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The Collectors: Kilim

Nov 4, 2011

by rikrak handmade and vintage goods

Bold geometrics. Rich hues. Textured layers. Patterned prints.

These are just a few of the hot trends that come together to create this fabulous handmade and vintage home décor collection.

Who are you?
My name is Alex Keller. I’m an artist living and creating in Tuscon, Arizona. My passion is beauty through fashion, art and design. My addictions are thrifting and antiquing.

What are you collecting?
Kilims and kilim pillows.

When did you start?
I think my adoration of kilims really started with my mom’s love of textiles. Growing up, I had a tapestry hanging in my bedroom. It was for decoration, but also to keep the room a little warmer; I think my mom just took the idea from days of old and went with it. I was also exposed to a lot of Ukrainian textiles — handwoven fabrics and embroidery. I was also in a dance group, Kashtan, and we wore a lot of traditional costumes for performances. My personal collection started with the kilim my mom bought for me in Tubac. I bought another small one, then found a few large rugs, then pillows…. I think the kilim pillows remind me of embroidered Ukrainian pillows because they both have lots of color and pattern. (And they go really well together!)

Where do you keep them?
On the floor, the walls, chairs, a sofa, the bed… And everything else in a large vintage opera trunk.

What’s a crazy/interesting story behind one?
I found one of the rugs at a thrift store, and it was only marked for $12! But the craziest story is about the opera trunk. A friend and I went to this warehouse sale in October 2004, and while driving there we got stuck in traffic in the middle of a parade. I believe it was the Double Ten Parade, which celebrates Chinese Independence. The trunk would not fit into my car, so we had to borrow a friend’s SUV to pick it up a couple of days later. And then we had trouble getting to the opera warehouse because of the Chicago Marathon! So after two trips to the warehouse, and hours and hours in a car, I finally had my trunk.

What piece would you like to add?
I could always get more pillows, and I’m looking for some new runners for our bedroom.

Why do you love them?
I love that they are handmade, that they have such a wonderful history and that they add color, texture and warmth to the surfaces of my home.

Which one is your favourite & why?
The Tree of Life kilim that my mom bought for me when we first moved to Tucson.

What else do you collect?
Another textile I collect is Ukrainian embroidery. I’m first-generation Ukrainian and learned to cross-stitch from my mom. I have a few scraps that I’ve framed, some pieces I made as a child, a few placemats, blouses, a wool jacket, a sheepskin coat, and a beautiful towel from an aunt. My mom has quite a collection of pillows, towels, tablecloths and blouses, too.

Gorgeous! Thanks so much, Alex.

Both of Alex’s Etsy shops explore her love of reclaiming beautiful trends from other eras. Be sure to visit her jewelry recycled boutique, filled with gorgeous goodies, and her vintage finds store, where she rediscovers great treasures!

What do you collect? Please tell us in the comments below. We’d love to hear!

The Collectors Series | Kilim on Etsy


  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 7 years ago

    Haha, where do you keep them? ..basically everywhere!! These are really beautiful, I see why you collect them cause now I want a whole couch full of these pillows!

  • Colettesboutique

    Colettesboutique said 7 years ago

    Wow! these pieces are truly gorgeous! I just want to reach out and feel the texture of those pillows!

  • TheBloomingThread

    TheBloomingThread said 7 years ago

    I always love this made me start my own collection of vintage lockets! Thanks for sharing another great collector ♥

  • funktionslust

    funktionslust said 7 years ago

    I love how this collection evolved through various events that happened throughout your life, beautiful meaning behind the collection

  • CandyAppleCrafts

    CandyAppleCrafts said 7 years ago

    Beautiful! Someday I'd like to incorporate a little bit of kilim in my home, as well. Love it!

  • beliz82

    beliz82 said 7 years ago

    Beautiful Kilims Love them too !!!

  • loveleeflowers

    loveleeflowers said 7 years ago

    Goodness, I love, love, love your textile choices!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 7 years ago

    Beautiful, I love the colours and geometric shapes I'd never heard of Kilim before!

  • VintageEye

    VintageEye said 7 years ago

    Alex! Your collection is beautiful! I too have a tree of life kilim that I treasure! I came to love kilims & similar textiles during the two years I lived in Turkey in the 1980s. Thanks so much for sharing your collection here!

  • riskybeads

    riskybeads said 7 years ago

    gorgeous and great post! thanks!

