(Posted on 02/10/13)
After the rug has been clipped, it is washed to remove any dirt that may have been collected during the weaving process and to give the pile its particular 'finish'. Some-times the rug is simply washed in water and then left out in the sun to dry, but many weaving groups now add chemicals to the water in order both to alter the tonal intensity of the colours and give the pile gloss or matt sheen. Light chemical washes simply take the edge of the harsher colours, reproducing a degree of tonal mellowness that comes with age, and have only minimal effect on the integrity of the pile. Heavy chemical washes, however, particularly those which dramatically reduce the tonal intensity of the colours or introduce a high-gloss sheen, can seriously weaken the fabric and undermine the durability of the rug. There are several different washes currently in use, but the most common are: Gold washing Used to bleach out the red tones. This process can sometimes weaken the pile fibers, but it produces extremely attractive shades of muted red and rose. Sun washing Refers to rugs left in the sun until their colours are bleached to more mellow shades. This term is now commonly applied to a number of items, particularly from Turkey which have light pastel shades. However, this 'sun-washed' effect, which emulates the ageing process, is often achieved by chemical washing, and it is advisable not to take the term too literally. A simple way to tell whether an item has been sun washed or chemically washed is to open the pile. If the colours are lighter near the surface, the chances are that it is either old or has genuinely been bleached by the sun.