Interview with artist Sandra Bruce

Sandra BruceI met Sandra Bruce many years ago when we both had an desire to learn to dye fabric. The subsequent group – Friends to Dye For – met for years and our scope swept well beyond fiber arts (although that is still a focus for all of us). Sandra is a gifted illustrator, quilter and artist, currently sharing her expertise in the fiber arts field with her “Matrix” classes and lectures. Be sure to visit her website for wonderful photos.

Tell us a little about yourself:

I was born in Richmond, Virginia to deaf parents who always encouraged me in any endeavor. I began drawing at an early age and my creative side thereafter thrived. I became interested in quilts when I was next-door neighbors to Therese May in the early 1980’s. We started a quilt group together and my love for quilts blossomed. After moving to the Sierra Foothills in 1990 I began taking quilting classes, experimenting, and learning in earnest. My career in illustration and lettering combined with quilting when, in 2010, I purchased a long-arm quilting machine and began not only doing my own quilts but those of customers’ as well. As a member of MAQ (Mountain Art Quilters), I took the opportunity (thanks to a challenge) to make an 80-inch self-portrait quilt inspired by the painter Chuck Close, thereby creating my technique I call “Material Matrix”. I am now teaching this technique and find it very rewarding. I live in Grass Valley, CA with my partner of 30+ years, Gary (also an illustrator) and our very creative teenaged son, Matteo.

What inspired you?

In general I am inspired every day by what I see (thank goodness for my tri-focals!). I take a lot of photographs. Being an illustrator, and very visual, I register every sight I see and try to log them in my mind for future reference. Inspiration is everywhere. I believe in tapping into the sub-conscious as well.

What events in your life influenced your art?

I think traveling has been one of the biggest influences. Traveling opens up a person to absorb new information and take in sensory stimulation. I have taken watercolor kits and journals on trips, and, of course, taken many photos which I use in my work. Museums and galleries I have visited are an influence. Becoming a free-lance illustrator has taught me a lot about what makes or breaks a successful piece of art, and about color, composition, and value.

How do you approach your art on daily basis?

Once I get up in the morning and have my coffee my approach to art begins. What to wear? Which earrings? What design will I use to quilt my customer’s quilt that day? What will I accomplish in my own work on any given day? Should I pull off the road to take a picture of the beautiful flowers blooming near my studio? How can I make the salad I’m creating colorful? There’s no end of possibilities to making art part of daily routine, I’m happy to say.

What do you do for pleasure?

My work IS pleasure. I am always working on something and like my hands to be busy. Aside from quilting, polymer clay is always calling to me and I keep it close at hand for making buttons, earrings, and other objects. I also enjoy Pinterest, which is a great way to catalogue ideas and inspiration.  I do enjoy cooking, which sadly, along with reading, I don’t have much time to do. Why can’t I get along with only a couple hours of sleep a night??

Your latest project?

I’m getting ready for my next Material Matrix project. I admit to being a little bit at a loss as to what the subject should be, too many ideas! I am spending a lot of time researching photographs, and when I hit upon the right one, I will know it and then I will be working on it non-stop. I just finished making a few hundred polymer buttons and earrings, so I’m ready now for the feel of fabric and the sound of my recently tuned-up sewing machine.

Upcoming events open to the public?

I recently entered my latest Matrix quilt, entitled “Matteo 2014” into a portrait competition sponsored by the National Gallery at the Smithsonian. I know it’s a long shot, but who knows? Fiber art is still struggling to be acknowledged as a bona-fide art form, and I’m happy to be trying to boost recognition in this way. I won’t know until March if I made the first round of applicants, but it’s exciting to jump in! Otherwise I’ll be entering shows when they come up.

Website and contact information.




An interview with a blogger on Facebook about my work:




Facebook page for Artistic Alchemy:


Thank you, Sandra. How lucky you are that your work is also your pleasure!


  1. It’s a beautiful interview! Sandra, congrats on all of your success and best wishes for even more, bigger better.

  2. Thank you, Robin!

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