How Rugs Are Made

Rugs are everywhere- they adorn the floors of homes and businesses across the world, providing warmth and style. But as we walk across these functional pieces of artwork, we rarely consider the work and craftsmanship that goes into making each individual rug. Rug-making techniques extend back to the B.C. era, and these ancient practices have carried on and evolved into the rug manufacturing business today. The following points describe different methods to make a rug.

1. Weaving. Creating a rug by weaving together threads on a loom or by hand is one of the oldest techniques to create these beautiful pieces. Weaving extends back to the oldest known surviving carpet, The Pazyryk Carpet, from the 5th century BC. Weaving methods are common with traditional Persian carpets, and depending on the quality, they can take anywhere from a couple months to several years to complete. To weave a carpet, one must begin with thick threads that run the length of the carpet- these can be placed in a loom to create tension. Then wefts, or similar threads, are woven through, with piled, colored knots woven between to create intricate patterns (the inclusion of knots can also describe the technique as "knotted rug making"). These threads may be cotton, silk, wool or any other fabric; the finer the material, the longer the rug will take to complete.

2. Braiding. Just as this technique suggests, braided rugs are created by intertwining three pieces of fabric together and creating rows of braids. This particular method of rug-making is popular in the colonial American period because they provide warmth and can be made with just about any material. Oftentimes these rugs are made from thick pieces of yarn or wool, but they can also be created from scraps of material or fabric, making these rugs extremely functional and low-costing. One may use a solid color or intertwine various colors and patterns to create a wholly unique

3. Hooking. These rugs usually begin with a woven base, like burlap or linen. The rug-maker will then use a hook to loop yarn through the woven fabric. This type of rug making can also be linked to a need for inexpensive floor coverings, as burlap is extremely cheap and one can use discarded scraps of yarn to hook through it. Not as ancient a craft as weaving, rug hooking dates back to 19th-century England, and was also used in America.

4. Tufting. This type of manufacturing consists of "injecting" tufts of material into the base of the carpet. Oftentimes a second base will be added to secure the tuft ends. This type of rug making is more easily mass produced than its woven counterparts, and therefore can be cheaper to purchase in many rug outlets. However, a hand-tufted rug made from 100% New Zealand wool can be an extremely high-quality and sometimes expensive purchase.

While the term "rug" is broad and there are many ways to create a rug- such as knitting, crocheting, tying, etc- these four rug-making methods have stood the test of time and manufacturing. So the next time you walk across a beautifully woven, braided, hooked or tufted rug, remember the careful process and time that went into creating such a beautiful object.