In some cases, an Oriental rug will get some wear and tear and will need a few repairs to keep it looking great. Repairing Oriental rugs isn’t usually something you can do on your own, but a professional can help.
John Maher: Welcome to The Rug Gallery with Sam Presnell. The Rug Gallery is an Oriental rug company and carpet store in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm John Maher and I'm here with the owner of The Rug Gallery, Sam Presnell. Hi, Sam.
Sam Presnell: Hey, John.
When Oriental Rugs Need Repair
John: Sam, today we're talking about repairing Oriental rugs. When do Oriental rugs need repair?
Sam: That's a good question, and I have to say that most people don't pay attention to it. I think they let it go until it gets really bad and then something has to be done. When they're losing part of their design or we're going to have to do some serious repair in order to get that corrected, reduce part of the rug, or cut part of the pattern out or something like that to make it look good. Most of the time, carpeting, our rugs, basically, you’ll see the wears usually on the edges. The fringes and the sides we call the serge side, which is a place where the yarn's wrapped around. Those are two where everything gets hit first and tends to take the most beating when you get into a rug.
That's usually the majority of [our repairs]. If you can just catch those little things, as my grandmother always said, "A stitching in time saves nine." That's so true in this business. I hate doing the repair work to such a beautiful rug because in order to get it where it will look decent when you get the repair done, you have to take part of the design out of it or part of the pattern away from it, which I hate doing.
Most time, to reweave something is very expensive, and in the U.S., really not that affordable unless you’ve got more money you know what to do with and the rug means that much to you. Most times, the repair cost outweighs the cost of the rug to do it with weaving or something like that. Sometimes we patch stuff [or] do other things that will make it look good visually, but really it's not going to help the value of the rug.
Types of Damage and Oriental Rug Repairs
John: Tell me a little bit more about how Oriental rugs can be repaired, and the types of damage that you might see that can actually be repaired.
Sam: Yes, on fringing, the part I talked about was the little strings on the end of the rug. We could do several things. One, we could just take the fringe off and just serge it like the sides is and not have any fringe on it, as a repair. We can also use a replacement fringe, which is basically like a machine-woven fringe. It looks very nice and authentic and we sew it on into the rug to make it look like the original fringe. That's also a less expensive way.
The other way is to, what we call, overcast or pull out part of the pile and then we just kind of wrap stitch around every thread of the warp sticking out and hold it down in place like the original rug. Perhaps that [would be for a] really fine rug, hand-woven, antique. That's how we would normally repair that.
As far as fixing holes, it depends on the size of the hole and how good the rug is. We weave it -- if we think it's possible to do it – and a lot of times when you reweave stuff you don't always get it perfect because you got yarn that sometimes could be quite oxidized and old. You're not going to get new yarn to look quite like it. Sometimes we'll take an old rug -- we save patches from old rugs basically to patch into other rugs in order to make it look good.
It's noticeable if you look at it. If you look at it from the back you can definitely see it, but from the front it hides that hole. Sometimes we can just darn them up. Sometimes we have people who had plants on rugs and then it just dry rots the area. There's not much you can do with a rug like that. We can cut it down and make it smaller. That's usually how we take care of those holes and spots.
When Oriental Rugs Cannot Be Repaired
John: Do you ever see rugs with tears in them and cannot be repaired?
Sam: All the time. Tears are usually a little easier to repair because we can just put the warps back or the west back into them, which is what holds the rug together. We'll reconstruct that. If it's just a tear without missing part of the pile out of it, that's fairly easy. With a clean slice, yes, you'll not even know we did it.
John: Are there times when Oriental rugs with a lot of damage should just be thrown out instead of restored?
Sam: Yes, but I would also give it a caveat in that some rugs are quite valuable even [if they’re] worn out. They could be fragments and still have value to them, but you won't know that unless you talk to an expert about that. I would say 99% of them are not in that league. Don't be surprised if you hear, "Well, throw it away." That's very possible.
Also, you can do different things with rugs. We've had other podcasts where we’ve talked about this. You can make pillows out of them. You can make wall hangings by taking them down to a smaller piece and then doing different things to the finishes on them and mounting them like paintings, or putting them behind Plexiglas, and give it an artsy, cool look to it as well. There's also different organizations out there who will take them, and maybe your holey mess will be quite fine to somebody else who doesn't really care.
John: That's really good advice, Sam. Thanks again for speaking with me.
Sam: All right, John, our pleasure. Thanks.John: For more information about Sam, The Rug Gallery, and oriental rugs and carpets, visit ruggallerycincy.com or call 513-793-9505. Make sure you catch the latest episodes by subscribing to this podcast on iTunes. If you can take the time to give us a review on iTunes as well, we would appreciate that. I'm John Maher. See you next time on The Rug Gallery.