Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tribute to Judy Hopkins

Last month a long-time friend from Alaska, Judy Hopkins, passed away.  I first met Judy in 1985.  She was  an enthusiastic and energetic member of Anchorage Log Cabin Quilters, the local guild.  In 1986 Judy was named Alaska state winner of the Great American Quilt Contest (the "Liberty Contest").  Around that time, she began teaching quilting classes in Anchorage.  I had been quilting about 15 years by that time, but mostly traditional quilts.  In 1986, at Judy's urging (she actually handed the entry form to me), I entered one of my quilts in Quilt National and was accepted!  My quilt, These Raindrops Are Rosie's Fault, became part of Quilt National '87 because of Judy's encouragement.

These Raindrops Are Rosie's Fault by Bonnie Bucknam, shown in
Creative American Quilting, a Better Homes and Gardens book published in 1989

Judy's enthusiasm and ability to think outside the box got many of us in Anchorage to start making non-traditional quilts.  When she was writing  One-of-a-Kind Quilts in 1988, her assignment to me was to make a "Bonnie Bucknam-style" quilt using her formula.  At that point, I didn't know I had a style.  But at Judy's urging, I created a quilt that was eventually used on the cover of the book. 

Paradise2 by Bonnie Bucknam

Judy taught improvisation classes in the late '80's and early 90's.  She had us turning blocks in wonky directions, cutting without a pattern, and adding what she called "coping strips" to fit everything together. Although she returned to traditional quilts herself, she was an impetus for many of the early art quilters in Alaska. Our lives were changed because we knew her.

My friend Rosie Huntemann writes:

Quilters everywhere lost a friend when Judy Hopkins passed away March 9, 2011. In the 1980’s, she asked a group of Anchorage quilters to make quilts for her soon to be published book, One-of-a-Kind Quilts. We had specific assignments, but were able to incorporate our own unique ideas. This was the first of 18 quilt books Judy either wrote or co-wrote. She did her magic with rotary cutting techniques, inventing tools for using up scraps. We can thank Judy for inspiring us to design our own art quilts.

Judy was an organized, witty woman. We will all miss her friendship, expertise and her big, Alaskan smile.

To read Judy's obituary in the Anchorage Daily News, click here.


  1. What a lovely tribute, Bonnie.

    When Judy started spending part of her time here in Portland she joined the Metropolitan Patchwork Society, the guild I helped to start. She was so humble about her accomplishments and so generous with her knowledge. A really lovely person and invaluable addition to a guild just starting out. I am sorry for the loss of your friend. I never knew her well, but I can imagine what a treasure that friendship must have been.

  2. I wondered if you knew her and now I remember your story about how she gave you that entry form and the rest is history!! A nice tribute.