MOORE ON ART: Barbie Holton


By Deva Moore

Artists have an arsenal of tools, ideas and resources at their disposal but the most intriguing tool is the talent that each artist provides to bring it all together into the most beautiful work of art. Many artists find nature and the beauty around them as the most motivating resource available. This is true of Barbie Holton renowned artist. Barbie turns wood and gourds into amazing and beautiful art. Works of art that are aesthetically appealing and many are just as useful in the home. At times Barbie has incorporated fused glass and resin to her designs creating masterpieces that will astound all audiences.


Barbie has been awarded many coveted titles and awards and her list of accomplishments is quite lengthy!! Barbie is a native Texan and is constantly learning new techniques and styles to keep her in the mainstream art world. She attended the University of Houston earning her degree as a teacher of art and shares her knowledge and experience with all.

Barbie has been an artist all of her life, like many artists she began as a young child drawing, coloring and designing. She has explored all types of art involving acrylics, weaving and oils. As she mastered her art and embraced the knowledge and experience of making art with her talent shining bright, Barbie knew she had found her purpose…to provide a unique and beautiful art to the world and nature provided all of her resources.
Teaching adults to turn wood or finding the perfect mottled gourd requires an educated eye and Barbie has that eye!!! Her works of art are splendid and have found homes as far away as Europe and in even in the Pentagon!!!

Barbie found in her pursuit of art that the best resources were artists themselves. The artists were eager to bring her into their toolbox of knowledge sharing their studios, tools, experiences and workshops. Barbie listened to them all and soaked up all the resources and knowledge she could hold. She joined the cultures fully embracing every nuance completely!!

Barbie and her husband attended a festival in Kerrville that sparked her journey. Her husband excitedly steered her toward the gourd artists displaying there. Barbie was smitten and soon immersed in the art.

She found that the wood turners also quickly shared enough information that Barbie knew she was adding wood turning to her repertoire. Mastering the craft quickly, Barbie soon became a professional wood turner and all of her artwork is fabulous.

Wood turning is an art project that Barbie explains is best suited for an older adult who can handle the safety of power tools including drills, lathes, saws, hammers and other sharp instruments needed to produce the proper wood turning experience. Barbie gave some valuable insight on wood turning. Wood must be chosen carefully, prepared correctly and the type of wood used varies on the vision and availability. Barbie uses many types of wood but favors mesquite and box elder. She looks for the burls, colors and even the cracks and natural knots. Much of the wood Barbie uses must dry and “knot” be green or moist. Wood can change its integrity if not completely set for the next step in the wood turning process.
Barbie explained that some of her wood projects can take up a year or even more to reach the perfect dryness and even then some woods can still create new and exciting shapes and cracks. Wood then must be cut into the size desired for her project and that requires the use of the saw and then the artist must be knowledgeable on the use of a lathe for turning the piece of wood into the shape and type of finished piece planned. Wood is sanded and the size and shape created through many hours of hand work. Typically an oil is rubbed into the wood giving it a sheen or layer of protection. Barbie has an idea in mind for each piece of wood she cuts and shapes before she gets started. With more than 20 years of experience in her arts, Barbie has knowledge on her side!!! Her wood pieces show such beauty from nature and can be displayed as art or Barbie creates some pieces designed for food use.. Explore wood turning and gourd art on her website.

Barbie also offers an exciting gourd art collection. Barbie recommends that gourds can be used if one grows them but leave the growing to the gardeners, she encourages finding a good resource in someone who grows them and can provide an affordable and variety of options. Gourds are unique as they grow into the size and shape without boundaries. They have unique colors and shapes with markings that cannot be replicated but enhanced. Barbie shared that “gourds are a 3 dimensional canvas”. Some can be changed by opening them up, carving on them, coloring, enhancing the natural bumps and in any way the artist “sees” the transformation!!! Barbie uses woodburning or pyrography on her wood turned art as well as her gourds. This requires a skill that is for the most advanced artist.
Barbie has visions of a project and then finds the piece of wood or the right gourd to create her vision. She spends time preparing the wood or the gourd. The gourd requires the right preparation to reach the final art piece. A gourd must be cleaned, scraped, washed and carefully so not to disturb the integrity. It is also provided with a type of coating and sealed with lacquer to protect it. Gourd art is not a good choice for a food safe piece. She is very careful to instruct the purchasers of her art on the proper care and use.

Barbie finds that most of painting on gourds or some decorative art can mastered by a younger artist. A more mature artist can handle the scrapers, drills and saws that are used for more intricate work. She finds dyes work well on wood creating and enhancing the project by absorbing or accenting. Acrylics work best on gourds because the acrylic paint sits on the gourd while oils and dyes absorb into wood creating patterns and enhancing the natural designs.

Barbie immerses herself into the hands-on art and gets lost in her creations. She envisions the “blueprint” in her head and then transform the gourd or wood into the vision!!!
Barbie enjoys shows and participates in many throughout the year. She loves meeting new friends and catching up with old ones. She maintains her current techniques by participating in workshops and staying up on the latest new trends.
Coiling, using pine needles is in Barbie’s list of beautiful art tools and she uses it in both wood turning and gourd art. Research finds Barbie a master of yet another beautiful art!!! Barbie is a master of all arts and seeks challenging techniques continuously. She shares her visions and talents with anyone who desires to express their own artistic values and talents.

Barbie does not currently have a public studio but is widely represented in galleries. Boerne art enthusiasts can find her work at the Carriage house gallery at 110 Rosewood Ave Boerne Tx or call set up an appointment to see Barbie and other talented artists at 830-248-1184. She also participates in shows and markets regularly.

Barbie loves her home in the Hill Country and enjoys the solace she finds in nature. She said she gets her motivation and ideas from “the natural world around me”. She finds joy creating with the products that nature provide her. Anyone interested in wood turning or gourd art just needs to seek a meeting or go to Barbie’s website and find just what you are looking for…a unique art with a unique artist!