Featured Artists

Interviews Archive Page

135  Christina Massey

134  Mary Grisey

133  Trina Perry Carlson

132  Anne Kelly

131  Louise Lemieux Bérubé

130  Dorothy McGuinness

129  Penny Mateer

128  Christine Mauersberger

127  Jim Arendt

126  Merce Mitchell

125  Louise Keen

124  Rosemary Claus-Gray

123  Mary Giehl

122  Emily Hermant

121  Robin Wiltse

120  Barbara Klunder

119  Megan Skyvington

118  Rachel Brumer

117  Heike Blohm

116  Shanell Papp

115  Carmella Karijo Rother

114  C. Pazia Mannella

113  Karen Goetzinger

112  Andrew MacDonald

111  Jeanne Williamson

110  Catherine Heard

109  Rosemary Hoffenberg

108  Cathy Breslaw

107  Leslie Pontz

106  Cas Holmes

105  Geri deGruy

104  Suzanne Morlock

103  Barbara De Pirro

102  Kathryn Clark

101  Noelle Hamlyn

100  Judith Mullen

99  Barbara J. Schneider

98  Merill Comeau

97  Beverly Ayling-Smith

96  Barbara Hilts

95  Mackenzie Kelly-Frère

94  Anna Keck

93  Pilar Sans Coover

92  Dolores_Slowinski

91  Leslie Pearson

90  Temma Gentles

89  Tilleke Schwarz

88  Anna Torma

87  Kim Stanford

86  Ingrid Lincoln

85  Anna Hergert

84  Joy Walker

83  Maximo Laura

82  Marie Bergstedt

81  Alice Vander Vennen

80  Xia Gao

79  Leisa Rich

78  Megan Q. Bostic

77  Sayward Johnson

76  Heather Komus

75  Sheila Thompson

74  Kerstin Benier

73  Molly Grundy

72  Nathan Johns

71  Lorena Santin-Andrade

70  Lisa DiQuinzio

69  Nancy Yule

68  Jenine Shereos

67  Bovey Lee

66  Nell Burns

65  Lancelot Coar

64  Elisabetta Balasso

63  Matthew Cox

62  Yulia Brodskaya

61  Lotta Helleberg

60  Kit Vincent

59  Barbara Heller

58  Catherine Dormor

57  Joyce Seagram

56  Yael Brotman

55  David Hanauer

54  Dwayne_Wanner

53  Pat Hertzberg

52  Chris Motley

51  Mary Catherine Newcomb

50  Cybèle Young

49  Vessna Perunovich

48  Fukuko Matsubara

47  Jodi Colella

46  Anastasia Azure

45  Marjolein Dallinga

44  Libby Hague

43  Rita Dijkstra

42  Leanne Shea Rhem

41 Lizz Aston

40  Sandra Gregson

39  Kai Chan

38  Edith Meusnier

37  Lindy Pole

36  Melanie Chikofsky

35  Laurie Lemelin

34  Emily Jan

33  Elisabeth Picard

32  Liz Pead

31  Milena Radeva

30  Rochelle Rubinstein

29  Martha Cole

28  Susan Strachan Johnson

27  Karen Maru

26  Bettina Matzkuhn

25  Valerie Knapp

24  Xiaoging Yan

23  Hilary Rice

22  Birgitta Hallberg

21  Judy Martin

20  Gordana Brelih

19  Mary Karavos

18  Rasma Noreikyte

17  Judith Tinkl

16  Joanne Young

15  Allyn Cantor

14  Pat Burns-Wendland

13  Barbara Wisnoski

12  Robert Davidovitz

11  Amy Bagshaw

10  Jesse Harrod

9  Emma Nishimura

8  June J. Jacobs

7  Dagmar Kovar

6  Ixchel Suarez

5  Cynthia Jackson

4  Lorraine Roy

3  Christine Mockett

2  Amanda McCavour

1  Ulrikka Mokdad


Laura Secord Bonnet Crest. Illustration in Laura Secord Alphabet Book.  Papercut, Washi. 2011. Laura Secord Paper-cuts: David Kaye Gallery, 2011. Rodman Hall, 2012.


