Buying an oriental carpet

Oriental carpets are special things. They are works of art, paintings made in fabric, but they are also utilitarian; you can walk on them or hang them on your living room wall.

Their aesthetic value is recognized by all societies and has remained undiminished over thousands of years. But like any other highly-developed art, there is an enormous lore about carpets, and it can be difficult to know where to begin when choosing a carpet. Here then, is a guide to oriental textiles for the budding “ruggie” from carpet showroom in hagerstown.

A good rug is knotted of high-quality wool or silk. Wool is the commonest material, and doesn’t stain or wear as easily as silk. Good wool must be both strong and pleasantly smooth. Kurk wool is one of the softest and sturdiest. Some natural oil should be present in the wool to keep it soft and shiny. Chemical washes, which make carpets look beautiful and shiny by artificial means, also make them brittle. Since the 1920s chemical dyes have been widely used, especially in Iran, and while they are as attractive as natural dyes, the Turks are returning to the use of natural, traditional vegetable dyes.

The more knots per square centimetre, the stronger and more expensive the carpet will be. Beware of carpetshops that measure knots in square inches; the numbers being higher with inches, it’s a way of suggesting the carpet has dense knotting. Fifty-six knots per square centimetre is very good, 20 is not so great. A 5’x 8′ carpet with 500,000 knots in it that took three weavers and one master weaver one year to make can cost $5,000.

Their designs and colors are myriad and specific to the individual weaver – b y its nature, a handmade carpet is unique. In general though, rural rugs made by nomads tend to be geometric in pattern, and city-made rugs tend to have floral motifs, particularly in Iran, but these styles are often seen blended together in one carpet.

Rug styles are influenced by the success of a design in the Western market, and weavers are quick to copy a successful design from another area. Consequently, it is difficult to strictly categorize rugs according to type, especially the newer carpets. What can be said is that they tend to follow tribal, not national, boundaries.

Carpet padding types

Question: I plan to buy a carpet. Some say I should use a thin pad under the carpet and some say I should use a thick pad. I called the carpet mill and they said they didn’t know anything about padding.What kind of pad should I get?

Response:

Thicker is not better in carpet padding. Look for density rather than thickness.

Padding for residential use should be 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch thick. Padding that is more than 1/2-inch thick will cause too much flex in the carpet and result in it separating from its backing. Also, furniture is more likely to leave permanent indentation marks when you have thick padding.

Furthermore, carpet installed over too-thick padding cannot be properly secured to tack-less stripping. So it will start to lift along the edges and start to develop wrinkles and buckles.

And finally, according to our carpet experts, 1/2-inch padding will void all manufacturing warranties on your carpet. You can find more information in carpet stores Stillwater.

Some carpet padding is necessary, however, to provide resiliency to the carpet and help it resist crushing and matting. Padding also improves insulation and sound absorbency and softens impact in case of falls.

There are basically three types of padding on the marketplace, all varying in thickness and density.

URETHANE FOAM may be “prime” urethane, which is solid in color, or it may be “rebonded urethane” which resembles multicolored confetti. Rebonded urethane is constructed from scraps of recycled foam which are glued together to form a slab and then sliced to the proper thickness.

Minimum density should be 2.2 pounds per cubic foot for prime and 6 pounds for rebonded urethane. A good choice for residential is rebonded foam, 3/8-inch thick, with a 6- to 8-pound per cubic foot density.

RUBBER WAFFLE is made from natural latex, preservatives and fillers. It has a life span of 10 to 15 years unless exposed to flooding. Density is rated in ounces and the minimum recommended for rubber waffle padding is 48 ounces per square yard. Minimum thickness should be just over 1/4-inch.

FELT is the longest-lasting type of padding. For years it was made from horsehair and jute (which were sensitive to dampness) but is now available as a 100 percent synthetic. Felt is often used in commercial heavy traffic settings. It is the product of choice under Berber carpets, which need a solid foundation for best performance. The minimum density of felt should be 22 ounces per square yard and a minimum thickness of 1/4-inch.

Candles lend their special glow to holiday celebrations

Candles may have originated in Egypt, where rushes were dipped in tallow, then lighted. The cone-shaped candles have been found in the tombs of pharaohs, and a 5,000-year-old candleholder has been found in Minoan ruins on the isle of Crete.

Beeswax was a side product of beekeeping, which became a domestic art in medieval times. The wax was found to be better than tallow for candle-making, because it burns more slowly and cleaner.

Later, sperm-whale oil was used for candle-making, but that obviously is not an ecologically correct alternative for the ’90s.

Even today, light intensity is measured in candlepower.

Simple, on the surface

Candles seem incredibly simple – a wick surrounded by wax. But which wick, which wax?

“The wick can be the most important part of a candle,” says Rebecca Johnston, owner of LuminEssence candle factory and Northern Lights retail/mail-order store in Woodland Park. “The wrong wick can make it burn out, drip or smoke too much. The wrong wick in any candle can be a disaster.”

With candles, as with many other things in life, you get what you pay for, she says. And, mostly, you’re paying for wax.

Those two-for-a-buck jobs will probably burn like a house afire, and leave a big red (or green or yellow) puddle on your tablecloth. Made of poor-quality paraffin, they often aren’t much of a bargain, she says.

You can pay 10 times that for best-quality pure beeswax candles, but devotees love their warmed-honey scent and the fact that they burn slowly (about an inch an hour) and cleanly – with little smoke and dripping.

“They’re the original smokeless, dripless, long-burning candles,” Johnston says. But today, there also are some very efficient paraffin-beeswax blends, priced between the cheap and the chic.

“One thing I love about beeswax is its sensuous texture,” says Johnston, whose 2-year-old factory produces about 150,000 candles a year, most of them beeswax.

LuminEssence produces a unique, spiral-flared candle that is so popular, it’s made in secret, by workers who are trained for months before they become proficient at it. (Only about 1 of every 10 trainees learns to do it to Johnston’s standards.)

Candles brighten the day

“People are using candles year-round,” Johnston says. “They’re not just for the holidays any more, though the last six months of the year are just frantic for us.”

Candles have become an integral part of home decor, and fit into any decorating style, she says. And not only are people buying them, they’re burning them, she says.

“People love them because they create an intimacy in any setting – there’s something so comforting about candlelight.”

The Silent Woman store, probably has the largest stock of candles at The Citadel mall.

It carries a large selection from Beeswax Designs of California, and has placed a sizable order with LuminEssence – not just because it is local, but also because of its unique designs, says owner Mary Kuehn. The Beeswax Designs spiral-flared candles are more ruffly and the LuminEssence candles more tailored, she says. Both are made with pure beeswax.

Silent Woman also carries candles by A.I. Root – 125 years old and one of the top candle manufacturers in the nation. These candles are beeswax blended with paraffin, and come in innovative colors and styles, including Timberline, a new barklike candle designed for the rustic or Western-style decor.

Silent Woman also carries candle-related accessories – from candle-snuffers to brass “crowns” for candles.

“It’s almost like jewelery for your candles,” Kuehn says.

You don’t need a holiday or religious celebration – or even a power outage – to appreciate the glow of candlelight.

A mundane meal becomes elegant, a simple bath becomes luxurious, when accompanied by candlelight.

Small rechargeable votive candles also are extremely popular now.

Where to get a good light

Candles are available in nearly every grocery store, discount store, gift or card shop. Specialty stores are listed in the Yellow Pages.

LuminEssence candles are available at Sparrow Hawk, Egg House Artisans, The Broadmoor hotel’s Little Kitchen, and Silent Woman.

You also can go to the source.

LuminEssence sells nearly flawless “seconds” at a discount at its factory gift shop, Northern Lights, at 180 Highway 67 in Woodland Park. First-quality candles also are available there, as are candle-making kits and other candle-related gifts.

Simple, hand-dipped beeswax candles are made and sold at the Victor Trading Company, in Victor.

Owner Karen Morrison says it takes about 20 or so dips, or about half an hour, to make the average candle. Hers range from 1/2-inch mini candles to 10-inch tapers ($1-$8 a pair). They come in the natural, golden beeswax color. She also casts some in antique ice-cream molds, then hand-paints them.

Whichever candles you choose, they’re sure to add a glow to your holidays.

