Thursday, 14 May 2009

Day 64-Palace Carpets & My 1st Rug

Wax figure of weaver of carpets in Fars History museum in Shiraz, Iran

Today, I want to showcase the carpets (including one I made) for my palace and its annexes. I think I have mentioned earlier that I have always been partial to Persian carpets. I have a nice collection at home as my housemate, FaiZ also loves them. He prefers the classical while I favour flat weaves like Kilims and if it is pile, Baluchi or Turkmen. I have always been more "folk " than "palace" which I have just realised, may be why I am more interested in building the annexes than the palace itself. Or maybe I am just saving the best for last. Hmm...

TURKEY WOVEN (machine) CARPETS (4"by 6 1/2" including fringe) in dusty plastic.
These were bought when I was in Turkey in 1998/99 without knowing that years later I would be crazy about dollhouse.

Do you know that despite being one of the oldest civilisation in the world, carpets was introduced in India only in 1526 AD when the expatriate Timurid prince Babur invaded India and founded the Mughal Dynasty? Apparently up till that time, floorings and carpets in Indian homes comprised mainly of mats and durries with a variety of material, ranging from wool, cotton, jute, coir, bamboo and grass. Babur was missing the comforts of home so much especially Persian carpets that he brought master weavers from Persia to India to start carpet weavings centers at Agra, Delhi and Lahore.

EARLY EUROPEAN WEAVES-(4"by 6 1/2" including fringe)
These were made by Mercedes from a piece of fabric an elderly lady gave her a couple of years ago. She very kindly included these in her "Cheer-Me-Up" package (Day 63)

From the reign of Akbar (Remember Fatehpur Sikri?), carpet weaving became an important form of artistic expression in India. Over time , Mughal carpets evolved, strongly influenced by European designs. Colours became brighter and rich tones of red and green contrasting against ivory or white was used.

KASHMIRI HANDWOVEN SILK CARPETS (12" top pics, 4" by 5" bottom)
These were bought last month at Arab Street for S$18 each for the larger pieces and S$4-5 for the smaller ones. They are made of silk and extremely soft to touch. I hope to be able to show you by this weekend what I intend to do with them.

Thanks to a massive training programme in carpet weaving, Kashmiri girls have started a thriving carpet industry in Kashmir.According to the history of Indian carpets, the designs and patterns in Kashmir carpets continue to be inspired by Persian and central Asian rugs . Kashmiri craftsmen are noted for producing museum quality and the most intricate designed carpets. This is a true myth : It is said that a beautiful Kashmiri carpet once so charmed Maharajah Ranjit Singh that he rolled on it in great joy all day long.


(12" )

I really love this piece, also bought at Arab Street, because it reminded me of the pillow cover I bought from a shop in Islamabad, Pakistan selling weaves by women refugees from Afghanistan (right pic).

This is what I found out about Afghans: Afghans are made by Turkmen weavers in northern Afghanistan. A hundred years ago the guls (as the octagonal figures are properly called) were large — often 16 inches wide in bigger rugs. Guls have become smaller over the years until today they most often are no more than several inches across. As the guls have shrunk, so has the range of colors in the rugs. Today most Afghans contain only two colors: a rather bright red and a blue so deep that it looks black.

Saryk-Turkoman Rug (5" by 8 1/2" including fringe)

I started this rug on 22 Feb 2009 according to this journal at Day 32. I finished it today, 81 days later.

At 2 months, this is where I was (left pic). The carpet was crooked and it was getting more so by the stitches. I remembered I was very demoralised at one point and actually stopped working on it for a while. Didn't help when I saw how other "mini -weavers" are doing such a great job with theirs.

The thing about stitching though, is that it is very portable, calming and makes waiting for anything tolerable. Just take out my carpet which I bring with me everywhere and I can wait, even for hours.

To say my rug is not exactly great is being kind. I made so many mistakes. 1stly, wrong number of threads,-should have used 3 instead of 2 (see white spots?). Also, not sure how I created a trapezium rug. Mum said it could be me pulling too hard. Maybe it was sewing through to the next stitch in 1 move instead of patiently doing the sew through and then out method . Perhaps I should have used the hoop.

Anyway, as I was also not sure how to finish the rug edge and fringe, I sought help from Casey who so very kindly did a post on finishing a rug. When I still couldn't get how to straighten it, she told me this :

Sans, Take your rug and face down, spray it with water and stretch it, pulling diagonal corners so that it goes back to square. Sometimes you can simply do this several times, ironing with steam between pulling and it will eventually square up. If that doesn't do it, then I resort to pinning it. When you do that you have to just let alone until it dries completely....

That's what I did. I watered, pulled. Next day, I steam-ironed and then got Fafa to help pull. It became better but I lost patience. So I decided to edge and fringe 1st (using Casey's suggestion -3rd method).

After that, I called on my men for help:

BUT they kept falling down. Spoilt, rich and completely useless! So my next resort:

Yea, see my baby elephant? New to the palace and so very cute. Alas, he was too strong for my camel. So my LAST RESORT:

Ok, some defects can't be cured even with a whole convoy of camels and elephants.

With that, I decided this shall be the story of my rug. It is an old antique piece not unlike this Dowry Kilim, Inventory Number: 3725. Age: Indeterminable, Price: Expensive.

