Many centuries ago, shepherds began knotting wool into heavy woven cloth. These heavy cloths provided protection from the elements and eventually were developed into rugs. Whether the first rugs were made in the near East or Siberia is not clear; but over the centuries rug making changed from a necessity to a fine art form.
The patterns, vibrant colors, and many knots per square inch produced beautiful rugs. These early artisans showed amazing skill and ingenuity in designing, dying and producing these prized rugs.
When a personal prayer rug became a tradition of Islam; the spread of this religion to Spain and Eastern Europe took the necessity of rug making with it.
Hand knotted rugs have come to be associated with luxury in contemporary interiors and they often serve as a focal point in formal residential living areas, corporate board rooms or luxury hotel lobbies.
Woven carpets feature extremely dense pile consisting of wool or silk knotted on closely woven backing. This method allows for extreme versatility in design and texture. Traditionally; rug designs designated tribal or village source, and often the town weaver. The name of the rug indicates the weaving center, city or area of origin.
The commercial carpet industry has its beginnings in England. This commercialization soon made names of English towns like Ax Minster and Wilton synonymous with rugs. Ax Minster carpets, arguably one of the best known carpets, are characterized by heavy backings made from jute, cotton or man-made fibers that form lengthwise ribs. Throughout the world; many hotel chains, theaters and casinos use Ax Minster carpet.
An American, Erastus B. Bigelow, invented the power loom to manufacture Wilton carpets in 1848. For many years, the only width available for this carpet was 27 inches. The carpet strips were sewn together so carefully that the seams were barely noticeable. These woven carpets dominated carpet production until the 1940’s, when the manufacturing process for today’s tufted carpets was developed.
Tufted carpet is made in 3 layers. The top layer is called the face fiber. These fibers are made from nylon, wool, olefin, polyester, acrylic or cotton. The face fiber is stitched by high-speed machines to the primary backing. The primary backing is then glued to the secondary backing.
Tufted carpets are typically manufactured first as “white goods” and then dyed to the desired color. To obtain a pattern or color variation, manufacturers use more than one type of carpet fibers. The different fibers accept the dyes in varying degrees, giving them the desired effect.