Spotlight: Timi Bronson, Quilt Artist
Timi Bronson began sewing and creating as a young child. It wasn’t until she tagged along to Paducah with her mother and sisters that she discovered art quilts and knew she’d found her creative outlet. Timi has started traditional quilts, but has never completed one. Her passion is to create art quilts. She does so in a studio that will make your eyes as green as her glossy green floor.
Tell us more about your journey to become a quilt artist. How long have you been quilting?
I started quilting in 1994 after a trip to Paducah with my Mother and three sisters. I went as travel companion for Mom, flying from Hartford to Chicago, and then as the designated driver on our road trip from Chicago to Paducah. In my role as travel companion, I really had no interest in quilting. It made no sense to me to take perfectly good fabric and cut it up into tiny pieces only to sew it back together again. So as Mom and my sisters were walking around Paducah oohing and aahing at the traditional quilts, I wandered off on my own and entered a room that was full of art quilts. Up to that point I had no idea that such a thing existed. That one room of art quilts changed my world!
How did you get started?
When we returned to Connecticut, Mom said she’d like to take a quilting class. Since she didn’t drive, I joined her in a log cabin quilt class. I never finished the quilt I started in that class, but I learned that I prefered to make art quilts over traditional quilts.
What are your earliest memories involving your own creative expression?
I started sewing at an early age. I remember sitting in front of our black and white TV watching cartoons and embroidering pre-stamped Mother Goose Tales squares of fabric. My mother taught me to sew on her White sewing machine, then shortly after that I started making shorts and simple tops. Throughout Junior High and High School I took every sewing class offered. I made everything from aprons to a tailored wool maxi winter coat.
Do you have a signature style or technique in your work? When people see your art quilts, do they recognize that you were the maker?
I don’t think I have a signature style, but most of my work incorporates at least a small bit of my favorite bright green color. People who know me recognize that color and know it is my work.
Who or what has inspired/influenced/empowered you? What inspires your work?
I have been heavily influenced by my Mother who was always sewing – either mending or making clothes for my sisters and me. I gather inspiration from “what would happen if…” or “I wonder what happens when I…” What would happen if I combined these colors, fabrics, techniques? Most recently, inspiration has come from twitch.tv and the amazing artists that are part of the Creative community there.
Which of your creative accomplishments gave you the most satisfaction, and why?
I think being accepted into Ami Simms’ Alzheimer’s, Forgetting Piece by Piece exhibit has given me the most satisfaction. The quilt that was entered was a collaboration piece with my three sisters. We each made a 12” quilt that I then incorporated into one quilt using a black fabric lattice technique. The quilts represented our Mother and how Alzheimer’s Disease took her away from us. That quilt sold at auction after the exhibit concluded and the money went to Alzheimer’s research.
What different creative mediums do you play around with? When you’re not working on art quilts, what keeps you occupied?
Besides fiber art quilter, I am a puppet and doll maker and a painter. I primarily work in watercolors, but also do acrylic pour painting and paint with oils and colored pencil.
Do you plan your work out all ahead of time, or do you just dive in with your materials and start playing? How do you make the leap from an idea in your head to the art you produce?
I usually start out with a basic idea for a quilt. From that idea I create a pattern. When construction begins though, the idea and pattern can be thrown out the window if it’s not working or if it grows in a different direction.
What is creativity to you? Do you consider yourself to be creative? Why or why not?
To me creativity is the ability to take an idea and create a work of art from that idea. Whether it’s a painting or a quilt, a garden or a piece of furniture. It all starts with a creative idea.
I do think I am creative. I’m always coming up with ideas…creating art from all those ideas is a different story. LOL
What is your greatest accomplishment to date?
Greatest accomplishment to date – again I think the quilt made for the Alzheimer’s, Forgetting Piece by Piece exhibit is one of my greatest accomplishments. Coming in a close second and third is having three quilts accepted into the Fly Me to The Moon exhibit, and selling my quilt, Collard Greens, during an art exhibit at a gallery.
Tell us about your most challenging piece. What were the obstacles and how did you get past them?
I think that the quilt my sisters and I made for the Alzheimer’s, Forgetting Piece by Piece exhibit was the most challenging. Coordinating the color scheme and delivery of the four small quilts, and then the lattice grid and layout was quite a challenge. Stitching the lattice work to the quilts proved to be a challenge because the lattice pieces had to be square and line up precisely, both vertically and horizontally. This was only accomplished by pinning everything to the design wall, then patiently marking and pinning and then stitching all the pieces together very carefully.
What does your studio look like? Where does the magic happen?
My studio is a stand-alone building in our backyard. When we moved to South Carolina we lived in our motorhome for 6 months until we found the right house. Originally I had my sewing area spread throughout the house and hubby had dibs on the building as his hot rod garage. We had an architect come and talk to us about adding a studio in the attic. At his recommendation, hubby agreed to give up his hot rod garage and turn the building into my studio.
I designed the space from the floor up. The plain cement floor became a multi-colored glossy green piece of art. The space is 24’ x 24’ and the back wall is my design wall made up of four 6’ x 6’ sliding barn doors which are wrapped in a thin foam insulation board, batting and flannel. Behind these doors are four custom made storage units and one unit that my husband built for me years ago.
I have a custom cutting table with a fold down big board ironing surface attached to one of the long sides. The other long side has four drawers in the center and four “bins” on either side of the drawers. It is on wheels and was made to my height. There are 3 cutting mats on the top. There is also an antique library table that serves as my desk and computer area for the embroidery machine, two portable cutting tables and two bookcases.
I have a 12 needle Renaissance embroidery machine, a Gammill Supreme longarm on a 14’ table and a manual KenQuilt Royal longarm on a 12’ table. There is a sewing machine cabinet that houses my Pfaff Creative Sensation Pro II. There are 11 four-foot four-bulb light fixtures on the ceiling. I can control the 4000k LED lights separately. It’s a very happy place for me even if it’s a bit crowded right now.
What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
The most important tool in my studio has got to be my sewing machine. Without that tool nothing would happen.
Where can people see your work?
Currently you can watch me creating quilts on Twitch TV at https://www.twitch.tv/ironbansgram My completed work can be seen exhibited with The Artists of the South Carolina Cotton Trail, The Fly Me To The Moon exhibit, published in several books on exhibits I have been in, and in corporate and private collections.