Tomorrow, I will try and pin it. Thank you Casey! Don't give up on me, my next one will be straighter!


Sumaiya Mehreen said...

haha! :D I love the photos ... 2 elephants and 3 camels...Wow!

The Kashmiri Carpet looks awesome!

rosanna said...

Brava Sans, you have been very good. Your Mum will be happy with your carpet. I loved the pic with the elephants. Your woven carpets are really handsome. Hugs

MiniKat said...

You know San, if you think about it... the strength and durability of your carpet shows very well since two elephants and three camels and difficulties pulling it. Good strong fiber work. ;-)

It is a gorgeous carpet. :-)

Texas Belle said...

Well, I think it's beautiful - I just love the rich, vibrant colors! I haven't tried making rugs yet, but I'm very inspired by your first effort!

Sans said...

LOL Sumaiya. Have to tell you that the boys' hands were so well made, they held the carpet with very little "help". Although it is true they kept falling down because I couldn't stretch the carpet to the other guy without pulling one was quite funny really.

Rosanna, already showed Mum. She was so pleased when I told her your comments on My Mother's Day post that she now thinks this whole dollhouse project is great, including my 1st effort at stitching.

Sans said...

Hey MiniKat, LOL, you are so sharp cos that's exactly what my rug is , very very durable. I must tell you, I am really proud of its back cos they look better than the front..haha. I shall post a pic just for you :).

Texas Belle, you made my heart sing with that comment. If you email me, I can share with you some patterns which you may want to use for your 1st project. Can even send them to you. I have just printed some for Meli and have made copies. Let me know.

Caseymini said...

Sans wrote to me privately and asked that I post a little check up on her rug. Sans, it is beautiful, but I fear that you may never be able to get it quite square. I wouldn't try pinning it now because you will probably pull out some of the stitches along the edges! Always pin in the margins outside of the worked area before you trim the rug.

I think that you have already realized that you are pulling too tightly when stitching. You have also already hit on some of the remedy. Using the "poke" method of stitching leaves less distortion that the "scoop". If you use the poke method(up and down in each stitch) it might also help to put your fabric on stretcher bars or a scroll frame. You do that before you start the stitchery. This will force it to stay more square. The main thing is to learn to relax and use a good light when stitching. As you go, you will be able to see to keep the stitches at a uniform size.

As for the rug that you just finished, putting a double edge on it may be keeping it from being straightened also. With your next rug, just do a single row like the rest of the rug. Now that you have done one with the glue, I think that you will have more confidence about cutting the edges.

Your fringe turned out wonderfully. The rug is great for a first try. Believe it or not I have seen rugs that were much more distorted than yours. You should have seen my first one. It wasn't even keep-able!LOL

I can't wait to see the next one. They get better and better with experience. Go for it!

Sans said...

Hi Casey, your comments are deeply appreciated. These pointers are so useful for newbies to stitching because most how to books just assume (rightly of course) that most users are beyond elementary.

The remark you made which really hits the ail on its head is a) that I was probably not relaxed enough and b) not enough lights. I stitch to de-stress so yes, my 1st few lines each time maybe a trifle "angst-sy" lol. I also like to stitch in bed just before I doze off. That's why lighting is not great.

I will not pin the rug. Knew there must be a reason why I should have done there before trimming.

I am going to post this and your comments on my projects blog.

Thank you again, Casey for your encouragement. I am starting a new one today.

sylvia said...

I love your story again and I have an Award for you at my blog,

Love Sylvia

Sans said...

Thank you Sylvia :)! Going right over to collect

Caseymini said...

Sans, I do the same thing. I sit on my bed and watch tv and stitch. I have it rigged so that I can set my magnifier lamp on a bed tray on legs. You know the ones.....The one that you are supposed to get breakfast in bed served to you....Never happens. I prop myself up with pillows behind me and a pillow under my left arm. That tends to be the way that I lean, being right handed.With this set up, I have good support for my back and arms so that they are not tense. Good lighting also. Unfortunately my eyes need a magnifier at night so that has to be there too. With the bed tray, I have a place to put my threads and scissors within reach. Experiment and see what is most comfortable for you. That's the key to the whole thing. Good luck and keep in touch to let me know how you are doing.

Daisy said...

Wonderful carpets!

Jean Day said...

Hi Sans, What an excellent post about carpets, you have such a beautiful collection, each has so much meaning from your travels. When I used to do needlepoint I had the same problem then someone showed me a different way to do the basic stitch and that prevents that from happening. I think your carpet is lovely, great colours and design. If you sprayed it and tacked it down to a board while it is drying it might help, that was what I had to do with mine. I love all of your solutions!! lol, your elephants are so handy.

Mini Hugs, Jean

Sans said...

Casey, great tip! I have a laptop bed table with USB ports. I can fix a lamp there or like you, just clip a portable one from Ikea. Thanks and thanks for being there ;)! You can also bet on me pestering you with more questions.

Daisy, thank you ")!

Jean, thank you for sharing your experience. It is comforting to know that experienced and great artisans like you and Casey went through a learning period like me . I have already started the preparatory work for my next piece. It's a smaller one. I will use a frame, better lights, more patience less tense (lol) and definitely just basic "poke" stitching, as Casey puts it.

sarnaassociates said...
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