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Before you shop for a rug, consider this very important issue.

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — Barbara Jacobs @ 9:10 am

An area rug can be many things in your decor, and making the decision about which rug to choose from the literally thousands available (and as you know, that’s an understatement) can, in that way, be an experience that resembles selecting paint.

In choosing an area rug, your main considerations might be your use for the rug, and your budget. Other issues besides cost, color, and design, will include longevity. For some details in a brief “rug primer,” this article in the recent Fabulous Floors Blog will give you some tips to take note of, even before you start to shop for a rug.

A big part of what’s important in rug selection, however, is the issue of who actually made the rug.  Adults? Slave-labor children? is making great strides in eliminating child labor in the rug industry; rescuing children from the labor market and providing education and a chance at a higher quality of life. This video is one of three from GoodWeave that addresses that subject.  If it’s something you have never thought about, you may be surprised—so please take a look. Each GoodWeave member pays a portion of your purchase price of a GoodWeave certified rug toward this goal.

At least, paint does not carry those considerations.  While some of the main issues with paint are comparable: What you need and where you will use it; budget; VOCs and personal health concerns; durability; ease of touch-up; and of course your color choices, that include colors that have black in them, or true Full Spectrum colors with no black and a minimum of seven tints in each!

But, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed—about either rugs, or paint.

For a rug, be sure to go to a dealer that carries rugs from GoodWeave suppliers. Each GoodWeave certified rug will have a numbered label. For your dilemmas about paint selections, I am here to help.


Make it easy? Texture and finish variations create interest.

Connect and coordinate a simple color palette with collaboration, colors, and textures.
Sometimes it’s easier than others, and sometimes it just Looks easy! Carefully considered wall finishes and coordinated custom rugs can help. Collaboration gets it done.

In this Boston high-rise condo, to create a backdrop for stronger colors we used a neutral-based color palette in custom finish of textured walls, with custom Tibetan rugs.

rugs from Silk Road WeavesHand knotted rug: 100% wool. All custom Tibetan rugs shown are from Silk Road Weaves.

I’ve worked in tandem with Boston-area designer Cynthia Brumm, of SpaceDesign, on a number of projects. Here, Cynthia was the lead and she asked me to create wall finishes and rug designs. In addition to designing custom pieces for this client, Cynthia selected beautifully vibrant furnishings to complement the owner’s existing pieces.

Dinign room rug from Silk Road Weaves

Existing dining room furniture is beautifully complemented by GEO-Borders in wool and silk, from Silk Road Weaves

Cynthia also designed this dramatic console cabinet in a beautiful dark wood finish.

TV cabinet

Cabinet design by Cynthia Brumm. Artisan wall finishes by Barbara Jacobs Color and Design

Custom wall finishes in an architectural, low-profile texture provide a beautiful backdrop for the custom rugs from Silk Road Weaves.

Runner version of Geo from Silk Road Weaves

The adaptable nature of GEO from Silk Road Weaves becomes a runner in 100% wool, and complements the living room and dining room rugs, also from the GEO group.

The wall finishes are the same throughout the main open areas: Entry, Hallway, Living room, Dining room.
Kitchen and powder room are different.

custom wall finishes by Barbara Jacobs

Powder room features walls having a soft bronze layered glaze. Wall finishes by Barbara Jacobs.

The overall effect is comfortable, yet stunning, with a dramatic view overlooking the city.

view of boston

Yes, there is a view of Boston!

All images by Barbara Jacobs.

Color of the week? Try, MOOD of the week, INDIGO!

Blues…music, paint, fiber, jewels, feelings.

What’s “Mood Indigo,” anyway?
An audio version of course…this classic!

And another interpretation by Ella Fitzgerald, unsurpassable.

Another way to experience it – Old Levi’s!  In the originals, the dye was Indigo.

Indigo culture is worldwide, a fiber dye and therefore, as with many dye materials, a currency. Whether it’s a paste resist in Africa; Batik  or block-printing in Indonesia; Rice Paste resist or Arashi Shibori in Japan, and any one of the myriad textile design techniques that are part of indigenous cultures worldwide, using Indigo dye is a highly developed craft and art.

