1) How do you prefer to be
described as, within the field of textile history?
If you have a
business, please tell us about that.
"I consider myself a quilter first. I am also an appraiser, a student
and teacher of quilt history, and sometimes an author and curator."
2) When and where did you begin your serious interest in the
history of quilts, textiles or garments?
"I became interested in quilt history when I began collecting quilts
in the 1980s. I remember purchasing a quilt at the Sully Plantation
Quilt Day in Virginia, and though I loved it, I didn’t really know
what I was buying. In the process of educating myself as a
consumer, I found the history fascinating and have been hooked since
3) What “known” individual (or group) influenced you most and
"Hazel Carter was a strong influence introducing me to the American
Quilt Study Group and mentoring me in appraising. Jinny Beyer was an
influential teacher in quiltmaking as well as quilt history
appreciation. Publications like Uncoverings, books by
Brackman, Montgomery, Orlofsky, and state documentations have been
"For appraising, the American Society of Appraisers provided an
excellent background in developing appraisal skills."
4) Who became your personal mentor as you began your learning?
"Hazel Carter mentored me in
appraising quilts. We have had an informal business partnership for
over 20 years, appraising, teaching and starting a quilt study
group. Jinny Beyer has been an inspiring teacher in quiltmaking. I
was a member of her Hilton Head staff for 15 years."
5) What aspect of study were you most passionate about at first?
How has this changed over time and why?
"At first I was most interested in learning how to date quilts; in
studying the fabrics of different time periods. I have become more
interested in putting quilts in context and studying the surrounding
events in history that might have affected quilt making and fabric
production. I have also become more interested in sharing this love
of quilts and quilt history and seeing that it’s preserved."
6) What is (or are) your current “Pet Project"
"I am currently on the board of directors of the Virginia Quilt
working with the collections and exhibitions committees. This little
gem of a museum is 15 years old and has some outstanding quilts. We
would like to keep the acquisitions focused on meeting the museum's
mission of showcasing the rich Virginia quilting heritage. At the
same time we want to bring exciting quilt exhibits, antique and
contemporary, from all over the world to share with viewers. The
museum is also on the Civil War Trails and as the commemoration of
that period approaches, my interest and study of quilts of the Civil
War period is intensified.
"Hazel Carter and I continue to study quilts with our Dating Club, a
group of quilt collectors and quilt lovers who meet every 2-3 months
to share information about various topics in quilt history and just
"I continue to make quilts and am active in a local guild as well as
a fiberarts group,
Some of our activities have been to make quilts based on plants used
to develop chemotherapy agents and those are now in the permanent
collections of places like Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the
University of Michigan, with other commissions in process. We also
have interpreted the work of scientists who photographed images
under the microscope and those Bioartography quilts have been
traveling around the country under the auspices of the Society for
Art in Healthcare."
7) What aspect of your research or contribution to textile
studies has satisfied you the most?
"Having the book,
Quilts of Virginia, published was very satisfying.
This was the result of the state documentation project begun in the
1980s, which also resulted in establishing the Virginia Quilt
Museum. I worked on several parts of the book and, in particular,
enjoyed researching the works related to Presidents from Virginia
and those related to Civil War figures. I also enjoyed delving into
old wills and records looking for evidence of the availability of
quilt materials and the naming of patterns. I love fitting the story
of quilts into the characters and history of the time. It's been
gratifying to have the book so well received by quilt lovers and
history lovers, too.
"I also really enjoy teaching about quilts and quilt history and
encouraging the preservation and appreciation of this art form.
Appraising has allowed me to travel, meet the most wonderful people
and see some of the most fantastic quilts. I find it satisfying to
help a quilt owner learn something about their quilt they did not
"It’s been a fun and really rewarding experience."
8) Within this arena, what would you like to do, but haven’t done
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"When I figure out where time goes, I want to document my own quilt
collection. I have what I call a teaching collection; not all in the
best condition, but representative of quilt styles over 200 years
and more than a few (too scary to actually find out how many!) 20th
C crib quilts with bunnies on them. I’d like to do more research
(perhaps on something in my own collection), and of course, I want
to make more quilts."
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"I am currently a member of a small fiber arts group of talented
and we have had some exciting exhibit challenges and opportunities."
9) Any further comments are invited.
"Having spent my career in the medical field and much of that in
mental health, I am a firm believer in the health benefits of
quilting and other creative arts. It’s a win-win for the maker as
well as the viewer. This is certainly not a new view as Dr. Dunton
presented the same views when founding the profession of
Occupational Therapy and in his book, Old Quilts. Quilting
has provided me a wonderful creative outlet as I’m sure it has many
others for many years."
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10) Please describe the contributions you have made via books,
presentations, exhibits, contests, articles, fabric lines, research
papers and the like.
Co-founder with Hazel Carter
of Antique and Vintage Fabric Dating Club
Consultant to Fairfax County
Park Authority Material Collection
Teacher on Jinny Beyer Hilton
Head Seminar 1994-2009
Conducted Gallery Tours at
Virginia Historical Society and Montgomery County, Maryland
Presenter at Civil War
Re-enactment at Blenheim Historic Site, Fairfax County, Va.
Researcher (Dr. William Rush
Dunton) for Quilters Hall of Fame
Board member and
Vice-President of the American Quilt Study Group 2000-2006
Board member of Virginia Quilt
Museum 2008- present
Curator (with Paula Golden) of
antique quilt exhibit at Ben Lomond Historic Home
Curator of quilt exhibit,
“Stitching Pretty Through the Hard Times”, Fairfax County
Co-curator (with Paula Golden)
of Magic with Mirrors: The Beauty of Kaleidoscope Quilts at the
Virginia Quilt Museum, 2011
As member of FA@LE and Mason
Dixon Professional Quilt Network I have quilts in permanent
collection of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, University of
Michigan, and in private collections and participated in
exhibits at National Institutes of Health, the Ratner Museum and
Summer, 2008: “Do You Need Appraisal?” (with Neva Hart)
Virginia 1607-1899: The Birth of America Through the Eye of a
Needle, 2006, co-author
of Fame, 2004, contributor; Dr. William Rush Dunton, Jr.
Patchwork Quilts, 1993 and 1994,”Piecing the Puzzle” and
1994,with Hazel Carter, “What is the Correct Price for a
Thank you very much for sharing yourself with us, Bunnie, and for the
myriad knowledge and insights we have gained because of your efforts
in this field. Continued success to you.