Rug Restoration Takes Historic Turn
January 27, 2009
The restoration of an antique Laver Kirman carpet from the collection of Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Calif., by Restoration by Costikyan required a deft touch, deep knowledge and almost 8 months to complete.
Built on a hilltop overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Hearst Castle was commissioned by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst in 1919. In 1957, the Hearst Corp. donated the estate to the state of California; today it is both a State Historical Monument and a National Historic Landmark.
The extremely fragile carpet required delicate hand soakings to dislodge decades of dirt and grime. Myriad broken “foundation strings” running the length of the the 15’10” x 10’4” rug needed to be completely restructured. The strings constituted the framework of the carpet; restoration required new foundation strings be woven – rather than knotted – into existing strings so their replacement would not be obvious.
The new wool required for reweaving sections of the “natural” colored background proved to be one of the most difficult phases of the restoration. The custom hand-dyed wool needed to match the original background in color, texture and weave. Any discrepancies would be obvious and therefore unacceptable.
“Sixty-five percent of the original carpet required full restoration. Our restorers used over thirty-five pounds of wool to reweave the damage to the carpet. The waste after trimming was nearly twenty pounds.” Phillip Costikyan, president of Restoration by Costikyan, said. “Three restorers spent five months each to complete the restoration, requiring the use of nearly one mile of yarn and thread. Since Costikyan had previously cleaned this carpet in the 1940s, we were extremely pleased that they entrusted us with this important project.”
A hundred years of oxidation had badly faded the once-vibrant vegetable-dyed motif. Employing custom-blended, all-natural dyes, it took months of hand tinting and meticulous color retouching to accurately restore the original design.
Sections of the carpet’s perimeter, known as the fringe and binding, had become loose. The area is critical to the carpet’s integrity, and required special techniques to “open,” re-align and strengthen it.
The project began in September 2007 and was completed in April 2008, at which time the Laver Kirman carpet had been restored to its former splendor.
Hearst furnished and re-furnished the estate regularly with art, antiques, sculptures, tapestries and more. Maintenance and upkeep of such items required relationships with craftsmen and others steeped in knowledge of these processes. The Hearst-Costikyan relationship began at the turn of the 20th century; S. Kent Costikyan was a guest at the formal opening of San Simeon, and Clarke W. Costikyan was the carpet appraiser when the Hearst Corp. gifted the estate and its collection to the state of California.