Bonnie Schechter-Orin

Evergreen local Bonnie Schechter-Orin redefines the traditional quilt through her innovative use of fabrics, color and design. Her finished pieces look more like paintings than quilts, until you look closely and realize every piece is carefully stitched or pasted in place. Her title far surpasses that of a quilter—rather, she is a contemporary fiber artist with a penchant for bold color combinations that ignite a depth of beauty in her work.

Bonnie’s creative journey is not the typical “artist born to be an artist” story. At the age of 9, a traumatic accident caused Bonnie to turn inward. She was a quiet child who took to quiet crafts. She reflects, “I found a lot of solace in knitting and sewing. They kind of saved me and provided a lot of comfort.” She spent hours every Saturday at a neighborhood knit shop in Lakewood with a group of ladies who helped cultivate her love for the quiet pastime. By middle school, she taught herself to sew and so began her foray into the world of fabric creation.

“Bonnie’s artistic process combines the precision and accuracy of traditional quilting with a modern flare.”

Bonnie never recognized her talent as something she would pursue as a career—instead, it was more of an escape—a way to keep her mind and hands busy as she navigated her youth. When it came time for college, she chose to attend the University of Chicago where she received her degree in psychology and later her master’s degree in social work through Denver University. She was a caseworker in Arapahoe County, CO for 15 years and then discovered her passion working with students in Cherry Creek and Jefferson County School districts. Bonnie retired from Evergreen Middle School in 2018 after 19 years as the school counselor.

Introduced to the traditional art of quilting by a coworker in 1997, Bonnie sewed in her free time, and in 2014 began an Etsy shop to display her wares. Her traditional quilting pieces took on a more modern spin after she discovered the work of fabric designer Kafee Fassett. She states, “Fassett’s bold prints and color combinations inspired me; then I discovered Batik fabric and really enjoyed working with all the unique colors.” Batik fabric is an Indonesian method of handprinting textiles made by covering parts of fabric with wax, creating a unique, swirling interplay of colors.

Bonnie’s artistic process combines the precision and accuracy of traditional quilting with a modern flare. She first finds a pattern or a photo she’d like to recreate. Then she begins collecting fabrics that speak to her and contribute to the lively color schemes she prefers. Next, she cuts the fabric to the specifics of her pattern and will begin sewing them together in sections and laying out her design on a large table workspace. With landscape pieces, she utilizes a certain glue that stiffens fabric so she can cut pieces more precisely, “It’s like painting with fabric, basically,” she claims. She then steams the newly cut pieces with an iron, and stitches around the shapes adding a whole new layer of beauty. The final step is connecting every stitched, pressed and handsewn piece together to create a masterful work of art.

Quilting is not for the impatient soul. It takes discipline, forethought, and a deft hand and mind to see any project to completion. Typically, Bonnie has several projects in motion at the same time. She is also a fabric connoisseur, keeping a constant eye out for unique prints that lean toward whimsy and playful coloring.

Currently, two pieces of Bonnie’s work are on display in the Center for the Arts Evergreen Member Show. She has also actively participated in Evergreen’s Open Door Studio for the past five years. To view more of her delightful, handcrafted quilts, visit her Etsy site at socialworksalvation.etsy.com, or email Bonnie at socialworksalvation@gmail.com.