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New Pathways into Quilt History written by Kimberly Wulfert, www.antiquequiltdating.com

Quilt Historian Interview with:
Bunnie Jordan
Quilter, Quilt Appraiser and Historian

Contact information

9805 Brightlea Dr,
Vienna, VA 22181


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 then."

3) What “known” individual (or group) influenced you most and why?

"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 valuable resources.

"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 Museum (www.vaquiltmuseum.org), 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 appreciate quilts.

"I continue to make quilts and am active in a local guild as well as a fiberarts group,  FiberArtists@LooseEnds (www.fiberartist-looseends.com). 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 know. 

"It’s been a fun and really rewarding experience."

8) Within this arena, what would you like to do, but haven’t done yet?

Click to enlarge.
"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."

Click to enlarge.

"I am currently a member of a small fiber arts group of talented women
(http://www.FiberArtists-LooseEnds.com) 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."

 Click to enlarge

10) Please describe the contributions you have made via books, presentations, exhibits, contests, articles, fabric lines, research papers and the like.

Website www.bunniejordan.com

  • 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 Historical Society

  • 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 Museum, 2009-2010

  • 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 other venues. 



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.

* Women (and Men) at Work

© 2001 - 2015 Kimberly Wulfert, PhD. Absolutely no copies, reprints, use of photos or text are permitted for commercial or online use. One personal copy for study purposes is permitted.

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