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

Quilt Historian Interview with:
Hazel Carter
Appraiser, Author, Curator, and Founder of  
The Quilters Hall of Fame

The text is provided by each interviewee and is unabridged and unedited.

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.  

"Within that field there are several titles I have found it necessary to use: Appraiser, Curator, Consultant, Founder and President, Quilt Historian and last but not least, Quilter."

2) When and where did you begin your serious interest in the history of quilts, textiles or garments?

"Serious study began in Vienna, VA in 1972 when I read a 1970 article in Needlewoman and Needlecraft magazine, about a 1708 English made patchwork quilt with bed hangings and curtains.  These items are located at Levens Hall, near Windermere, off M6.  In 1985 I was privileged to see the curtains, hangings and quilt up close and wrote about it in the 1985 Lady’s Circle Patchwork Quilts. "

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

"My mother, Grace McDowell, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa and her mother – my grandmother, Elsie McVey, Salem, Iowa influenced my quilt making that began in my childhood.  In 1973 I met Jinny Beyer and we became “quilt buddies”, collecting quilts and searching out information on early fabrics in order to date our quilts.  Presently Bunnie Jordan, Vienna, Virginia, and I have become “quilt buddies” in the study of the history of quilting.  We often work together appraising quilts, giving lectures, workshops and studying the market.

"Cuesta Benberry was a great influence with regard to my research. She phoned, asking that I research and report on the subject of how quilters in the past had organized. Before she hung up she had convinced me that I should do it. After giving my report at Cuesta’s and Joyce Gross’ symposium, “20th Century Quilts: 1900-1970: Women Make Their Mark” in 1997, the editor of Blanket Statements asked to publish my report. I was off and enjoying this new experience of research."

4) Who became your personal mentor as you began your learning?   

"
In the beginning I did not know any quilt mentors. Jinny Beyer and Bunnie Jordan were friends with the same interests in quilting.  I think Jinny and Bunnie would agree that Jonathan Holstein’s and the Orlofsky’s books, along with articles in Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine, Nimble Needle Treasures and Quilters’ Journal, were the learning tools in the beginning, in the early 1970s. It was in the late 70s before I had the opportunity to meet the editors and authors of these publications. "

5) What aspect of study were you most passionate about at first? How has this changed over time and why?

"From the beginning my interest was in answering the question – where did this needlework, styles and techniques come from? In the early 70s there were few sources other than those mentioned above.  Over time museums began presenting antique quilt exhibits.  The most memorable for me being: “American Pieced Quilts” curated by Jonathan Holstein and Gail van der Hoof, at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D. C. in 1972.  Other changes that aided in our research were the state searches and the founding of American Quilt Study Group with presentation of papers in 1980.  I was able to travel to the United Kingdom in pursuit of more information about quilting. Recently we have been blessed with well-researched books from overseas authors." 

6) What is your current “pet project”?

"I have several. Quilters Hall of Fame has to be the first. I am now an Honorary Board Member thus not as involved. It is time for members of the board to carry the work forward. However, I remain very interested in all aspects of this project.

Secondly: The Antique and Vintage Fabric Dating Club founded by Bunnie Jordan and myself is an informal group meeting every other month. We gather to share quilts from our collections, which in turn advances our knowledge for dating textiles.

Yes I am still quilting. I have three quilting projects presently – all by hand. I also like to have a piecing and an appliqué project for when I need a rest from quilting. "

7) What aspect of your research or contribution to textile studies has satisfied you the most?

"I saw the Quilters Hall of Fame officially opened to the public in July 2004. Our book on Honorees published at the same time. As year 2010 comes to a close the Quilters Hall of Fame book is in the process of being published as a hardback and with more pictures and patterns. "Virginia Quilts - 1607-1899" in which I wrote the Introduction includes outstanding quilts and the book has been well received."

"I am working on an article regarding my participation following the publicity of the Smithsonian’s reproduction in China of quilts from their collection. It was a pleasure to be of assistance in clarifying facts for quilters as well as attempting to preserve the good name of the Smithsonian."

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

I look back on many of the things that I have done and what wonderful memories come to mind. I marvel at how I did it all while at the same time raising our two children. Life has been good."

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

Author:

  • “Apple Pie Ridge Star Quilts.” Blanket Statements, Summer 2010.

  • “Unique and Diverse Strippy Quilts in the United States.” Blanket Statements, Spring 2007.

  • Introduction in "Quilts of Virginia 1607-1899." Virginia Consortium of Quilters PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2006.

  • "New Revelations about The Garden Quilt." Blanket Statements, Winter 2004

  • "Carter's Travels: Carter Houck at Lady's Circle Patchwork Quilts." The Quilters Hall of Fame Newsletter, Spring 2003

  • "The Quilt Journal - coeditor Jonathan Holstein." The Quilters Hall of Fame Newsletter, Fall 2002.
  • “Three Centuries of Quilts Observed Over Two Decades of Appraising”. Blanket Statements, American Quilt Study Group Newsletter, Winter, 2002.

  • Honoree Joyce Gross and her Quilters’ Journal”. The Quilters Hall of Fame Newsletter, Spring 2002.

  • “Honoree Bonnie Leman: Founder of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine, A Quilt Phenomenon” TheQuilters Hall of Fame Newsletter, Fall 2001.

  • “Patricia Almy Randolph & Nimble Needle Treasures”, TheQuilters Hall of Fame Newsletter, Spring 2000

  • “Three Centuries of Quilts Observed Over Two Decades” and “Timeline of Early Textile History up to 1700”. Personal Property Journal, American Society of Appraisers, Winter 2000.

  • “What is the Value of My Quilt,” Baltimore Appliqué Society Newsletter; May 1998.

  • Retreat”, Traditional Quilter, July 1998

  • “The Evolution of Organized Quilting”. Blanket Statements, American Quilt Study Group Newsletter, Fall 1997.

  • “American Quilts – 1750 to 1950” Personal Property Journal, American Society of Appraisers, Fall 1996.

  • “Quilt Appraisals:  A Pleasure and a Privilege”. Virginia Quilt Museum Newsletter, Winter 1995.

  • “What is the Correct Price for a Quilt?” (with Bunnie Jordan), Patchwork Quilts magazine, October 1994

  • “Quilters Unlimited”, Patchwork Quilt Tsushin (Japan), August 1990.

  • “American Patchwork Pillowcases and Shams”, Quilting Today, October/November 1990, p.52

  • Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine:

- “The Smithsonian Collection”, August 1988, p. 12; July/August 1977, p. 12  
        and June 1977, p. 12.

- “4th International CQC Tour Goes Downunder”, April 1987, p. 6.

- “U.S. Postage Stamp Promotion”, July/August 1978, p. 17

- “Woodlawn Quilts”, March 1978, p. 17

- “Wall Quilt to Ceret, France”, October 1977

- “The Meeting Place” – Introduction of Jinny Beyer, September 1977, p. 11

- “Teacher Tac Tics”, January 1977, p. 29

- “The Meeting Place” – Introduction of Hazel Carter, September 1976, p. 20

  • Virginia Quilts, 1987, publication resulting from Virginia quilt search.

  • “Quilt Touring in England:  Oldest English-Made Patchwork”, Lady’s Circle Patchwork Quilts November 1985, p. 62

  • “The Conference Speaker”, The Professional Quilter, September 1984, p. 6

  • Bee Quilting resource book published by the Smithsonian Institution, 1997

    Resource book accompanied exhibit “Quintessential Quilts,” SITES program.

  • Start Quilting, 1977 and 1975.  “How-to” manuals, self published.

  • “Bicentennial Quilt Presentation”, Nimble Needles Treasures, 1975, p 33

Founder and Organizer:

 

Fabric Dating Club, a research and study group meeting in Virginia since 1995. It is an informal group having no officers but organized by Ms Carter and Bunnie Jordan. 

