If you are looking for a contemporary rug with eye-catching colors and designs, then you may want to consider looking at an ikat rug. While these rugs are ‘all the rave’ with contemporary designers, their roots are actually ancient. Ikat fabrics are one of the oldest notable patterned textiles in the world. It is difficult to date the exact origin, since these textiles typically do not last for more than a few thousand years.
The Origin of Ikat
Ikat is actually pronounced with a long E (like ‘ee-kat’). The word originated in the Indonesian and Japanese language. In its simplest form, the word means “to bind” or “to wind around”. This correlates with the method used to create the ikat threads by wrapping, dying, sorting, re-wrapping, and dying once again. The word has evolved into a generic English word that describes the cloth itself, or the process of making the fabric. The ikat designs are most notably associated with the elaborate designs from Japan, South America, and Central Asia.
The Ikat Craze
Ikat fabrics have been re-invented by today’s top designers, and are frequently seen in ikat rugs, pillows, upholstery, and even drapes. Designers such as Robert Allen, Martha Stewart Living, Calvin Klein, Luke Irwin, and Charlotte Moss are creating exotic lines of ikat rugs with vibrant colors and designs.
Charlotte Moss’s ikat rug designs were featured in a recent issue of Elle Décor. After travelling to Istanbul, she was inspired by the exotic ikat patterns she saw. She thought it was crazy to confine this beautiful pattern to just pillows or upholstery, and soon after she released a line of 12 ikat rugs. This line consisted mainly of acid greens, sandy taupes, rosy pinks, and indigos.
Traditional ikats do have a lot of color, and may not work for everyone. If you are a little uneasy about adding too much color, or vibrant colors won’t work for your interior, then you can consider some of the varying shades. This will allow you to still incorporate the wonderful patterns in a more muted fashion.
How Are Ikat Rugs Made?
Ikat is actually a dyeing technique. It is used to pattern textiles using a process called ‘resist dyeing’. Resist dyeing uses methods that prevent the dye from reaching all of the cloth or fibers to create a unique pattern. This can also be a mechanical resist, where tying or stitching manipulates the cloth.
This creates elaborate, multi-colored patterns. When all of the dyeing is complete, the weaving of the fabric takes place.
Warp ikat is the simplest form, and is the easiest to complete. The material is first tied into bundles. The bundles can then be covered with wax or tightly wrapped with a dye-resistant thread to prevent the dye from penetrating the material. This is then added to a loom, and the warp threads are tied and adjusted to obtain the desired alignment. The weaver often determines the pattern as the warp threads are tied. This creates patterns with axis reflection or symmetry.
Weft ikat is much more difficult. This uses resist dying for the weft alone. With weft ikat, the patterns are usually more erratic, as the designs are. This often creates the appearance of ‘blurs’ in the pattern.
Double ikat is a process that uses resist dying on both the warp and the weft. It requires the most skill to achieve precise patterns. Due to the amount of labor and high amount of skill required, these are often the most expensive.
Here is a video showing the process of dying the weft.
How Much Do Ikat Rugs Cost?
The cost of an ikat rug depends on several factors. These are namely the size, the type of material it is made from, and the designer. These rugs can be surprisingly affordable though, and can really add a touch of style to your décor.
A 9’x12’ wool hand-knotted area rug can be purchased for under $2,000.00. The 8’x10’ ikat rugs can be purchased at a price anywhere from $1,400.00 to around $1,800.00. The 6’x9’ rugs are much more applicable for most rooms, and these are typically priced from $600.00 to $1,300.00. A 5’x8’ ikat will range in price from around $200.00 to $750.00.