Uncle Bobs Tips: Rug Guide

Silk rugs


Lowly rugs have been given a lift with pure silk rugs! Handmade or handspun silk rugs have longtime been admired for their elegance, brilliance and finesse. Associated with ceremonial rites of ancient India and Persia, silk has been a highly revered fabric for generations. Exquisite rugs made from silk no longer remain solely underfoot: Many fine silk rugs are better suited for hanging on the wall or for being placed on a table.

Here are some threads of interest spinning the history of silk rugs: Silk fiber, obtained from the filament of the cocoon of the "silkworm" (Bombyx Mori), has its origin in about 2600 BC. An early example of a silk rug from the 16th century is the Vienna Hunting Carpet available for your viewing at the Osterreichisches Museum fur angeqandte Kunst, Vienna. Lavish silk rugs were once a luxury of the royal courts, often adorned with gold and silver brocading. Today, silk rugs are attributed to the main Persian and Indian carpet centers of the nineteenth century - many of which have been producing rugs for centuries. The finest carpets are still made of silk today, and wool and silk rugs dominate the high end of the rug market.

Brimming with beauty, silk rugs will help your rooms evolve from the ordinary to the extraordinary, and bare feet will love the velvety softness of sensational silk rugs. Here are some of the "bare facts" about genuine silk rugs. Real silk is produced from the cocoon of the silkworm or mulberry silk moth, bombyx mori. The cocoon is spun, producing a single silk fiber that can be up to several thousand feet in length! To harvest the silk for silk rugs, mature cocoons are boiled or heated to kill the silkworms, then meticulously unwound into single fibers that are plied together and spun into thread or silk yarn. Natural silk is a fibrous protein composed of a number of amino acids. Silk is extremely high in tensile strength and can be twisted very finely to create silk rugs that are very tightly knotted (with at least 256 knots per sq. in.) and closely clipped. Since dyed silk is saturated with color and possesses a vibrant sheen, silk is specially selected to make precious Oriental rugs. Of the finest hand-spun rugs in the world are Hereke silk rugs.

Luxurious silk rugs feature detailed silk rug designs. In silk rugs, silk can be used both as the foundation and the pile material of the rug. Silk rug foundations provide strength and shape. Fine quality, "silk on silk rugs", allow very intricate detail and high knot density, beginning from 575 knots per square inch up to 1000 knots. "Silk on cotton" silk rugs are also common. These silk rugs use cotton as the foundation material and silk for the pile. Silk on cotton rugs are firm and allow for detailed design.

A word to the wise: Silk rug buyers beware! Sometimes artificial silk rugs are misrepresented and sold as genuine silk rugs. Artificial silk rugs, also known as faux silk rugs, art silk, floss silk rugs and rayon rugs, look and feel remarkably like pure silk rugs. While there is nothing unearthly about faux silk rugs, they ought to cost a fraction of the price of genuine silk rugs. Artificial silk is everything labeled as silk that doesn't come from the silkworm cocoon. Silk rug look-alikes are usually made from synthetics such as viscose/rayon or from mercerized cotton. In India, artificial silk rugs are often blatantly sold as real silk, complete with certificates of authenticity and written guarantees. And in Pakistan, rugs called jaldars are really wool pile rugs with a "silk touch," meaning that there is an artificial silk inlay in the pile (often outlining part of the design).

To discern natural silk rugs from their slick counterparts, follow these silk rug recommendations: Look carefully at the "silk" rug. It should be tightly woven (with more than 200 knots per sq. in., and often with 500 or more knots), intricately detailed, closely clipped, and it should have a real silk fringe that is clearly an extension of the rug's structure, not sewn on or sewn into the ends of the rug. Artificial silk rugs often have only medium weaves (less than 250 knots per sq. in., and sometimes less than 150 knots per in.), and often have cotton fringe.

Here are some tests for a seemingly silk rug:

Rub it! Sometimes you can tell real silk rugs from artificial silk rugs by vigorously rubbing the pile of the silk rug with your open palm. Real silk rugs feel warm; artificial silk rugs stay cool to the touch.

Burn it! Clip off a small piece of the silk rug fringe and burn it. If the material was cellulose (rayon), the ash should be soft and chalky, and the smell should be like burning paper. If the rug is genuine silk, the burning sample should ball to a black, crispy ash, and the smell should be of burning hair (since silk is composed of protein similar to your hair).

Dissolve it! The most accurate test for natural silk rugs is one that chemically differentiates protein from cellulose or petrochemicals. At room temperature, mix a solution of 16 g copper sulfate (CuSO4) in 150 cc of water. Add 8-10 g glycerine, then caustic soda (sodium hydroxide: NaOH) until a clear solution is obtained. Natural silk rug fibers will dissolve in this solution; faux silk rug components such as cotton, rayon, and nylon will remain unchanged.

Finally, here is the "dirt" on how to maintain and clean silk rugs:

Protect silk rugs from heavy use and soiling by placing them in areas of low traffic.

Avoid excessive sunlight: Silk rugs placed in an area of strong sun for extended periods can prematurely fade

Lightly vacuum as needed. Avoid catching the fringe in the vacuum.

Rotate silk rugs frequently to evenly distribute fading and wear.

If silk rugs become stained follow these instructions:

Work fast.

Blot up excess spill using paper towels or a clean cloth. Do not rub the affected area.

If the area is not stained, dry it with a fan or hair blower. Restore the pile's direction with a clothes brush.

If the area is stained, contact a silk rug repair specialist.

Inspect silk rugs regularly for wear and damage. If silk rugs sustain structural damage, contact a silk rug repair specialist

Correctly store and transport silk rugs to preserve their condition. Folding delicate silk rugs can easily damage them, causing breakage in the warp and weft or pile of your silk rug. Silk rugs should always be rolled rather than folded.

Silk rugs remain exquisite objects of desire, status and timeless allure. For beauty you can walk on, softness you can sink into, glamour you can gaze upon, and elegance par excellence, select shimmering silk rugs today!

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