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Retired Dade schoolteacher and budding fabric artist Bonnie Cayce shows off a few of her wares, including a big, intricate “Virgin of Guadalupe” composite piece complete with roses, beads and sundry cherubs.
 

By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter

 

Last weekend’s debut of the Mountain Arts and Crafts Celebration at Cloudland Canyon was an unqualified success by any standards, with packed parking lots, sold-out food vendors and lines of cars waiting outside the entry kiosk to pay the $5 Georgia State Park per-vehicle fee. Park authorities reported that 850 patrons paid that fee on Saturday alone, not including vendors, yearly Park Pass holders and the at-capacity volume of campers and cabin renters already leaf-watching in the park – and though numbers were not yet available at the time of this writing, Sunday was by all accounts also a big day.

Exhibitors were many and varied, from chain-saw artisans to Mason jar lamp makers from far and near.  Here the Sentinel focuses on the “near,” featuring Bonnie Cayce, Dade resident and 32-year veteran schoolteacher at Dade High, now retired, who was hawking her fabric art wares at the festival on Sunday.

“I use a lot of natural fabrics – cotton, linen, silk, wool. Sometimes I use antique quilts,” said Ms. Cayce. “This is a local potter button, and this is from a pair of pants from Guatemala that I cut apart. Those were sent to me by some Paraguayan missionaries – some of my students built a well in Paraguay. That’s a pull-thread work that the Indians down there do.”

If that sounds like a crazy hodgepodge of elements – it is. That’s what Ms. Cayce does, take a rainbow variety of textures and images from all over and incorporate them into one big, intricate – something.  She has purely ornamental pieces such as wall-hangings and more practical items like purses and coasters and wine totes. (Well, a wine tote is practical for those who regularly tote wine, right?)

For the Sentinel, she described her methods using a Madonna wall hanging, which she specified had already been sold. Another fabric artist had given her fabric that included an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. She had cut out the Virgin as well as other fabric pieces and affixed them to another piece of material, which was then lined and padded and further adorned with a silk rose – “That came off a skirt from the ‘60s” – and some white beads for a rosary. “Then I put on the little cherubs – it’s layers of stuff,” said Ms. Cayce.  Included are velvet and gold lame, among other snippets.

Ms. Cayce loves vintage 1950s stuff – need we say, Elvis Presley is one major motif? – but also reflects current events in her work.

 “I have one that’s a political piece,” she said. “I’ve got gods, I’ve got lightning coming down like this.  I’ve got the elephant on one side and the donkey on the other side, and it’s quite a political statement about Republicans and Democrats and the big fight.” 

She exhibited this fabric depiction of American democracy at the New Salem Arts Fair this year and also online, said Ms. Cayce, but so far, no takers. Interested parties may see it on the Facebook page dedicated to Ms. Cayce’s work, CayceCreations. Many other of her pieces are also featured there.

“I’ve been a little timid – not timid, I’m not timid about anything – about saying I’m an artist,” said the former home economics teacher. “But I guess I am.  I’m a budding artist.”

 


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