House Plants – Ahhh Breath of Fresh Air

It’s a long-held belief that talking to your houseplants can help them to thrive. But, did you know that they in-turn can return the favor, even though you may refuse to carry on a conversation with your coleus?

The benefit of filling your home or office with houseplants isn’t myth. Research continues to demonstrate the ability of plants to improve the quality of indoor air.

The energy crunch of the 1970’s led to changes in building technology. Homes and office buildings are insulated and sealed to increase energy efficiency. The downside of lower heating and cooling costs, is the concern about indoor air pollution. The tightening of buildings means less fresh air is allowed into the structure.

Many offices re-circulate air, with no opportunity for opening windows to bring in a fresh breeze. The air quickly becomes stale. Humans exhale carbon dioxide, contributing to the worsening air quality. Plants, giving off oxygen, do just the opposite. Architects and building designers are beginning to include plants as important parts in the design of new buildings, often circulating air through plant-filled atriums.

Besides giving off oxygen, some plants have even proven their ability to remove harmful chemicals and pollutants from the air. Among them, the common “spider” plant was proven by NASA scientists to be able to absorb and remove formaldehyde – a common chemical used in many building products – from the air.

During the last 20 years, more than 40 plants have tested successfully in removing various indoor air polluting chemicals.

Experts recommend using as many plants as practical in the home and office, mixing different varieties, since it’s not certain which combinations of plants work best together. The list of house plants suggested by researchers includes spider plants, dracaenas, palm, ficus, Chinese evergreen, golden pothos and peace lilly.

There is no such thing as a “bad” choice when selecting house plants – some are better than others at improving the air we breathe – but all plants, due to their natural beauty, will help improve the morale in your home or office.

Houseplants make great houseguests too. They don’t eat or drink much, won’t track mud in from outdoors, and never dump over the garbage. Have you ever heard of a dog’s tooth violet having an “accident” on the living room carpeting?

So, take a deep breath of fresh air, thank your Thalia and tell your yucca plant that you love him.

 

 

 

A Short History of Rugs & Rug Making

Many centuries ago, shepherds began knotting wool into heavy woven cloth. These heavy cloths were developed into rugs that provided protection from the elements. Whether the first rugs were made in the near East or Siberia is not clear, but it is clear that over the centuries, rug making changed from a craft to a fine art form. The patterns, vibrant colours, and many knots per square inch produced beautiful rugs.

These early artisans showed amazing skill and ingenuity in designing, dying and producing these prized rugs. Established trade routes carried this skill to China. When a personal prayer rug became a tradition of Islam, the spread of this religion to Spain and Eastern Europe took the necessity of rug making with it.

Oriental rugs have come to be associated with luxury in contemporary interiors. They often serve as a focal point in formal residential living areas, corporate board rooms, or luxury hotel lobbies.

Woven carpets feature extremely dense pile, consisting of wool or silk, knotted on closely woven backing. This method allows for extreme versatility in design and texture.

Traditionally, rug designs designated tribal or village source, and often the town weaver. The name of the rug indicates the weaving centre, city or area of origin.

The commercial carpet industry has its beginnings in England. This commercialisation soon made names of English towns like Axminster and Wilton, synonymous with rugs.

Axminster carpets, arguably one of the best known carpets, are characterised by heavy backings made from jute, cotton or man-made fibres that form lengthwise ribs. These carpets have a smooth cut-pile surface. Many hotel chains, theatres and casinos use Axminster carpet in the U.S. and around the world. Wilton rugs, feature a variety of surface textures, from level cut pile, to multi-level loop pile.

An American, Erastus B. Bigelow, invented the power loom to manufacture Wilton carpets in 1848. For many years, the only width available for this carpet was 27 inches. The carpet strips were sewn together so carefully, that the seams were barely noticeable. These woven carpets dominated carpet production until the 1940’s, when the manufacturing process for today’s tufted carpets was developed.

In the United States, sales of tufted carpeting have grown from a 10% market share in 1950, to over 95% of all carpet sales today.

Tufted carpet is made in 3 layers. The top layer is called the face fibre. These fibres are made from nylon, wool, olefin, polyester, acrylic or cotton. The face fibre is stitched by high-speed machines to the second layer or primary backing. The primary backing is then glued to the secondary backing with latex glue. These backings are typically made of polypropylene. Polypropylene is well suited to damp or humid climates because it resists mildew.

Tufted carpets are typically manufactured first as “white goods” and then dyed to the desired colour. To obtain a pattern or colour variation, manufacturers use more than one type of carpet fibres. The different fibres accept the dyes in varying degrees, giving them the desired effect.