Saturday, January 28, 2012

Meet Diane Shink - Collector and Appraiser

Let’s start by talking about your new book. Please tell us what it’s about and how you chose this topic?

I am a textile junkie and started collecting aprons to use for repairing quilts when I was in the quilt restoration business. In 2001 I had an exhibit of my star quilt collection scheduled for Mississippi valley textile museum in Almont, just outside of Ottawa. They gave me the large gallery, a huge warehouse and at that time I did not have enough quilts to fill it so I remembered seeing a display of aprons at the Waterloo Quilt Festival so decided to use aprons to fill in the spaces. Check out to see the original apron exhibit. I counted the aprons in my home and already had 50 so visited second hand stores and church bazaars and increased my collection to 200. At that time I paid .50 cents an apron and had a selection, today I am lucky if the stores have one or two and usually pay 3.99. I have always been drawn to fancy needlework and fine fabrics so on occasion I have paid as much as $65 for a fancy apron with Provenance.

I decided to write a book because I will be doing a lecture as part of the Kitchen party dinner at Quilt Canada in Halifax on May 30 and I wanted something with images of my aprons I still plan to write a larger book and have the outline and chapters, but need to find the time and hopefully a Canadian Publisher.

Can you tell us about your background and interest in fabrics and textiles?
I am a native of Nova Scotia so grew up surrounded by quilts. I had a great childhood free to run and plays some of those memories are recounted in the aprons boo. My neighbours taught me to knit and quilt, I think my mother did embroidery with me. I started sewing when my mother got a Singer featherweight in the early 1950’s and loved Home Economics in High school, which I went on to study in University. I made my own clothes until the 1980’s and still indulge in occasionally making jackets and scarves. Most of the spare time I have today is spent making quilts. I do machine quilting but always have a project on the go with hand quilting.

You are also a certified quilt and textile appraiser, what does that involve?
I studied for many years and “flapped hundreds of antique quilts” to get to know the patterns names, how to evaluate workmanship etc. My Home Economics studies in Textiles and Clothing and experience as a clothing construction teacher also helped. I visited scores of museums, apprenticed with a local appraiser and made many trips to AQS in Paducah for courses and workshops. I also attended the Vermont Quilt festival for 10 years when teachers such as Barbara Brackman were regulars and where there are always exceptional antique quilts on display. The testing by peers is rigorous and I am pleased to say that in 2000 I was the first Canadian born appraiser to be certified by AQS where the failure rate is 60 %. Only a small percentage of applicants are chosen to be tested. I will be submitting a report for my fourth re-certification in June2012. I travel to seminars and conferences all over North America and the best weekend of the year for me is when the AQSG quilt lovers meet somewhere in the USA.

Why would I need to have my quilts appraised? It is important to have your quilt appraised so you have a monetary value to use with Insurance companies. In case of loss or damage quilts are considered to be blankets unless you have a written appraisal to attest to their value. I also appraise quilts being used a gifts so the recipient will be aware of the value. In some cases my expertise has been enlisted to make an equitable division of property, in estates and divorce settlements. I also do Market value appraisals when makers want to sell their quilts and need a regional value. Market Value is also used to determine Donation value for quilts being donated to museums and fund raising events.

Where else can I read more of your writing?
I have been writing the Yesterday Quilts Column four times a year for Canadian quilter since 1998. In 1998 I co-authored the book Canadian Heritage Quilting with Karen Neary, published by Formac of Halifax. We close 15 quilts mainly from my collection. I write the historical information and Karen patterned and made them using today’s methods. I recently had an article published in Blanket Statements ( AQSG’s newsletter)about the oldest patchwork in North America which is housed in Montreal at the Mc Cord Museum.

 Do you teach and/or lecture as well as write?
When I first retired from High School teaching I taught a number of classes but after my husband retired he wanted me to be less programmed. I started doing only lectures and now I mainly do exhibit and or work as guest curators at Museums. Lugging quilts gets more difficult as one ages and soon I will loose the attic storage space in this 10 room home where we raised our two sons. Time moves on so I now am starting to place some of my quilts in Museums and part with others. The beauty of working with aprons is that they are small and lightweight and I can get a full lecture into one suitcase. The older I get the more time I spend on the computer so will be writing more and flapping quilts less...

Visit Diane's website at:

For further reading:


Sandra said...

Thanks Susan for helping me learn more about fellow AQS certified quilt appraiser Diane. I enjoyed reading about her appraisal journey and apron collection. I appreciate your efforts to help educate the public about the value of getting quilts and quilted textiles appraised.
Sandra Starley
AQS Certified Appraiser
Moab, Utah

Lesley Turner said...

great interview Susan. I enjoyed learning more a bout the world of appraising textiles. thanks