Bonnie Venable Exhibit: A Fiber Runs Through It

EXHIBIT DATES: June 6th - July 15

I am a mixed-media artist who works with a variety of textiles, paper, natural and "found" materials. My first love is textiles and finding various ways of manipulating the fabrics. I would describe my style of art as inspired by nature and incorporating traditional materials, found objects, recycled materials, text and surface design.

Numerous trips to Japan to visit my daughter have influenced my use of Japanese Shibori (shaped resist) dye techniques to simulate patterns found in nature. The myriad techniques to stitch, shape, tie and dye cloth are very labor intensive, but the results are always a pleasure to see. When we visit Shrine Sales I always think I am in fabric heaven. The variety of kimonos, yukatas, obi’s, and small pieces of fabric available are delightful and beautiful, some old and dilapidated and others are newer. The cost of the vintage fabrics/kimonos has risen tremendously in the years since I started visiting Japan 10 years ago. I am mostly drawn to the vintage “country” fabrics and not the highly decorated ones. At times I have dyed fabrics using mostly white silk kimono linings and natural dyes I’ve made from brewing plant materials I have gathered. I find beauty in the most ordinary of things.

I have sewn most of my life and when my children were small I made many clothes for them, all hand decorated with stitches or painting. I sewed my own garments (by machine) and usually turned them into some kind of wearable art. Now, I only sew art and mostly by hand stitching. My work is created by sewing thousands of colorful stitches. These have the unique hand-made quality that no machine is able to produce. Often I only have a slight idea of what I want to do and just dig in and get started and the piece evolves as I go. Other times I have a rather definite idea of the finished piece and “fill in the blanks”. I begin by doing a fabric “audition” to gather the colors and textures I think could possibly work. I have many large boxes of pieces of fabric sorted by color and I work on a portable “wall” to lay out the fabric design. It is a process of cutting them to size, placing and moving pieces around numerous times to where they “feel” right. By then my studio resembles the aftermath of a huge explosion. Then I begin the laborious process of choosing thread colors and hand stitching.

My other love is working with natural and found materials. Natural objects, in some state of nature’s rhythm of ebb and flow—the concept of time passing through the seasons—is evident in my work. These materials suggest the direction of my work. A fairly new idea I’ve had is called “Fairie Couture” where I’ve used natural materials and cicada wings to make fairie dresses. There is an abundance of colors, amazing fibers and textures all around me so I use them as best as I can… twigs, animal hair, rusty objects, plant fibers, nuts and pods, shells, etc. Seemingly mundane every day objects are used as an art supply.


305 N. Bridge St.

Bedford, VA 24523




Sun, Mon, Tues & Thurs .........................Closed
Wednesday & Friday...............11 am - 2 pm
Saturday................11 am - 3 pm

Gallery admission is always free.