AGO T-shirt design. Limited edition. Celebrating AGO re-opening of the Gehry re-design. Paper-cut. Washi paper. Original size 12" x 24"


Artist: Barbara Klunder of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Interview 120

Subscribe to Artist Interviews here...

Interviews published and curated by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.



Barbara Klunder is an eclectic artist, gifted in many genres and media...hand-knit sweaters (launched in New York with the help of Vogue); hand-hooked rugs; two fonts distributed internationally; illustrated books, posters and logos for clients ranging from the legendary BamBoo Club on Queen West in Toronto; theatre sets and costumes; jazz festival posters; and hundreds of T-Shirts designs for various causes and clients including one for the Rolling Stones VooDoo Lounge tour in 1995.

Her work is in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Textile Museum and other institutions across Canada. She is well known for her commitment to environmental causes. In that vein she has written and illustrated Other Goose: Recycled Rhymes for Our Fragile Times published by Groundwood Books. She lives offshore, on Toronto Island. Barbara's website


Artist: Barbara Klunder


In your art practice you have been involved in many fibre mediums over the years.  Tell us where you started, and how you moved into the other media. 

I started knitting and sewing when I was a kid … 10 or so. I started doing more complex knitting in the Mary Maxim style, when I was about 15. That evolved into putting my own illustrations in the designs. I was busy in my twenties getting an illustration and design career going, and raising a son, who I had at 23. I was also supporting my painter husband, Harold, at the time. Full plate!

Then an art director discovered my sweaters and was so impressed, insisted that we take them to Vogue magazine in New York!  From there Saks Fifth Avenue wanted anything and everything I knitted, so I started hiring people, paying $400.00 to knit one complex sweater. It was a wild and wonderful time. At the end of that adventure, I was invited to bring them to Berdgorf's.


Roots – Laura Secord.  Washi paper-cut, 2011. 30" x 40"

Maple Leaf. 2011 Washi paper-cut. 30" x 40", Part of the Laura Secord Paper-cut shows. (Rodman Hall bought this one for their collection)


What bridges the works that you have created in differing media?

I think it would be my design sense. Starting from illustrations, to sweaters, and then to the rugs. I did the sweaters to New York for a couple of years but the pace was relentless. I had a show of them with Tim Jocelyn at Ontario Craft Council in 1979. In the first Textile Museum in Mirvish village, I had a sweater show with another artist who collaged quilts. Harbourfront also had an ArtWear runway show. And then there was KromaLiving, so my knitting was slowly going over to the art side of things.

The rug idea happened when I realized I could not produce the fashion-based sweaters four times a year. If I did not have another design career, and a young boy to raise, I might have! I started doing people's life stories in rugs. I would hear their incredible tales, put images or symbols to the words, and have them made around the world. So I was still working with wool, which I loved, and adding these other layers … a story, a visual.

Those led to a Textile Museum show of 14 rugs about the Environment in 1990.  In another part of my life I was starting to be an outspoken environmentalist and help out there with poster designs. 

Meanwhile, I would do paper-cuts for special gifts for people. I would be invited to be part of group shows and I would end up using all kinds of materials. For York Gallery at Harbourfront, I made Love is Blind out of painted twigs. I made a large heart out of burrs for another show, Brrroken Heart. Then there was the Craft Canadian Museum show in 1990 in Vancouver, which showed my 27 Downsized Purses, responding to that new recession. For that exhibit I used all kinds of materials to make small purses the size of CD's.

Recently I have been doing large paper-cuts and they too have hit the museum level, Rodman Hall, Brock University ... Laura Secord paper dress and many more paper-cuts telling the story of her run in 1812. That was 2012. BulletProof Vests was a show at David Kaye Gallery in Toronto (till September, 2013); my emotional answer to the insane gun culture we live in, done as a fashion statement, using fine Japanese coloured papers.


Leaf. 2011/2012 Washi paper-cut collage. 30" x 40", Laura Secord shows.

Installation shot of Laura Secord Paper-cut show. November 2011 at David Kaye Gallery. Includes both the Leaf paper-cuts, and a small oil painting 10" x 12" of Laura as a teenager.


From where do you get your inspiration?

