Sunday, April 24, 2016

Meet SAQA Oregon Member Bonnie Bucknam

Bonnie Bucknam of Vancouver, Washington
1.  How would you describe the work that you make? Do you have an elevator speech? Have you found your "artistic voice"?

Most of my pieces are made using my own hand-dyed fabrics.  I work large and abstract.  My designs can be based on landscapes, my own photos, or ethnic textiles and crafts.

2.  What brought you to making fiber art? What is your art, sewing, or fiber background? When did you make your first quilt that you considered "art"?

I have been sewing since I was a small child.  I started a business in high school making purses out of burlap and cotton fabrics.  After making thousands of these bags, I had lots of scraps left over.  I decided to make a quilt, knowing nothing about it.  That first quilt took me years to finish, but by then I was hooked.  I have made quilts for the last 48 years! I made my first art quilt in the 1970's.  I made line drawings of rock music stars and machine quilted them. But I really began to focus on art quilts in the 1990's when I started attending the Quilt/Surface Design Symposium in Columbus, Ohio.  That is where I met Nancy Crow, who changed my life.
Stones Stars III - detail (Patti Smith)
1979 - Bonnie M. Bucknam

3.  Describe the steps involved in your art-making process.

My process varies.  Sometimes I sketch and abstract a design from a photo that I've taken or an idea I've developed.  If the proportions seem critical, I may blow up the sketch to a full-size pattern and cut my pieces from there.  Other times I just cut into the fabric and sew.  Then I usually make chunks which I piece together in some way. Sometimes I pre-select a palette from my hand-dyed fabrics, and sometimes I just add fabrics and colors as the mood strikes.  I machine quilt with a longarm.  Sometimes I hand stitch over the machine quilting.

Example of freecut quilt
2015 - Bonnie M. Bucknam
Photo by Mark Frey

4.  What is your one favorite or most common source of inspiration?

Most of my work is inspired by travel, things that I see.  I take lots of photos and abstract many of my designs from those.

5.  Do you enter your work in shows? What would you say have been your top three exhibits?

Quilt National 2011 - Best of Show
Example of piecing from full-size pattern
2010 - Bonnie M. Bucknam
Photo by Mark Frey

I enter exhibits all the time.  My three top are probably:

Quilt National - Best of show in 2011
Solo exhibit at the Portland International Airport in 2015
Color Improvisations - an invitational curated by Nancy Crow that was exhibited in Europe for two years
2010 - Bonnie M. Bucknam
Photo by Mark Frey

6.  Describe your studio space.

My "studio" is about 1/2 of my house.  Half of the garage is set up as a dye studio.  In the other half I paint.  My car has never seen the inside of the garage.  My "living room" is my longarm room.  My "dining room" is my office.  Upstairs I have one bedroom as the sewing room and the loft for fabric cutting and storage.  The guest bedroom and the master bedroom also are quilt storage areas.

7.  How much time do you spend on your art? How do you balance your life between art, family, friends, day job, etc.?

I spend time every day working on quilts, painting, or other crafts.  During the day I might paint, dye fabric, quilt on the longarm, do paperwork or work on show entries.  After dinner I spend at least 5 or 6 hours in my studio/sewing room, piecing, or doing some sort of sewing or handwork.  Most of my outings - other than going to the grocery store, the library, painting class, and the pool - are quilt or art related.  I have a very small family and my son who lives with me cooks for himself, so I have very few obligations other than those I create for myself.  I do love to travel. Traveling inspires many of my designs.

8.  Do you work in other mediums or use unusual materials in your work?

I paint in acrylic but also use collage and  oil and cold wax.  I dye fabric, make hand-bound books, knit, make purses, and occasionally bead. Other than the dyed fabric, I seldom use these other media in my quilts.  Some of my quilts are hand-stitched as well as machine quilted.

Reflection - detail
2009 - Bonnie M. Bucknam
Photo by Mark Frey

Since 2009 I have also been working on sending quilts to needy kids in Guatemala. These are scrap utility quilts.  Lots of my quilting friends and acquaintances have donated their time, fabric, and talents to the project. To date we have sent 212 quilts!

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