Somethings Wonderful This Way Came

Somethings Wonderful This Way Came
1970's Vintage Caftan in At Play

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Laundering History

Whew!  Only yesterday I finished laundering Joan's cache of Steiger fabrics.  The task took a full week.  It was a labor of love, to be sure.  But, a labor nonetheless.  Joan's house experienced a flood some years ago and since the fabrics were packed right away and not cleaned, many bore the water marks and thirty years of Arizona dust.  To rescue the fabrics and restore them to perfect beauty was a very big job.

It started with a preliminary visual inspection.  Each piece was examined and any problems were noted.  The next step was pre-treating any stains.  I searched the Internet for the best approach to each kind of stain.  Then came the soaking.  All three bathtubs in my house were full for a week with soaking Harwood Steiger fabrics.  The hallways were lined with plastic tubs of soaking fabrics as well.  I'm so glad I saved all those five gallon paint tubs and kitty litter tubs.  Depending on the severity of the problem, fabrics soaked at least 24 hours and in some cases 48.  Freshly squeezed lemon juice with a kosher salt rub were used on white fabrics with great success.  It's amazing how well that works.  Then came the washing.  Thankfully, my washer has a stain cycle (over 80 minutes long) and its ability was fully put to the test.  At the end of the first wash, I held my breath as I pulled the fabric from the washer and looked closely to see the results.  My face broke into a full smile as yard after yard of stain free fabric was pulled from the washer.  I ran to my husband and said, "Look.  Look.  No more stains.  I can't believe how perfect this is!"  With his customary lack of interest in any domestic chore he responded, "That's just fine."  Fine?!!!  It's a bona fide miracle!  I am ecstatic to report that every single fabric, save two, are totally and beautifully restored to their original condition. I feel as though the textiles were washed in the Fountain of Youth:  fresh, clean, bright, restored.  I am thrilled.  No, I didn't iron them.  These were wash and wear fabrics, which need not ever experience an iron.  And, besides, I just don't like ironing.  So, shoot me.

This task was a lot of hard work.  There were some pretty sizable lengths of fabric.  Rhododendron is nearly a full bolt of fabric, measuring close to 18 yards.  Try picking up 18 yards of fabric that is soaking wet.  Others, like Seafoam, were over 10 yards long.  Heavy, heavy to handle.  Woodland is made from a cotton blend in a linen like weave.  It's even heavier.  Every night last week I went to bed exhausted, but oh so pleased with the results of my labors.  Each of the fabrics was examined in detail again to confirm their condition.  This morning I developed a spread sheet to send to Joan so that she is fully aware of the inventory and its condition.  Now, I'm ready to start selling these treasures at  Joan's intention is that the fabrics end up with people who will cherish them and appreciate them for what they are:  art by the yard.  She didn't want them to end up in a yard sale or thrift store.  I couldn't agree with her more.  These Harwood Steiger creations are treasures and that is how I have treated them in getting them ready for collectors.  Many have not been seen in decades and I hope to provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire genuine Harwood Steiger textiles, directly from the artist's niece to you.

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