Business Member Spotlight: Bill Volckening Quilts

Our business member for December is Bill Volckening, quilt appraiser extraordinaire (and subject of much envy after he won the medallion quilt raffle at the guild meeting on Thursday.) How does Bill know so much about quilt history? Find out below! 

What makes your business special or different than others in your industry? 

Most of my involvement with quilts has been philanthropic and related to my personal collection. I started my business in response to a variety of quilt-related requests from the community, and the business is my vehicle for responding to these requests. Much of the work is appraising and photographing completed quilts, both new and old, but I have worked with clients on a variety of projects.

How long have you been doing this? 

Three years. I have collected quilts for 25 years. I also have a creative background, which includes study at Rhode Island School of Design, School of Visual Arts in New York (BFA in Photography 1988), International Center of Photography and New York University (MA in Studio Art and Photography 1991). 

What’s the most important thing you’ve had to learn to do your job well? 

If I do not have an answer, knowing where to find it or who to ask is key. 

What do you see as a significant aesthetic trend right now? 

Modern quilting, of course – geometric pieced quilts – and I see a lot of interest in certain kinds of antique and vintage quilts, especially improvisational design and mid-century modern. According to friends who went to Houston this year, handwork is making a big comeback. I think it may have something to do with being portable, something you can pull out of your bag on an airplane. 

What’s the strangest thing a customer has ever asked you? 

People have a lot of questions about their quilts, and they are usually very good questions. One request I receive fairly often is to appraise quilts from photos, but I must see the quilts in person to appraise them. People also ask if I am interested in buying when I am in the process of evaluating a quilt for an appraisal, but I will not engage in trade transactions when appraising. Oh, and Sam Hunter (of Hunters Design Studio) will appreciate this…I sometimes get asked to provide free “ballpark” valuations on quilts. In those situations, I offer verbal assessments with a per hour fee. 

Any new products or services you’d like to mention? 

In January I will be offering a webinar about quilt history with Quilters Newsletter. If it goes well, there may be a series of webinars. A new book will be available in April, possibly sooner. It will be a coffee table book about my New York Beauty quilt collection, published by Quiltmania in France. I am also working with another publisher on a potential series of pattern books using antique and vintage quilts from my collection as inspiration. 

In addition to the special exhibits I am planning at QuiltCon and Pour l’Amour du Fil in 2015, I will be the featured guest at the Airing of the Quilts in Milwaukie in March, and will exhibit 1970s quilts at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon during 2015 Quilt County from August to October.  
"Rick Rack Tiles" will be part of Bill's special exhibit at QuiltCon.

Why do you like being a business member of PMQG? 

It is a simple way to support the guild and its members. I enjoy being a beacon for information about quilts, quilt history and the quilt marketplace. I also love meeting guild members who approach me with questions and queries. PMQG is an impressive organization, full of talent and creativity. Offering something unique to the guild makes me happy. 

If you couldn’t work in the quilting/sewing world, what would your dream job be?

Antiques dealer during the rainy season, and Plein Air landscape painter in the non-rainy season. 

Business Info

Bill Volckening Quilts
1220 NW 119th Place
Portland, OR 97229
Phone: 503-327-3202
Web site: