Newsletter August 2009
"Going green" has become a well known tag-line for business wanting to tap into the recent American obsession with environmental concerns. It seems like every time you turn around another company is claiming they are "going green" in hopes of winning your business. For us in the Oriental rug industry, this is not a new trend -- we've always been "green".
All Natural Products
Hand made Oriental rugs have always been made with 100% natural products, and continue to be so, today. For centuries, rugs have been hand-knotted with materials straight from nature, including wool, cotton, silk, hemp and camel hair. Even as the world became more industrialized and industries turned to machines to create synthetic materials and do tasks at a more efficient pace, the hand made rug industry remained completely natural. Most hand-made rugs are made on a cotton foundation with wool pile. Wool is an ideal material for rugs because of its natural characteristics. It is durable and strong and able to bounce back from the repeated pounding of footsteps. Its lanonlin gives it a natural stain-resistant and water-repellent quality. It is soft, supple and low-maintenance. Many man-made materials have tried to mimic the qualities of wool, but nothing has succeeded in outdoing Mother Nature on this amazingly resilient material.
The wool is shorn from the sheep annually, and in most cases, cleaned, combed, carded and spun by hand. Once the wool is spun it is ready to be dyed -- once again relying on Mother Nature to create the beautiful colors found in rugs today. At one time, the hand made rug industry experimented with synthetic dyes to speed the process of dyeing and assist in making more unusual colors. The result was often colors that faded very quickly, bled into one another or simply could not hold onto the wool. This practice has been abandoned by many Oriental rug makers who now have returned to using natural products to dye their wool. There are literally hundreds of plants and insects that can be used to create dyes. Some of the most common are: onion skin, madder root, walnut, carrots, lilac, indigo, berries, sumac, hyacinth and cabbage. But the list is endless, as well as the supply, as these resources are easily replaced in nature.