News-Antique.com - May 11,2012 - Cherry Hill, NJ – Decotique’s Lecture Series presents educational and entertaining talks on the history of vintage and antique clothing, millinery, footwear, purses and other accessories. Historian and lecturer, Kate Butler, acquires many of her teaching tools and display items from those who are unable to repair or store items they have accumulated over the years.
Many donors are empty nesters who are downsizing to smaller homes and senior communities. In some instances there are no relatives to whom the heirlooms can be passed. Some have explained with regret that their children or grandchildren have no interest in receiving “that old stuff” instead preferring modern, or “new stuff” in which to load up their attics, garages and pricey storage units. Sue Girardi, a recent donor of her mother’s 1920s wedding gown, explains, “It’s not that they don’t care, but these generations are so far removed from their ancestors that they may not have the same deep emotions for them that we do.”
Few of Kate’s donors are interested in the monetary value of their items, but all are concerned with the respect in which their loved ones’ intimate belongings would be handled once they leave their former homes. For Kate, this is a welcome and well founded concern. From the moment an item is given over to her care, it is handled with utmost respect. She understands the emotions folks experience when they have to part with an article that has been a comforting reminder of who they are and the roots from whence they came.
Donated items are inspected for damage, stains, discoloring and missing pieces. Once an assessment has been made and a safe method of cleaning determined, Kate gets to work steaming, sewing and hunting for matching buttons and other notions to match the article and the time period. Once the work is done, the piece joins an array of clothing and accessory displays that many will enjoy on the lecture circuit. If provenance, or information about the person who wore or used an item is known, it adds greatly to the lecture experience.
Kate does not offer restoration services for payment. She is concerned that time consuming repairs for the general public would become a burden and limit time for restoration of donated items she relies on for her talks.
In rare instances when an article or item is beyond repair, with donor permission, Kate salvages and recycles materials for future use. An example of this is when she is offered a beautifully beaded vintage dress whose fabric has shredded over many years of bearing the weight of heavy glass beads. The beads are salvaged and added to other dresses, hats or purses that can be saved.
Art Decotique lectures are a big hit among attendees who enthusiastically comment, Oh, my mother had a hat just like that! Or, My grandfather wore that very same union suit! On Kate’s watch, nothing is discarded but made whole again to connect doners with their pasts and provide opportunities