Friday, November 27, 2009

Dyer Lynne visits New Mexico

Special thanks this Thanksgiving to Lynne Wallace for coming out to New Mexico to work with us on replenishing our yarn supplies. Lynne can get subtle and very specific shades of color that we would struggle with otherwise. She uses light- and wash-fast acid dyes, and can even dye mohair roving which we card into our restoration materials to get that sheen in certain weavings. A real dyed-in-the-wool artist! She can be contacted at, and is currently based in western Massachusetts.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Restorative power at work

Moth damage repaired on a 19th century Caucasian Lenkoran rug.

The pictures speak for themselves. Work done by Liz Stevens at Textival.

The Care and Maintenance of Oriental and Navajo Rugs

Some basic information will help you care for your collections of rugs and textiles. Chubb Insurance's Collectors Newsletter asked us to put together a basic guide for their clients, which is now available online:

Monday, June 29, 2009

Toadlena, 100 Years of Weaving Excellence

Essential oils and traditional vessels...The modern world, on display (and for sale) at Toadlena Trading Post:
The old trading post roof in Toadlena, New Mexico, with Mark's Old Santa Fe Trail gallery sign incorporated into the scene:Mark Winter celebrated 100 years of rug trading at Toadlena on June 20th, honoring several families with master weavers in three successive generations. Credit goes to the weavers for their incredible work, but to Mark as well for helping to elevate the demand for the highest quality pieces. Say what you will about the long complex history of "Indian Traders" on the Rez (see Wilkins, "Patterns of Exchange", U. of Oklahoma Press, and M'Closkey, "Swept Under the Rug", UNM Press), Mark is going above and beyond the traditional role of the Trader and doing vital geneological, historical, cultural, and community work. And the appreciation from the community seems genuine and, as always, good-humoured.
Toadlena Trading Post has its feet firmly planted in the present, with eyes to both the past and the future. This makes it an invaluable resource for and expression of the local Navajo/Dine community. Young Master Weavers are fully engaged with their ancient and very local tradition, but are also fully mobile within modern American society.

Texas? Honoring the grandmothers at Toadlena's 100th anniversary celebration in June, 2009. Awards included classic Pendleton blankets

Mark Winter MCs the awards show; few Indian Art dealers have given back to the communities that support them as much as Mark has:

The brand-new old-fashioned youth of today; younger generations of Master Weavers honored along with their elders. We look forward to the new generation's innovations:

For info on events, artists, weavings, and directions to get there, visit them at:

The New York Times online posted an audio/slideshow:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Color-run removal

Before-and-after washing; a cool little rug with something to say. Letters, numbers, images were treated as design elements that could be flipped, mirrored, or turned to create symmetry or balance. The weaver of this blanket/serape-style rug also turned the 'whirling log' swastika in the second medallion for an extra twist, and they seem like Tesla coils spilling over with electricity.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fancy "Spirit Line" On a Fancy Double Saddle Blanket

We typically look for a "Spirit Line" or "weaver's pathway" in the upper right-hand corner of a Navajo weaving, and if we find one it is usually a line of weft from an inner field or inner border extending across borders to the edge of the weaving. Explanations of its meaning are as varied as the lines themselves, but they generally imply protection of the weaver's abilities to continue to create and make a living from weaving, and prevent the artist's spirit form being locked into the recently completed weaving.

Santa Fe-based rug restorer Laura Center has documented numerous examples of hidden spirit lines attached to the warp rather than the weft, and she interprets many intentional anamolies in a design as serving the same purpose as a spirit line. The saddle blanket shown here includes a 'decorative' purple weft that wraps around a warp add-in that connects the white border out to the selvedge.

For further discussion of spirit lines, see Noel Bennett's "The Weaver's Pathway" from Northland Press in Flagstaff AZ.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Santa Fe Rug & Textile Society

Santa Fe dealer John Hill teaches the finer points of Bolivian accessorizing

Still in its first year, meetings follow a basic show-and-tell format, and double as a rug & textile identification clinic. Chuck Paterson and Kate Whealen host the event the second Saturday of every month at their home in Santa Fe; call for info 505 984 9887. Our hope is to grow to support guest speakers, field trips, museum and private collection tours, and perhaps curated exhibits. Whether you're an experienced collector, academic, or just an enthusiast, please come, bring items of interest and hear what experts and onlookers have to say. Thanks to Kate and Chuck for opening their home to us and sharing their expertise.

A Turkmen(?) embroidered collar(?) gets some attention

Peter's natural un-dyed Guatemalan blanket

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lanolin in rugs?