Tile Medallions for Your Home

In the 1700s, Josiah Wedgwood carried on the medallion tradition when he inherited a pottery shop. Wedgwood lived at the same time as British neo-classical architect and interior designer Robert Adam. Wedgwood took advantage of the classical influence that spread over England and produced pottery that harmonized with Adam’s furniture and other interior decorations. Adam sought to transfuse the beautiful spirit of antiquity with novelty and variety.

Wedgwood’s greatest fame rests in medallions on a smaller scale — on his jasperware, a dull white bisque capable of being colored and ornamented, used in a wide variety of collectible tableware, from mugs to plates to cups. The colors of the background were blue, olive green, black, lilac or sage, most often with white ornaments.

In earlier days, his larger sculptural pieces were often used as panel insertions in walls, mantels, door trim and furniture appliqués.

Now the designs are back in style. To keep the foyer connected to the rest of the house, use the same flooring as in the adjacent spaces. For interest, you might add inserts or a contrast border: stone or tile in a wood floor; Tile Medallions, or marble borders in a limestone floor.

Lighting is another consideration. For a softer ambiance, my favorite choice is a beautiful chandelier with shades and a dimmer switch. If possible, add architectural details, such as a dome where the light fixture could fit or moldings that could be faux finished or gold leafed.

A custom area rug using commercial grade carpeting is another solution. Even with a mat outside, people will wipe their feet on the foyer rug. But I’ve found that if the outside mat is sisal, people are more likely to use it. And the inside rug should be professionally sealed to resist dirt and stains.

Curtains make soft statement in hard world

Beaded curtains, in years gone by a feature of almost every home, are making a colorful comeback.

With the attractive effect they give as they move in the breeze and the many different color variations and combinations now available, they add an interesting and decorative touch to all styles of home.

The first creative choice is to decide what visual impact or atmosphere you are trying to achieve in a particular room: 1. peaceful simplicity; 2. comfortable abundance; 3. discreet subtlety; 4. immense luxury; 5. bold drama.

If curtains are not going to be floor-length, they should be below the sill. Anything less looks as if you’ve run out of fabric.

The current fashion for brilliant blue combined with vivid yellow was perfect for bathroom decor.

Sheers, scrims, draperies, panels and other lush fabrics passing themselves off as curtains, are leaping beyond the windows and shower stalls to produce a woven surround. Cotton, velvet, silk and linen swaths are now room dividers, alcove walls, romantic retreats, outdoor nooks and floating doorways.

Decorating with curtains adds drama, conjures settings and provides stimulus to the imagination. They can also muffle unpleasant sounds, add rhythm and movement to space, produce texture and dimension, and skillfully transmute the harshest light. Curtains are soft sculpture playing at being solid architecture.

Rich and opulent, simple and starched — curtains speak volumes, and with so many wonderful fabrics and materials available today, trend-setters are finding all sorts of ways to charm with curtains.

Please visit Zappobz.com – the largest manufacturer and supplier of Beaded Décor and LED curtains.

Outdoor Decorative Lighting

Outdoor lighting has become a favorite project for American consumers. As more and more homeowners have become concerned with not only protecting their homes, but also with the appearance their homes project, they’ve increasingly turned to a variety of outdoor lighting products. But while security lights and motion detectors have been, and continue to be, big sellers for retailers, outdoor decorative lighting – for driveways, decks, gardens and other areas – is also beginning to make a name for itself in many hardlines outlets.

People are staying home more and they want their houses to look nice. Today’s lights are easy to install, relatively inexpensive, and are available in a variety of fixtures to light many types of outdoor locations. There are lights and fixtures for driveways, sidewalks, patios, gardens, pools, garages, doors, lawns and decks, just to name a few. And retailers say customer demand for these products is growing rapidly.

Among the different types of outdoor decorative lighting are accent lighting, uplighting, downlighting, grazing, shadowing, path lighting, cross lighting and others. There are fixtures available for the far-reaching needs, and price limits, of all your consumers, both residential and commercial.

With such a variety and selection of lights available, take advantage of this trend by providing the consumer with everything he or she needs to illuminate the exterior of their home. This does not mean simply displaying a wide selection of outdoor lights. It means providing the accessories, training and advice needed to install these lights as well.

