Lighting Your Carpets by Michael Kaplan

On June 3, 2017 Michael Kaplan

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gave a talk at The Textile Museum, here in Washington, D.C., providing practical suggestions for safely lighting your carpet collections in a manner that brings out the beauty of their colors.

Michael Kaplan is a recently retired veterinarian who loves carpets and the collection of the same. He joined IHBS and the Textile Museum to become more involved and knowledgeable about this field and to meet fellow collectors.

He was involved with lining up continuing education veterinary programs for the Greater Baltimore Veterinary Medical Association and served as the group’s vice president and president for the last 15 years before retiring.

Michael began:

(You get a larger version of any image below by clicking on it.)

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I am a newbie to this level of collecting although I bought my first rug over 50 years ago. Aesthetics drove my purchases then as it does now. I want to love the rug. Natural dyes with saturated colors, excellent well thought out designs, lustrous wool and carpets in good to excellent condition are what drive my purchases.

Those criteria do not preclude new rugs. Actually it pushes me towards them since I do not have unlimited funds for antique rugs that meet those goals. Some new rugs can cost up to $300 a square foot but there are companies that come close for less than $100 a square foot. One line I favor is the James Opie Collection. I have nine of his rugs. Structural technical analysis interests me some but less so than many collectors. Unfortunately, one of my other interests is modern architecture and my home has much glass and thus light and thus fading.  I have lost many rugs due to this.

Most rugs show best with spot lighting and wall mounting.  The light frames the carpet and allows the reds and blues to “pop”.  I have found that Soraa MR16 LED bulbs in WAC track lighting fixtures work well and are cost effective.

After that quote we are still going to suggest rugs be wall mounted and spot lighted for preservation and to bring out the beauty of the carpets.*

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LEDs are preferred over incandescents such as halogens and fluorescents for lighting textiles.

 

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Most home users can afford a visible light meter but not a UV meter.

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Many MR16 LEDs can be dimmed but watch for flicker. Read specs on bulb and wall switch. When halogens are dimmed the color temperature and CRI can change but not so with some high end MR16 LEDs. LEDs can be dimmed to 5% of their normal output without affecting the CT or CRI. 

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Be very careful with warranties. Incandescent bulbs usually fail before their CT or CRI changes.  With LEDs their CT or CRI usually changes sooner than the actual bulb’s failing. Most manufacturers will warranty the bulb for luminance failure (the bulb blows) but not for changes in CT or CRI, although some warranty for both (or all three). 

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The above 39″ distance will vary with the bulb specifications. See spec chart for each bulb on manufacturers web site.

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In Harald Bohmer’s book “Koekboya” he lists different natural dyes and grades each dye on “lightfastness” from inadequate to very good so you can predict to some extent how they will do beforehand. *

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Below  (bottom of the following paragraphs) is a You Tube video link that explains the SORAA Snap System.  

You can also access this video by going to Google. Then entering SORAA Snap System. Then click onto “videos” and finding the SORAA Snap System video.  

It is important that you watch the “snap” video. It’s about one minute long.   You may also want to watch a video clip entitled “SORAA LED MR16 Full Spectrum Light Bulb Overview & Comparison.”  This  video is a over five minutes long.  It is usually the third video down on the right side of the page.

There are additional videos listed which also may be of interest but most are advertisements for SORAA or other manufacturers. Thus you may want to exit after viewing the “SORAA LED MR16 Full Spectrum Light Bulb Overview & Comparison” video.

If you enter a loop which repeats the same video just click onto “cancel” and then click onto the video you want to watch. When you are finished watching the videos click onto the <  icon  which will send you “back to previous page”. Keep clicking onto the < until you reach the “lighting your carpets lecture” again and proceed through the slide show. 

https://youtu.be/gfpxHOKizqU

 

 

 

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The monopoint is only one option. There are 2′, 4′ and 8′ tracks also available. 

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I usually use a white fixture and not the aluminum.

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Least expensive option is to order direct from Garvin although Amazon also offers. This ring allows one to change a 6″ recessed opening to a 4″ opening for a monopoint.

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Works for 4′ x 6′ carpet.

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Works for 3′ x 5′ carpet.

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Changes color temperature. See manufacturers spec sheet for details.

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PAR36 VNS (very narrow spot) are low voltage but higher wattage than MR16LEDs. May offer more “pop” than MR16. Are being discontinued.

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Do not use Velcro with adhesive added. Order online as hard to find this version in local stores. Preferred to most other mounting methods and usually will not damage the textile. Never vacuum the fringe part of the rug. 

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Will not fully block out visible light thus fading will still occur although to a lesser degree. See spec sheet.

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Above shows skylight at the end of this room. Brightest source of light in this room. 

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The edges of these vinyl album covers faded due to the exposure to light.

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The red rear of carpet faded to brown on the front.