  • SimpleJoysPaperie

    SimpleJoysPaperie said 7 years ago

    Alex ! it's wonderful to see you featured here! I love your collection! :)

  • cartoncompany

    cartoncompany said 7 years ago

    Alex's shop is one of my absolute favs! I love this peek into her collection.

  • pinksnakejewelry

    pinksnakejewelry said 7 years ago

    Beautiful Collection!!!

  • busterandboo

    busterandboo said 7 years ago

    hi Alex!! What a gorgeous collection!!! :)

  • OhMyAmpersand

    OhMyAmpersand said 7 years ago

    Yay Alex! Lovely collection :)

  • maimy

    maimy said 7 years ago

    I have a beautiful kilim that my fiancé snagged for cheap on an internet auction. The colours and pattern are stunning, I can totally understand how they could become an addictive collection :)

  • BeatificBijoux

    BeatificBijoux said 7 years ago

    Lovely collection! I love the rich colors and patterns, and the texture of the weaves.

  • busterandboo

    busterandboo said 7 years ago

    Oh! And what do I collect?? Kachina Dolls - hand carved wooden native american dolls Also - all things miniature - many from Etsy - but started this collection when I was just a kid. :)

  • AlpineGypsy

    AlpineGypsy said 7 years ago

    Oooh, vintage textiles!!! And I never knew they were called Kilim, thank you~ All gorgeous. This is definitely my taste, and I think you just introduced yet another thing to me to obsess over, hehe..... Is there anything more fascinating than trying to imagine all the love and care that went into a handmade piece like an embroidered blouse, or a handmade carpet? I just *love* the energy these things have. Great interview. ♥ Heidi ♥

  • maggiesraggedyinn

    maggiesraggedyinn said 7 years ago

    Warm and rich collection... wonderful!

  • VeraVague

    VeraVague said 7 years ago


  • frighten

    frighten said 7 years ago

    Beautiful collection, Alex! I love those rich colors and patterns.

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 7 years ago

    Beautiful collection!!!!

  • grandmamarievintage

    grandmamarievintage said 7 years ago

    Such wonderful beautiful textiles. Really, amazing talent!

  • anotherghostquilts

    anotherghostquilts said 7 years ago


  • needlepointpassion

    needlepointpassion said 7 years ago

    Which one is the Tree of Life? AlpineGypsy says it all! I have 2 kilims now! how is kilim pronounced? long or short i? Anne

  • scandivintage

    scandivintage said 7 years ago

    Great pieces and wonderful ways of displaying them. I just love the warmth they give a home. Thanks for sharing.

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage said 7 years ago


  • RustBeltThreads

    RustBeltThreads said 7 years ago

    Alex is awesome! So happy to see this featured!

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 7 years ago

    Beautiful collection.

  • HoneyThistle

    HoneyThistle said 7 years ago

    These rich hues and geometric shapes always make my heart sing. What a great collection!

  • RossLab

    RossLab said 7 years ago

    So colorful!

  • jammerjewelry

    jammerjewelry said 7 years ago

    Wonderful collections thanks for sharing

  • derinmavi

    derinmavi said 7 years ago

    Kilim patterns are symbols of love, life, death, fertility, earth, nature, immortality, family.. and so on. They are also expressions of words and emotions that can not be expressed. Here's a bonus for you: A Turkish folk song called "Kilim". It says "I weaved love to kilim."

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 7 years ago

    Beautiful collection! Your passion is catching!

  • TheFancyLamb

    TheFancyLamb said 7 years ago

    How cool! Love the interview, Alex!

  • QueenofCuffs

    QueenofCuffs said 7 years ago

    Fantastic collection - so warm - what a cosy home you have. Love textiles - and totally understand the passion. Love your shops - especially the jewelry - woman after my own heart !

  • alexkeller

    alexkeller said 7 years ago

    thanks so much for all of your wonderful comments :) and the Tree of Life kilim is the 3rd photo (not counting the photo of kristal) - it's hanging on the wall from a very long curtain rod!

  • Lolavintage

    Lolavintage said 7 years ago

    YAY! Thank you so much for the post! how cozy and beautiful!

  • gardenmis

    gardenmis said 7 years ago

    So awesome to see you here!! Gorgeous textiles + lovely interview! Congrats Alex :)

  • Earmark

    Earmark said 7 years ago

    This is so bizarre... I have actually been on the hunt for a Kilim rug for my home for the past month or so! Lovely fabrics! Great article!

  • VictoriaWest

    VictoriaWest said 7 years ago

    Wow! those pictures are amazing -the pillow in the 2nd photo is absolutely gorgeous- and the related items are also great!

