Artists ~ Barbara Materna ~ Pawtucket

Artist’s name: Barbara Materna
Shop name: BABS
Facebook: BABS Fine Handmade Handbags
Instagram: BabsEtc

1. Tell us about your work.
BABS is a collection of colorful and fun handbags and totes that include BABS felted handbags, Jack + Cookie merino wool handbags, Nautical Navigators and a new line of hand-painted canvas bags, BABS for Barbara Ottmar.

2. How did you come to be a professional artist/crafter/designer?
I started making bags in an extra room on the 3rd floor of our East Side home. When my operation spilled to the second floor and eventually overtook the dining and living room my husband said "enough". I rented studio space in Hope Artiste Village in February 2103. In July 2013 I moved to the "retail hall" and opened BABS. I love HAV and the Farmer's Market that is held here every Saturday from Nov -- May. My Jack + Cookie partner, Gail Solomon and I "hold court" in the shop Saturday mornings. We get our coffee and talk to the diverse group of shoppers. When May comes and the market moves outdoors we use the time to build up our inventory for the next season of shows which starts in July and ends with the Foundry Show in December.

3. Where do you draw your inspiration?
I love fiber, fashion, art, -- color. I'm inspired by everything around me.

4. What’s your favorite item to create?
My favorite item is whatever I'm creating at the time -- truly. I'm always trying new things. In the winter I love my felted wool bags -- in the hopes of spring I'm working on a new line using the art of a local artist, Barbara Ottmar.

5. What’s your best seller?
My best seller is an ochre-colored felted wool tote. It was featured in Rhode Island Monthly and I can't keep them on the shelf.

6. How long have you been in Rhode Island?
I'm a Colorado native who moved to Rhode Island in 1996. My husband's family has been in Rhode Island for over 100 years. We have a place on Prudence Island and when I'm not making bags I'm on our boat somewhere on the Bay.

7. What do you {heart} about Rhode Island?
I {heart} RI too! I think I love the water the most. If I had to choose the mountains of Colorado or the ocean -- I'd probably choose the ocean. I love humidity and the sticky days of summer.


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