Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Quilt Artist Bonita McFadden

Our good friend Bonita McFadden is one of the most talented quilters that we know ! Born in California, Bonita spent her career in the field of medicine as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (C.R.N.A.) In the midst of her career, she took a class in quilt applique in 1989 and has been quilting enthusiastically ever since. She quilts as a memory of her travels around the world and as a tribute to her family members. Bonita's quilts have appeared in several quilt shows, including the prestigious Pacific International Quilt Festival. We know you'll enjoy her very gifted and innovative work ! We love all these quilts -- let us know in the comments which one is your favorite !

Things Chinese, 68 x 75", by Bonita McFadden

As a tribute to her brother, Frank Porter, Bonita constructed this noble and elegant dragon from a hanging tapestry displayed in Hali Magazine in 1995. The background is done in pieced rectangles, and the dragon is sewn in needle-turn hand applique, accented by machine satin stitch, couch stitching, and free-motion quilting.

Closeup, Things Chinese by Bonita McFadden

Hali Magazine provides an apt description of the dragon: "Powerful and Merciful. The Chinese dragon is the symbol for the male, fertile rain, imperial power, wealth, success, and the striving force of nature. He is a benevolent creature, who has been worshipped since primitive times as Lung Wang, the Dragon King. Originally, he was a composite beast with antlers on a camel's head, hare's eyes, snake neck, frog's belly, carp's scales, and eagles claws. His gaping mouth, gigantic feelers below the round eyes, playing round his body, and his sharp claws, all give him a frightening aspect.
For his strength, he is always shown pursuing Jui Chu, the wish-granting flaming pearl, striving for immortality and perfection."

Close up, Things Chinese by Bonita McFadden

In this close-up, you can see the "Jui Chu", the wish-granting flaming pearl that is pursued by the dragon. It is adorned with lovely pearl beads, surrounded by couch-stitched flames.

Cearbi's Dream, 48 x 50", by Bonita McFadden

One of Bonita's friends named CRB, told her of a startling dream she had one night, where a frightened man appeared, holding his hand up to his forehead. Bonita made a fabric rendition of this dream to enter into a quilt show in Pennsylvania. She pieced the background and needle-turn appliqued the foreground, using her husband's hand and her own mouth and eyes as models. The border with its bright red jagged slashes, is decorated with small white shells for contrast. The irregular trapezoid shape of the quilt symbolizes the off-kilter aspects of dream consciousness.

Close up, Cearbi's Dream by Bonita McFadden

Tiny couch-stitching embellishes the flash of light around the man's face. By using high contrast bold print fabric and motifs that resemble lightning bolts, Bonita has expertly captured the surreal and vivid images that one experiences while dreaming.

Mom and the Masai Warrior, 49 x 70", by Bonita McFadden

When Bonita and her mother were on safari in Tanzania, Africa, they met a group of Masai tribespeople. Bonita took a photo of her mother standing next to one of the warriors in traditional dress, which became the inspiration for this fascinating and colorful work.

Close-up, Mom and the Masai Warrior by Bonita McFadden

Bonita pieced the quilt background with isosceles triangles which form partial hexagons. Small gold charms in the shape of animals were used as embellishments, and several of these fabrics were purchased in Africa.  Both Bonita's mother and the warrior wear necklaces of real beads, which enhances the three-dimensional aspect of this spectacular quilt. 

Close up, Mom and the Masai Warrior by Bonita McFadden

On the quilt back, Bonita has included the photo she used for this original design. As her mother loved elephants, Bonita used a large-scale elephant print for the backing fabric and decorated the lower border of the quilt front with appliqued elephants.

Bonita used the Broderie Perse applique method to affix these large scale lion prints to the quilt background. Also depicted on this quilt are zebras, elephants, rhinoceroses,and giraffes. Surrounded by images of so many large creatures of the animal kingdom, it is easy to imagine that we are part of this fabulous African journey.

Segami 60 x 84, by Bonita McFadden

"Segami" is the word "images" spelled backwards. This stunning quilt depicts a collection of masks that Bonita and her husband acquired on their travels. Shown here are masks from France, Haiti, Africa, Thailand, and Mexico, as well as a replica of a construction paper mask created by Bonita's niece, Wendy Porter. We can almost hear the trade winds whispering their invitation to visit all the exotic ports of call symbolized by this fascinating display!

Close up, Segami by Bonita McFadden

A face that is both primitive and modern, with its abstract dimensions, this block of the Segami quilt is embellished with small jingle bells and feathers. The richly hued background colors of grape, pink, orange, and green really help direct the viewer's eye to the soft neutrals of this fascinating countenance.

Close up, Segami by Bonita McFadden

The Olmec Indians were an ancient tribe of southern Mexico. They are known for their sculptures of massive stone heads, as symbolized by this mask, appliqued by Bonita in muted monochromatic hues of jade green. The words above the mask, written by Bonita's stepdaughter Mary Catherine McFadden say, "A mask allows humankind the opportunity to view the world from a hidden place."

Stately, distinctive curved horns and electric blue eyes decorate the intriguing visage of this animal mask made in Africa. The background is pieced of solid and print fabrics, and the face is done in needle-turn applique.

From Thailand, this mask is comprised of silver metal applied to an empty turtle shell. The applique is done in metallic fabric, embellished with satin stitch and couch-stitched metallic yarn.

Here's an original mask designed by Bonita herself, embellished with small flowers with center beads, satin stitching, and a very stylish top knot set with a jeweled stone.

Memories of Michael, 39 x 61", by Bonita McFadden

Bonita created this very cheery, vibrant quilt in loving memory to her late husband, Michael McFadden.  Michael is symbolized by the face of the sun, and the appliqued hand prints that surround him are those of Bonnie's stepchildren and their children. Michael's Irish heritage is shown by the happy green shamrocks on the upper right of this original design.  On the upper center, Bonita has constructed a three dimensional  cloth wallet that opens to display some of Michael's mementos, such as his passport, his country club pin and crest showing that he was an avid golfer, and a list of his favorite books.

Close-up, Memories of Michael by Bonita McFadden

Underneath the three-dimensional face of this sun wearing silver spectacles is a photo of Michael, who wore identical silver spectacles. He was  often described by those who knew him as a bright ray of sunshine in the lives of his family and friends.  We found this quilt to be a very touching, moving way to depict the happiness in married life that Bonita and Michael found together.

Image credits: Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration.


  1. What a fabulous post. thank you for sharing Bonita' beautiful work.

  2. The pieces are beautiful but my favorites are the masks.

  3. I really liked the dragon. My husband's name in Chinese characters was dragon master. Maybe I could make a memory quilt using those two ideas. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. what an incredible artist quilter

  5. Bonnie is extremely talented. She made me cry with the quilt she did for Michael. What a wonderful tribute to your husband. She is an amazing lady & I'm lucky to know her.

  6. all so very beautiful and creatively constructed! hard to choose a fave but i love her mom and the masai warrior....i love your blog, always makes me want to go run and sew quick!


We love reading each and every comment... thanks for visiting our blog!

Related Posts with Thumbnails