Rug and Carpet Dyes

Carpet Dyes and How Rug Colors are Made

Different Types of Carpet Dyes:

Carpet Dyes - Like wool, dyes may vary considerably in quality, and they may affect the value and desirability of the rug. Some are rich and saturated, others are soft. But good dye will have a transparent quality that lets the color shine in response to light. When combined with lustrous wool, transparent dyes make the color effects come to life.

Inferior dyes are murky and flat. Good dyes are also fast in response to exposure to light or water. Inferior dyes fade in sunlight and run when wet, spoiling the effects of the design.

Dying Wool For Weaving Carpets by Nazmiyal
Dying Wool For Weaving Carpets

Antique rugs were made with dyes derived primarily from vegetable materials, although some like lac or cochineal were derived from insect shells. All such dyes were properly fixed not to run when wet or to fade appreciably on exposure to light.

This fixing might take weeks, especially to achieve rich colors. Early synthetic dyes gave bright colors without lengthy fixing, but they were unstable.

Carpet Dyes - A Weaver Dying Wool For Weaving A Rug by Nazmiyal
Carpet Dyes - A Weaver Dying Wool For Weaving A Rug

Some, like fuchsine purple, faded to grey. Others like aniline red bleed terribly when wet, and they may fade as well. Modern chrome dyes developed after 1920 do not fade or run, but they seldom have the depth and warmth of natural vegetable or insect dyes.

Within the last twenty years weavers in many rug-producing regions have succeeded in reviving the traditional technique of vegetable derived dyes.