Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Fragment, Finished

Back in September, I posted about an ongoing project of English Wilton's: the recreation of a hall and stair runner for the Hanley Farm Museum in Medford, Oregon.  They've just installed it in time for their Christmas event, and have sent a photo; they're delighted, as are we! As previously mentioned, the only documentation they had was a tiny scrap of the original Brussels carpet, and with a fair amount of effort, we were able to divine the entirety of the complex repeat.  Our art department then rendered it as a digital prototype, yarns were dyed and woven and the results are pictured at left.

Keep an eye on this blog to see many other exciting projects we're working on including an incredibly complex recreation of an 1850s Rococo revival carpet for a house museum in the Midwest, a massive project in the central part of the country, and another one in the southern planation museum, to name but a few.  Remember, English Wilton provides the most experienced staff, fastest service and the affordability you'll find for historic Wilton, Brussels and Axminster carpets

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Matching Morris

We've just installed this carpet at Sycamores House in South Hadley, Massachusetts.  It was a delightful, but challenging project.  The house was built in 1788 and has served as a dormitory for students at Mount Holyoke College from 1915-1972.  It's now a museum, and has been undergoing a painstaking restoration.

It was determined that this room would be interpreted to the late 19th century (it still has very early woodwork, but has a Victorian hardwood floor and furnishings.  A benefactor donated William Morris wallpaper, and we were asked to provide a compatible area rug.  A late 1870s historic carpet pattern, one that draws inspiration from oriental carpet designs, was selected by committee, and we assisted them in recoloring it to be more sympathetic with the exiting wallpaper and woodwork.  

If you have a historic house or museum in need of historic carpet, please contact me.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Just A Fragment of Its Former Self

The English Wilton Company is currently reproducing a c. 1900  brussels carpet runner for a house museum in Medford, Oregon. It's been an exciting challenge, as all that remained of the original carpet was a small, triangular fragment, discovered during renovations.

After studying it for quite a while, I was able to determine the entirety of the pattern repeat using two major clues:

1. The medallions are identical on the extreme right and left of the field.

2. The pattern repeats every five medallions, and it does so by moving diagonally to the center and shifting down one medallion to restart.

I made a crude mock-up, and sent it to our art department, who then created this CAD, which depicts the full pattern. Note that the background contains several colors not immediately discernible until one digs deeply into the pile. Now, we will send this CAD and samples of the yarn colors to the curator, who will  assumedly approve them, and the weaving process shall begin.  We plan on having this on the floor before the end of 2014, and hopefully have installation photos for you here.  If you have a historic carpet that you would like reproduced, or even one you'd just like to know more about, please contact me here.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Running Away

We at English Wilton receive requests for historic hall and stair runners; at right is a beautiful c. 1900 pattern, fresh off the loom, and destined for a prominent house on New York's Long Island. Since we weave to order, we must run at least 25 yards of carpet; this is typically enough for two staircases and a connecting hallway or a large landing. (A quick rule-of-thumb: each stair uses half a yard for the rise and run). Our decades of experience have taught us to specify the optimal grade of wool and density to create the most intricate pattern while producing a runner that can withstand the additional wear endured on stairs. Most of our runners, which date from 1790 through the 1950s were intended to be 27" wide, although there are 36" patterns available.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Interpreting Brooklyn

The English Wilton Company just completed an installation in Cobble Hill, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York that's filled with brownstones and other historic buildings.  I was the consultant and helped the homeowners select an appropriate pattern for the large double parlor, entry hall and stair cases.  This was a challenge, as the house was built in the Neo-Classical/Greek Revival style, but then remodeled extensively in the 1850s as an Italianate.  And to top it off, the owners had been collecting Federal and early Empire furnishings for decades, and wanted a carpet that was harmonious with their antiques.

We went through all of the archival patterns dating from 1790-1860, and decided on patterns from around 1820 that had the delicacy of the Federal period but also featured the large medallions that were to become the hallmark of Greek Revival interiors.  As wilton and brussels carpets are very sturdy and long-lived, it would not be unusual to see one still on the floor in the 1850s, and thus the narrative we were creating could be authentic.

The homeowners chose a wonderful pattern from the Grosvenor Wilton archives dating from the first quarter of the 19th century, one with a bright blue ground and fiery reds and oranges that was not uncommon for this time. For those of you not familiar with the process of transforming a roughly 200 year old watercolor into a modern-day carpet, here's how it works:

We start with the point-paper, a piece of graph paper that was painstakingly hand-painted around 1820 in the fashionable colors of the time. Creating one was so labor intensive, that only the necessary amount was rendered, and the remainder "mirrored":

The point-paper is then entered onto computer, square by square and a CAD is created, showing the pattern in repeat:

Then, an optional hand-trial is woven. This depicts the actual colors of the yarn, and yields an  approximation of the pattern:

Once this is approved, it's off to the looms, and 10 weeks later, your carpet is ready to be installed. The entire production process typically takes only 12 weeks from start to finish.

The Historic Carpet and Rugs Blog is an informal journal of my work as the historic floor-coverings consultant for The English Wilton Company of Portland, Maine, which is the preeminent resource in North America. The firm's owner, Kathleen Blake, and I have well over 45 years of combined experience providing Wilton, Brussels and Axminster carpets to museums, state capitols, governor's mansions and private homes. We utilize archives that contain thousands of authentic patterns dating from 1790 through the present, which include the Regency/Federal, Neo-Classical, Victorian, Edwardian and Arts & Crafts styles. English Wilton is renown as the most trusted resource for delivering reasonably-priced reproduction historic carpets and rugs in a prompt and timely manner.