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Art Day Rug – The Making of a Rug Part 3: First Steps at the Mill

We are covering the making of a hand-knotted rug step-by-step, with a real time design story that we hope will increase the understanding and passion for this outstanding example of contemporary craftsmanship and design innovation.

So far…

In September, COVER collaborated with Canadian rug design firm Creative Matters; NGO Label STEP working for fair trade in handmade carpets; and The Rug Show, to present Art Day sessions at the New York event, where visitors tried their hand at rug design and entered a competition for the best one.

In October, we announced that Structure by Amanda Tonelli was the winning design. Creative Matters then turned her concept into production ready artwork by scanning it into the computer and reworking it in Photoshop. Two rugs will be hand-knotted according to this design; one piece for Tonelli and the other to be raffled with proceeds going to Label STEP.

The latest progress …

The team decided the rug would be produced in Kathmandu, Nepal—one of the world’s leading locations for hand-knotted rugs. Creative Matters has a long history of close collaboration with Nepalese manufacturers and one of their mills was chosen for the production of the two rugs. High quality work was thereby assured as was adherence to the principles of fair trade established by Label STEP.

Early in November, Label STEP Managing Director Reto Aschwanden personally delivered the design and instructions to the mill in Kathmandu. The rug will be made entirely by hand, based on the centuries-old Tibetan artisanal technique.

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Reto (right) met with Samdup and discussed the production details

Computers were next used to prepare the design for perfectly accurate translation into woven art using Galaincha, a specialised graphic software developed in Nepal. Then the design was printed true to scale and the single design pages were glued together. The Art Day rug was now ready—on paper!

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Bijay assembled the design printed true to scale

The finished map does not represent the true colours of the design but replaces them with high contrast colours, making it easier for the weaver to distinguish the subtle colour shade changes.

The next step was the raw material selection. The Art Day rug will be made of sheep wool from the Tibetan highlands—one of the world’s best quality wools—and 20% silk. The wool was hand-carded and hand-spun in Phokara, before it arrived in Kathmandu.

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Rakesh and Deepak at work in the well-stocked Kathmandu warehouse

The Art Day rug’s wool was selected and weighed and then handed over to Nirmal who took it to the dye house on his motorbike.

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Nirmal transported the wool by motorbike



Next month: the silk, the dyeing and setting up the loom.


All photography by: Rabinson Maharjan for Label STEP

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