Appalachian Piecework Preserves Old Textile Crafts
“I just love the old textiles,” Laurie Gundersen of Appalachian Piecework says. Her love is obvious. Located at the Train Station in downtown Staunton, every part of Gundersen’s shop is a piece of local Shenandoah Valley history told through her skilled hands.
That’s why when we have guests here at the Inn at Old Virginia who are particularly interested in history, we tell them they have to go to Laurie’s shop!
There they will find items that were once a part of everyday 19th-century life. The difference?
Appalachian Piecework items are beautiful art that continue to tell stories. From baskets, yarn, scarves, quilts, housewares, and inks made from walnuts, everything is handmade and local.
The shop also features accessories and furnishings in a variety of styles. You’ll find shibori dyed scarves, handwoven pillows, hickory bark cuffs, runners, and custom-made articles.
Displayed in a rustic setting fitting for 19th-century wares, Appalachian Piecework doesn’t just give you a glimpse of the past, it also lets you take a piece of it home with you.
Handmade, Local, and True to 19th-Century Life
As a utilitarian artist, “I like to start from scratch,” Laurie told us. For example, she gets her fleece from Arbormeadow Farm, spins it, and eventually knits or weaves with it.
Specializing in rag weaving, Laurie uses the materials she has on hand for her creations. “I have always been fascinated by the creative ways of making folk art from scrap.”
But first, she uses natural dyes from plants to color the yarn to create woven chenille scarves and handspun yarns. She also likes to use pigments from wood to dye her fabrics.
Baskets are made from local trees in the area. And, in a collaborative effort, Laurie works with fellow artisans and consigns their work at the shop.
You can find Nancy Doty’s beautiful fabrics there, as well as Don Kersch’s extraordinary woodworking pieces.
Quilts at Appalachian Piecework
Dedicated to the preservation of antique quilts, Gundersen takes great pride in restoring these heirlooms. You can bring in a quilt, old or new, and Laurie will happily repair it.
Additionally, you’ll find handmade quilts in various styles and patterns available for sale. All of them unique and beautiful!
Gundersen plans to start classes in the very early spring to teach others how to make different kinds of rugs such as hooked rugs, braided rugs, and penny rugs. It’s a craft that she is eager to share with others.
If you want more details on classes, you can email her here.
As for visitors to our part of the Shenandoah Valley, it’s an extraordinary opportunity to step into the past, witness an authentic and passionate representation of rural 19th-century living, and possibly take a piece of it home with you.