LET'S TALK ABOUT.... "Beginning a Collection"
Nearly everyone interested in textiles, needlework, folk art has already started a collection, of sorts. Are there any basic guidelines? Where to find collectible textiles? What should I pay? As you all know, people collect objects of every imaginable description, from war memorabilia to salt and pepper shakers. These, I call collectors with a little c, by which I mean they collect everything in their category, regardless of condition or price. This is not a bad approach for a beginning collection of textiles, but with the caution not to purchase more than one or two examples of each type of textile and be very conservative about price until you have gained at least a bit of expertise. You might well find, down the line, that you are really, truly interested in only African cloth or garments but have boxes and boxes ( hopefully, not cardboard) of handkerchieves, bits of embroidery and lace, or worse, large quantities of overpriced examples of mundane workmanship. We have all been drawn to a charming examples of textiles only to realize later we had temporarily misplaced our better judgment.
Another consideration is what do we intend to do with these textiles? If you are considering them as an investment, please reconsider. There is no guarantee that any collectible will increase in value. If you are not knowledgeable, nor have a trusted, well-educated advisor in the field of textiles, you may be making a costly mistake. There is plenty of time to begin a serious, valuable collection , if that is what you intend ( then you will be a collector with a capital C). Perhaps you are interested in recycling bits and pieces into sewing projects or home decor. This is very inexpensive and examples are found at every garage sale or flea market or thrift store. Damaged fabrics ( called cutters by sellers) can be exquisite accents. Be sure, however, the fabric is sturdy enough for your purposes. Sunlight, insect damage and improper cleaning procedures may weaken the structure.
Another option is actually using your collection, whether wearing vintage apparel or displaying a quilt on a guest bed. In this case, buy the best example you can afford, from a reputable seller. You would not be proud to display a torn, dirty, stained quilt to your guests when there are lovely examples, both vintage and modern available. Consider this as a piece of furniture, you buy the best quality in your price range.
I give this advice but I have to admit I still find it difficult to pass up examples of cloth to add to my own GROWING collection.
For more information, phone Margy Norrish at
(505)216-0647 or email to: