ABOUT THE DESIGNER
BABS is a lifelong love affair with fiber, fashion and color.
The short story: After a 2o-year career as a technical writer Barbara (AKA BABS) rented studio space in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and embarked on a second career designing and constructing handbags.
The long story: A Colorado native, Barbara, moved to Rhode Island with her husband, Linc and daughter Christine in the 90's. She re-ignited her writing career at Gilbane Building Company in Providence, followed by years of contract writing for ".com" startups, and finally rounding out her career as part of the eagle-i project at Harvard Medical School Center for Bioinformatics in Cambridge, MA.
On a quest to find something to balance long hours of technical writing and to feed her sewing/creative side, Barbara discovered felted handbags at a local bead/yarn store. A somewhat knitter, she bought a pattern, wool, and needles. The project, while satisfying, underscored the saying, "it is not as easy as it looks". Never-the-less she persevered and eventually a hot dog-shaped handbag emerged and a passion was born.
With each new creation, she perfected her felting, all the while realizing that she would soon outgrow the cottage where her cottage industry thrived nights and weekends. One after one, felted bags began to line the stairway of their 3-story house and not long after, filled the dining room. When they began to encroach on the rest of the house, her husband gently suggested, "it's time to move the operation".
A studio in the Hope Artiste Village provided just the space and creative energy to take a hobby to the next level.
For the last 6 years, Barbara has been designing and creating handbags, one-bag-at-a-time. The Jack + Cookie line was a collaboration between Barbara and Gail Solomon, a graphic designer. Gail and Barbara made bags from 2013 - 2016 when Gail accepted a position at Johnson and Wales. Another creative collaboration with Barbara Ottmar, a well-known MA artist resulted in the Color POP line. Ottmar painted the canvas that Barbara cuts and sews into a variety of bright handbags, i.e, Color POP!
Currently, you will find Barbara either in her studio handcrafting handbags, or on the road in the BABSmobile on her way to the next trunk show.
Barbara also serves on the executive board of the Foundry Artists Association.
ABOUT THE WORKERS
Wool is a natural fiber harvested from sheep. Sheep's wool is highly regarded for its crimped, elastic fibers that are easily felted to form a fabric that cannot be pulled apart.
Wool is 100% biodegradable, and contains no harmful chemicals.
Wool felt is one of the oldest man-made textiles. To produce felt, raw wool undergoes a wet felting process that involves matting, condensing and pressing the fibers.
Wool is particularly well suited to felt and is superior to synthetic fibers. Characteristics include an inherent durability and resilience. Lanolin, the thin waxy coating on wool fibers, makes wool naturally water and soil resistant.