Broadly speaking, there are two main reasons why someone can either be looking for carpet fragments on eBay or drafting an advertisement with the intention of selling. The two marketplaces are quite different, and this guide covers both.
The first concerns the idea of a carpet fragment as decoration. In this sense, the type of carpet that we are normally talking about is a handcrafted, woven carpet. Historically, they were beautifully made from attractive materials, such as silk, and woven with intense and captivating patterns. They were works of art, frequently hung on walls rather than placed on floors. As well as being prized in their own right, they have also been turned into posters.
The second way of thinking about carpet fragments is more practical. This type of buyer is looking for a low cost or even an unusual way of furnishing a room. For a seller who has been laying a large expanse of carpet, it can be both thrifty and sociable to consider selling the leftover fragments once they are no longer required for the job at hand.
Carpet Fragments as Decoration
In terms of decorative carpet fragments, most people who have the idea of a carpet that could also be a wall hanging associate it with the near east, India, and China. "Near East" is a broad term, which sometimes refers to territories belonging to the former Roman and later Byzantine Empires, sometimes to Arabia, and sometimes to the entire span of Islamic territories west of the Mughal Empire. Fine carpets were emblematic of status in all of these geographical and historical territories, and a thriving trade continues to the present day. Traditional craftspeople making authentic carpets in a time-honoured way and modern industrial operations producing lower cost alternatives sustain such a trade.
Perhaps the most famous centre for making traditional woven carpets is Persia or modern Iran. Partial carpets that date to the fifth century BCE have been discovered, but most of the antique examples in circulation date from the sixteenth century CE or later. The most common material used is wool although cotton may be used for the foundation layer. Silk is used less frequently because it is more expensive and less durable; however, silk carpets are particularly favoured as wall hangings.
The essence of this type of carpet fragment is the knotting, which creates the pile. A basic rough carpet might have 16 knots per square inch, but the finest examples may have 400 or more. Because of their elaborate, symmetrical, and repeating patterns, Persian carpets, and also Chinese carpets, are available as reproductions as well as in their native state.
There are many practical reasons to seek carpet fragments. A mix-and-match mélange of carpet pieces can be a nice offbeat way of furnishing a bare space such as a new flat. They can be used when an existing carpet has been damaged in a way that makes repair more viable than replacement. Old cars can sometimes benefit from a bit of an upgrade, and the same acoustic properties that can improve the soundproofing in that car can also make a low cost solution to soundproofing a home music studio. Then, there are more unusual applications, such as putting the finishing touches to a doll’s house. Lastly, some types of imitation grass carpet can be used to line an aquarium.
The traditional way of making carpets, as previously discussed, is weaving. There are several other methods in use in modern industrial production, but the most prevalent are needle felt and tufting.
Tufting is the most common method of producing domestic carpets. Tufted carpets have their pile injected into a substrate material, and the resulting combination is then bonded to a secondary backing for stability. The material chosen for backing is usually woven hessian, jute, or a man-made equivalent.
Felt is a material that is made by matting and pressing wool fibres. Needle felts are made by mixing and felting individual synthetic fibres using specially designed barbed needles. The resulting material is typically highly durable and often used to carpet areas with high throughput, such as hotel lobbies and corridors.
The most common materials used in modern carpet making are synthetic, either nylon or polypropylene. The properties that make nylon the more popular of the two include its high melting point, exceptional resilience, and durability with respect to its colouration, which makes it suitable for spaces that enjoy prolonged exposure to sunlight. A drawback of the last characteristic is that it also retains a stain. Polypropylene has much in common with nylon, but broadly speaking, its principal virtue is its low cost; in other respects, it tends to be less durable and less accommodating to dye. However, it is generally easy to fit.
Polyester has become a more common material in recent years as production methods have been refined. It is used in both woven and tufted or felted constructions. It offers similar benefits as nylon and has superior stain resistance. On the other hand, it tends to lose its plush relatively quickly and become crushed or matted.
Refined production methods have also improved the performance of acrylic fibres in carpet and rug making. Previously, the material tended to "pill", with the surface becoming covered in random tufts. The problem has not been entirely eradicated, but improvements have brought the material’s virtues more to the forefront. They include a more convincing similarity to wool in terms of washability and colour retention when compared to other synthetic fibres.
Finally, although it is a less common material in industrially made carpeting, wool’s virtues remain attractive. Wool is durable and easy to dye, but it is expensive relative to man-made fibres. It can be blended with synthetic fibres to further improve its durability and its other characteristics.
Domestic Carpet Fitting
To put the notion of a "carpet fragment" in perspective, the most common loom sizes for modern commercial carpets are 12 or 15 feet in the UK and USA and 4 and 5 metres in Europe. The same method used to combine large expanses to cover even larger areas can be adapted to bind a fragment into a repair. The carpet itself can be fixed using a seaming iron and seam tape, but it may be necessary to underlay the fragment with a cushioning material fixed in place by carpet tacks, tack strips, or adhesives.
An alternative to a carpet fragment per se might prove to be a carpet tile. They are normally 50 centimetres squared and can be found in domestic, business, or industrial varieties.
Buying Carpet Fragments on eBay
To begin with, it is worth thinking about ways of adjusting a search so that potential confusions and blind alleys can be minimised. One question, for example, to ask would concern the difference between a rug and a carpet fragment. The answer can be confusing because some of the classic woven carpets are what we would consider to be rug-sized. That is to say, it would be small relative to the size of a normal living space. The word "fragment" implies an especially small and possibly fragile piece, and other terms might give results that are more in tune with a specific purpose.
While the search term "carpet fragment" will probably yield results that correspond to both the decorative and the practical possibilities, it is unlikely that anyone will want to search for the two types simultaneously. Specifying a material that is expected to be used in the original carpet’s manufacture is one way of narrowing the search.
By the time that you use eBay to search for carpet fragments, you will probably clearly know what you need it for. Consequently, you will know what to look for. A general search term "carpet fragments" or "carpet remnants" may be a good place to start pursuing what eBay has to offer before narrowing the search.
As an alternative to searching directly from the home page, you can browse various categories under topics associated with the home, the garden, do it yourself, cars, business, or industry. The home page categories are brief, and clicking one leads you to a much more detailed list where you can continue your browsing. It is a bit like walking around a department store.
Provided that you have an eBay account, there are a number of useful tools available to aid your search. For example, you can choose to watch individual items rather than immediately buying them. Normally, you will receive an e-mail or instant message, depending on your preferences, near the end of the auction or sale offer.
For somebody with a taste for the exotic, the unexpected, or a fragment from a fine Persian carpet, any of the kindred rug and carpet-making traditions that stretch from the near east through India to China can make a striking and original wall hanging. A whole carpet can be too big or too expensive, but a fragment can be hung just like a painting or a poster.
For people with repair projects, the picture is more complicated. There are many different ways of making carpets, and many different materials can be used in their manufacture. Perhaps, a perfect match is not the most important criterion; perhaps, a melange or a collage effect is exactly what is intended. If so, it might be tricky to assemble a floor covering in this way, but it is certain to be a lot of fun. If a repair is needed, on the other hand, having fun will be far less important than getting the problem solved quickly. In these cases, being knowledgeable about the types of material and their strengths and weaknesses will help get the job done with as little effort and expenditure as possible.