Alexander Calantes first saw rug tufting about a year ago while browsing Tik Tok. Immediately, he was hooked on the idea of making his own.
“I want to pursue my ambitions and my dreams,” Calantes said.
Calantes continued the project until the creation of Manila Verse Rugs.
“I’m an artist. I love making art and creating something new,” the 22-year-old said. “I started researching investing in equipment and ‘ how do you do that?'”
The rug tuffer is no stranger to the visual arts. He dabbled in painting and drawing, usually focusing on the finer details of his subjects.
“I love details. I want to see my work more detailed because it makes me satisfied and happy,” he said.
But Calantes wasn’t too quick to pull the trigger to buy a tufting gun — high start-up costs made him cautious.
“I was so scared to invest in it because I wasn’t sure it would work,” he said.
“I did well for my first time”
About three months ago, Calantes took the plunge and he’s not looking back. Now, with a tufting gun in hand, he can sew yarn at a speed of 40 stitches per second.
“I started playing with the gun and as I took it slowly I could see all the mistakes I was making,” he said.
Calantes immediately got to work setting up a tufting space in his Whitehorse home. He built a frame to hold his fabrics and found a projector to help him trace his designs.
Then, like a tattoo on the skin, he put thread on fabric. Following his lines as the tufting gun hummed, Calantes made his first rug – a depiction of the red akatsuki cloud from the Japanese anime series “Naruto.”
“I did pretty well for my first time,” he said.
Despite his rookie confidence, Calantes encountered a few obstacles.
“I got a little frustrated that first time because I used the wrong fabric,” he said. “The usual fabric is expensive, so I went to Wal-Mart and got a similar fabric, but it didn’t work.”
He said the material he was using was too stiff, so the needle wouldn’t go in smoothly, causing problems.
“I had to grab the actual fabric to redo it again and it actually worked,” he said.
Creation of Manila Verse Rugs
Now that he has some experience under his belt, Calantes is starting his own company – Manila Verse Rugs.
A Google search for rugs yields your typical Aztec and Persian inspired flooring. Those with a slightly more adventurous side may even find something shag.
What Google doesn’t show you are mats that look like trippy lighters with melting smiley faces, a Snorlax resting in roses, or a pink AK-47. If that sounds more like your style, Manila Verse has you covered.
Calantes doesn’t want to be put in a creative box, drawing inspiration from anime, streetwear fashion and his home in the Philippines.
“I love making art and creating new things,” he said. “I thought of a lot of ideas.”
Calantes announced for the first time to the world that he was starting his own business on Facebook on April 8. He said the amount of love and support he has since received has been overwhelming.
“I heard a lot of positive comments,” he said. “It really motivated me to push harder and be a better artist and be better as a person too.”
For now, Calantes lives with his parents and works in his studio at home, but he has bigger goals for Manila Verse.
He hopes soon to land a larger workspace to increase production and train in the trade.
“I want to pursue my ambitions and my dreams and do new things that no one will think of doing.”
You can follow Calantes and his upholstery journey on Instagram @manilaverserugs.
Dylan MacNeil is a freelance writer based in Whitehorse.