There’s more to carpets than just decoration. In fact, carpet manufacturing has a real history. In our Montreal carpet store, we’re passionate about the origins and history of carpet making, as well as the different methods used to manufacture these essential elements of home decor. It is our pleasure to share this knowledge with you.
Where did carpet manufacturing originate, how did carpet making methods evolve with time, and in what ways do carpets continue to embellish our living spaces?
In this article, you’ll find all the answers to these questions, and learn how history and craftsmanship combine to create unique carpets and rugs that offer both comfort and visual appeal.
The history of carpet manufacturing
The history of carpet manufacturing is a tale that spans both ages and civilizations.
It all began in ancient times, when the Egyptians wove rudimentary carpets from natural materials like papyrus. However, it was in Persia that carpets truly evolved to become works of art.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, Persia was the center of renowned carpet production, producing rugs boasting intricate patterns and exceptional craftsmanship. With the development of trade, the popularity of these carpets spread to Europe. Oriental carpets quickly became symbols of status and wealth.
In 17th-century France, Aubusson carpets became famous for their classical designs and vivid colors. But with the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century and the invention of mechanical weaving machines, carpet production underwent a major transformation. This advance enabled faster production, albeit often at the expense of artisanal quality, but it did reduce prices and offer a greater variety of colors and patterns.
The 20th century saw a revival in artistic rug design, influenced by movements like Art Deco, and renowned designers began to create modern carpets that were works of art.
Today, carpets are made around the world, using a variety of techniques, from traditional to modern. They continue to adorn our homes and enrich our daily lives as an invaluable element of interior design that contributes both comfort and aesthetic appeal.
There are two main methods of creating woven rugs: hand weaving and machine weaving.
Handmade carpet-making can take many months or even years, and requires a considerable investment of both time and skill. Machine weaving makes it possible to make a rug more quickly than by hand, so it is an economical option.
The rise of industrialization made machine-woven carpets readily available in a variety of styles and patterns. It should be noted that the choice of materials plays an essential role in the manufacturing process.
What makes hand-woven rugs so remarkable, and why they sometimes command such high prices on the market, is their unique manufacturing process.
At the heart of every hand-woven rug are knots that are tied in a very high density, which means these take time and money to manufacture.
To wave a carpet by hand, warp threads are used to create the carpet’s base, then weft threads are meticulously woven between them to form the carpet’s surface, pile by pile. Each hand-knotted rug is thus a unique piece, crafted by skilled artisans with many years of experience. A hand-woven rug can offer exceptional quality and longevity.
Knot density affects both price and labor intensity in the manufacture of hand-woven carpets. Some rugs reach a density of 155 knots per square centimeter, which demands a conscientious attention to detail.
When you understand the time and expertise required to make a rug, you can see why the price of a handmade rug may be significantly higher. Keep this in mind when choosing the right carpet for your space.
Machine woven carpets
Beyond their aesthetic impact, there are many other reasons to buy a carpet. As we saw earlier, a hand-woven rug can be quite expensive to purchase, and that’s where machine-made rugs come in.
Carpet manufacturing by machine is efficient, allows for vast array of choice and makes buying a carpet a possibility for many more people. In other words, machine-made carpets offer excellent value for money, made possible by a highly automated process that facilitates faster production.
Machine-made carpets are produced on an assembly line, which means that the knot density is often lower than that of hand-made carpets, making them less durable. Also, a handmade rug is often a unique piece with a history, which is something you rarely find in the case of machine-made rugs.
Hand-knotting is an ancient rug-making method used mainly to make Oriental rugs of exceptional quality.
This technique requires precise craftsmanship, starting with manual sheep-shearing to gather the wool. The wool is spun by hand, then coloured and dyed. The resulting threads are then carefully tied in knots, one at a time, to create a unique pattern for each rug.
After the knots are tied, the carpet is meticulously cleaned to remove wool residues and impurities and enhance the carpet’s brilliance and softness. Once clean and dry, the rug is cut by hand according to the customer’s order, to correct small imperfections and adjust he length of the piles. Because of the complexity of the process, hand-knotted oriental rugs are often considered among the most expensive carpets on the market.
Tufting skilfully combines artisanal techniques with newer weaving tools for a more modern approach than hand-weaving. It all begins by preparing the canvas, which is stretched vertically and marked with the motifs that will be woven into the design.
Next, the weaver carefully attaches wool strands to the canvas with an air gun, filling in the pattern with previously selected colours. The tufts are secured with a thin layer of silicone that is applied to the back of the carpet, which is then covered with a second canvas to make the rug stronger.
The weaver now shaves the carpet pile to obtain a smooth, uniform surface and bring out the pattern. For carpet designs that include a relief, an additional step consists of manually trimming the furrows to create the effect of curves. Once washed, it’s time to add the finishing touch by sewing on the fringe.
This modern approach makes it possible to manufacture very colorful tufted rugs in a wide range of patterns. Tufted carpets are very popular, as this manufacturing method saves considerable time without compromising carpet durability.
Setting the standard for carpets in Montreal: Tapis André Viau
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about the history and methods of rug making. There are many different types of carpet to choose from nowadays. To find just the right rug for your interior, feel free to browse our entire collection of wall-to wall carpeting, or drop by our Montreal boutique.
Whether you choose a handmade or machine-made rug, making a good choice can take time! Be sure to clarify exactly what you want before you buy. If you’re not in Montreal, look for a specialty store near you where you can receive professional assistance in making an appropriate choice.