Barbara Olson a Cinderella Quilt Artist

An Interview with Barb Olson

Barb Olson, you’ve seen her award winning art quilts, beautiful, bright glorious color with intricate design.

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Her work has received much recognition; magazines, books and certainly quilt shows too numerous to relate here. Perhaps the highest accolade she’s received is that one of Barb’s quilts was chosen as one of the top 100 quilts of the century. 

I can’t even wrap my mind around that. She is an amazing quilt artist. Are you dying to know more about this interesting woman and glean any quilting wisdom and advise she can offer us? I know I am!!!

1 -For many new artists it is difficult to find their own voice and not simply emulate those whose style they admire.  What has helped you to develop your own voice and perspective?

At first I emulated the work of artists that resonated with my energy.  The second thing was to create a lot of work and then my style started to evolve.  Also pay attention to happy accident quilts.

2 Your style is very distinctive and visually exciting, how did you develop as an artist To reach this?

I have always loved bold colors.  Images / symbols spiraling out from the center intrigue me.  The calm of black and white always adds energy to any image.  I used the things I loved.  One of the main things I had to get over was there had to be  a place or a use for each piece I created and just make quilts for the joy of it.

3-Can you tell us about your creative process?

I usually start with a sketch or a doodle.  This is then enlarged to a working cartoon and placed on the design wall.The technique I like the most is turned edge machine applique.  Sulky Totally Stable is my template material of choice.  Then I trace a section of the cartoon on the Sulky. Templates are pressed to the back of the fabric and cut out with a quarter inch seam allowance, then pinned in place on the wall. The section is designed before I sew.Now I do another section. The more information that goes up on the design wall, helps me evaluate the design and at this point that the original design morphs into something different.The process is a conversation between myself and the image on the wall. The end image is always a surprise to me.The quilting is as much fun as the designing.

4-What techniques have you found that especially lend themselves to your work? 

Turned edge machine applique and foundation piecing.

5- Is there any particular part of the process of making an art quilt that you especially enjoy?

Every part except the binding.

 6-How have you handled the business side of your career?

I have a background in  business which helped.  Marketing with a website, submissions and now Face Book. Writing articles and a book really helped.

7 -What is your proudest accomplishment to date?

Besides my grandkids!!!

“In the Beginning” having been chosen as one of the 100 quilts of the century.

My book “journey of an Art Quilter:”.

8- What do you do for fun [besides quilting]?

Spending time with family and creative friends. Interior design, reading and camping.

9- Who or what has had the most influence on your work?

Nancy Crow and Carol  Bryer Fallert.

10- How would you describe your quilting style?

Contemporary  with a touch of realism.

11- Describe yourself in five words.

Creative-Introspective-Organized-Competitive- Nurturing

12- What has been your biggest obstacle and how have you overcome it?

Lack of work discipline. Working smaller, so I can see a more immediate result.

13 -What most beneficial in achieving your success, besides your obvious talent?

Putting my work out into the quilting arena. A supportive husband.

14 -How do you balance your quilting career with your personal life?

My personal life comes first. I think I could be called a Cinderella artist, all my work has to be done and house cleaned before I can go to the ball/studio.

My creative life keeps me sane.

15 -What advice would you give to someone just starting out, who wants a career in this business?

Create a body of work and put it out into the world.

You should visit Barb’s website, she has some quilt’s there that will knock your socks off

2 thoughts on “Barbara Olson a Cinderella Quilt Artist”

  1. I notice Barb does a lot of flower-centered, central-point-of-interest type art quilting! It would seem extremely effective in drawing the eye right into the midst of the piece, instantaneously. I suspect this, and her very rich, enormous array of colors, is largely responsible for her fame and success!


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