Artist Profile: Bonnie Dwyer

Every time I look at my great-grandmother’s quilt from the early 1900’s (or was it my great-great-grandmother’s?), I remember hearing the story that this was a quilt she carried with her during her work as an itinerant schoolteacher. Maybe or maybe not, but it definitely needs some attention. Do you have a special vintage quilt or block? Or treasured quilt top that’s been passed on to you or that you acquired at a favorite antique shop? Be sure to bring it with you to Fiber College this year. Bonnie Dwyer will be leading a two-hour discussion in the Rec Hall on Saturday evening to help us to better understand and care for these treasures. Let’s meet Bonnie!

Who are you? Tell us about your fiber journey.
As the “Quilt Whisperer,” I enjoy sharing my passion for fabrics, quilts, quilt history, and quilt making with others through lectures, trunk shows, and workshops.

Bonnie will offer a two-hour class on Saturday evening. Bring along a vintage quilt, quilt top, or block and learn how to evaluate and care for it.

I’ve been surrounded by needle arts all my life – the women in my family were prolific needle workers. Knitting, sewing, tatting, lace making, crochet, embroidery, weaving, clothing construction, and quilt making were among the needle skills of multiple generations on my mother’s side. I learned to sew on a Singer treadle machine when I was about 9 years old, later moving on to make my own clothing, my children’s clothing, even dress shirts for my husband.

bonnie_dwyer

In the mid-1980’s I discovered quilt making, quite a natural evolution for someone who had a fabric fetish and, consequently, an extensive collection. I went on to study quilt history, fabric dating, as well as quilt repair and restoration. In 2006 I became certified by the American Quilter’s Society as a quilt appraiser.

Dwyer_pileofQuilts

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given a student?
The best piece of advice I give to students who are creating quilts is to use a design wall and to audition fabrics together before sewing. It is amazing what a difference these two steps can make in the resulting quilt or art piece.

Bonnie will also present a trunk show and talk on The Roots of Modern Quilting in our demo tent on Saturday afternoon.

Bonnie will also present a trunk show and talk on The Roots of Modern Quilting in our demo tent on Saturday afternoon.

What’s your favorite piece of work that you have created?
A favorite piece of work I created is a fabric portrait of my daughter’s dog, Harley. I learned the technique during an online class, resulting in a startlingly realistic picture of this dear Alaskan Husky with the blue eyes. It was truly a labor of love, a lot of intense work, but so worth it to have a lasting memento of a favorite family pet. This wall quilt can be viewed on the art quilt gallery page of my website: www.bonniedwyer.com

What is your most important artist tool?
My most important sewing tool is a 30-year-old Bernina 830 Record sewing machine. I tend to favor the older, all metal, mechanical machines for their reliability and strength to power through almost any sewing task!

Bonnie's quilted creation Pink Pizazz.

Bonnie’s quilted creation Pink Pizazz.

What’s the best piece of advise you’ve ever been given?
The best piece of advice I’ve been given (recently) is this: “Don’t let perfection stand in the way of progress.” Those who get stalled on a project because it may fall short of perfection would benefit from relaxing the rules a bit!” And, as a result, would get more done!

Sample quilt squares

Sample quilt squares

What inspired you to become a fiber artist?
Becoming a fiber artist evolved from my love of all types of fabrics. The progression from the practicality of clothing construction, to quilt making, and finally to art quilts seemed natural. As the need to sew became a desire to sew, I sought new ways to spend time doing what I love: handling textiles and creating things of beauty.

(Ed.) Be sure to visit Bonnie Dwyer’s website www.bonniedwyer.com to see many examples of her stunning work.

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