Friday, 6 July 2018

Magic Carpets!

Two weeks ago at Kingston Lacy, I pointed out the flooring to my friend Val. "It's really clever, they reproduce the original flooring on canvas or something, and lay that down instead. It looks like the original carpet, and so the room looks historically right- and Joe Public can walk all over it without doing damage to the handknotted Persian rugs or whatever." I'd been told this by an enthusiastic NT guide at some other property.
Then on Tuesday, I met these clever people
They are from the Eyemats company based in Faversham in Kent. These are the ones who originally came up with the idea of this protective replica floorcovering.
They generously gave me a a few minutes of time to explain their craft as they laid down the carpet cover at Stourhead.
They've been working on this project for some months.
Firstly they photograph the floor covering in situ
Then they reproduce the pattern in sections
Then it is printed on appropriate fabric [canvas, polyester, whatever] which is laminated to a waterproof backing. Usually in large rectangles, sometimes a whole rug.
The two layers are stitched round the edge, because heavy footfall can cause the layers to 'delaminate' and the stitching holds everything together.
The panels are attached with strips of tape. 
Sometimes the mat goes right to the wall - and so the pattern may include floorboard as well as carpet [as in the adjacent room to the one shown] of sometimes the edge of the mat with be bound with twill tape.
This is the Stourhead Music Room - I think that's a wall-to-wall mat, and below another of the Stourhead rooms [these two pictures both from the Eyemats informative website]
Sometimes the original carpet is left underneath, other times it is removed. A felt like underlay goes in place below the Eyemats.
The company cover carpets, floorboards, tiles- and even Roman Mosaics. Even Chedworth Villa, where I went with Bob 18 months ago is using Eyemats.
Technical accuracy is of prime importance- and much care is taken to achieve perfect colour and pattern matching. This is why the company uses their own photography to ensure everything is just right [Eyemat photo]
This is part of a tiled floor in Canterbury Cathedral being prepared.[Eyemat photo]

I love it when thoughtful people come together to produce a creative solution to a difficult problem. Someone concerned for maintaining National Trust properties met up with someone making protective hygienic floorcoverings for the Rentokil company [look, they do much more than just deal with rats, you know - but personally I think they could do with a name-change!]...and as they say, the rest is history!
Thank you Eyemats - it was great to meet you and see you taking genuine pride in your work. Your products definitely enhance the experience of visiting NT properties- but sadly, most people will just trample all over them and barely notice! 


  1. Thanks for a really interesting post.
    I am going to Somerset in September and very probably to Kingston Lacy too as my cousin is a volunteer gardener there. I expect that I have walked over one of these floors and not noticed. I have wondered why seemingly beautiful carpets have been left down so maybe they were eyemats.
    From now on I’ll be on my hands and knees looking to see if the carpets are the genuine article. That will amuse the guides!

  2. I'm definitely one of the people who has wandered over these mats and not noticed. I've visited Stourhead loads of times and had absolutely no idea! Need to be more observant!


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