Textiles and the Triplett Sisters

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Creating a Collection

When does a collection become a collection? After you make your first quilt or textile purchase? Probably not, but the first purchase might inspire the motivation to create a collection. Reasons for creating a collection can be as varied as building a stash, love of acquiring (shopping!), preservation, or appreciating an art form.

The sooner you recognize the desire to create a collection, the easier it is to make good choices. The first choice is to decide to keep records. For the sake of our common area of interests, let’s talk about a quilt collection. Where was the quilt purchased? How much was paid? What is the value? Any provenance to the quilt? Any interesting techniques or materials used in the quilt?

Once you are past the three quilt stage, you may want to establish areas of interests. Although you might try, it isn’t likely that you’ll be able to purchase every quilt that you see. So, establishing some boundaries can be helpful. Are you going to collect contemporary or antique quilts? Any specific styles? Any specific time periods? Defining the areas of the collection definitely helps the focus of the collector and it has another benefit of being good for the budget.

Which leads to the next choices, establishing budget priorities. Since we’ve already noted that you probably can’t buy every single quilt you want, need, or see…setting a budget is a very useful tool. It will help keep you honest on your areas of interest as well as allow funds to be used appropriately, not just for an impulse buy. Does this quilt fill a need in the collection or do I need to pass?

After the three quilt stage, you need to love and care for the collection, which can also impact the budget. Before you purchase another quilt, can you keep the quilt in the manner in which it should be kept? As the collection grows what sort of storage needs to be allocated? Enjoy what you’ve created, and decide how you will share the treasures with others.

Finally, create a plan for the future of the collection. At some point the collection will need to transition. Will your family want to care and love it? Will you want others to have access to your collection? With museum budgets tightening, which includes the number of quilts they can maintain, you might not be able to donate your complete collection to a museum. It might not be in your budget or desire to establish your own foundation to manage a museum. Do you simply release the treasures back into the market for the next collector? It’s all about the choices made for the collection.