Before you read the following paragraph, stop and think what you learned about artistic walls and curtains. Can you think how the same ideas can be applied to floor and rugs. Write your ideas on a piece of paper and then read the paragraph below to see if they are correct.
What Is an Artistic Rug? - An artistic rug is one which makes the floor more beautiful. A floor is a flat, solid thing upon which we walk. The artistic rug makes the floor seem just as flat and solid but more pleasant to walk upon than the bare floor. A rug which has realistic pictures of flowers, dogs or other objects does not seem to lie flat upon the floor nor does it seem right to walk upon the pictures of flowers and animals. The same thing is true of the floor that is true of the wall: its decoration should be flat and solid. A rug which seems to "jump up" when you enter a room does not keep the floor flat. The finest rugs do not have patterns that are pictorial in character.
There are other things which may prevent a rug from seeming to remain flat on the floor. A rug which has a very conspicuous pattern, even though the pattern is not pictorial, seems to rise up and "hit you in the eye." Colors that are too strong or bright have the same effect.
The floor is the foundation of the room, and it always seems more like a good foundation if it is darker than the walls and ceiling. Consequently, a rug that is very light in color or has large light-colored areas in the pattern is not a good floor covering.
To Test Your Judgment of Artistic Rugs. - Collect pictures of rugs from magazines and catalogs. Mount the picture of the rug that you would like to have for your room and be prepared to explain to the class why you think it is a good selection from the artistic point of view.
It is necessary to have samples of rugs to examine while you are studying rugs. Otherwise you can not learn kinds and qualities of rugs.
How to Know Different Kinds of Rugs. - The first thing to do is to discuss ways and means of securing samples of rugs or real rugs to examine while you are studying the following pages about rugs. Sometimes girls can bring pieces of rugs or small rugs from home, sometimes your teacher will have samples of rugs and sometimes you can arrange visits to stores or factories. It should be your aim to learn to recognize at least six kinds of rugs, to know the particular characteristics of each of these rugs and to know good and poor qualities.
Brussels Rugs. - This kind of rug got its name because it was first made in Brussels, Belgium. You will always be able to distinguish a Brussels rug by the small loops covering its surface. Can you pick out a piece of Brussels rug from your samples? Try running a wire hairpin under a row of these loops. This will help you to understand that the loops were made when the rug was woven by passing the yarn over wires. This kind of weave where some of the yarns are left raised from the surface is called the pile weave. Why is a rug made from the pile weave more agreeable to walk upon than a rug made with a plain, flat weave?
The quality of a Brussels rug depends to some extent on the thickness of the looped pile. A good Brussels rug should have not less than nine loops per inch. How many loops per inch does your sample of Brussels rug have?
There are two kinds of Brussels rugs. The genuine Brussels is made by weaving different colored yarns into the fabric so as to form the pattern. One way of distinguishing this rug is by examining the back where the colors show through faintly. The exact pattern does not show through clearly but has a somewhat streaked effect. Tapestry Brussels is a cheaper, lighter weight rug than the genuine Brussels. In this rug the colors are either printed on the yarn before it is woven, or the rug is woven and the colors are printed on the fabric. The back of this rug shows no color at all, only the plain grayish tan of the foundation cloth.
Wilton and Velvet Rugs. - The Wilton rug received its name because it was first manufactured in Wilton, England. This rug is made in exactly the same way as a Brussels rug with the yarns woven over wires to form loops. Imagine that the hairpin which you put through the loops of the Brussels rug had a sharp knife-like edge. This is what happens in making a Wilton rug. The wires used have a knife edge and when the wire is pulled out it cuts the loops. The ends which have been cut stand up as in fur and are called pile. Can you see why the Wilton rug is more difficult to clean than the Brussels? Would you expect the Brussels or the Wilton rug to make a softer floor covering?