I think from everything. Really. Art shows, reading about artists, a magazine illustration, poster designs, museum shows about anything, a walk in the woods, a music event, a fashion runway show, a Xerox flyer on the street, a poem. You name it, I get an idea from anything. I also get fired up over history or recent events.


Laura Secord paper-cut for illustrated alphabet book. (Find D,E,F,G) 2011.  Washi paper. approx. 6" x 12", Part of the 2011/2012 Laura Secord Paper-cut shows at David Kaye/ Rodman Hall.

Laura Secord paper-cut for illustrated book. Find L,M,N,O. 2011.  Washi paper. approx. 6" x 12", Part of the 2011/2012 Laura Secord Paper-cut shows at David Kaye/ Rodman Hall.

Laura Secord paper-cut for illustrated book.  Find P,Q,R,S,T. 2011.  Washi paper. approx. 6" x 12", Part of the 2011/2012 Laura Secord Paper-cut shows at David Kaye/ Rodman Hall.


What specific historic artists have influenced your work? 

Oh, this list would go on for pages. 

But in the textile world … Rosemary Trockel, Eva Hess, Louise Bourgeois, Helen Frankenthaler, Vivienne Westwood, Paul Gautier, El Anatsui, the Nigerian artist who used bottle caps to make tapestries, Picasso's sculptures (not his drawings), Hieronymus Bosch, African art, Russian political fabric designs, quilts from anywhere, Lapland knitting, Newfoundland hooked rugs, uber-tech fabrics from Japan, Christo and Jeanne-Claude's wrapped buildings, Rauschenberg's collages, Belgian architects, British potters, Mexican paper-cuts, James Turrell's light projects, etc., etc.


Bee Box paper-cut. 8" square box. Textile Museum of Canada fundraising show. 

Turtle-Fly. 2012 12' X 24" Washi paper-cut. Various shows at David Kaye Gallery.


What specific contemporary artists have influenced your work?  

As above. I think what fine art does to my head is introduce the idea of scale. Janet Morton comes to mind. She takes domestic knitting and scales it up to architectural size. That is the trick. Take something very personal, and using a traditional domestic female skill, and transform it into a statement. 


Monarch Butterfly. 2009 5' x 4' Washi paper-cut. Part of Insects paper-cut show, David Kaye Gallery/Ontario Craft shows. 


What role do you think fibre art plays in contemporary art and what do you see as the biggest challenge facing fibre artists?

Fibre is equal to any other medium now. It took a while, but there is no reason to discount a fibre concept. Look at Eva Hesse and her rope pieces. Or Ai Weiwei and his Birds Nest building at the Beijing Olympics – that's a fibre concept. Or Louise Bourgeois' giant spider at the Tate Gallery, London.  And now, there are so many amazing paper-cut artists around the world. When an artist uses fibre materials, and it is really good work, suddenly it has enormous value. Not just as fibre art, but as a good sculpture, or a great conceptual piece. 

Perhaps time is the enemy … if the fibres are natural – fragility – conservation.


Livestock. 2012 Washi paper-cut. Toronto Island Farm Animal fundraiser. Became a T-shirt as well as a poster.


You grew up in an artistic household.  Was there someone in particular who made a difference to/impact on your work? 

Both my mother and father were artists. Dad made a living illustrating new cars for Detroit. Very Mad Men. Mom was a sculptor and a knitter. My father also introduced me to all kinds of art. I saw Jackson Pollock's paintings in New York when I was 9, and Picasso's Guernica, which I preferred. We were encouraged to think about science, art, good writing, and design, in all forms. Jazz was in our house. God was not.  


BulletProof Vest 4 (full). 2013 27" x 35" Full colour paper-cut collage.  Washi papers and metallic papers. For show at David Kaye Gallery.

Detail: BulletProof Vest 4, 2013 27" x 35" Full colour paper-cut collage.  Washi papers and metallic papers. For show at David Kaye Gallery.

BulletProof Vest (full). 2013 27" x 35" Full colour paper-cut collage.  Washi papers and metallic papers. For show at David Kaye Gallery.

Preying Mantis. 2013 27" x 35" Full colour paper-cut collage.  Washi papers and metallic papers. For show at David Kaye Gallery.


How did you initially start showing your work in galleries? 

