I had an opportunity to chat with Jamie Metrick from Elte Furniture about their upcycling project called Second Life Rugs. The enthusiasm and excitement was felt through his correspondence, it made me quite excited to receive his replies and to learn more about upcycling older rugs.
‘Second life rugs were introduced to us for the first time 4 years ago. We actually bought them in very small quantities back then to Elte. However, at that point the process had not been mastered and the rugs aren’t what they are today. The rugs produced 4 years ago, after going through the second life process lacked the vibrancy they have today.
Reusing Antique Rugs
About a year ago, when we saw the potential of upcycling older rugs, we partnered with one of the two men responsible for the creation of this product. Our partner lives and produces these goods in a rural village in Turkey just outside of Usak. Because Elte has one of the largest selections of second life carpets in the world, I’ve spent a ton of time working in this village (I’ve been 6 times in the past year and am going again on Thursday).’
“Our partner travels and collects antique pieces from all over Turkey as well as Persia. The key to how each piece takes to the process is the quality of the wool. The wool used in Antique rugs (30-90-year-old rugs) is very different to the wool they use today, and that wool happens to get the best results on a finished piece.”
Upcycling Older Rugs
“The rugs are very distressed before going through the process. They had their “first life” and have probably lived in someone’s home for 50 years. The pieces are distressed enough to the point where the original owner no longer has use for the piece. The rugs get more distressed in order to remove the original colors (which are usually strong reds, blues, and yellows – like you would see in an old Persian rug) – they go through a process called “sand boxing” -The rugs are sanded down and washed many many times to remove as much of the original coloring from the piece.”
“After being sanded down and washed to remove as much color as possible, the rugs are then dyed in a specific color. Each piece will come out totally different as the color is always a combination of what’s left of the base color and the new top color. The rugs are washed and redyed 5-6 times each to get the desired level of color saturation. What’s so special about these pieces is they are tremendously unique.
There is a history to them that shines out in the design and texture of each piece. They are antiques and they are definitely not your grandma’s carpet. It’s a totally fresh look that no one has seen before. They are just a lot of fun and can be added to any room (whether modern or traditional) and become an instant conversation piece giving the room an entirely fresh look. Upcycling oder rugs are also eco-friendly…”
“If these rugs didn’t go through this process, most would end up in a land-fill. The rugs are so worn they are no longer wanted by the owner. This is when they are contacted by our partner in Turkey. These are handmade carpets made with the highest quality wool. It would be a shame to thrown them away. Luckily we’ve found them this second life.”