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Barb Hilts.

Barbara’s home and studio is in Tottenham, north of Toronto. She graduated from the Ontario College of Art, after attending Sheridan School of Design. She discovered the silk painting technique while at O.C.A. Barbara operated a small textile business creating and selling silk scarves, for more than twenty years. The silk painting provided Barbara the opportunity to explore and manipulate colour and pattern. 

Currently, she is investigating cloth manipulation. Her sculptural textile works explore the intersection of the traditional embroidery technique of smocking, and the contemporary craft of painted silk. Barbara has exhibited her new work at shows and exhibitions throughout Ontario.

She was a 2012 Niche Award Finalist in the United States and the winner of the ”10th Anniversary Award of Excellence, at Headwaters Arts Festival Show and Sale, 2012.

Barb is an award winning textile practitioner and teacher based in Ontario Canada. Her work is collected and held in many private and institutional collections. This is a wonderful opportunity to collect a very special piece by an international artist. 

Barb talks about her processes and thinking as she created her work for The Flour Sack Challenge.

The Process of Preserving Textiles

This is my first attempt to create a fully three dimensional art form using the textile medium. On hearing of the theme, of the exhibit, I immediately envisioned the canning/preserving process of food to the preservation of time honoured textiles. 

I was picturing a piece that would take the shape of a preserving jar, and would also capture the logo of the vintage label.

For the piece to take shape it had to be stiffened in some way, so I tested three different products: gelatin, water based urethane and alginate. I had to take into consideration, the properties of each stiffener: the effect of the medium on the fabric, of the temperature of the surrounding climate and its durability. The gelatin shrunk within three weeks. The alginate was too unpredictable drying too quickly and adhering to the glass.
The water based urethane worked best. It had a slow dry time which allowed some flexibility so it could be removed from the jar, while still maintaining its shape. 

The flour sack was coated with a thin layer of urethane using a squeegee. It was arranged inside a qt./litre  preserving jar, in such a way as to display the flour company’s logo. While slightly damp the fabric was removed from the jar through the bottom of the jar. 

To accomplish this feat, two rows of tape were applied around the bottom of the jar, leaving a small space between the two strips. Using a hack saw, the jar was scored in the space around the bottom of the jar. With goggles on, and with gentle hammering the bottom of the jar was removed, and then the textile form was removed. 

While still damp, the textile form was stuffed with plastic and bubble wrap to increase/improve it’s shape. The textile sculpture was painted with an additional layer urethane and allowed to dry thoroughly.    

To complete and stabilize the piece a base, an upside down pottery dish was glued to the bottom of the sculpture, and to accentuate the appearance of the “preserving jar”, a lid was added to the top.  


The Process Photo – Barb Hilts – ‘The Process of Preserving Textiles
‘The Process of Preserving Textiles’.

You can see more images and information about this work on the website shop page:

This work is being sold by silent auction to raise funds for The Women’s Refuge. Please message the gallery on +6421407424 or through the gallery’s social media to place your bids if not able to attend in person. At the close of the exhibition a committee member of the Taranaki Women’s Refuge will open the bids. The successful bidders will then be notified and the works will be available for collection.

Artist CV – Barb Hilts


  • University of Guelph, Textile Sciences, 1991-1994
  • Ontario College of Art, OCAD, Textile Design, 1983-86
  • Hong Kong School of Technology, History of Chinese Costume, 1983
  • Sheridan School of Design, 1972-74


  • 10th Anniversary Award of Excellence, Headwaters Arts Festival Show and Sale, SGI Centre, Alton, ON; 2012
  • Niche Award Finalist, Buyer’s Market of American Craft, Philadelphia, PA; 2012 
  • Designer Crafts 1998 Awards, Honorable Mention; 1998, 
  • Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Lucio Munar, Captain Veterans Memorial Award from the USS Wheeling Ship 2000; 1995


Artists in Education grant, Ontario Arts Council, 2015

Selected Exhibitions:

  • Williams Mill Visual Art Centre, Georgetown, ON; 2016
  • Imagemaker, Port Credit, ON; 2015, 
  • 10/10 Annual Juried Exhibition: Quest Art, Midland Cultural Centre, Midland, ON 2014
  • Carnegie Craft 2013: The Carnegie Gallery, Dundas, ON; November 2013
  • Headwaters Arts Festival Exhibit: Alton, ON; 2016, 2013, 2012, 2011
  • High Fibre: Quest Art, Midland Cultural Centre, Midland, ON; February, 2013
  • Common Thread Exhibition: Town Square Gallery, World of Threads Festival, Oakville; September 2009
  • ‘Journeys’, The Carnegie Gallery, Dundas, June; John B. Aird Gallery, Toronto, July; 2002 

Selected Shows:

  • Arts on the Credit: Port Credit, ON; 2015, 2016
  • Cabbagetown Arts and Crafts Show, Toronto, ON; 2015 – 2013 
  • The New Art Festival, Ottawa, ON; 2012
  • Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, Toronto, ON; 2016, 2015, 2011, 2010, 2001, 1999, 1997, 1995, 1993, 1992
  • One of a Kind, Toronto, ON; 2005-2000
  • Keeneland Art Centre, Lockport, NY; 2002, 2001 
  • Allentown Art Festival, Buffalo, NY; 2001, 2000
  • Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit, New York, NYC; 1995, 1994


Published Writings:

  • A Needle Pulling Thread, Artist Profile, Summer 2014
  • Craft News, 1993


  • East Toronto Quilters’s Guild, Toronto; 2015
  • Mississauga Handweavers and Spinners Guild, Mississauga; 2016

Professional Positions:

  • Juror, ‘Fabrications’, Quest Art, Midland Cultural Centre, Midland, ON 2015
  • Exhibit set-up the Equiart Exhibit for the Dufferin Arts Council, for the Pan Am Games Palgrave On. 2015
  • Grant Writer for the Gibson Centre Gallery, contract position, March 2009 – September 2009
  • Part-time curator, The Gibson Centre Gallery, June 2010 – October 2011

Volunteer Activities:

  • Nottawasaga Spinners and Weavers, advisor for jury committee for the Ontario Hand Spinners Research Grant.
  • Organizing committee, Stitches across Time, Dufferin County Museum and Archives, Shelburne, ON; 2014, 2011
  • Headwaters Arts Festival Exhibit, Alton, ON; 2013
  • Volunteer curator/administrator, The Gibson Centre Gallery, Sept. 2009 – June 2010
  • Independent Curated exhibit ‘The Evolution of Fibre’, The Gibson Centre, Alliston, ON; 2010.