Indigo vats in Japan - find out more at Kimono Boy

Vats of Indigo in Japan. Find out more at Kimono Boy

Actually, the inspiration for this post was a recent conversation with a friend who now lives in Santa Fe. She mentioned seeing the premier of the documentary, Blue Alchemy, and hearing about it reminded me of the many ways that I’ve seen Indigo dye used over the years. That conversation brought back many memories of my own personal experiences working with many types of tradition textile decoration techniques and materials. Even now, in fact, I can use Indigo-dyed fibers in my own Tibetan rug designs!

In antique textiles, traditional culture textiles, and modern work, Indigo has a presence all its own.

Hmong Textiles

Textiles made by Hmong people in Vietnam, shown at Kimono Reincarnate blog site.

Indigo pots in Nigeria

Pots of Indigo in Nigerian traditional dyeing

Morris Kennet-Indigo printed textile 1883

Indigo printed textile by Morris Kennet -- 1883!

Indigo is earthy, primal, mysterious, exotic, beautiful, and versatile! What more could we ask of one type of plant?

If this is a subject that interests you, check out this video and other material on the same page. And, Enjoy!

Color of the Week #2 – Loving Versatile Red

The focus in on Red!

Energizing, passionate; communicating intensity and warmth; advancing, into the space… and on the other hand sometimes overly heavy, drab, imposing, oppressive…just a few of the characteristics of this color that can make reds hard to use.

Red, as a paint color
This week I’m featuring the rich, warm, essence of a very livable Full Spectrum red paint color: EcoHues—Venezia Rose. Most red paint colors include black in their formulas. The true beauty of any color red comes through in Full Spectrum formulas. The rich, atmospheric quality of true full spectrum paints also makes them easy to decorate with since so many other colors are included in each paint color mixed this way.

EcoHues - Venezia Rose

“Red” is a color that has enjoyed a great popularity in homes, in particular when used in a dining room or often in a bedroom. Red is often applied as what we who do decorative painting refer to as “straight paint…” meaning, out of the can, not as a glaze or other special treatment.

Red, Faux Sure
Red is also a great color to develop in layers, for “faux finishes” or Venetian Plaster or other special translucent or textured effects. Red can be used in many different settings, however: commercial spaces, home kitchens, and other areas.  I often have recommend that clients consider a layered finish when they want to see red in the best possible way.

Layering colors allows the decorative artist a way to bring light into the surface, literally. A light-infused finish helps avoid the feeling of heaviness that can accompany a red wall color.

A few different examples follow, of finishes I’ve developed to take advantage of the drama of red in a variety of spaces.

This waxed, pigmented plaster finish has depth and richness that play well in any time of day or night.

Samovar Tea Lounge, Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

Samovar Tea Lounge, Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

Powder room walls, private residence, Boston area. Can you guess the colors used?

Multi-layered glaze radiates warmth and mystery

This multi-layered, multi-color red glaze finish glows with warmth and mystery.

Rusty-Red kitchen walls have interest without pattern.

Kitchen walls, a rusty red

Kitchen walls, a soft, rusty red glaze without pattern. Kitchen design including custom cabinet design, by Carolyn Anderson /Anusara Home.

Tasty Reds


Delicious Summer Strawberries at Powisset Farm CSA!

Perfect complementary colors in red apples

Apples offer a perfect study in complementary colors

Red Underfoot
Three new colorways in Red from Silk Road Weaves: LOOPY/Gems, hand knotted Tibetan rugs.
I developed these new custom rug colorways at a client’s request for specific colors. Combining 3 different reds with aubergine in various ways, using wool and silk, here they are together, and separately.

Three Reds Together, from Silk Road Weaves

Three new red colorways in LOOPY GEMS, from Silk Road Weaves

Red Aubergine

LOOPY Gems: Red wool background, aubergine silk design lines

LOOPY GEMS: Aubergine-Red Tibetan rug

LOOPY Gems: Aubergine wool background, red silk design lines.

