Hello! My name is Michael Christie and I am The Ruggist.
Welcome to Monologue. Short, concise, micro-pod-casts in which I share my opinions and thoughts about myriad topics as they relate to and intersect with the trade of handknotted and handmade rugs and carpets.
Listen to Monologue!
Monologue – Episode 2 – Slowmaking
Today we are talking about the slow and anachronistic manner in which handknotted rugs and carpets are crafted; slowmaking as the firm Jan Kath has in the past used in their corporate propaganda – advertising if you’d rather.
As intrinsically implied by the phrase, slowmaking is about making things in a slow manner. Not because one is intentionally retarding the process, rather that the processes required are themselves slow by nature. Like the sun sweeping across a loom, the weaving and knotting process is likewise incremental, progressing at a rate of perhaps 7000-9000 knots per day per weaver. For the uninitiated this may seem fast, but considering a carpet from Nepal measuring 2.5 meters by 3 meters – 8 feet by 10 feet for those of you who still use freedom units – this carpet averages 1.2 millions knots in total, and so the relativistic speed becomes more apparent.
And that’s just the weaving and knotting process!
For recherché carpets which then likewise employ other time consuming processes including but in no way limited to hand processing of materials, hand finishing, hand washing, and the like, time – as both a function of man hours of physical human labour and simply allowing for natural processes to occur – is the singular defining element of slowmaking.
And slowness in this era is anachronistic if not downright rebellious.Michael Christie
This however doesn’t stop well intentioned rug and carpet traders from trying to speed things up, and in doing so often devaluing the very character and soul of the handknotted rug. While I am in no way advocating against improvements in non-critical elements of carpetry, I am advocating for a firm, unwavering embrace of the slow nature of those processes which leave an artifact of the hand in the finished carpet.
There is a mystique if you will in products still crafted by hand, though this is only due to our unfamiliarity with them in this day in age. Magic isn’t magic to the magician as I like to say, yet if we are to make things by hand, and I believe we should, then we must value the labour and time involved and honour the craft of carpetry for what it is. Slow and deliberate, not rushed for the arbitrary deadline of your choosing.
This has been monologue Monday.
I mention Jan Kath in this micro-podcast as the firm truly does exemplify the notion of slowmaking, across vast segments of its organization and production I might add. But Kath, either himself or itself does not own the concept. On the contrary, slowmaking is a reflection of past traditions of craftsmanship incorporated – somewhat anachronistically – into, and juxtaposed with, the modern world. To me, slowmaking reflects our best, most meaningful connection to the earth and its own rhythms, with products made in this manner representing the foundational technologies upon which the modern world has been built. We should – as Kath does – honour them as such.