home on an...

Oriental Rug Care

This article discusses Oriental rug care and maintenance, as well as how information on how we maintain them at Holly Peters Oriental Rugs & Home. People think that because Oriental rugs are valuable they must be pampered like fine China. But Oriental rugs have earned their reputation of being magical in part because of their sheer endurance. When they are dirty, they can be washed (unlike wall-to-wall carpeting, which can be surface cleaned only). And when they are injured they can be fixed. Their dyes resist fading and running, and their wool, full of natural oils, keeps many potential stains from penetrating and setting. We have seen that in the Middle East some new rugs are thrown into the streets for “aging,” where they are driven over by trucks and camels alike. They come through the ordeal looking much improved. Rugs are, as they say, forgiving. Still, rugs need a congenial atmosphere and a little attention to help combat their several natural enemies: sunlight, moths, carpet beetles and moisture. Rugs Fade in Sunlight. Be Careful! A congenial atmosphere includes protection from too much sunlight. After inspecting rugs in many homes over the years, I have come to think that sunlight may be a rug’s principal nemesis—even to be feared, even, than moths. Sunlight streaming through a window directly onto a rug is virtually guaranteed to harm it, whether morning or afternoon, southern or western sunlight. Naturally dyed rugs and synthetically dyed rugs suffer equally. Colors fade unevenly and wool and cotton dry out and become brittle. A good rug can be spoiled in a month or less. Of course there are situations where the risk to your rug is less clear, like when it is in a sunny room yet does not take direct sunlight. Be careful. Some rugs will take that much light and others will not—and there’s no way to know in advance which will and which won’t. It is possible and prudent to monitor your rug in this circumstance, which you may do by periodically comparing its colors on the front to those on the back of the rug. They should be the same. When colors are softer or lighter on the pile side of the rug than they are on the back, it’s time to take action. You can eliminate or prevent the problem by keeping the curtains closed or by having your windows professionally coated with mylar (an invisible film which...