Many people become enchanted with the idea that lanolin enriches the wool in their rugs, that washing a rug removes its lanolin, and that lanolin can be put back into the wool.

Do wool rugs contain lanolin? Is lanolin a reason not to clean a rug? Does it make sense to add lanolin to a rug after washing? The answer to all three is “no”.

Lanolin is among a group of naturally excreted oils & waxes that occur in a sheep’s fleece. Finer-diameter wool fiber fleeces contain more lanolin per pound than coarse fibers, but there is not necessarily a correlation between lanolin content and quality of wool, especially for rug production. Washing/scouring of the wool removes 99.7% of the lanolin, and while it is possible to work with wool with varying amounts of lanolin still in it, any dying of the fibers requires very clean wool. Sometimes wool is spun “in the grease”, unwashed (which may have occured in the Navajo “pound blanket” period) but again this precludes both carding and dying. If there is residual lanolin in wool, it breaks down very quickly on its own and is basically gone within 10 years.

So what accounts for the extra shine, luster, and soil-resistance found in some rugs? Why do over-washed rugs seem dry and brittle, while well-cared-for rugs from Tibet, historic Kurdistan, Turkmenistan and other areas seem rich and supple? This has everything to do with the structure of the fiber itself, and nothing to do with the presence of oils on the fibers. Some wool from nomadic sources has a Mohair-like sheen due to the structure of the outer scales on the wool fiber. On some older rugs, the outer scales have been worn or ‘polished’ off, revealing an even shinier inner core fiber. And many new production rugs are chemically washed to remove the outer scaly layer of the fiber, revealing the inner core, which is much glossier and smooth. Further over-use and over-washing will eventually damage this inner core fiber, which gives the wool a “dry” feel.

Adding waxy, greasy lanolin to a rug, usually via aerosol, looks fantastic for a short period of time. It will quickly break down however, and in the meantime will attract soil and dust. Well cleaned wool will look and perform just fine without the lanolin that was removed from its fibers before it was even woven.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An avar pile rug

Avar kilims from Dahgestan are ubiquitous here in the Southwest; their tribal aesthetic appears on the surface to resonate with local Native American symbolism. Here is a rare variation on the theme; a pile rug of the Avar type seen in Hali Magazine:(
Thanks to Chuck Patterson for help in identifying this rug. His (older) version:

Dog bites Caucasian

A skilled restorer can take a bad situation and make like it never happened. At some cost, though; in this case about $170.00.

Back from the brink

A family heirloom with severe water damage and a huge tear down the middle is reconstructed and brought back from the brink. To match the color, size and texture of the original wefts we card and spin various fibers together. New warps are anchored then plied around the old warps. With this project there was the additional challenge of matching the colors of bleached and stained wool that could not be corrected in the wash. Thankfully, the rug is staying in the family and is being hung on the wall, safe from harm...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Listen to The Dude

Available for purchase at

Color run, before and after washing

This is about as bad as it gets; flooding moisture and dry-wall plaster detritus that sat for weeks on a 100-year-old Transitional Navajo blanket. The dyes on these blankets, in addition to being fugitive, will tend to discolor if over-washed, and will leave a yellow stain if over-treated. While some bleed is still visible in the turquoise and green, the overall result David achieved was stupendous. It should be said that while the visual integrity of the weaving was reclaimed, this kind of washing does take a toll on natural fibers, especially 100-year-old Transitional Navajo wool--every effort should be made to avoid water damage and color run. As a result of the de-bleeding process, the wool in the finished/washed blanket has lost some of the bonds that keep the fibers together. Treat your antique textiles well! Washing cost: $400.00

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Late Classic Chief's re-weave

A Late Classic or Transitional Blanket, from the 1880s or 1890s with aniline red and indigo blue; well-worth restoring a large gash that had been darned decades earlier. We've seen pieces from this era where the blue bleeds when wet, but appears to be indigo...Did synthetic indigo become available this early?

Blue Teec Nos Pos re-weave

As Difficult as it can be to match shades of white, this 1970s Navajo Teec Nos Pos, made with commercially-dyed and -spun yarn, presented a host of major challenges. A dog bite on a faded blue corner with evenly-spun yarn required exceptional color skills, carding and spinning skills, and re-weaving/joining skills. As the photos show, Kayla was up for the task and has brought the the rug back to life. Click on the photos for an up-close look!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Rufus Cohen in Istanbul, 2007

First posting

Welcome to Textival's new Blog! We will be sharing photos of our works-in-progress and of some of the cool textiles and rugs that pass through our doors. Occasionally we will compose a paragraph or two of thoughts and reflections...So tune in from time to time.