Shanghai Blossom during the tufting process
There is authenticity and emotion at the heart of our hand-tufted rug designs. Each one shares ideas and inspiration, and as our collection of hand-tufted rugs continues to grow, we felt this would be a good time to share the production story behind these personal pieces.
Our hand-tufted rugs are made by skilled artisans who work for a family business, established in 2011 in Panipat, which is located around an hour’s drive from Delhi, in India. We have worked with the same manufacturer since starting out and the relationship we have built over the years is very much a collaborative one. We know the family behind the business as well as the tufters who work on our rugs, which helps to make each piece feel like a personal work of art. Our luxurious rugs are not mass-produced items – they are hand-crafted pieces that enjoy care and attention.
Although not as time-consuming as hand-knotted designs, a 6ft x 9ft hand-tufted rug would still take around 2-3 weeks to tuft, depending on how many colours are used and the level of design detail involved. With preparation and finishing, the entire process takes around six weeks and requires physical strength, dexterity, patience and skill.
Shanghia Blossom artwork and colour matching with yarn
The Journey Begins
Every design starts with Wendy’s artwork. Wendy reproduces her original sketches using a graphics design programme, which results in artwork labelled for yarn and colour that acts as a blueprint. Projected to size, the artwork is traced onto canvas and tiny pin holes inserted through the design, which act as a pattern guide. Dye is applied over the top, which transfers through the holes onto the canvas below, creating an outline of the rug’s design.
The tufting process
Tufting is carried out on a frame and at this stage the outlined canvas is pinned to a large wooden frame. It takes around a week to trace the design and attach a canvas to be worked on. Meanwhile yarn is dyed to match the colours used in the design – the coloured yarn dries in the hot Indian sunshine, a process which can take up to two weeks. A pre-determined colour palette is used across our designs to maximise yarn use, which results in zero waste.
Leopard Palms Light & Eternity Dark during the tufting process
Once the yarn has dried, tufting begins. A hand-held tufting gun feeds yarn into the canvas, following Wendy’s design. You could liken the technique to a type of painting by numbers, but it’s an incredibly detailed painting by numbers that requires physical strength – the tufting gun is a weighty piece of equipment – as well as patience, dexterity and an eye for detail.
The combing process
Finishing starts with the combing process, which does just what you might imagine and removes excess yarn, as well as trims and neatens stray threads. Shearing ensures the pile height is the same across the entire rug; this is also physically demanding work. A carving process, to sharpen every design detail, can require more than one person to complete the work. The more complex the pattern, the longer the process: a rug like Plumage takes a full day’s work to carve. Once the surface is approved, the edges of the rug are bound.
Plumage during the carving process
Binding, also a labour-intensive task, is done by hand using a needle, just as you would hand stitch any material. Labels are attached to the back, with the Wendy Morrison name and the tufter’s name. Our Good Weave certification – an anti-child labour and anti-forced labour charitable body that ensures good working practice – is added. The finishing stages take approximately two weeks, depending on the size and design detail, before rugs are rolled and ready for shipping.
It is a process that takes time, care and skill, but the results are wonderful. Our hand-tufted rugs are a joyful way to add colour and pattern to homes, as well as ensure an age-old traditional craft continues to thrive.
Shanghai Blossom and Dragon Florals in Blue sitting side by side