Barbara Frances in Joyce oroz

Today I am interviewing a very special lady, Barbara
Frances, who is a remarkable and dedicated quilter. Her quilts are hand-stitched
(even king-sized quilts, hand stitched?) It's true. I watched her making those
tiny precise stitches over and over again. The results are astounding. Her
designs are original and speak about the glory of nature.

Barbara, how did you become a quilter? Did anyone
influence you along the

I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by marvelous
textiles and
handwork. My mom was raised in Madagascar, and had
wonderful fabrics and
African handwork that we were allowed to take to school
for “show and
tell” at an early age. As I got a bit older, I would
visit my grandmother
and watch her take fine, tiny stitches as she made doll
clothes for me,
and I wanted to be able to sew like she did. At age
eight, I designed and
sewed my first garment out of a pink flowered flour sack.
For some reason,
my mom did not want me to wear it outside the house. Go

When we were living in San Leandro, we weren’t able to
get to the beach
very often. I was missing the ocean, and wanted to have
something that
brought the look and feel of the ocean into our home. I
thought about the
Hawaiian quilts that I had fallen in love with while on a
vacation to
Hawaii. Since I had no experience cutting a true Hawaiian
quilt pattern, I
decided to use the seaweed picture I had in my mind, and
applique it on a
natural colored background to capture the essence of the
Polynesian style.
A friend saw my work and wanted the same style of pillows
for her new
sofa, but preferred leaves to seaweed, so I created
applique patterns for
her which were inspired by the plants around my home.

Please tell us about the technique you use. What is
different about your
work as compared to other quilters?

When I started working with appliques and hand stitching,
I decided that
since I was just doing this for myself, I could do
whatever I wanted. So I
used my favorite hand stitch, the running back stitch
that was easy, fun
and created a great texture. With the exception of one
row of binding, I
prefer doing all the work by hand, while sitting in my
antique rocking
chair. I enjoy the control of doing one stitch at a time,
and there is
something very soothing about hand sewing. I do not know
other quilters
committed to using only organic or sustainable fabrics,
or doing all the
work by hand, but it is what gives me satisfaction and

Barbara, these quilts are truly beautiful. What materials
do you like to
use and why? Who dreamed up the wonderful designs?

As a confirmed vegan and tree-hugger, I decided to use
only environmental
fabrics. I use organic cottons, hemp, hemp blends and
bamboo fabrics. I
used only organic cotton batting in the quilts for a
number of years, but
recently switched to a bamboo batting. The pillows that I
make have kapok
inserts (kapok is the fluff from the seed pod of a
silk-kapok tree). All
my designs are my interpretation of what I see in Nature.
I often take
pictures of kelp or copy a leaf for a pattern. We were in
Maui when I saw
a breadfruit tree for the first time. As many times as I
had read about
breadfruit trees, I never realized how big the leaves
were. So I traced
several sized leaves and brought the patterns home. I am
not a swimmer, so
several of the quilt patterns are my vision of what it
would be like to
swim among the seaweed. Since the subjects are always
earth related, I
feel it is very important to use only Earth and animal
friendly fibers.

When you are not quilting, what other creative things do
you enjoy doing?

When I’m not sewing, and that isn’t often, I enjoy
working in the yard and
garden or walking on the beach. Then I get new
inspiration, and head back
to the sewing room!

Barbara, how can the public look at more of your work and
where can they
purchase your lovely quilts?

My quilts are custom order only, since there are so many
options with
size, color and design. They have been shown at the Santa
Cruz Art League
Fiber Arts show, the Pajaro Valley Quilt show and the
International Quilt show. We have also shown them at
events, such as Earth
Day, Cabrillo Music Art and Wine Festival and the
Capitola Art on the
Beach. Some of my wall hangings are available at the
Clear Heart Gallery
in Petaluma. We are expecting the new studio, located at
our home at 399
Carpenteria Road, Aromas, to be completed shortly after
the holidays. Once
completed, we would be happy to have people stop by to
see the quilts.

Thank you, Barbara for taking
the time to educate us on quilting. We wish you all the best.


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