I first noticed Barbara B’s (Belle Bear) work in the TAST facebook group as her samples are very attractive. Barbara lives in Germany and is very active online and writes a number of blogs. For English speakers I use google translate to switch from German to English and spent a good few hours browsing her archives. Barbara B’s blogs are full of creative projects and ideas and well worth taking some time out, making a cuppa and reading.
Here is a list of blogs written by Barbara B:
- Spiel mit Textil (Playing with Textiles) where you will find Barbaras TAST samples
- Sternengefunkel (mixed media) interesting and well worth browsing
- Stickamazonen – Stick Amazons ( Embroidery) Google translates this as Stick but I think it is supposed to be Stitch
- Papierspiel (Playing with Paper)
Now on with the interview!
TAST Interview with Barbara B of Spiel mit Textil
1. Why do you like hand embroidery and hand work? How has it influenced your life?
Hand embroidery is a way for me to let my phantasie flow and I can express myself freely and creatively. It enriched my life even in dark years.
2. How did you start? Were you taught by your mother, school or taught yourself online? If you taught yourself what attracted you to embroidery?
My mother was a studied artisan with embroidery as her personal favourite and she taught me the basics early in my life. I was embroidering even before I went to school in 1943. At school I loved the needlework lessons most. We learned the basic stitches and were allowed to design own patterns with them.
In 2004 I got to know the german Internet group Die Crazyquilter and found Pintangle. I saw many new stitches and tried them out. Sharon’s dictionary was a goldmine and helped me a lot.
The crazyquilters started a challenge and we showed the results on our blog Stickamazonen. Many active embroiderers paticipated with enthusiasm.
3. Do you use TAST to make samplers or incorporate the stitches into projects as you go? Or what sort of projects most attract you?
In 2009 I attended TAST for the first time, realized the exercises on four 12x12cm small clothes and played with different variations. 2016 I designed four samplers, 40x40cm each. I was inspired to work with circles because I had just finished a series of Mandalas as a free textile work. In 2016 I also used the TAST exercises to finish an unfinished crazy.
4. Can you talk about your last project and/or your current project?
I am a member of the internet group Alküns – Textilkunst alternativ (alternative textile art). Every year we choose themes for our projects of the year. In 2017 one of our themes is Foto-Tex (photography and textile). We work with or directly on photos. My focus: Fashion Magazines . I use old magazines from my mother out of the 1950s. She used magazine patterns to sew for me. I made a series of six works for that project.
5. What is the project you are most proud of?
That is hard to say, because I love so many of my works, if I had to pick it would be my Kesa (2006) or the wallhanging Very Personal or my first crazy Lepatrium.
6. Do you have any UFO`s ? If so, fess up to how many?
Oh yes! Unfortunately there are many, for example parts of roundrobins made by the Crazyquilters. But there are also unfinished traditional quilts, for example a double wedding ring.
And so on…
7. Do you work purchased designs or do you design your own projects? Or do you do both?
I love to design my own projects most, freely and without specific guidelines.
8. Do you have a creative design process? If so what is it? Or do you work intuitively?
The planning of a project always starts on my mind. I collect ideas until I can actually imagine the outcome. During the working process I am improvising and changing a lot till I am satisfied.
9. What stimulates your creative process? What inspires and sparks ideas for you?
Often it is only a keyword or an exercise theme that inspires me. It is not only the embroidery I love to play with but also other materials or techniques. That is why my blog is called Spiel mit Textil (Playing with Textiles). I love colours, especially tone-in-tone, not too multicolored.
10. Lots of people have trouble starting a project. What makes you start a project? Do you have any tips to get you from blank fabric to stitching?
I can only explain how I start. I need a theme or an exercise. I think about the material, the form, the colours I can use. Then I start intuitively. That is like a game.
11. Do you have stall points? If so how do you get past them? Do you have any tips to share about this?
Yes, from time to time. Then I hang up the the work at a spot I often repass during one or some days and each time new thoughts appear to help me going on.
12. Do you have ‘go to’ stitches? In other words stitches you use frequently that you return to using over and over. If so what are they and why do you think they are so successful for you?
Oh yes, stitches I use often are for example Chain stitch, Herringbone stitch and French Knots. By using them I can design many new and nice variations and patterns.
13. Do you have a favourite embroidery thread, or something you use all the time? If so what is it?
At the beginning I prefered embroidery yarn with 6 threads and would choose the number of threads to work with. In the meantime I use anything that looks like a thread.
14. What advice would you give to new hands?
My advice: Try, try, try! But always have fun and enjoy what you do.
15. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Yes. I would like to thank you, Sharon, for giving me a lot of pleasure, I am always learning Pintangle and TAST new embroidery stitches, I have also met a lot of nice female
embroiderers, which I enjoy with my 80 years.
And Thanks to you Barbara for your time in doing this interview! I hope readers enjoy this TAST Interview with Barbara B of Spiel mit Textil. I certainly enjoyed doing it. If you have enjoyed this interview visit Barbara’s websites that I have listed above as they ooze creativity.
This interview is part of series that will run during 2017 as the Take a Stitch Tuesday Challenge has been running for a decade. Throughout the year I will interview stitchers about their hand embroidery and feature their work.
Have you seen my Stitchers Templates?
As someone who loves crazy quilting and embroidery, I designed these templates with other stitchers in mind. With my templates, you can create hundreds of different patterns to apply to your stitching and crazy quilting projects. They are easy to use, totally clear so you can position them easily and they are compact in your sewing box.
To see what they look like, find out about the free ebook of patterns that come with them visit the information pages. You can find out more about set 1 on this page . To find out more about set 2 visit this page
Or go directly to the Pintangle shop to purchase them.
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I am finding this interview series very interesting. I enjoy being introduced to work by embroiderers I had not known previously.
Another great interview Sharon! I am really enjoying this series of interviews and getting to know more about the embroiderers behind the TAST samples. Belle’s work is exquisite and I love the beautiful vibrant colours she uses. Christine x
I enjoyed the interview and seeing such a variety of stitching projects. Playing with Textiles…what a perfect title!
Another great interview – thank you! So lovely to meet someone new to me and learn about her work.