There are many steps involved in the manufacture of an oriental rug. It's difficult for those of us in industrialized Western nations to visualize the amount of labor and time that goes into this process. Part of the magic in owning a hand-woven rug is that you have a piece of art that represents the labor, craftsmanship and vision, both of the weaver and also of allied trades (hey, somebody's got to raise all those sheep!)
1. The first step is to build a loom.
This is no small job. I'm no carpenter, so I thought the easiest way to show this to you was through some pictures. If you click on this PDF file you will see a very complete breakdown concerning the construction of a full sized weaving loom. This file will open in a new window. When your done viewing, just close the window out.
2. Hopefully, while you've been building your loom, someone's been growing some cotton!
Cotton yarns are strung up on the loom vertically. They form the warp fibers in your rug. Warp fibers run lengthwise in your rugs backing. Weft fibers run horizontally. Cleaners remember this by the old phrase "weft fibers run weft to right". It's not that witty, but it definitely helps a fella remember which is which! In the picture below, note the cotton warp fibers running from top to bottom on the loom, with a partially completed rug in process.
3. Quick! Somebody raise some sheep!
It can take an entire flock of sheep to provide the wool for one room-sized oriental rug. Then, you'll need to:
a. Shear The Sheep
b. Wash The Fleece
c. Sort The Wool
d. Card The Wool
e. Comb The Wool
f. Spin The Wool
g. Ply The Yarn
h. Dye The Yarn
4. In order to dye the wool, someone has to manufacture the vegetable dyes needed.
5. The rug's design is decided on.
The design is transferred to a full scale graphic template called a cartoon. Each tiny square represents one knot. There can be as many as 300+ knots per square inch!
6. Weave the rug!
This process will take between several weeks and several months depending on the size and intricacy of the rug, and whether a single weaver or a team of weavers are working on it.
a. Cut the rug off the loom
b. Finish the ends and the sides
c. Shear the rug
d. Sculpture (if applicable to design)
e. Chemical wash (if applicable to design)
f. Inspect the rug
We now have a finished product, ready to be shipped state-side, and enjoyed in your family room, dining room, or wherever you've decided to place it.