Preserving a masterpiece and other things about fine wool rugs you may not already know.

I always enjoy a good research project.  The Leger rug has become this summer's mission.  My first stop was Ward's Oriental Rugs in Allentown, PA.  I am always concerned about pieces I bring into my home and having this professionally cleaned was at the top of my list.  I also wanted to talk restoration.  

My family did not have heirloom rugs so care and maintenance was not something I was familiar with. I am skilled enough in textiles to recognize the moth damage and know that a textile such as this needs regular maintenance and care to survive generations. The first thing I learned about care is regular vacuuming is essential to keeping your wool carpets from degrading.  Embedded dirt wrecks the fibers.  Also on the agenda should be regular washing by a professional rug cleaner. In low traffic areas, this should be done every 3 years.  A rug in a high traffic zone can be done yearly. 

Moths are attracted to dirty wool.  Rolling up a rug to store that is not clean is pretty much an invitation for moth activity.  They move in and work quickly at ruining woolens.  The larvae actually eat the knots so the piling just falls right out. But most modern rugs like my wall to wall modern carpets, are not something they would go for....that was a relief to hear!  I learned that freezing the rug will actually explode the moth eggs.  Good to know when you are bringing in new pieces all the time.  If they are small enough to get in my freezers, I am good to go. Wards has a large freezer so step one for them was to keep my piece in it for 3 days. Then they would do a thorough wash, protecting the dyed yarn from bleeding and I already knew it was not colorfast. Once clean and all of the damage was exposed, I would receive a quote for reweaving the areas of missing pile.  This is done by a skilled weaver who will match wool to the rest of the piece.  In most cases, a restoration adds value to a rug and unlike some antiques where repairs are not recommended, this does not detract at all from the value of a rug.  

The largest area of moth damage after the wash. This will all be repaired by an expert rug weaver. it could have been much worse so glad I was able to save this beauty!

The largest area of moth damage after the wash. This will all be repaired by an expert rug weaver. it could have been much worse so glad I was able to save this beauty!

The showroom at Ward's Oriental Rugs in Allentown is full of beautiful hand woven carpets, new and vintage. 

The showroom at Ward's Oriental Rugs in Allentown is full of beautiful hand woven carpets, new and vintage. 

Ward's Oriental Rugs has a fabulous showroom in Allentown, PA.  If you are in the area, they have a fine selection of new and used carpets and are extremely knowledgable about them. It was a pleasure to work with them and I look forward to finishing this restoration!  Due to the slow time of year and my cash flow, I am holding off the the reweaving until I can fund it but hopefully it will be complete in the next few months.  

Materials I reviewed in the library at the Philadelphia Art Museum. 

Materials I reviewed in the library at the Philadelphia Art Museum. 

My research:

 In the mean time, I have been researching this rug like crazy. I spent a day reviewing some catalogs at the Philadelphia Art Museum and ordered a 1960's catalog from a tour of Marie Cuttilo's works, of which the Maquette or working sketch for this piece was included. The rug in the tour was larger than mine and slightly different coloring, so I really want to make sure that this rug was not copied by another maker.  I am certain that everything on this piece follows suit with what she made, however, but the only way to be sure is to find the proof. I have a magazine coming that has an article about her tour so hoping that helps as well.  She had this tour in the 60s to sell more rugs and although that did not go as well as she had liked, I suspect that this rug was one of those she sold.  I have some good comps on it that all provide a little more info and provided those galleries did their research thoroughly, I am still convinced this is her piece albeit a mid century produced piece and not from her beginnings in the 20s and 30s. Regardless, I do believe this was a very small series of about 20 so it is definitely not going to be something that pops up a lot for collectors and that makes it very special.  Whether a fan of the artist Leger or a fan of the amazing woman who attempted to bring back the art of tapestry by translating fine art into fiber art, this rug is just an amazing representation of a time when both worlds collided. 

A Marquette is the working drawing that was commissioned by the artist and which the rug design was based on. Most refer to this design as 'Blanc' which is referring to the white background on this design. 

A Marquette is the working drawing that was commissioned by the artist and which the rug design was based on. Most refer to this design as 'Blanc' which is referring to the white background on this design. 

The cleaned rug all ready for restoration. It was frozen, cleaned and treated with a moth deterrent.  I would hope my future buyer will consider hanging it, but I was told it has many years of life left on the floor if properly maintained and in a low traffic area.

The cleaned rug all ready for restoration. It was frozen, cleaned and treated with a moth deterrent.  I would hope my future buyer will consider hanging it, but I was told it has many years of life left on the floor if properly maintained and in a low traffic area.