Just as in a Brussels rug, the quality of a Wilton rug depends partly on the closeness of the pile. Since the pile has been cut it is easier to count the closeness of the pile on the back of the rug. One can judge the closeness of the pile to some extent by its general appearance. Have you ever seen a rug that looks poor and cheap because the pile is thin and of poor quality?
Just as a tapestry Brussels rug is made in a cheap way and the colors printed on the fabric, the Wilton may also be made in a cheaper rug by printing the colors on. When the Wilton is made this way it is called a Wilton velvet or a velvet rug. Would you expect the colors to show through on the back of a velvet rug? Why does it not make as durable a rug when the colors are printed instead of woven in? When the rug becomes somewhat worn, the color wears off the top and the rug looks old and gray. Generally, one can detect the velvet rug by its general appearance because the pile is short and thin.
Axminster Rugs. - This kind of rug was first made in the town of Axminster, England, two centuries ago. Compare your sample of Axminster rug with the Wilton rug. Do you think you could always tell an Axminster rug from a Wilton? How? The Axminster has a longer pile and a more uneven texture than the Wilton rug. This unevenness is due to the way in which the rug is made. Instead of the pile being made over wires as in the Wilton, it is made by pulling in each tuft of yarn separately as the weaving progresses. Originally these tufts were knotted in by hand, but now they are put in by machinery. If you bend your piece of rug back sharply you will be able to see these tufts and to count them. The greater the number of tufts that are put in the thicker and better the rug will be. This rug has a long, soft pile, and in the cheaper grades it is not a very durable rug because the nap wears off and comes out easily when cleaned.
Oriental Rugs. - These are hand-made rugs from the countries of the Orient - Persia, Turkey, and China. The pile is all knotted in by hand with an especially firm knot that prevents the tuft from being pulled out as in the Axminster rug. These knots can be seen if the rug is folded so as to show the foundation weave. Oriental rugs are considered the most durable and beautiful that have ever been made and there is so much to learn about them that some people have made a life study of them. It is interesting to study the different patterns, how the yarns are dyed and about the lives of the weavers. Perhaps some girl in the class may have time to make a special report about these rugs. Fig. 146 shows a picture of an Oriental rug.
Rag Rugs. - At the time of the American Revolution the most common floor covering in America was the rag rug. They were made with strong cotton or linen threads for warp and strips of cloth for filling threads. Sometimes the strips of cloth were braided and then sewed together into oval or circular shaped rugs. These rag rugs are so attractive and charming that they are now made by machine and sold in stores. In what places do you think it appropriate to use this type of rug? Crochet and hooked rugs are other varieties of rugs made from strips of cloth. How many kinds of rag rugs have you seen?
Other Types of Rugs. - Rugs are made from jute, grass, linen and hemp, all of which make a coarse, harsh texture. These are frequently advertised for use in any room in the house, but they are most suitable for porches and summer cottages. The texture generally does not fit in with the furnishings of living-rooms and bedrooms. Another rug much advertised for any purpose is the linoleum rug. Since this rug is as hard and even smoother than the bare floor, it in no way adds to the attractiveness or softness that is desirable on the floors of living-rooms, bedrooms and dining-rooms. Where would you recommend using linoleum?
Choosing Your Rug. - Pretend that you can purchase exactly the kind of rug that you would like to have for your room. Be prepared to tell your class about it as to size, cost, color and kind. Perhaps you can find a picture in a magazine or catalogue. Most people prefer to have small rugs on the bedroom floor rather than one large rug. What difference does this make in the cleaning? In any room where a large rug is used, it should be of a size to permit a good margin of floor to show around the edge. In making your selection it would be well to consider the following points.
1. Will it make the floor seem flat and inconspicuous?
2. Will it harmonize with the rest of the room?
3. Is it heavy enough to remain flat on the floor without curling at the edges?
4. Is the pattern woven in?
5. Is the pile thick? Test this by folding the rug between the fingers to determine how easy it is to see the foundation weave.
6. Can it be easily cleaned?
7. Is its general appearance one of good quality, or is it cheap and gaudy looking?