Cuckoo Clocks for your home

There’s something about a cuckoo clock that piques a person’s imagination. People either think they’re gaudy or they love ’em. But they all stop and look at them. In our modern mass-produced world, cuckoo clocks stand out as impressive displays of skilled labor. Unfortunately, you don’t find that much anymore. Just look at the site clockshoppes.com

The price from 1-26-2011 depends on the amount of hand carving, music and animation. A clock embellished with a chalet that has individually carved shutters will cost more than one without that feature. Anyone willing to work into a busy schedule the chore of winding a clock by hand – every day on 30-hour models and about once a week on those with an eight-day mechanism – probably is thinking more about the nostalgic aspect of a cuckoo clock than practical considerations.

Many people initially are drawn to cuckoo clocks for the way they sound, that happy Old- World bird’s call achieved through a series of weights and counterbalances triggered most often when a clock strikes the hour. Customers who purchase cuckoos are all across the board, from younger couples to their grandparents. But they all seem to have in common that, first, they can appreciate something unusual. Sometimes half-forgotten memories surface, perhaps of a parent having one in the house when they were growing up or at least having heard one as a child.

Children seem to be drawn to cuckoos. But watch out: In order for a cuckoo clock to run properly, the weight chains have to hang down almost to the floor, presenting a pretty tempting invitation to a child as something to play with or yank on.

Of course, the value of antique or vintage cuckoos handed down as family heirlooms needs to be evaluated on an individual basis. As with many collectibles, it can vary widely depending on how well a timepiece has been cared for.

Frames can improve your decor prints

Before you visit a frame shop you need to do some home work, literally. Think about where it’s going to hang in the house. This is important from both an artistic and practical point of view. On the artistic side, preselecting a spot for your artwork will help you choose the best frame for both the print and the room. It will give you a sense of the overall design depending on whether the room is traditional, formal or contemporary.

But there are practical considerations as well, specifically whether the room is bright or damp. If a piece is very valuable and will be in a room with high light, you should consider a UV reflective glass. Though it’s more expensive, it’s worth it to protect your frame and print.

If a paper print is destined for a bathroom or kitchen, you need more matting or spacers between the print and the glass to prevent condensation from getting on the artwork, which could then stick to the glass. And because of moisture and potential splatters, I would avoid hanging giclee prints in these rooms because they have no glass to protect them.

Try to keep an open mind. No matter where you go, photos on canvas are “investments”. To get the best job possible, let the framer be creative in making suggestions for you artwork. You may find the style you like most is one you would never have chosen yourself.

I like the artwork to shine out, so I do the framing as simply as possible. The image, especially a photograph, should have a lot of space around it. I wish people would be more understanding about the quality of paper, which will change due to humidity. Seal the covering glass to matting at edges to prevent moisture from getting in. Mold can stain the paper. It’s important to have artwork regularly cleaned and maintained.

Please, visit point101.com. There you can find a lot of information about canvas prints, switchframes, giclee and perspex prints. You can upload your photos online and you will get high quality prints.

Quilts and quiltmaking. What makes one bedcover better than another?

Quilts are thought to have originated some 200 years ago in rural areas where women out of necessity turned patches of discarded cloth and clothing into bedcovers both decorative and warm. Comforting in its simplicity, the patchwork quilt embodies the best of the can-do American spirit.

Quiltmaking almost died out in the early 1900s, until a concern for preserving America’s own crafts led the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City to open its American Wing in 1924. This prompted the first revival of collecting and making quilts.

The very modern American women of the 1920s rising middle class were newly able to afford ready-made clothing and dry goods and had to be persuaded. So women’s magazines promoted quiltmaking with images of smartly dressed women choosing quick projects such as patchwork pillows and ready-cut quilt kits.

In the 1930s quiltmaking surged again, this time because of the Great Depression. Making do was the order of the day, and creating quilts fit the bill. Mail-order companies and daily newspapers sold copies of hundreds of new patterns. Quilt contests attracted thousands of quilts, and not just from rural areas. Sales of thread, cloth and batting soared for a while.

Quiltmaking suffered its next decline during World War II when the domestic sale of cloth was restricted. At the same time, many women took wartime jobs out of their homes; when the war was over they weren’t enthusiastic about jumping back on the quilting bandwagon.