I will update more if I discover more about this piece or start to proceed on the restoration work! 

XO Malissa

Shop updates. Heywood Wakefield Chair restoration has begun!

I am thrilled with the space!  I cannot say enough as to how happy I am to have a physical location.  I was able to meet a local etsy customer, help her shop and bring her an item to look at that she was considering!  With that said, if you plan a visit and there is something in my online inventory you'd like to see, please email me at malissa@madmodworldvintage.com and I will get it there for you, and at me best price! If I am available when you stop, I will definitely try to meet you!  Seeing there is a market for collectable pyrex pieces that no other vendors are really tapping, I will be concentrating on curating some nice sets, cleaned and oiled and ready for display.  I will be adding a primary fridge set next week.  Waiting for the blue dish to come.   

Last dish is on it's way!  Hitting the shop next week!  

Last dish is on it's way!  Hitting the shop next week!  

This week found home for my Friendship cinderella mixing bowl set, the turquoise step end table, the yellow hostess casserole and I expect the small bookcase and Bertoia chairs to be picked up today.  I also sold a chair online and shipped to California!  What a great busy week! Now to figure out what to put into the open space!  

With my Joybird yardage on the way, I started demolition on one of the Heywood Wakefield chairs.  Looking forward to making these beautiful!  I selected the VIBE AQUA, which is a great color and a sturdy weight.  Cannot wait for my mom to work her sewing magic! 

I started with the worst chair and will be doing some work on the arms thanks to a suspected small doggy's nails!  The rest of the wood is excellent though, so if this is the only sanding I have to do, I am happy!   There is a similar chair for sale at my antique mall so if this goes well and this pair finds a home fast, I will save that one as well! 

I do think it is pretty funny that our current perception of MCM does not really coordinate with fabric choices of the era!  This floral is pretty gross! 😜👍. This chair is not something i would want in my house as is, but i think after a strip (wood looks painted) returning it to blond bombshell and a sassy colored upholstery, she will be fabulous!   

Enjoy the warmer weekend weather if you are in the Northeast!  A great time to get out and find some treasures!  Shop is open 10-6 daily, closed Mon and Tues.  Etsy and Chairish are open all the time!  I just added some fun things and have 2 durable sets of 4 dining and/or temporary seating options available!  The wine 40/4 stacking chairs will also coordinate with the Kilim rug I have in stock!  Buying multiples?  Please contact me first and I will give you a better deal!  💗👍✌️

xo Malissa

The other chair I would like to save! 

The other chair I would like to save! 

First chair being disassembled. 

First chair being disassembled. 

Collection acquisitions, cleaning and pest avoidance advice.

I am in between projects right now so what better time to add some new items to my own collection!  I do sell off the finest things but I will buy for myself if I can work it in to my home.  I have been working with a craigslist seller all week to buy a Bertoia Diamond Chair.  It is my holy grail of chairs, and I love many!  I found the ad and it was still available.  Appears to be in good shape, but for this kind of buy, I would plan on having it powder coated at some point as I promised my daughter it would be hers some day!  There is a full upholstery cover on it.  He did tell me the first person who looked on it mentioned the foam had degraded.  I know those covers are crazy expensive to replace but I also have the cover to use as a template and a mom who is very capable of patterning it, so that is half the battle.  I am willing to risk that detail.  I am going to buy it on Sunday, since that is when we are both available.  I cannot wait to sit in it!  It is the larger style lounge chair, which is no longer produced new.  Meanwhile, I need to bump my Grandmothers spinny slipper chair out of my living room!  It was technically given to my daughter, so I am hoping we can make room for it in her bedroom.  

Today we were hanging local and stopped by a few places we like to hunt and research at.  No luck at the thrift store, the used furniture place had a cool supposedly Knoll butterfly chair with a turquoise canvas sling for $125.  I hate seeing the Google print outs attached to things!  These butterfly chairs were highly imitated and I am pretty sure were not marked or stamped.  Too high for me to not be sure if it was the real deal, plus, with my other chair moving in, I really didn't need it.  So we left there and headed to one of the antique malls nearby.  I shop retail for myself if the price is decent and the value is there and it is something I collect or want.  I always remind myself that these folks are paying rent, picking expenses like gas, etc and have overhead.  So if I feel the price is good, I want the item and don't think it is something I will run across any time soon, I am in.  I came across a very cool wool Rya rug today.  I don't usually deal in textiles as I don't tend to run into them when I do my sourcing.  Rugs, lighting and art are, in my humble opinion, the most expensive items you can buy when sourcing for your home.  Those are the things you are likely to not find when out thrifting, yard sale combing and more.  Those are the things you should splurge on when you find that special piece that speaks to you and works in your space.  Of course, I put chairs in this category as well, but since I like to fix them, I can shop in the scratch and dent section!  ;)   I do not know much about this rug as there are no tags on it. I will try to describe it to you the way I saw it and how I determined it was a worthy investment.  Hopefully it will help you if you are contemplating a special textile and also, how I cleaned it up.  

This plush pile rug was placed under a coffee table to display.  The texture drew me in.  I have carpet in my 11 year old home.  No choice for hardwood unless we pull the rug up and invest in them.  Only draw back to new construction.  We had a toddler mishap many years ago and there is a large pink stain in the middle of the living room rug.  I have been using a throw on it for a while.  I recently found a hipster yard sale and picked up this awesome teal/turquoise rag rug from Urban Outfitters on the cheap.  I have been in the store once, and surely that was a $200 rug.  It tied the turquoise accents in my totally bland room of brown and tan (really, it sucks!) together.  I have a turquoise lamp and my grandmothers chair.  The rag part of the rug added a very cool texture to the room and I like that.  When I saw the rya rug, I immediate thought….oh yes, this baby would be sooooooo cool under my diamond chair!!!!  As soon as I bent over to feel it I got super excited as I knew it was wool!  (I am addicted to my 2 70s Icelandic Wool ponchos….I love wool!  The itchier, the better!!!)  When I pulled up the corner to check for tags, the bottom was actually very smooth and tightly woven.  It felt like my ponchos.  There is a lot of weight to this rug too.  No skimping on the threads at all.  I did notice some surface stains and spots.  Nothing horrible and I figured it had not been cleaned.  I know enough about fabrics thanks to my sewing and quilting mother to know that wool is a pretty cool fiber.  It has properties that synthetics do not.  Wool is known to self clean.  Well, not in the way you think, but things that absorb into other fibers won't always penetrate the wool fibers.  I was confident it would clean up ok.  So I purchased it, met the booth owners who just happened to come in before I checked out and had some quick words about our businesses and travels and home I went with my treasure!  

The worst of the stains

The worst of the stains

My arsenal of cleaning products.

My arsenal of cleaning products.

Cleaning.  I did not want to go on instinct alone, so a quick google search showed me that I can use water and dish soap to safely clean wool.  I used warm water, but not hot as I know wool shrinks in hot water.  I got to work finding the spots and stains and using a cloth dipped in my soapy water, started to gently rub the spots.  Some of the dirt was lifting right away!  There are 2 areas of a more yellowy stain and those were lightening as well, but not coming as quickly as the others.  I slowly worked my way around the whole rug.  Then I tried to rub lightly around the rest of it.  I can tell you my bucket was pretty dark gray after this and my ringing in between dips. It definitely was pulling out the dirt.  The pile on this rug is deep, so I was taking care to inspect down deep as I went.  There were some dirt and leaf/sticks/grass residue down in the rug.  I did shake and beat it to try to knock some of that out but I think it is impossible to get rid of all of it. Once I was happy with my cleaning, I hung it over my deck railing to dry in the sun.  One last step.  I buy this spray called Wondercide.  I get it at a local pet store, but you can order directly from them online.  The BioDefense spray (about $40 per bottle) is the best stuff I have found to really douse my upholstery and fabric items with when I bring them home.  It kills every bug known to man.  Fleas, ticks, lice, bedbugs and a host of other pests.  It is all natural and smells strongly of cedar (which I love because I am a total hippy like that! ).  The smell disappears in a few days but I use it to freshen up my couch, curtains and more.  I like it better than febreeze and it is not a chemical cocktail.  It is safe for humans and pets too.  For items I cannot wash…..the yard sale rug, my wool sweaters and ponchos, upholstery on chairs I pick up….it is a godsend!  I do spray any of my used upholstery items I sell with it as well.  I sprayed both sides of the rug and let it dry in the sun.  Then I moved it in!  Looks great!  I am putting it just next to a higher traffic area so hopefully it will stay clean.  I love it!   

I would not have guessed this much dirt would come out of the rug!

I would not have guessed this much dirt would come out of the rug!

So for my next project, I think I may take a look at this adjustable slat bench I picked up a month or 2 ago.  It seems to have been stripped so I will clean it up and really inspect it, see what needs to be repaired in the structure and I am hoping I can teak oil it as a finish.  It will make a nice piece for a sunroom or open space area holding some plants.   I am looking forward to getting to know it.  xo Malissa