“Teaching,” says Georgia Bonesteel, “is my first love, since in this way I am able to do my small part to perpetuate the art of quiltmaking.” Though Henderson County has been her home for three and a half decades, Bonesteel is a prominent member of the international community of quilters. She is the author of eight books on quilting, and since 1979 has hosted Lap Quilting on North Carolina Public Television. She was the founding president of the Western North Carolina Quilters Guild, and more recently has been president of the International Quilt Association.
A seamstress since youth, Bonesteel’s early hobby carried her along a path that included a degree in Home Economics from Iowa State University and a job in the fashion department of Marshall Field & Company. She began to sew professionally when she and her family were living in New Orleans in the 1960s, and sold her first handmade purse in the French Quarter. During this time she also made her first television appearance, as a guest on the show Sewing Is Fun, sponsored by Sears Roebuck.
Upon moving to North Carolina, she turned her attention to the art of full-size quilts. Listening to a sage suggestion from her mother, Bonesteel developed the television program Lap Quilting, which led to a twelve-series run that has been broadcast on more than two hundred networks, and is still in reruns on UNC-TV and across the country. She also served local quilters by operating, with her husband Pete, the Bonesteel Hardware and Quilt Corner in Hendersonville, which was in business for nearly twenty years.
In 2003, Georgia Bonesteel was inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame.
In 2005, Bonesteel and her son Paul produced a documentary film, The Great American Quilt Revival, about “how quilts came to be recognized as works of art and how the craft of quilting has exploded into popular culture.” The film won the Audience Selection Award at the Asheville Film Festival, and was an official selection at the Oxford, Bluegrass Independent, and Highlands International Film Festivals.
Georgia Bonesteel travels widely to teach quilting techniques. She is in high demand as an instructor and presenter, and sometimes is booked for appearances nearly two years in advance. Her programs include slide-show lectures and half-day and full-day workshops on a variety of quilting topics, from the fundamentals of creative patchwork to specific methods and techniques.