• Display Ideas for Your Beaded Purse Treasures

When I lecture on the subject of purses, I am often asked about displaying them.  Invariably I am asked ifI recommend framing a purse on the wall.  I do not recommend this method of display.  Sealing a purse into a frame also traps the air inside, which can become stale....leading to the demise of the textile fiber onto which the beads have been threaded.  After all, beaded purses are essentially a textile item.  Master purse knitters used linen thread for the earlier versions, (up to the 1930’s), and linen is one of the most long-lived fibers, however, as with all textiles, they do have a life, and there is no sense in shortening it.  It is best to hang the purse so that air can circulate around them.  If you feel the need to protect the purse behind glass, because it is a family heirloom, for instance, I suggest you use a vitrine table or frame with a hinged door, so that the air can be exchanged and freshened on a regular basis.  

I recommend hanging purses from a pretty hook, or one of the lovely vintage curtain tie-backs that were used in the 1920’s and 30’s.  These are basically huge push pins made of metal or celluloid and they are attractive.  To use them, pound a nail into the wall, remove it and place the curtain tieback/push pin into the wall, so you don’t have to use a hammer on it.  Your purse will look lovely hanging from these, which come in so many different patterns.  Find them in antique shops and flea markets.

For another great technique, I recommend using a cluster of small flowers or one large silk blossom attached with wire to the nail from which you hang your purse’s chain.  See photo.  You can find a similar flower that is in your floral purse, giving it a 3-D impact of the blossom leaping from the purse!  
From a scenic design purse, you can use something from the scene, like a scene postcard from Venice for your Venice scene purse, or perhaps a little trinket, like a piece of jewelry....vintage pins work well for this.  

Some of these are for sale, contact me via email.
This purse and the rose are for sale

Your purse may need a little dusting from time to time, but you will enjoy it every day when it is hung like the artwork it truly is on your wall.  Why store it in acid-free tissue in a box, or in a drawer where it doesn’t get enjoyed?  It should be admired and loved each day.... For drawstring purses, you can also stuff them with tissue and place them on a table, as if a lady is still using it, and just left it there momentarily....alongside it, place other pretty items, like a compact, pretty photo frame, perfume bottle, etc.

Beaded purses make a strong and wonderful visual statement when mixed with other objects in a vignette on the wall....such as a pretty hook holding a hat, or a Victorian bodice stuffed with tissue and hung on a hanger from a hook...a portrait of a pretty lady or family member, a floral lithograph (such as done by Paul deLongpre)....a Victorian scene print, photographs, or other beaded or antique textiles.   And don’t forget the pretty postcards from the past...which are easily and inexpensively used to enhance vintage objects.

Enjoy your purse as the art object it really is!!!!

I do not recommend hanging purses in the bathroom where steam from showers can pervade the fibers and soften them.  Or in the kitchen, where greasy air can accumulate residue on the purse....but in every other room of the house, entry way, stairway or hall, beaded purses can be the focal point of any collection of various objects, or, for the “awe factor”, place a whole wall full of purses together and watch people’s responses!

• It is unfortunately generally thought that a drawstring purse, even if it be wonderfully designed and executed, is somewhat less appealing than a purse with a metal frame, and presumably so because it does not lend itself to be as easily hung on a wall to be enjoyed. This thinking, though prevalent, is short-sighted, for the drawstring bag dates to the earliest days of beaded purses, and are most often done in the tiniest of glass beads, therefore really availing the owner of a spectacular piece of artwork and history. (This has led to the appalling trend for purse dealers to alter purses which should never have sported frames--being of an earlier era when frames were not in vogue-- just to guarantee an easy, quicker sale, and many collectors are fooled into thinking they are buying an authentic antique purse, when in fact the value is usually lessened by the alteration.)

All one needs to do to hang a drawstring purse on a wall to its best advantage, is to get a thin dowel rod from any hardware store, cutting it in two pieces and threading them through both sides of the drawstring pocket, or in the case of a crochet top or header with actual loops, one dowel threaded through will do. This will give the bag all the support it could ever need to hang flat with its pattern fully exposed, and you can hang it either by its own cord or ribbon from a single nail, or decorative hook, or attach a coordinating ribbon to the ends of the dowel, tie a bow at the nail, and tuck the original drawstring cord behind the purse. You can even paint the dowel rod a color to match the purse so that it blends in. It is a very inexpensive, effective technique for display, and preserves the integrity of the drawstring bag, which should give any collector who owns one great pride. I also like to lay drawstring type bags, (reticules), on their sides , stuffed with some tissue on a table, so that it appears as though the lovely lady who owned it is still using it, and just laid it down momentarily....

• NEVER let a steel beaded purse get wet, or damp.  It will rust.  Rust is permanent, serious damage, irreversible.