The sweaters seemed to intrigue people at the craft gallery level and I was invited to join many group shows. Then I connected with Prime Gallery over the rugs. I also had gallery shows with my illustrations and graphic art, like my fonts. Then there were the political posters in some gallery shows. I did all the artwork for the Bamboo Club on Queen West and also had shows on the walls there with other artists. Hand dyed batik fabrics were made in Bali from my BamBoo-like designs. It was a wild time on Queen Street in the 1980's.  So, there were many different kinds of shows at different types of galleries. 

I did a comic strip for a graphic comic Casual Casual distributed out of the Cameron House tavern in the 1980's. That strip turned into a musical produced by Shadowland theatre.

Guess who had to do all the sets and costumes … which might have led me into making giant puppets for Clay and Paper Theatre … a protest street theatre group that I still do posters for. As I look back, so much of this was the community of artists and what was going on, not so much me organizing a career. It was mostly luck.


Middle Management purse. Felt, wire, embroidery thread, buttons, beads, chain. Approx. 6" square. Part of 27 Downsized Purses first shown at Prime Gallery, then at Canadian Craft Museum show in Vancouver.

Bank purse. 1996 , 6" x6" Embroidered canvas, ribbon, hardware. Part of 27 Downsized Purses first shown at Prime Gallery, then at Canadian Craft Museum show in Vancouver.


If you reflect on your career as a fibre artist, what achievement are you most proud of? 

Some of the sweaters were pretty incredible, as I think back. But the paper-cuts have been good too. 

I designed the B.Klunder and Ottofont...both out of FontShop Berlin. They have sold pretty well over the years.    

I also was awarded the LifeTime Achievement award in 2009 from the Art Director's Club of Canada, the jury being my peers in the commercial/design industry. That was nice.


Velcro purse. 1996  6" x 7"  Scraps, tassels, velcro'd mouth. Hand-hooked. Part of 27 Downsized Purses first shown at Prime Gallery, then at Canadian Craft Museum show in Vancouver.


What advice would you give to someone starting out as a fibre artist?

Trust your instincts.


Jazz Cat rug. 1993 2' x 3' Scraps of all fabrics, from ball gowns to T-shirts to ribbons. Hand-hooked.

Drum rug. 1994 2' x 3' Scraps of all fabrics, from ball gowns to T-shirts to ribbons. Hand-hooked.

Listen rug. 1993 2' x 3'.  Scrap rug. Wool, with symbol of an ear, and the word Listen in the design. Hand-hooked.


You have been involved with the World of Threads Festival in various ways over many years.  Talk to us about that: 

I've been part of a show at Sheridan College, a show at Abbozzo Gallery of hand-hooked rugs, and I was a juror. Being quite opinionated, I haven't been invited back. My taste in fibre art tends to the conceptual, way beyond what I personally do … and when excellent work is there, I will champion it. I have little patience with the usual embroidery and quilt stuff, although if those mediums were used in a conceptual way, a new way, I would respect that.


Middle Management purse. Felt, wire, embroidery thread, buttons, beads, chain. Approx. 6" square. Part of 27 Downsized Purses a Canadian Craft Museum, Vancouver, show 1996.


Is there something else that you would like us to know about you or your work that we have not asked?

I think if I had specialized in one kind of art making, whichever it would have been, it would be stronger for that concentration. I have been interested in so many kinds of mediums and designs, and genuinely excited about everything I have done, it has watered down my impact. But I don't regret the avenues I've taken. It's been a totally interesting life. And I still make something every day.


Honey & Locust. Paper-cut. Logo for a bookstore in Sarnia,

Simple Fun is the Best Fun. 2011 4"x 6"   Washi paper-cut postcard.


Do you have any upcoming shows?  

I am getting ready to introduce my comic character, Little Rude Riding Hood, on-line soon. She has a few things to say.



Laura Secord dress collar, detail of Laura Secord's Dress. 2011 Washi paper-cut dress, 3' x 7'. David Kaye Gallery/ Rodman Hall, St Catharines shows.



Subscribe To Artist Interviews here...

Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.


If you'd like to make a donation to help support our
"Weekly Fibre Artist Interviews" series, you can do so here.