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This carpet did not fade at all with extensive light exposure after 28 years. I suspect it has chromium synthetic dyes but could be natural dyes. The beige is just the original wool color.

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The yellow and pink completely faded out with sunlight after a few years of exposure. Synthetic dyes.

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Above has not faded after 37 years of exposure to light. 

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Carpets framed with MR16 LEDs.

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James Opie. New.

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Above rug is on the floor and would benefit from spot LED lighting.  The colors are quite striking in the correct light.

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This rug is rotated 90 degrees from it’s proper orientation. Antique. Natural dyes.

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Excellent example of red dyes poping with spot lighting.

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Four MR16 lighting the carpet. Rotating 90 degrees from proper orientation. 

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Natural dyes antique rug. 

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New James Opie design.

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New.

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Orange is probably synthetic dye.

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James Opie. Natural dyes. New. All James Opie rugs are natural dyes. 

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Blue pops with spot lighting.

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James Opie. New.

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It has been a hard day. 

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Some rugs are just too fragile to be vacuumed, but most benefit from a gentle weekly vacuuming. Never vacuum the fringe

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Michael took questions and brought his talk to a close.

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People crowded around and there was good and lingering conversation.

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Michael had a handout that provided technical definitions and other information.

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Lighting Your Carpets

Definition of Terms

Light: Light is the band of radiation that allows us to perceive color and is composed of many different wavelengths that correspond to specific colors. Light is best thought of as a spectrum consisting of ultraviolet (UV) at the short end, visible light in the center, and infrared (IR) wavelengths at the long end

 Ultraviolet (UV) is an electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light but longer than X-rays. UV radiation constitutes about 10% of the total light output of the Sun, and is thus present in sunlight. Ultraviolet rays are invisible to most humans. UV is generally a minor factor in the fading of dyes except when daylight is involved

 Visible Light is defined as the wavelengths that are visible to most human eyes. •It is measured in lux (lumens per square meter) or foot-candles (fc). One foot-candle is slightly more than 10 lux.

IR Infrared Radiation: radiation produces radiant heat which can damage textiles.  It is invisible to humane eyes.

Color temperature is a characteristic of visible light and is stated in units of absolute temperature, known as Kelvin (K). Lower color temperatures (2700 K) are called “warm colors” (yellowish orange). Higher (3000K to 4000 K are whiter.

 Kelvin (abbreviation K), less commonly called the degree Kelvin (symbol, o K), is the Standard International (SI) unit of thermodynamic temperature.

 Lumen is a unit of measurement for the brightness of light. Think lumens not watts. For example 40W LED = 450 lumens.

 Lux (metric units) is a measure of the amount of light equivalent to 0.0929 foot-candle (English units) and equal to the illumination produced by luminous flux of one lumen falling perpendicularly on a surface one meter square.  For example the maximum intensity for sensitive items is 50 Lux.

The wattage of a piece of electrical equipment is the amount of electrical power that it produces or uses, expressed in watts.

light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor device that emits visible light when an electric current passes through it. LED have no UV and little heat.

 Halogen lamp is a gas-filled, high-intensity incandescent lamp having a tungsten filament and containing a small amount of a halogen, such as iodine.

An incandescent light bulb, incandescent lamp or incandescent light globe is an electric light with a wire filament heated to such a high temperature that it glows with visible light (incandescence).

fluorescent lamp or a fluorescent tube is a low pressure mercury-vapor gas-discharge lamp that uses fluorescence to produce visible light.

 Line voltage is the standard voltage that’s found in outlets and junction boxes, which is 120 volts in Canada and the United States. Table lamps, and most ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, are line voltage.  The beam spread is easier to control with low voltage than line voltage.

Low voltage means there’s a transmitter, and the electricity is being transformed so the 120 volts is being brought down to 12 volts.

Transformers are devices used in lighting systems to help reduce or “step-down” high voltages to lower voltages. Commonly used in homes with track/monorail or landscape lighting systems, transformers convert the standard residential electric current (120 volts) to a lower voltage (12 volts or 24 volts) required by the lamp or lighting system.

There are two main types of low-voltage transformers: electronic and magnetic. The biggest positive benefit of electronic transformers is they tend to be very small and they tend to be less expensive. Magnetic transformers are known for their reliability. For our purposes I would avoid dimming if possible. Also for our purposes we shall keep the transformer with the bulb.

What are MR16 lamps? “MR” stands for multifaceted reflector, a pressed glass reflector with the inside (reflecting side) surface composed of facets and covered by a reflective coating. These facets provide optical control by gathering the light from the filament to create a concentrated beam of light.