Virginia-made Quilt Search of quilts made between 1750 and 1980 resulted in three quilt shows and the publication Virginia Quilts (1987).

 

Quilt Study Tours to:

  • East Coast of United States – 1987

  • New Zealand, Australia, and Hawaii – 1986

  • England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales – 1985 and 1981

The Quilters Hall of Fame, founded in 1979, honors individuals of outstanding achievements in the quilt world.  Carter has served as President of the Board of Directors since 1992, w the Hall of Fame became an independent organization.

 

Continental Quilting Congress, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, was founded by Ms Carter in 1978 to promote quilting as an art form. The four-day conventions of the Congress featured lectures, workshops, quilt shows and a merchant mall. Attendees came from all points of the globe. 

 

Quilters Unlimited is a non profit organization with its membership being in Northern Virginia. Founded in December 1972 the membership has continued to grow throughout the years and in 2002 its membership is over 1,200.

 

Curator:

 

  • Turning the Tide:  British Quilts From American Collections – honoring Shiela Betterton andEvidences of Friendship: The Quilt Block Collection of Cuesta Benberry. Marion Public Library and Museum, Marion, Indiana, 1999.

  • Yvonne Porcella:  Pieced Clothing and Art Quilts. Marion Public Library and Museum, Marion, Indiana, 1998.

  • Nancy Crow:  A Retrospective. Marion Public Library and Museum, Marion, Indiana, 1997.

  • Legendary Quilts from the Joyce Gross Collection. Marion Public Library and Museum, Marion, Indiana, 1996

  • Karey Bresenhan:  A Texas Quilter Collects. Marion Public Library and Museum, Marion, Indiana, 1995

  • A Salute to Sally Garoutte and Hoosier Quilts. Marion Public Library and Museum, Marion, Indiana, 1994

  • The Art of Michael James and Helping Hands. Marion Public Library and Museum, Marion, Indiana, 1993.

  • Nine Decades of Quilting:  Twentieth Century.  Carlyle House, Alexandria, Virginia, 1990. Grant from Mobil Foundation. Exhibit was in conjunction with the Continental Quilting Congress.

  • American Patchwork Pillowcases and Shams.  Dacatur House, Washington, D.C., 1988.

  • Virginia-made Quilts Exhibitions.  Carlyle House, Alexandria; Sheraton Hotel, Vienna andWoodlawn Plantation, Mount Vernon, all in Virginia, 1987.  Grant from Mobil Foundation aided these exhibits. Exhibit was in conjunction with the Continental Quilting Congress.

  • Quilts ’83.  Carlyle House, Alexandria, Virginia, 1983.  Aided by a Mobil Foundation grant. Exhibit was in conjunction with the Continental Quilting Congress

 

Consultant:

  • Small Quilts.  His Lordships Kindness, Clinton, Maryland, 1998

  • Tactile Architecture exhibit, Decatur House, Washington, D.C., 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991.

  • Quintessential Quilts, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, Washington, D.C., 1979.

  • British Quilt Exhibition, Athenaeum, Alexandria, Virginia, 1975.

  • Quilters Unlimited Bicentennial Exhibit, Athenaeum, Alexandria, Virginia, 1975.

Thank you Hazel – you are a walking memory book of who’s who in quilt history. And this list should include you! Best of luck on the book about the Quilter’s Hall of Fame Honorees. It’s a book who’s time has come. I can’t wait to hear what your research on the “special group of quilts” is about. It’s fitting that you should be the one to recently appraise one of them. And last, but not least, it’s great news that Virginia is re-energizing their quilt search. I would think their quilts have quite a bit of history to share with us. You are one busy lady and you have done a great deal on behalf of the study of quilt history and historians. How nice too, that you enjoy every minute of it – please, keep it up!

 

* Women (and Men) at Work

© 2002 - 2016 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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