Laurie Gundersen, a textiles artisan who has lived and worked in Lewis and Randolph counties for more than 30 years, recently closed her textile studio/antiques shop in Beverly and moved to Staunton, Virginia.
Since 2005, Gundersen has operated this shop at the Goff House, a spacious antebellum house in Beverly that served as a hospital for Union soldiers during the Civil War. She had a similar studio and shop at her home on Second Street in Elkins from 2000 to 2005. Before that, she was in business with her ex-husband, Michael Davis, designing and marketing clothing made with a Japanese silk-dying technique called Shibori. Davis still lives in Elkins and operates this business, Shibori West.
During these years, Gundersen and Davis raised three children.
The youngest, Nellie, is a senior at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Their older daughter, Ariel Valentine, is in her third year of residency at Ruby Hospital in Morgantown and plans to start practice as a family physician in Elkins next year. Their son, Aaron, who graduated from the University of Maryland in computer sciences, lives in Kensington, Maryland, and is head of the analytics team at DataLabUSA, a data analysis and management company in Germantown, Maryland.
Gundersen, who attended the Milwaukee School of Art before moving to West Virginia in 1978, has achieved considerable recognition for her textile artisanry and shopkeeping skills. Her shop was featured in West Virginia Living this year and previously in Wonderful West Virginia magazine. She has taught weaving as an adjunct professor at Davis & Elkins College, taught natural dying and basket making at The Mountain Institute and demonstrated these arts at the U.S. Botanical Gardens in Washington, D.C. She has exhibited her work in numerous shows, winning several awards, and has curated shows on flax, basketry, historic quilts and the Darby Collection at D&E. She won the governor's West Virginia Artist Fellowship in 1993 and 2005.
In Beverly, her shop was the retail anchor for efforts by Historic Beverly Preservation, a nonprofit organization that owns the Goff House and other historic properties, to develop Beverly's historic assets and promote heritage-based tourism. Gundersen has organized numerous demonstrations of spinning, weaving and other textile arts in conjunction with such annual events as Beverly Days in July and an old-time Christmas weekend in December.
Gundersen says she is moving to Staunton for both business and personal reasons. She plans to market her textile products through retail outlets and interior designers in the region. She may possibly open another shop and/or work at the Frontier Culture Museum, a major facility in the outskirts of Staunton. She is attracted to Staunton's historic charm and vibrant arts community and will be located closer to her and her fiance's friends, children and grandchildren in the Washington, D.C., area without being too far from friends and family in Randolph County.
Staunton and the surrounding area also offer myriad educational and cultural opportunities while still providing a small-town atmosphere near the mountains and rural life.
Additional information on Gundersen and her products can be seen on her website www.appalachianpiecework.com.