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Virtual Show and Tell Just what the title says it is.

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Old May 14th, 2018, 08:43 AM   #21
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Thank you, Marla, for your clear explanation, especially the comparison of what we can do with our own hair ;-). I was wondering if there is a difference in the treatment of wool used for pile rugs, and wool used for flatweaves. I have heard that sometimes wool from old kelims is used to make pile rugs, and I wonder whether that would make a difference in the outcome compared with rugs woven with all new wool prepared for pile use.
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Old May 14th, 2018, 02:34 PM   #22
Dinie Gootjes
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Sorry, the post above is mine. I was not logged in.

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Old May 14th, 2018, 08:10 PM   #23
Marla Mallett
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Dinie and all,

There should be no difference between the way wool processing begins for flatweaves and for pile knotting. Dull CARDED wool makes a very dull kilim, as well as a dull pile rug. Proper processing is actually more important for flatweaves than for pile, since luster or the lack of it is more critical when wool yarns are laid flat instead of knotted and standing on end. Thus it is among nomads that wool COMBING skills were retained for a longer period.

The ONLY satisfactory use for carded wool in rugs—in my opinion—may be for the WEFTS in pile rugs. Having their wool all machine carded, however, is very practical for villagers who make pile rugs strictly to sell since it saves an immense amount of time. We frequently see “revival” projects boast that their rugs are all made with “handspun” yarns. That is actually irrelevant, since it is the carding or combing of the wool that affects the luster of the rugs, and such projects invariably use dull carded wools.

As for reusing “old” wool, it’s most often the plain or striped back sides of Anatolian storage sacks that are “repurposed” for rug repair work, not usually wool from kilims. The short discontinuous paths taken by kilim yarns as they were interlaced back and forth short distances, reversing constantly, mean that those yarns were often abraded at the frequent turning points; thus yarns raveled from old kilims are often weakened or broken in many places.

We hear folks sometimes mention the possibility of reusing the yarns from old jajims for pile knotting. That is problematic. The difference here is in the SPINNING and PLYING of the yarns, not the carding or combing. Wool for jajim warp-substitution weaves is spun very tightly, and then also plied tightly, so that it can withstand the extraordinary stresses of constant manipulation during the repeated picking of warp patterns. These yarns are NOT good for rug knotting without extensive reprocessing. The best I can say about occasionally re-using these yarns for minor pile-rug repairs is that they may offer good old natural dyed colors.

As for the boasts we’ve heard of new rugs made with old wool, that’s apparently an effective sales pitch, but hard to believe and impractical. There are simply not enough old discarded plain or striped weavings with combed wool in existence for the production of many rugs. Repair shops very carefully guard their hard-to-come-by supplies of old cuval backsides. The large striped or plain kilims that some villagers made for their own floors were normally carded wool, often from the inferior parts of their fleeces, and thus not good candidates for repurposing.

I’m sorry to be long winded, but there is a lot a misinformation out there on this general subject.

Marla



PS. Someone has asked me why CARDING, as a way of processing wool even existed before carding machines, if it is inferior. Well…historically, wool has been used mostly for clothing and blankets. Since carding mixes the fibers erratically, it incorporates a lot of air, making roving that is soft and fluffy. The yarns spun from this roving are perfect for WARM clothing. Over the centuries, for Middle Eastern villagers and nomads the production of those articles would have been a priority. Today, throughout the world, carded wools are still used for a majority of wool products—for blankets, coats, sweaters, scarves, caps, and other articles of clothing. “Worsted” wool fabrics (made with combed wools) are a minority of the wool fabrics manufactured today—the fibers used mainly for men’s suiting. And for certain Anatolian fake “Caucasian” knotted-pile rugs.

Last edited by Marla Mallett; May 15th, 2018 at 10:31 PM.
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Old May 15th, 2018, 07:15 AM   #24
Dinie Gootjes
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Thank you again, Marla. You even anticipated a question that arose while reading the first part of your post, about the new rugs with old wool.
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Old May 15th, 2018, 08:42 PM   #25
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I’d like to go back to earlier comments on this thread—concerning judgments about the AGE or at least RELATIVE AGE of various rugs. I’ve already pointed out why “luster,” “patina,” ”materials,” “techniques,” “low black outlines,” etc. can be irrelevant. I certainly agree with Steve and Rich that to pin down a specific date is normally close to impossible when we’re talking about pieces for which we have had no contact with the actual weavers or their direct descendants. Or for pieces unrelated to documented examples. But sensitive individuals who have had years of experience with lots of rugs of a single type often can assign relative ages. And point out how age and the artistic merit of specific weavings are related.

Much more than “technical” or “physical” factors must be involved when placing works of art in developmental sequences. Connoisseurs of painting, for example, rely almost entirely on conceptual and stylistic factors—aesthetic matters that often can be judged through good photos. The same is true for rugs. Design concepts, layouts, and articulation are important clues. Not just the specific dyes used, but the way colors are manipulated as part of the designing. Design “development” or design “disintegration” are important. A while back I posted a discussion on this subject: One Example of Anatolian Kilim Evolution. It’s here: www.marlamallett.com/an-evolution.htm.

As we all know, in traditional Middle Eastern nomad and village weaving, common forms have been repeated one generation after another, sometimes with subtle, sometimes not so subtle, changes. The weaving process itself affected the way particular elements were placed, the exact way motifs were articulated, and the relationship of the parts. The intended use of the piece mattered; whether it was being made for the family or for sale determined whether the weaver could afford the time and risk of experimentation. We see radical differences between “fresh” insights that appeared when especially creative artisans were doing the work, versus design changes due to clumsy, inept, or inexperienced persons. Or the boring work of competent but unimaginative artisans. In making assumptions about paintings, a scholar can recognize subtle differences between a Leonardo da Vinci painting and that of an imitator. Competent scholars can also recognize and place in an accurate series works representing several years of a single painter’s development. So it is with rug designing and production.

It’s conceptual differences that usually separate antique weavings from recent copies or fakes. The “soul” of an old piece is so often missing in the fake—that inexplicable element of joyful artistic expression and experimentation. In recent years, as the market has been flooded with fake “Caucasian” rugs—those from Suleymania and elsewhere purporting to be 19th century pieces—we see rugs that simply lack the essential character of the antique pieces. Most tend to be stiff, mannered, and insensitively designed, though they may be perfectly crafted pieces, imitating the earlier examples in their technical aspects.

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Old May 16th, 2018, 01:13 PM   #26
Alain Bueno
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" But sensitive individuals who have had years of experience with lots of rugs of a single type often can assign relative ages. And point out how age and the artistic merit of specific weavings are related."
That's exactly what I meant at the begining of this polemic!
In matter of art knowledge is based mainly on experience.

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Old May 16th, 2018, 04:21 PM   #27
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Alain,

You evidently have missed our points entirely. EXPERIENCE can only help one to assign RELATIVE AGES WITHIN A DEVELOPMENTAL SEQUENCE unless documented examples can set guidelines for specific dates.

I assume that you are rejecting arguments that the PHYSICAL and TECHNICAL features you cited as evidence of age can be false guidelines. Useful EXPERIENCE includes assessing the legitimacy of these practical factors carefully.
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Old May 18th, 2018, 05:50 PM   #28
Dinie Gootjes
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Marla, would it be correct to say that such a developmental sequence would not necessarily be a temporal one? I can imagine there being old weavers who still produce work up to the standards they grew up with, or very talented young weavers who learned the old ways and continue to produce (some) work that is comparable to older rugs?
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Old May 18th, 2018, 07:25 PM   #29
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[QUOTE=Marla Mallett;24480]I’d like to go back to earlier comments on this thread—concerning judgments about the AGE or at least RELATIVE AGE of various rugs.

Marla,

If I may, I would like to thank you for your cogent and very well developed explanations which have appeared in your various posts in this thread. They have imparted to me knowledge that allows me to better understand many of the technical characteristics found in the textiles we all love and seek. Thank you very much!

Regards,
Alan....
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Old May 19th, 2018, 03:01 AM   #30
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I’ll admit that DEVELOPMENTAL SEQUENCES is a pretty vague all-encompassing term. I was of course trying to point out that comparisons of various works or groups of works over a period of time is far more sensible than attempting to put specific dates on individual weavings.

With this term, we can be speaking of sequential changes in the PHYSICAL character of rugs—the materials, fiber processing, and craftsmanship—or we can be speaking of CONCEPTUAL FACTORS, their designing. Or both. Sequential changes can be positive, negative, or neutral--just intriguing variations. We can speak of development within a single artisan’s work or a community’s products over time, though in the rug world, we are most often concerned with a group’s typical production. Unfortunately, in our rug/kilim field, we are normally dealing with gradual overall quality deterioration.

Changes do not occur with predictable regularity. The work of each person--young or old—does change over time. An individual’s weaving skill improves gradually to a point, and then typically levels off. But virtually every person’s work evolves and changes conceptually over the years—depending both upon her imagination and the surrounding influences in her community. Unless her weaving becomes purely boring commercial copy work.

There’s little disputing that there has been a gradual decline in the physical quality of woven products in Middle Eastern tribal/village products over many decades—primarily through poorer wool processing, inferior dyes and coarser weaves. So a “developmental sequence” concerned with PHYSICAL QUALITY is normally one of acknowledging deterioration. (Unless we are confronted with fake antiques, which is a separate matter.)

Aesthetic or CONCEPTUAL changes can be much more diverse. When traditional motifs are less and less well articulated, when overall layouts are poorly conceived, when motifs are transferred from one structure/technique to another and “corrupted” in the process, or when market demands and production time are prime considerations in making rugs purely for sale, observable “design disintegration” sequences can be followed step by step. One must be careful, however, to not confuse examples of individual artistry with community trends.

Design evolution has been my main academic interest in this field, and a few years back I gave a series of ICOC lectures focusing on this topic. Sections from one of these are posted in an on-line article: “Tracking the Archetype: Technique-Generated Designs and their Mutant Offspring.” It discusses the flow of motifs from restrictive to less restrictive techniques as well as general design disintegration. It’s here: www.marlamallett.com/archetyp.htm.

Last edited by Marla Mallett; May 20th, 2018 at 12:16 AM.
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Old May 20th, 2018, 09:16 PM   #31
Dinie Gootjes
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Thanks again, Marla!
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