Traditional handmade wool and silk rugs are supremely versatile decorative and practical home furnishings. Not only are they an art form in their own right, offering depth of colour, texture and intricate interesting designs, but they are also excellent sound and warmth insulation. Generally, they are also far less expensive than a very large good quality painting.
Almost any size and type of rug, whether round or square, can be displayed on a wall, ranging from small rug fragments and tribal bags and animal decorations to decorative prayer rugs of 5’x3’ (1.5×0.9) and up to floor rugs of 12’x9’ (3.74×2.69). The methods vary depending on the weight.
A fragment of an antique rug, or a small decorated tribal item of daily use such as a saddle or salt bag, can be displayed by having a stretcher made. This is a wooden frame which has a suitable fabric stretched over it and stapled on the reverse. The decoration is then sewn directly onto the fabric to give you a beautifully flat and contrasting wall decoration.
The smallest wool rugs can be fixed flat on the wall using broad-headed carpet tacks, available from any DIY outlet or ironmongers. Using one every 6”, they can be simply placed between the knots and driven in until not quite flush. This will help to avoid flattening or damaging the pile and make the heads easier to find if you need to remove them. This is a very cheap and easy method and has the advantage of leaving the rug completely flat against the wall. If you find that your surface is not completely vertical and the rug hangs slightly away from it then fix the tack down the sides and along the bottom if need be. Sometimes, with an out of shape older rug, you will not be able to do this without leaving a crease somewhere, so you have to accept the outward hang.
NB. Always display a rug with the pile facing down the wall. To ascertain this run your hand over the pile and the rug will feel smoother in the correct direction – think of an animal’s fur. The rug has been started from this end and therefore the pile lies this way. The light will be reflected from the yarn surfaces rather than be swallowed by the gaps between them and you will get the better colours and clarity of pattern. If you have a pictorial design it should have been woven so the design is showing in the correct pile direction.
However, if you have a silk rug, or would prefer to hang without inflicting any physical signs, then you should hang using a sleeve sewn onto the reverse of the rug. Before doing this decide what size of wooden or metal rod the rug needs to avoid it bowing under the weight. This rod will be supported by hooks or rings at either end- and if a large hanging from the middle too – so your wall must be suitable to have the necessary size inserted.
The sleeve can be of heavy linen or cotton and should be affixed so it is invisible from the front. Therefore start it at least 1” in from the sides and 1” from the top. If in doubt about the process ask your local rug retailer, or curtain maker, to do it for you. The advantage of this method is that the weight of the rug is completely evenly spread, which avoids tension problems should you want to use it on the floor at a later stage. It also makes it easier to take down for cleaning, painting or moving home. The only disadvantage is the rug will hand inwards from the top and not be flat as with using tacks or a stretcher.