But before we begin, I would like to preface the following information by stating the fact that owning a vintage business is just slightly less expensive than being addicted to crack. And besides that, you can get the same physical appearance without all the drug use. It is important to note that when I go thrifting for pieces to add to my collections, my attire and personal appearance makes the following statement, "When I'm not in prison, I enjoy a day of looking homeless." This lack of attention to my appearance is not really integral to good treasure-hunting, so, I would just like to apologize in advance, in case you happen upon me at a thrift store, a garage sale or estate sale. Also important to note is that the "wide-eyed-crazy-cat-lady-half-a-second-away-from-taking-hostages" look on my face is harmless - I will not hurt or maim you - it's just the adrenaline and excitement of the hunt.
Okay, so here we go . . . .
What was your first collection?
My first true collection began about ten years ago with vintage printed textiles. I began collecting printed tablecloths from the 40s, 50s and 60s because the graphic quality of the geometric designs and the simple classic beauty of the florals appealed to the graphic designer and illustrator in me. For years , I've fooled myself into believing that I could quit collecting vintage textiles whenever I wanted. I promote the myth that I am in control. Even as my burgeoning collection of linens colonizes on the lounge, the dining table, my desk, and every inch of space in both my linen closet and coat closet, I refuse to admit I have a problem - it's for my business, I keep rationalizing. I feel a little bit like Markie Post or Meredith Baxter Birney in one of those Lifetime movies about the perils of addiction - "Unraveled: The LeAnn Stephenson Story"- in which I rob from the kids chore money fund and pawn my pancreas to get one more shopping fix. I'm fortunate that my husband, Scott, went selectively blind and deaf approximately 24 hours after we said our "I dos." He has never complained about the piles of linens that litter our home and, as a matter of fact, he helps me add to them now. Da Hubbs has also brainwashed our children, Olivia and Noah, into thinking that their mother is 'adorably eccentric', as he puts it. I think that makes them all enablers - don'cha think?!
How did this collections come about?
When we first moved to Austin, we immediately discovered the City Wide Garage Sale. It is a flea market slash antique show slash junker's haven held on a monthly basis. Da Hubbs, the kids, and I began attending regularly as customers, until one month I decided to participate as a dealer. Being held captive in a place with a that marvelous vintage stuff and da Hubbs there to sit my own personal booth made it very easy to quickly find a favorite booth. My dear friend Michael, owner of Ahab Bowen, a marvelous vintage clothing shop in Dallas, Texas, comes and sets up at City Wide with tables and tables of vintage linens, scarves, clothing, aprons, etc. This is where I discovered vintage printed tablecloths and the rest as they say, is history.
How many vintage printed tablecloths do you have?
Too many! I'm seriously afraid to count.
Do you use, display or store them?
I use my linens everyday, especially the napkins. My collection of vintage white Damask tablecloths are used as curtain panels for my windows. My damaged printed tablecloths are re-purposed into fabric for my line of Vintage Laundry Originals like aprons and pillows and such.
What is the most you've paid for a vintage printed tablecloth?
I'm extraordinarily cheap - I've probably never paid more than $8 or $10 dollars for a tablecloth.
What is the least you've paid for a vintage printed tablecloth?
There are times that I purchase large lots of linens, making each piece cost me only a few pennies.
What is your favorite vintage printed tablecloth?
This is akin to asking a mother which of her children is her favorite - I simply cannot choose, I'm afraid.
Any tips for collecting vintage printed tablecloth?
Don't let stains frighten you away from purchasing vintage textiles - holes, yes - stains, no. I use a mixture of Oxy Clean and either Dawn dish soap or Era laundry detergent and let the linens soak to remove the stains. There is a product called Wink Rust Remover that I have a lot of success with for rust - another thing that works on rust is lemon juice and salt on the rust and then place the cloth out in the sun. Use peroxide for blood stains and hair spray for ink stains.
What other collections are you building?
It might make a shorter reply to cite the things that I don’t collect. However, I try to focus on vintage textiles. I have a huge girl-crush on Vera Neumann, vintage chandeliers, vintage clothing and lingerie (1940s -1970s), vintage aprons, vintage handkerchiefs, and those great brightly-tinted Christmas ornaments.
Would you sell or pass on your collections?
Absolutely, I sell lots of my collections on my Etsy site.
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