Why do the silks in Victorian Crazy Quilts deteriorate faster than other fabrics?
Silk…is there any other fabric quite like it…soft, luxurious. Before textiles were government regulated, manufacturers pretty much had free reign as to what they could do with fabrics. There were no standards, no requirement for consistency. Silk was a fabric that was sold by weight. Manufacturers would make the silk heavier by adding metal oxides and other chemicals. These metals over time destroy the old silks. Woman also demanded that 'rustle in their bustle', and weighted silks gave them that. The process cannot be stopped, but it can be slowed down. Keep silks out of any light…sunlight being the worst culprit. Room light can do damage as well though. Don't put any additional stress on the silk…whether it's displaying or folded. If displayed, show it off on a bed that is hardly used. If stored, be sure to use lots of acid free tissue in the folds. And never wet wash an old silk.
An antique silk, starting to shatter.
Feature Article:: "Passing it On"
My daughters are young, ages 7 and 4. They still think Mommy is pretty cool. I still get a kiss and hug at the bus stop, I know that won't last forever.
As you can imagine they are exposed to antique textiles on a daily basis, and antiques in general quite often. And if you have children or grandchildren you know, they are sponges! As I take them around the auction preview floors they marvel at the old Typewriters that people used to "email each other before computers". You actually had to put a stamp on it! And love finding portraits of famous people they recognize like Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. They compare the difference between the Original Barbie Dolls and the ones they have. They giggle at the bloomers ladies wore under their dresses. They are intrigued by the Indian Arrow heads that came from our very own town. Antiques are full of history
I encourage you all to share your appropriate collections with children. Even if it's just "see this vase, it's older than Grandma". Watch their reaction. Answer their questions, let them touch the piece. Show them how to handle it properly. Share a few facts with them, something that might be interesting for their age. They might not be ready for a history lesson on Stickley Furniture. But they might find it fun that there was a period called the Arts and Crafts Movement. "Hey, we do Arts and Crafts in school!"
My older daughter can tell you how old a fabric may be by its' width (new, old, and real old) and can spot a 1930s fabric immediately. My younger daughter knows the difference between a silk brocade and a dupioni. They know the work involved in creating a quilt and know never to touch one at home without asking first, or elsewhere without white gloves. They know which pieces are older than Great Nana. They know the difference between a pieced quilt and an appliquéd quilt.
As cliché as is may be, children are the future. Teach them now the value and significance of your collection, the history behind it and why is it special to you. Giving them our time and knowledge and experience is the greatest gift we can give them. They may not truly appreciate it now, but you can be sure they will in time.