Silk Road Weaves - LOOPY GEMS: Wool and silk Tibetan rug

LOOPY Gems: 2 colors of red in the wool + silk background, with red silk design lines

As with any color, but most noticeably with a red, yellow, or other strong colors, the brightness of the color and the effect of the actual space and lighting has a tremendous effect on the appearance of the color.

Please share your own favorite reds, with a note about how you’ve used them!





All Tibetan Rugs are Not Created Equal

Filed under: Blog,Decor and Fashion — Tags: , , , , , — Barbara Jacobs @ 11:44 am

It’s a price-conscious world. Nothing new about that, really. But as applies to many things in the world of products and services, the comparison is most accurate when it’s “apples to apples.” Looking at similar qualities, as much as possible.

Take Tibetan rugs, for example. A subject near and dear to my heart as I have a personal interest in what I look at as an art form even though there’s “production” involved. I’m not a weaver myself, obviously—although I have to admit I have a long-time desire to learn to weave, along with many other artisan interests in a variety of media.

The Details make the Difference!
For now, I’ll focus on a few details of construction. Even if you’re looking strictly at cost, these aspects can make a difference.

Knot count
This usually refers to ‘knots made per square inch.”  Typical knot counts are 50, 80, 100…and sometimes fewer or more, depending on the specific design,  materials and textures.

As with most items of high quality, construction is also a factor. For rugs by Silk Road Weaves, we have a  ‘take no shortcuts” approach. Find out more about the rug creation process in our 2-part slide show.

Two main weaving methods
cross-weaving is more secure and durable

  • The traditional Tibetan “cross-weaving” style is more exacting and takes more experience and time to do, and results in a much more durable rug.
  • “Uncrossed” weaving, faster and less durable result.

Wool is typically from New Zealand or the Himalayan mountains. There is a distinct difference in the look and feel of the end result. “Tibetan” rugs made in India or China usually use New Zealand wool and have a more flat-c0lor appearance unless they are artificially ‘aged’ in a chemical wash or with other methods. Rugs made with the long-fiber, high lanolin wool from sheep raised in the high altitude Himalayas have an inherently different look, a more naturally modulated color.

Design style
Some styles are based on a more traditionally “Tibetan” motif, but others often now a more “contemporary” look that fits well with many types of decor.

Who makes it?
Child labor is a huge issue in the rug industry.

GoodWeave is the major non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating child labor and increasing education and community care of weavers’ families. As members of GoodWeave, I and other rug design companies can guarantee with confidence that there’s no child labor in the rugs we offer.

Rugs from Silk Road Weaves are made only by the most experienced adult artisans.
This can have an effect on the cost of rugs in many cases. But even if there’s a slight increase you can be confident that you are also helping someone else at the same time as you are enjoying your rug in your own home. As with other GoodWeave members, a percentage of the cost of our rugs goes directly to ending child labor and improving the weavers’ quality of life. I like to call this quality of human connection “Human Green.”

In the variety of methods used for washing the rug after it’s woven, we always opt for the ‘soap and water’ method, as opposed to the chemical wash that can artificially ‘age’ the look of a rug and may even damage the fibers.

Washing "Loopy/Meandering" from Silk Road Weaves

Shown: LOOPY/Meandering, 100% Himalayan wool from Silk Road Weaves. 8'x10.' The next step is drying in the sun, then trimming and finishing. Fringes will be turned under and bound.

Tips for buying a rug
More about dyes, pile, knot count…and valuable suggestions about what to look for when you’re ready to invest in a rug…regardless of your budget.

Get the best possible, long-lasting value for your money.
It’s ultimately about the Human Connection, that lasts for generations.

“Falling Leaves” are custom made in time for Fall

What is a “Bespoke” design for rugs?
I’m often asked about my process of designing and having a “bespoke” rug made; an original design created specifically for an individual client’s space and personal style preferences.  In some cases, the client loves to participate very directly in the design process.

Falling Leaves - Octagon

Octagonal version of the design "Falling Leaves"

I selected “Falling Leaves” to share here, as a good example of this experience which is many steps beyond the typical customizing of an existing collection design for size, shape, colors, and even texture.

For me, the process of collaboration with the client is especially enjoyable.  Although these clients are in  the Boston area, and it was easy for me to travel to their home for our meetings, it’s also possible to work with people long-distance. I’ll write about that in another post.

It’s Personal
It’s more than a rug purchase, it’s really about the total experience. My goal is to to invite each client into the process of creating a piece of custom art work that they will enjoy for generations. Of course, people vary in the degree to which they want to be involved. In this case, the clients were excited about in-depth participation on every level.

We had a number of meetings together from start to finish. At the outset, we determined the “subject” of the design. I had a little head start on this because, about 10 years ago, they had engaged me to create a pair of hand painted canvas floorcloths for these same areas. The painted designs were made in 5’x7′, and 8′ diameter—with 12 sides!

What to include?
Their kitchen/dining space included warm cherry wood cabinets, oak floor, and a silvery granite countertop with some grayed blue-green undertones. Fabric of the window treatments included colors and shapes they love. All these elements were very important to them in the look of the new rugs, and it was those considerations that set the tone of the design development process.

Now that they have an adult household, doing actual hand-woven rugs was an exciting and viable option. Exploring the variety of fibers, colors, and weaving techniques that are an intrinsic part of creating a hand knotted rug was a very pleasurable part of the process, in the expectation and anticipation of the final works.



About the designs: the goal
Two custom rugs, “Falling Leaves.”  The pair is a 5’x7′ rectangle, and an 8’x8′ octagon. The rectangle was made for the work area of the client’s kitchen (all wool, 100 knot), and the octagon was made to go under the round table in the adjacent dining area, on the other side of the peninsula.

leaves in the kitchen

FLORA: "Falling Leaves," on the kitchen floor

We discussed the fibers to use, and the overall color palette that would best represent their ideal rug design. While they had an interest in including some silk in the designs, we explored that possibility but ultimately opted for using 100% Himalayan wool (the only type of wool I use for Silk Road Weaves rugs). In having the samples made up, we included one with some silk in it also, just to be sure of the look. Everyone loved the silk look and feel, but of course that’s not so practical for this setting.


Pair of hand made rugs

This "Bespoke" design: FLORA/Falling Leaves. Left: 5'x7' Right: 8' Octagon

From our overall color palette, to create additional depth of color I suggested combining multiple colors and dye-techniques within the various color fields. Again, this was something that I specified in our samples, so we could see how it looked in a few different ways.

That’s just one thing I love about the creative process of designing these rugs as an art form, just another medium. There are so many ways to create visual interest and depth of color, even with a more limited palette and basically “graphic” design style.

Texture of falling leaves

Closeup - texture of Falling Leaves

For our first meeting
I brought yarn poms of wool and silk, and worked out rough sketches to start with. Then, back in the studio I translated the design to the computer where I could adjust the overall design and the placement of colors. This is a very effective way to preview the possibilities and make changes as needed, to develop the design. Once we had the basic idea of the 5×7, I developed the 8′ octagon, taking into consideration the placement of table and chairs.  In our subsequent meetings together we honed the color selections and refined the details, the entire look and texture of the two rugs.

I sent for the samples and…after one month they arrived. Because we had been meticulously attentive to all details along the way, they loved all three versions but the final decision was easy for them to make.


Why this shape?
Yes, we could have made it round, but wanted the octagon as a more interesting shape that was very compatible with the design style and the space it would be used.  As with all our collections, these rugs can be customized to suit any personal space and style with size, color, and fiber preferences.


dining area

Dining area, the 8' octagon rug.


“It’s hard to believe that our third project with Barbara is even better than the first two!  The beach scene mural that Barbara painted on our wall, over 10 years ago, continues to be timeless and bring joy. And while we are sad to say goodbye to the canvas floorcloths that she created for us eleven years ago, the replacement rugs she has just designed are magnificent, with Barbara’s impeccable choice of color and textures woven in a stunning yet subtle design. We’re finding it difficult to walk on these works of art!