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 7 years ago

    Beautiful. Very colorful. I collect dust bunnies.

  • sewlola

    sewlola said 7 years ago

    The textiles are gorgeous! I am sure they bring happiness to your home. :)

  • ecceprints

    ecceprints said 7 years ago

    Gorgeous colors and texture! I love the patterned prints and how nice that you get to enjoy/use your collection on a daily basis!!

  • MandyBesek

    MandyBesek said 7 years ago

    Gorgeous collection!

  • kayratastaki

    kayratastaki said 7 years ago

    Beautiful collection!

  • FranceGallery

    FranceGallery said 7 years ago

    Lovely textile patterns and colors!

  • MishaGirl

    MishaGirl said 7 years ago

    I adore kilims and have several decorating my place. You have a fabulous collection!

  • bitanem

    bitanem said 7 years ago

    Very beautiful collection!! How nice...!

  • OnlyOriginalsByAJ

    OnlyOriginalsByAJ said 7 years ago

    Amazing work! Thanks for sharing!

  • ecokaren

    ecokaren said 7 years ago

    Love your feature! And the collection! Congrats Alex!! :)

  • AnneMarie1025

    AnneMarie1025 said 7 years ago

    I love your design patterns and the vivacity of the colors you use!

  • RosepathCollection

    RosepathCollection said 7 years ago

    I too love the colors and patterns. I come from a Ukrainian family as well here in Canada. Alot of rich culture I love!

  • birribe

    birribe said 7 years ago

    Marvellous patterns and colors, I really love it

  • happyhound

    happyhound said 7 years ago

    Hi Alex, Love your collection!!

  • bstudio

    bstudio said 7 years ago

    They have a beautifully cozy look to them! What a gorgeous collectable!

  • forrestinavintage

    forrestinavintage said 7 years ago

    Alex is one of my faves--congrats on the article, friend, and the lovely collection.

  • MerCurios

    MerCurios said 7 years ago

    What a great article. Alex you are amazing - Kudos!! xo

  • semsamelkic

    semsamelkic said 7 years ago

    I have 3 Bosnian Kilim for sell, if someone is interested you can contact me on They are handmade, and 100 % woll, never used, unique .

  • melongings

    melongings said 7 years ago

    Fantastic interview! I had no idea Alex had such a wonderful collection of Kilims. I'm totally jealous! They are so rich and beautiful!

  • PrincesaAnastasia

    PrincesaAnastasia said 7 years ago

    What beautifull things you got!!!! I'll tell you very short story of the Ucrainian kilim which has run around the world. The story began in the beginning of WWII when my uncle was deported from Poland (presently Ucraine) to Kazachstan. She took her favourite kilim with her. Kilim went through Iran, India, Australia and since a few years is in Poland again.

  • carolynfrench1

    Carolyn from SWFLOORQUILTS said 7 years ago

    Thanks! for sharing your beautiful collection. I lived in Tucson for many years (my family is still there) and visit there often. I can visualize these appealing fabrics adorning and enlivening the walls and furnishings of a southwestern home. Viewing your collection brought back fond warm memories....

  • spain455

    Ukrainianrushnyk from UNTraditions said 5 years ago

    Дуже гарні речі. Яскраві палітри. Успіхів вам та творчого натхнення!

  • productsstyle

    Products Style from PRODUCTSSTYLE said 5 years ago

    oww great

  • nyctrendsoutlet

    TurkHai from TurkHai said 5 years ago

    Great taste. When you get a chance check out our kilims as well. I guess this is an endless interest to own old handmade art pieces. We also make Kilim Shoes from the old kilims. great colorful and unique pieces.

  • juliaallan35

    juliaallan35 said 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing! I came accross a very interesting website with more info on this product:

  • akyarhulya

    hazım özpehlivan from KilimRugStore said 4 years ago

    It is more than a passion. It is a lifestyle to deal with kilims. I have been dealing with vintage rugs and kilims all my life and now, thanks to etsy, I have an opportunity to share the pictures and make them a part of other people's life. You can find my collection on etsy under the name of PergamonArt

  • TurkishKilimArt

    Turkish Kilim Art from TURKISHKILIMART said 4 years ago

    i love kilims,too.they are pieces of art and you have a great collection.

  • anatoliantrace


    Who knows which unknown crafty hands have shared the maker's feelings of happiness and sorrows in so colorful designs of those kilims?

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