Monday, 1 December 2014

Thoughts from my Bath Chair

   As I tidy up the remnants of my French stock, now all assembled in one large wine vault room with a stone floor, stone walls and big wooden shelves, the oddments there bring back memories of our expeditions to rural France.  The old linen was so cheap, you hardly had to ask the price - in any case I always tried to buy by the dozen so that when washed and ironed and tied in attractive bundles they looked inviting and were easy to sell. Although there were often faulty, stained, ripped sheets amongst the big lots I bought, almost unseen, just opening a few samples to check they were not all just rags, these joined a big pile at my home in Freshford, which began to cause me worry!  I thought of bandages, window cleaners, painters and so on but there were far too many and I was not anxious to become a rag merchant!
    However, like so often, eventually there was an absolutely splendid use for them - for film costumes for battle-damaged Romans, Greeks, Picts, Scots, Arthurian knights, Elizabethan swordsmen
Trad. red/white check cotton Toile de Vichy.

Red/white print curtains and cushion. Red /white ticking covering an old school trunk
Caribbean pirates and all war-like scenes.  It saved the wardrobe ladies beating the life out of new heavy cloth, with knives and torches and staining dyes to get that authentic war-stained look.  So literally hundreds of old linen sheets were re-cycled this way.  My piles disappeared in one big lorry-load!
   Anyone who has had a shop or stall knows that presentation is all!  I used smart linen tape for tying and my own home-made labels made from disused card files, rubber stamped with my name, address and
phone no.on one side and wrote all details, quantity, size, condition,  approx date and price, on the back of the label, and if I sent scans on my computer all this could be seen and read quite clearly.   Good scans of damask linen were difficult to show the glossy patterns, but making a soft pleat on the top layer helps to catch the light, and of course any lace can be seen perfectly if you place a piece of dark blue tissue paper beneath.  Good scans are an absolute must and highly successful once you get known for being prompt and reliable in your responses, by post, telephone or if you use a Blog as I do.  You do not get the huge exposure of Ebay, but on the other hand you are probably contacting a very specialised audience and can build up a good relationship.                                         
   Presentation! It really is vital for a good show at a Fair or in a shop:  study those of the most successful  dealers and note how they arrange the look of the whole thing and what attracts buyers.  I recall being at a small French fair and seeing a largish crush of women all around one stall.   When I joined them, I was surprised to find it was just a linen stall, but the whole thing was a brilliant combination of red and white and no other colours.  All the red and white tea towels were to the fore and all groups were tied up with new smart red ribbons and bows.  A few red checked and gingham tablecloths and napkins were prominent, with duvet covers and cushions and a pair of red curtains backing the show.  It was brilliant and very eye-catching.  A few strips of red crepe paper hung down the front over a white valance completing the show, and I would not have been surprised to see the lady seller dressed in a white blouse with red shoes and a skirt to complete the picture!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you - I so love reading your posts.
    It is obvious that you love the textiles as I do too.