The whirr of tufting guns, intricately picking out colours of yarn and clamouring up meters of scaffolding to reach the top of a frame are all part of the process in making a pile tufted rug, carpet or wall hanging.
The manufacturing process - something of a paint by numbers using wools, silks, synthetics - has the potential to translate artworks and patterns into incredible textile objects and is being used more and more by artists and designers in Scotland.
There are two go-to manufacturers in Scotland that we would recommend for making a custom rug - so take a look at Dovecot Studios and Turnberry Rug Works.
Dovecot Studios is a one hundred year old tapestry and rug tufting studio, working on collaborations between artists, weavers and commissioners. Turnberry Rugs make bespoke rugs from natural fibres. Pieces are generally one offs and they specialise in matching colours to customer requirements. It might also be work a look at Skye Skyns, who make sheepskin rugs to commission.
Now, from dance props to bold in your face patterns, here’s some rug tufting, pile trimming inspiration.
1. LAURA SPRING
Developed as part of a project called India Street and inspired by the traditional tie-dye technique from Jaipur which is made by folding and twisting the fabric before dying, producing a distinctive zigzag motif. The Turkey red sample books caught Laura’s eye at the very beginning of the project and she combined elements from Turkey red and this commonly used zigzag motif and its palate of primary colours to create the collection. Buy one here.
2. RICHARD HUTTEN
At design fair Object Rotterdam in 2007 Richard Hutten, one of the most influential Dutch designers, presented his Playing with Tradition series of oriental rugs. Each rug was hand-knotted, with a defined moment where patterns stretched into stripes, the traditional side retained the fringing.
3. ALISON BAXTER
Hand weaver, textile designers and graduate of Glasgow School of Art, Alison Baxter created these vibrant pieces. Featuring abstract compositions, alongside a diverse array of colours, the design showcases the individuality and intricacies of her hand woven creations.
4. LINDER x DOVECOT
What’s that? A gold lamé backed rug? Sounds good to us. Produced in collaboration with Dovecot specifically for British Art Show 8 in 2015, Linder describes the result as a shape-shifting ‘21st-century version of a magic carpet. It brings together Linder’s fascination with collage and the craftsmanship of Dovecot in an impressive abstract way. Read more here
5. JIM LAMBIE X DOVECOT
Dovecot rug tufters Kristi Vana and Dennis Reinmüller completed tufting Soft Machine for House of Voltaire pop up in October 2016. Based on Lambie’s metal box wall pieces, the design was to emulate his seven sheet aluminium artworks and would combine his striking 2D visuals with an aspect of sculptural work. In order to achieve a 3D image, Reinmüller and Vana had to carve into the tufted rug with precision, to create a cleaner line than they have ever mastered before. This film shows the process of making the piece at Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh.