Don’t throw away a fortune!
Don’t throw away a fortune!
Any damage to handmade rugs and carpets should always be assessed by a specialist and treated with the same degree of care given to any other works of art. Jo Nears, a specialist restorer at The Persian Carpet Studio, explains why the restoration of such items requires particular knowledge.
Handmade rugs and carpets are individual works of art, which can be worth thousands of pounds. Like other fine works of art, many will increase in value over time if they are correctly maintained.
Very often rugs will become damaged whilst in the home by general wear and tear, holes caused by animals and rodents, infestations of moth, and also household disasters from fire and flood.
The maintenance and repair of handmade rugs and carpets is a specialised field of which many are not aware.
Restoration and conservation are essential as each handmade rug and carpet is unique, and therefore not replaceable with an exact match. Furthermore, as their value tends to be high, it is often more economically viable to carry out repairs rather than offering any kind of replacement.
A qualified Restorer will offer advice on the origin, date and value of each individual rug, and provide a written estimate for the various repair and cleaning options. They will also advise on which repairs demand urgent attention.
A DUSTY OLD FLOOR COVERING HAS A SHOCK VALUE OF £30,000
A private customer inherited a carpet with a house. The previous owner did not have a high regard for the carpet so did not want the inconvenience of moving it.
The new owner brought the carpet in for some stabilising work on areas that were fraying so as to turn it into a usable floor covering. They had no idea of its value. This carpet turned out to be an original Zeigler, which are highly sought after. To find one of this age (late 1800s) and in such good condition meant it had considerably more value than the customer realised.
If they were to try to replace it they would have had to spend around thirty thousand pounds. This shows that it is worth seeking the advice of a professional before throwing away what could be a priceless antique. On cleaning the carpet we re-discovered the jewel-like turquoise and red colouring that had been hidden for years.
Upon removing the dirt and dust it immediately became apparent why these carpets are so sought after. The designs of Ziegler carpets have influenced weavers throughout the world. There was some insect damage where parts of the carpet had been hidden under furniture and neglected for years; luckily this was reparable to an invisible mend.
The carpet was placed back into the new owner’s house becoming the main feature of a room rather than just the dusty old floor covering that it had been in the past.
Zeigler – worth £30,000.
Damage to handmade rugs and carpets can be repaired using both restoration and conservation techniques. With restoration, a damaged area of a rug such as a hole may be rewoven by replacing broken threads and pile, and matching fibres, threads and methods of construction to those originally used. With conservation, new fibres would not be introduced to replace the damage, instead the area would be stabilised to prevent further deterioration. It is essential that all repairs be completed by hand.
Apart from routine repairs and stabilising where threads are pulling free, more severe damage such as large holes in rugs and carpets can also be repaired.
A hole in a rug can be rewoven to produce an invisible mend. Initially, the damaged foundation threads of the piece need to be matched and replaced. The damaged warps are rewoven by following the original threads. The weft threads are then replaced in a similar manner. The area is stretched on a frame to ensure the correct tension is achieved. The wool required to replace the pile of the rug is colour matched to the original under strict daylight conditions. When the area has been fully re-piled the wool is gradually trimmed to the length of the surrounding pile.
See illustrations of a repair.
Alternatively, rather than introducing new threads, damage such as a hole in a rug can be conserved by stitching the area onto a support fabric. Securing is achieved by using small stitches that are not visible from the front of the rug. Any fabric that is seen through the hole may be dyed to blend in with the design and colourings of the rug.
Repairing a tear
Insect pests are becoming an increasing problem, causing considerable damage to rugs and carpets. With climatic changes creating the perfect atmospheric conditions for insects to breed, along with the withdrawal of many insect proofing agents due to their carcinogenic properties, there are considerable increases in the quantity of rugs found to have insect infestations. The most common species in the United Kingdom are Clothes Moth and Carpet Beetle.
These insects can cause considerable damage by eating the pile and foundation threads of rugs and carpets. The commonly used fibres in the construction of rugs are wool and silk; both of which moth will destroy, as they are natural materials. If moth are discovered in a rug or carpet it is essential that it is professionally treated before further damage is caused.
The cleaning of handmade rugs is a very specialised area.
Initially the rug is vibrated for the required length of time to remove all embedded dirt and grit. All colours throughout the rug are then checked to ensure their stability for wet cleaning.
Using a very mild shampoo, specifically designed for use on handmade rugs and carpets, the piece is then wet cleaned by hand. Handmade rugs and carpets need to be routinely cleaned to prevent the build up of dirt and grit within the pile and foundation threads, as grit will cut into the fibres and damage the rug as it is walked on.
Soiling can cause the fibres of the rug to deteriorate over time and a soiled rug or carpet is a greater attraction for moth.
A soiled rug, or one damaged by fire or flood, should be individually assessed and thoroughly cleaned to ensure a hygienically clean result. Stains on rugs and carpet should also be individually assessed. To ensure accurate colour matching it is essential that handmade rugs are cleaned before any restoration work is carried out.
The Persian Carpet Studio holds exhibitions, lectures and workshops throughout the year. The Restoration Workshops are always open to the public.
Sara Barber organised her first carpet exhibition in 1991. The exhibition was such a success it encouraged Sara to launch her own business, The Persian Carpet Studio, which has flourished ever since. In 1999 it moved to spacious showrooms and restoration workshops in Long Melford. The Persian Carpet Studio now employs 11 people and holds one of the most extensive stocks of carpets for retail sale in England.
Sara has kindly supported the CSCA by placing an advertisement.