Perhaps best of all was how easily Barbara brought my husband and me into the design process. She educated us on the process of rug making that would happen half way around the world and kept us informed of progress via email and pictures. In the design mode Barbara welcomed our suggestions and sought our input, making the three of us a team.

Barbara’s versatile talents create one-of-a-kind jewels that transform a room into a very special space.  Bravo, Barbara, you’ve done it again!”

Want more information about the process and materials?
View our 2-part slide show, The Journey, from Inspiration to You,” to find out more about the materials and processes of making a hand woven Tibetan rug from Silk Road Weaves.

Register to receive Barbara’s e-newsletter and download your pdf of our white paper
“Enjoy the Process: Guidelines for Working with a Design Professional.”

Happy Colors Inspire a Rainy Day

Here we are in Boston, chilly and rainy. Finally, some water–it’s appreciated. But thinking of colors today, here’s a bit of what comes to mind:

Remember “Don’t Worry, be Happy?”  Sometimes hard to do these days, but looking at this helps make it  possible!

Japanese bike saying happy things

Happy Bike!

In case you can’t read the fine print, the saying on the bike is this (and please note: it’s NOT a typo)!

Benny present mellow breezy cycle to you!
Happy Life match your good sense!

In a different medium, it’s inspiring to look at and handle the beautiful wool and silk colors, and all manner of paint and surfacing colors. Here are few of the silk poms that I enjoy using with other materials in developing designs for Silk Road Weaves Tibetan rugs.

Silk Yarns - for silk road weaves rugs

Here come the silks!

Speaking of materials, mixing colors  has always been a pleasure.  Whether it’s using fine pastels–basically ground pure pigment–or liquid tints for any medium from varnish to paint, colors always give a lift.

Mixol - the best tint for many media

Love that Mixol!

Inspiration for interior and exterior color decisions, and for many color design projects, often comes from the materials themselves.

Best wishes for a Happily Inspired  Colorful Day with many more to come!

Silk Road Weaves featured on &

Filed under: In The News — Tags: , , , — Barbara Jacobs @ 10:42 am

Find out about Barbara Jacobs’ unique, color-infused approach to designing custom Tibetan rugs.

Boston-area rug designer and nationally recognized colorist Barbara Jacobs, Silk Road Weaves™, is featured, along with her line of custom Tibetan rugs, on www.Getting Home
GettingHomeDesign-logoThe extensive article includes 26 images that provide a taste of what she offers to designers and homeowners alike.

Read the story about Silk Road Weaves in the April, 2010 issue

Read the full article about our hand made rugs from Silk Road Weaves on the site.

SBO welcomes Silk Road Weaves from the US

Filed under: Media Press Releases — Tags: , , — Barbara Jacobs @ 8:33 am

January 19, 2010
For Immediate Release

SBO welcomes Silk Road Weaves from the US

Boston-area designer Barbara Jacobs – owner and designer for her line of custom heirloom quality, artisan Tibetan rugs /Silk Road Weaves announces her affiliation with the new international design resource,

States Jacobs, “This venue is an exciting one for me because I work a lot with my clients individually, providing in-depth custom design with personalized service in creating fine Tibetan rugs. It’s a great concept and I’m pleased to be included in it’s beginnings.

Using SBO, designers can show their clients the progress of their design ideas by creating virtual sample boards online. When a designer sees one of my rug designs on SBO, they can use it right way in their design boards. When customizing is desired, they can easily communicate the options to their clients since I can provide all that information to the designer directly. In this way, we can communicate to make any modifications they need without having to go through a showroom. Since personalized service is key to the way I work, this method of fewer steps is a perfect fit.”

See the SBO post about this subject and find out what SampleBoardOnline is all about.

Download a pdf of the entire press release : SBO announcement

I will provide an impartial perspective on your project, helping you create supportive spaces...

Color affects your bottom line. Let color work for you in your workplace, your marketing materials, and your products.

Embrace Color with Confidence! Enjoy the process of making interior and exterior color decisions...