The Pazyryk carpet, discovered in an ancient grave in Siberia, has survived for 2,500 years. That is an amazing endurance record for a pile rug. But then it was frozen for most of that time. It was not exposed to wear, insect attack, and rot – the sources of damage that of the bring a 5-year-old rug to the scrap heap.
Ultimately, protection from damage depends on the owner’s view of the rug’s value, for this generally determines how well he or she cares of it. The value of oriental rugs has varied with fashions in interior decoration. When oriental rugs fell out of fashion, their value declined, and they received less care. Accordingly, the techniques of repair could be considered as remedies for failures in popular judgment as to what is beautiful, valuable, and thus worth preserving.
WRINKLES AND CURLS
Occasionally one finds a rug that will not lie flat. When looms are not rigid or wraps vary in tension across the loom, wrinkles can be woven into the rug. This is more likely to occur with nomadic or village rugs than with factory or city rugs.
Steam pressing is sometimes effective in removing wrinkles and curls. After a rug is washed and rinsed, it can be stretched to remove wrinkles and curls by nailing the rug down on a frame as it dries. This approach may be successful in some cases. The curl will probably return the next time the rug is washed.
Another method is to sew stiff tape along the curling edge, being careful not to leave the stitching visible from the front. If a wrinkle cannot be removed by these methods, it is best to view it as a sign of hand craftsmanship, much like design inconsistencies and abrash.
Because of their size and use in high-traffic areas, rugs are a subject to a wider variety of staining substances than most household fabrics. The pile makes rugs more absorbent than other fabrics and complicates the removal of some substances. Wool does not have the resistance to stains possessed by many synthetic fibers. This is the same quality that makes wool relatively easy to color with natural or vegetable dyes.
Stains are unwanted substances that are not removable by normal washing. This does not mean that you should wait until the rug is washed to identify and remove stains. Any substance that may stain should be removed immediately. This prevents the stain from spreading and, more importantly, from fixing or permanently setting through the passage of time. Stain can also set if the wrong procedures or solvents are used to remove them.
Dogs and cats in particular pose a threat to rugs. Perhaps a puppy is exercising his jaws on an edge or corner of a rug. You can discourage this behavior by sprinkling a few moth flakes under the rug in the areas where he has been chewing. The taste ins unpleasant to dogs as well as moths.
Cats are a problem when the dig their claws into rugs. They discard a partial sheath that grows around their claws by scratching. To change this behavior, provide a scratching post for the cat and keep a water pistol close at hand. When the cat is scratching the rug, give it a squirt from the pistol.
Animal vomit, urine, and waste are a particular problem. The substances contain acids that may easily change the color of dyes in a rug and should therefore be cleaned up as soon as possible to prevent permanent marks on your rugs.
SURVEYING THE DAMAGE
Before any actual repairs are begun on a rug, it is a good idea to identify all the damage. One way to do this is to mark the damage by making long stiches around each repair area with thread of a contrasting color. Then, you can look at the whole rug and form a reasonable estimate of the total amount of work to be done. This could affect your decision as to whether you want to do any work on the rug. Marking damaged areas not only serves to emphasize the extent of repairs to the owner of the rug but also prevents you from overlooking damaged areas when repairs are in progress.
It is a good idea to take color photographs of areas to be repaired. These photos are useful as before and after documentation of your works. They may also help you in reconstructing areas where designs are missing.