How Indian artisans transform rich wool into a moody blue work of art without the use of machines.
Rugs can often fall into two categories: plain yet practical or exquisite but expensive. The Hill-Side’s disintegrated floral rug rides right in the middle: it’s versatile enough for variety of environments, but so beautifully distressed you’d swear it’s a pricey antique. So how is it made, and what makes the process so special? Working with an overscaled floral pattern dreamed up by The Hill-Side, artisans in India rely on decades of work experience and old-world techniques to bring the pattern to life. Each rug can take several artisans many days to complete, which only adds to its value. The total process takes six steps, all of which are outlined below.
Working on a vertical loom, three artisans sit side-by-side to hand-knot rich blue yarn atop a white base. They’re recreating the pattern shown behind them without using stencils or measurements, so it’s a process that requires true patience and artistry. Nothing is done by machine, so it can take several days to complete one 8’ x 10’ rug.
The rug is then placed into a dyeing vat that’s lit from below by a fire. The rug is overdyed in blue ink, so the blue yarn get darker and the white becomes more blue. The rug becomes a more vibrant color overall. Once fully dyed, the rug is pulled out of the vat using a hand crane.
The rug is laid out flat, then an artisan uses a hand torch to distress fibers. He chooses sections to burn more than others, creating a disintegrated look reminiscent of vintage, well-worn rugs. The sections he burns will be washed away to reveal more of the base pattern.
The artisans wet the rug and then give it a good scrub. They also use a wooden paddle to press out any excess water and push off any remaining fibers.
Once the rug is dry, the artisan goes over the entire surface with a shaving device. This ensures that any longer fibers will be trimmed down to the same height.
To create a more polished look, an artisan finishes the rugs’ ends with a whipstitch.