In fact, quilts and quiltmaking didn’t come back into vogue until the nation prepared to celebrate its bicentennial in 1976. Once again, the quilt was looked at as a way to inspire pride in America’s traditions and heritage.

That’s about the time I had my quilt awakening.

My modern mother sewed clothes for my sisters and me in the 1950s but never made a quilt. Although a modern young woman myself, living and working in a bustling, urban setting, I succumbed to the back-to- earth movement of the 1970s and learned to weave and knit. One Saturday morning in 1974 while I window-shopped, a brown-and-green North Carolina Lily quilt caught my eye and my heart. Its unconventional design and colors grabbed me.

I walked into that store, handed over $100 and walked out with a quilt under my arm. What have I done? I wondered. I’d spent a lot of money for a quilt that wasn’t even meant for my bed. I planned to hang it on the wall above my loom!

Without intending to, I had started a quilt collection that would soon grow and grow. I had also made a life discovery: I was so inspired by quilts, their makers and their stories, that I soon quit my job to research and write about quilts and quilting.

Back then I thought I was different from others because I decorated with oversized quilts, but I soon found a major quilt revival already under way, fueled by baby boomers who had discovered America’s folk heritage. In 1974 the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City organized a groundbreaking exhibit of quilts made by anonymous artisans. Stores with fabrics, tools, books and classes opened to serve the special needs of quilters. Quilt magazines provided patterns and support for the quiltmaking movement, and annual quilt festivals attracted tens of thousands of people.

Quilt guilds formed, including the American Quilt Study Group in Mill Valley, Calif., a network of quilt historians who exchange and publish their quilt findings. A nationwide grassroots campaign soon launched to record stories and photograph quilts.

The late-20th-century resurgence of interest in quilting prompted a plethora of books by academics and enthusiasts, exhibits across the country and documentary films chronicling quilting’s history, artisans, designs and their meanings, and techniques.

All this attention to America’s historic quilts has led to an increase in collecting and preserving quilts and a growing interest in quiltmaking that will continue for generations. And why not? Quilts have a magnetism all their own. Maybe it’s the familiarity of their components or the excitement of seeing the larger pattern emerge as the pieces are sewn together. Maybe it’s the storytelling that goes on around a frame or the joy of seeing hard work admired and loved. Maybe it’s the recognition of women’s ingenuity and craftsmanship. Maybe it’s the satisfaction of continuing a tradition and creating a legacy.

Wood Window Blinds

It’s no surprise window blinds comprise nearly half of all window coverings currently installed in homes.

It’s also no surprise that white remains the bestselling color. It may surprise some dealers, however, to know one of the hottest trends in window blind styles is in wood and faux wood blinds.

While the style has become increasingly appealing to homeowners in the past several years, many home centers seem not to have noticed. They should. Retailers who’ve been successful with them say they offer many benefits over standard plastic or aluminum blinds.

The faux wood blinds last longer than standard blinds, they’re more stylish and easier to buy because they look good in most rooms without having to be color-matched to the rest of the room. In addition, they’re higher-priced, higher-margin items that appeal to upscale consumers.

Wood blinds are more of an investment for consumers than aluminum and PVC window blinds. Customers are investing in them like a furniture purchase. Sometimes, wood blinds can be financed with the house, the same way you can with shutters.

It’s that shutter look, in part, that’s fueling some of the growth in wood blinds. The wider the slats get on window blinds, the more they look like shutters. The more they look like shutters, the more they remind consumers of their parents’ homes.

People are going back to things that remind them of the past. Our parents didn’t have any other options but wood shutters. Wood blinds have that southern charm and feel that works with nature. It’s bringing the feeling of the environment back to the house, a warmth (over windows) that shutters are too heavy for.

In addition, wood blinds provide an airy, open look to homes. As sunlight brightens rooms, wood blinds help create a pleasant living space.

Customers appreciate the quality look of wood blinds. Wood blinds don’t look as inexpensive as the standard blinds you can pick up at any discount store. Wood blinds look nicer.

For those who want that look without the cost, imitation wood blinds are the answer. Some consumers like the fact that they offer the look of wood without using natural resources.

Imitation wood blinds have other advantages in certain applications. You can’t put real wood blinds in the kitchen, because a lot of water and humidity can make them warp.