ASPEN, Colo., May 7, 2015 – When creating a customizable rug, the story behind it can be just as noteworthy as the rug itself. “We work directly with weavers in the Himalayas to bridge the gap between modern technology and the ancient craft of rug-making found in the region,” says Jason Leach, Co-Founder and Principal of High Country Rugs, an Aspen-based company that has decades of experience in designing and crafting the world’s finest custom hand-knotted and hand-tufted rugs. “The story of where our rugs come from is important to us and we certainly haven’t forgotten about the original art of rug-making, which spans back thousands of years.”
Below, High Country Rugs explains how they bring new life to this ancient tradition.
Network of Weavers
The art of rug weaving in the Himalayas is based on the Tibetan tradition. After the Chinese invasion in 1959, many Tibetans fled as refugees to Nepal and India, bringing along their fine craftsmanship skills. Today, High Country Rugs works with its network of weavers throughout the Himalayan region in Nepal and India to create rugs exactly as the client has ordered.
How is this network located from across the globe? “We start by only sourcing from certified members of child labor free organizations that regularly inspect their facilities. We will then open a dialogue by email and make sure we can communicate well, and place an order for a variety of samples to show how they perform,” says Leach.
If the weavers pass the sample test, Leach, along with Co-Founder and Principal Brian Payntar Harris, will travel to Nepal and India to meet with the particular artisans on-site.
“We like to physically inspect the sites ourselves and to make face-to-face contact, ensuring the work will be done efficiently,” continues Leach. “We also take these trips to confirm there are people on the ground to make sure there’s no child labor or other unjust working conditions.”
Once Leach and Harris know their standards have been met, they’re ready to start working directly with their partners abroad. With weavers spread throughout the Himalayas, what’s their expert reasoning for sending projects to a particular location?
Nepal’s Centuries-Old Expertise with the Finest Wools
When sourcing a hand-knotted rug made from fine Tibetan wool, High Country Rugs turns to its weavers in Nepal. The country is known for its accessibility to this wool, which is characterized by its high lanolin content, a substance naturally found in the material which protects it against the environment, and more rustic yarn. The Tibetan wool also comes from extremely high altitudes, where the elements can be harsh, so the material is naturally tough and maintains exceptional quality. This wool differs from New Zealand wool, which has similar lanolin content, but New Zealand wool is exclusively white and tends to be spun into a finer and more consistent yarn, perfect for more traditional or refined designs.
Leach says Nepalese rugs are ideal for residential clients when time is not a factor since the artisans can sometimes take several months to make larger rugs. Clients who specifically ask for Nepali rugs like the unique luster and plush pile that comes from using Tibetan wool. These rugs, known for their premium construction, maintain the highest quality across the industry and last for generations.
With the recent tragic earthquake in Nepal, High Country Rugs has been keeping in close contact with their weavers. “As far as we know, all of our business partners have survived, but still need our help,” continues Leach. Since High Country Rugs only works with more developed organizations in Nepal, their buildings are modern and did not collapse like so many of the old brick buildings in the country. “We are doing everything we can to make sure everyone can still work and help their communities rebuild at the same time,” says Leach.
Industry in India
An emerging powerhouse in versatile industries across the globe, India is full of opportunities as their technological capabilities continue to grow. “In India, they can really make anything. Over time, they have become experts in rug-making with their abilities to recreate any design into a rug,” says Leach. For hand-tufted projects, High Country Rugs typically chooses to work with the weavers in India who are known for their efficiency.
Hand-tufted rugs are hand made using a tufting gun to inject wool into a fabric and then the backing is glued on using latex. “The approximate turnaround time is much shorter than hand-knotted pieces, so hospitality clients tend to choose the hand-tufted option to expedite their design vision,” advised Leach. The rugs will easily last seven years under commercial traffic, which High Country Rugs has seen is similar to typical renovation schedules in the hospitality industry.
At the core of the High Country Rugs quality proposition is its proprietary 3D Custom Design Studio software system. The only 3D rug design program online revolutionizes an ancient trade, creating a new, innovative way for design professionals and the public to purchase museum-quality rugs, while choosing virtually every aspect of the rug.
“We do like the efficiencies we add with modern methods, but none of our rugs are machine-made,” says Leach. “We are keeping the rug-making tradition alive in the handmade aspect.”
About High Country Rugs
High Country Rugs has decades of experience in designing and crafting the world’s finest custom rugs and is based in Aspen, Colorado. Founded in 2005 by Jason Leach and Brian Payntar Harris, its proprietary 3D Custom Design Studio software system, the only 3D rug design program online, revolutionizes an ancient trade, creating a new, innovative way for design professionals and the public to purchase museum-quality rugs, while choosing virtually every aspect of the design. The company works directly with weavers high in the Himalayas, who rely on the same textile traditions they have for generations, but who can accommodate a wide range of styles – from Persian to Contemporary and Southwestern – and 600-plus color choices.
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