Methods of Handmade Rug Construction
The most distinguished and expensive way to make rugs is by hand. Most Persian rugs and many area rugs are handmade, meaning that an individual has tirelessly made the rug by hand. This is a very detailed process that takes a lot of practice and skill. There are two main ways to make handmade rugs: hand-knotted or hand-tufted.
Hand-knotted rugs are a very detailed and exhausting process. It is considered to be the most physically difficult way to make a rug, making them some of the most expensive area rugs in the world.
The first step in the hand-knotted rug process is to draw the rug to be made on a full-size graph paper. Many times an artist is hired to draw out the plotting diagram. Graph paper is used to make it easier for the individual to knot the rug precisely to the drawing.
After the drawing of the rug is completed, the rug is placed on a loom. Warps (columns of thread) are placed on the loom vertically. To make the warps secure, the weaver places horizontal rows of thread (wefts) on the loom. The typical materials used in warps and wefts are wool, cotton or silk.
Once the weaver has at least 10 wefts created, he or she can begin the weaving process. First, he or she takes 2 warps and ties them in a knot. The knots created are called a pile. The weaver then goes row by row, making lots of knots until the entire rug pattern is done.
Lastly, the weaver will have to secure the edges of the rug, making the rug complete. There are 3 basic ways a weaver can edge the rug. The first way is with edge binding which simply wraps the edge of the rug with yarn. The second way is called end finishes which keep the knots and wefts from coming apart. Lastly, the weaver can use fringes. These look like bundles of strings hanging off the end of the rug.
This approach to hand-making rugs is much easier, making these rugs less expensive, but just as authentic. The basic process is very simple and is still practiced in many countries in the Middle East. The weaver prepares the rug with a pattern that is stenciled on the backing of the rug. The backing for the rug, that has the drawing on it, is secured to the frame.
Next, the weaver interjects tufts of yarn into the backing. He or she will use a single-needle tool by hand, sometimes called a gun. After this process, the weaver will cover the backing with a material and place a second backing to secure the stitches. The loop pile on top is then sheared, leaving an equally flat, dense and comfortable pile. This process is called shearing. Some rugs end the process with edging the rug by binding the edges of the rug for added strength.