CRI a color rendering index is a quantitative measure of the ability of a light source to reveal the colors of various objects faithfully in comparison with an ideal or natural light source. For textiles, prefer LEDs with a high color rendering index (CRI), which is a measure of the color accuracy of the light. Some of the better LEDs have a CRI in the low- to mid-90s, which is good enough to see color nuance through the full visible spectrum (especially deep reds, important for textiles and deficient/inaccurate in many light sources). Cheaper general-purpose LEDs are usually around CRI 80, good enough for utility lighting but not for color sensitive applications. FWIW Compact florescents are often in the 70s and almost totally deficient in deep reds.

Fugitive dye. A dye that is unstable, that is, not fast.

IESNA: Illuminating Engineering Society of North America Standards

The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America publishes standards for the lighting industry.

Damage Weighted Transmittance (Tdw-ISO), which many experts now use to more accurately assess the potential effects of various glazing materials on fading. This factor quantifies the ability of glass to reduce fading by measuring the effects of both transmitted UV and visible light.

PAR: Diameter of the face of the lamp expressed in 1/8ths of an inch.  Stands for parabolic aluminized reflector.

Suggested Lighting Equipment

 WAC LHT-817- WT lighting double droid Model 817 uses two 12V MR16 bulbs (not included). Finish in white, black or aluminum. Comes with electronic transformer built in. Compatible with L, H and J/J2 track systems.  I ordered LHT-817- WT. Do not buy LED model as comes with bulbs you do not want. LHT is Lightolier compatible. Dimmable although do not dim for out purposes. Source: Lighting Direct @ $108 originally $151.20. Can order from Amazon or most lighting retailers.

Lightolier shallow ring MR16 track light with electronic transformer built in.  Order in white. Lists for $108 but can find for $58. Poorly constructed and over priced at $108.  Other manufacturers make similar fixtures at $20 but be careful can use Soraa Snap on lens with and compatible with your track system. Check Amazon and other on-line sources.

Lightolier Basic White Monopoint. 6190WH  4.3 inches round. $21.50 Amazon

Soraa 00923.  MR16 bulbs for use with Snap System. – 7.5 Watt – LED – MR16 – 50 Watt Equal – 6000 Candlepower – 3000 Kelvin – 95 Color Rendering – 10 Deg. Narrow Spot.  Amazon $22.50

Soraa 00335 – Flat Top #116138D – Flat Top Lens Snap System – 25X25 Deg. Beam for Soraa LED MR16 – Self-Centered Magnet $6.60

 Soraa 00337– Flat Top Lens Snap System – 36X36 Deg. Beam for Soraa LED MR16 – Self-Centered Magnet $6.60

Soraa 00339 – Louv#116134C– Louver Lens Snap System – 40 Deg. Cutoff Beam for Soraa LED MR16 – Self-Centered Magnet $6.60

 VELCRO Brand – Sew On Fasteners – 15′ x 2″ Tape  $22.20

 3M Sun Control Window Film.  PR50, PR60 & PR70 UV rejected 99.9%. Plastic film applied to inside of existing glass to screen UV light and decrease heat transmission. Local contractor for Prestige Window Film: Professional Window Tinting, Inc. www.tintglass.info   $25 per window pane, $270 per French door with two single pieces of glass.

 Garvin Electrical Manufacturer Decorative Ceiling Trim Plate for securing 4.3” Lightolier Monopoint to 6” recessed ceiling fixture opening. Plate is 8” Diameter, 3.75” I.D. White, Steel. $14 per plate plus shipping.

Acknowledgments

James Henderson- manager of materials technology for General Electric.

Below articles by James Henderson and served as references for this presentation.

Oriental Rug Review. Volume XI, Number 5. Light Sources and Fading. P.26-29

Hali April 1991 Issue 56 p.137

Hali October 1991 Issue 59 p.80

Lighting Design & Application May 1991. Dye Fading p.16-25

Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies Volume IV 1993 Light Sources and Fading p.273-281

GE Lighting. Light Sources and Dye Fading June 2009 p.1-8.

Links

MWNF Museum With No Frontiers Carpet Collection

1ST Dibs : click on carpets. Fun site for the 1%.

TurkoTek : a noncommercial site devoted to collectible weavings, where rug enthusiasts can connect.

Eccentric Wefts Textiles and Text : John Howe site

R John Howe: Textiles Rug Appreciation Mornings

Rug Kazbah: very opinionated site. Fun to read if you do not take it too seriously

RugRabbit: on line site to show and sell antique oriental rugs. Always ask what is the dealer’s return policy.

Brian MacDonald Antique Rugs

Paradise Oriental Rugs: California retail shop with many educational videos.

Nomad Rugs: California on line site for new rugs. Excellent photos and fair prices especially when 20% off sales.

Austria Auction Co.: well regarded auction house.

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I want to thank Michael for creating and giving this talk and for his work with me to fashion this virtual version.

He has done a difficult and useful thing: treating a technical subject soundly, while making it accessible.

‘Til next time,

R, John Howe

 

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