Sunday, February 15, 2015

"Collecting is not really about

art, or Pez Dispensers, or whatever.  Collecting is about collecting.
~David Blanchard

From a recent Kovel newsletter:   Collecting tips: "Out" today are manufactured collectibles like Christmas plates, souvenir spoons, new figural bottles (Avon, Beam), empty cereal boxes promoting TV, movie and radio stars, and linens that have to be ironed. "In" are hand-embroidered guest or kitchen towels, vintage printed children's handkerchiefs and silk scarves by name designers like Hermès - these scarves are quite dramatic.

OK...but the one I have to chuckle at is this one..."out" are linens that have to be ironed, yet "in" are hand-embroidered guest or kitchen towels.  Say what?  Anyone who deals in antique or vintage linens can tell you that is  pure paradox.  I know there are people who love to iron, but in my 25 years in the business, I have not come across an old guest towel or kitchen towel that was permanent press.
Women of earlier days were judged by their housekeeping skills.  The lady of the house had to know how to make a good starch for ironing linens, curtains, lace, and some clothing.  Books were written for the newlywed to refer to for managing the household as well as entertaining guests.  The home needed to reflect domestic bliss. What is interesting is that many are returning to some of the old ways that are more eco-friendly, and simple housekeeping skills are becoming popular.  

Washing old linens can be challenging.  Although those textiles are sturdier and more colorfast, they still can develop age or storage stains.   Some suffer from dry rot, destructive rust stains, or even mouse reworkings.  If you tug on 2 sides of an old linen and it rips, dry rot has set in.  Mourn it, toss it, and move on.  Sometimes you must let go!
Over the years, I have used this brew for laundering:
1 Scoop* Biz
1 Scoop* Oxyclean
1 Gallon Hot Water
§  Soak in the hot water for up to 48 hours, then rinse and launder as usual.
§  *Use the oxyclean scoop
§  After washing linens, give them a good vinegar rinse to remove as much of the soap as possible. Use one cup of white vinegar per gallon of water. After the vinegar rinse, rinse again with plain water a time or two.
Although you can buy quality starch, any box of cornstarch will create a homemade product that can be made as needed. I found some interesting information online about making your own.  For heavy starch, start with 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. Add enough room temperature tap water to make a smooth cream. Pour the cream into 2 to 3 cups of boiling water and remove from heat. Stir until all starch dissolves. Allow to cool to room temperature before pouring into a spray bottle. Spray directly on dry fabric before ironing. A spray bottle with a fine mist setting is best, but any clean spray bottle will work in a pinch.  Make sure to shake it well before each use.
You can store unused starch spray in the refrigerator although for best results you should only make enough for each batch of ironing. For a lighter starch, simply reduce the amount of cornstarch used. A ratio of one tablespoon to two cups of boiling water makes a light starch.

For antique lace or truly crisp linens without an iron, you can also use a a fine starch bath or dip. Use the above recipe doubled, as the cloth will absorb more water. Once the water reaches room temperature, submerge the cloth in the dip. Rather than wringing out excess water and creating wrinkles, roll the cloth tightly as you pull it out of the bath. Hang on curtain rods or spread the fabric out on a folded bed sheet to air dry. Be sure the fabric is smooth when you hang it or lay it flat as it will be very stiff once it dries.
Just in case you want to be "in" in the collector's world, there are some linen tips!  

“O bliss of the collector, bliss of the man of leisure! Of no one has less been expected and no one has had a greater sense of well-being than... a collector. Ownership is the most intimate relationship one can have to objects. No t that they come alive in him; it is he who comes alive in them.”  
~Walter Benjamin

No comments: