While most of our studio work consists of handknotted, handtufted or machine made floorcoverings, Senior Designer Sandra Ciganic-McKinney has been heading up a project developing a new type of area rug that is essentially a handtufted, zero pile rug with a screen printed field.
"We received a sample from one of our Indian mills that was called 'zero pile' handtufting. Zero pile tufted is a very low pile that is sparsely tufted so that you see the backing, rather than a dense tuft where you only see the yarn," said Sandra. "Design-wise, we thought it would be interesting to develop the concept further by layering more design elements. From the perspective of our clients, we saw the possibility of a trendy new quality that is hard wearing, offers cost savings and could be particularly suitable for hotel area rugs," she said.
To begin this experimental endeavour, Sandra asked the mill to send some plain sample-sized "scrims." (A scrim is the backing fabric used for a handtufted rug.) For the first layer of design, Sandra hand-dyed each scrim a different solid colour in the workshop beneath our studio. For the second layer of design - to put a pattern on the scrim - Sandra headed off to a Toronto screen printing studio with our Art Director Leah Phillips.
"Screen printing is the easiest way to get a pattern onto the scrim and it is also a method we know our mills can use if we go into large scale production," said Sandra. "Leah and I spent an afternoon applying some graphic designs in to the pre-dyed scrims."
Back at the Creative Matters studio, Leah and Sandra now worked on the third layer of the design - the tufting pattern. They decided where, and where not, wool would be handtufted into the scrims. And they decided which colours of wool they wanted to use for the handtufting. This third layer was to be applied at the mill, so the scrims and design instructions were sent off to India.
Once the package arrived in India, the mill got to work handtufting the dyed and printed scrims according to our instructions. To achieve zero pile, the wool tufts are trimmed close to the scrim backing. When the weavers had completed the tufting, the samples were latexed and finished like our usual handtufted samples. The finished project was shipped back to Creative Matters where the team of designers delighted over each one.
"By preparing the scrims with the two design layers ourselves, we celebrate the first time we've become involved in the actual manufacturing side of rug production," said President Carol Sebert, "marking a new dimension of innovation at Creative Matters."
"The team has been showing our beautiful samples to clients and we've had some great responses. Watch this space for the first custom project!" said Sandra.