lifestyle – Magazine Article

There is a connection between The Rug and Carpet Studio in Long Melford, and the Himalayan country of Nepal whose rugged yet magical landscape is shown here. But first, let’s talk about the shop. It’s an Aladdin’s cave of vibrant colours and sumptuous textures; a place where the public can peruse hundreds of antique and contemporary rugs whilst, at the same time, learn about the craftsmanship and traditions that have shaped each work of art. “Essentially, it’s a place of expertise,” sums up owner Sara Tatum. Sara and her staff are keen to share their passion and knowledge about rugs and carpets with anyone who drops by -and there is certainly much to learn. Sara grew up in Leavenheath, South Suffolk and studied at London’s Central School of Fashion. After graduating, she found herself working in the wardrobe department of a London theatre but, like many others, Sara discovered that working in London did not sit well with her rustic soul. So she returned to her parents’ farm in Suffolk. Blessed with a skill for sewing, she started work as an interior designer, making cushions and other soft furnishings. One evening, when helping to serve drinks at a nearby oriental rug lecture, she realised where her passion lay, and her career path became clear.


Sara Tatum

Sara Tatum and, below, her Rug and Carpet Studio in Long Melford’s main street


Initially, she worked in a small rug restoration workshop in Sussex but, before long, started to work freelance. Her experience and reputation flourished and she moved back to Suffolk where she secured a grant to convert an old cattle shed on the farm, into a rug workshop. Then, in 1999, she purchased the premises in Long Melford. “I travel all over the world to source my rugs’ Sara explains. ‘Mainly, I buy from Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, India and Turkey. Fortunately, I love travelling! These rugs are not simply floor coverings – they are chronicles of tribal history, legend and folklore tracing back thousands of years. So much history and tradition is literally woven into the fabric of the rugs and I feel it’s a responsibility and honour to import and handle them.” Sara has recently returned from a memorable trip to Nepal. ‘We travelled to remote parts of Kathmandu’ she recalls, ‘and stayed with villagers who make their own natural dyes and weave the rugs on their handmade looms. I learned not only how they make them, but why. The Nepalese are passionate about vibrant colours and this is quite evident in their rug-making.’ Sara and her team offer a comprehensive service which means that, in addition to selling these special rugs and carpets, the studio offers a restoration and conservation service. ‘The restoration work we provide is the process of rebuilding the rug with invisible mending and cleaning. We do a lot of restoration work for the National Trust and private stately homes. Conservation work is more about damage limitation and protecting the

Ripping yarns

Businesswoman and adventurer Sara Tatum travels from Long Melford to far flung parts of the world to expand her knowledge of rugs and carpets. She talks to Caroline Fardell about how her career has taken in fashion, interior design and latterly, beautiful floor coverings


Grading Wool

Red alert: Grading the wool and, below right, drying rugs in Nepal. Below restoration work in close up


Restoration, Conservation cleaning

opportunity to purchase a beautiful rug which, in time, may become a family heirloom, but it is a welcoming environment in which to discover the craftsmanship and traditions of tribal rug-making.

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