Valentine's Day is around the corner and finding a heartfelt gift is the challenge every year. You can never go wrong with handmade hearts from Barbara Biel. What started as a happy accident turned into a career of handmade gifts! For me, meeting Barbara Biel in Houston in the early 2000's was a gift as well. I remember how cool I thought is was that Barbara said she made crosses and it was God's gift to me. I loved being in her tiny studio, surrounded by incredible artwork and obvious reflections of a powerful artist and woman. I am proud of Barbara and honored to carry her work. Below she shares the story of how the heart collection came to be!
"My favorite gifts for friends are ones that I have made. I was not thinking business at all when I was making a few crosses to give as Christmas presents. I first thought they would look great hanging over doorways as I had seen crosses in Europe. The ones I made for presents were ceramic and looked really good lying together on my table. Kelly, a designer friend of mine, who had been placing my paintings came over and simply said “I want those.” I replied I’m giving them as presents and you might get one. He said “I’ll pay you $200 for them,” so it took me about half a second to say okay and so I made more.
About a week later a woman called me from a store asking if I would like to sell my crosses at their yearly Christmas market. I wondered how she knew about them. She had received one as a gift from Kelly. They were a store selling high end jewelry and Rolex watches. Again, I said really I don’t sell them, and I was just making a few for friends presents. She said think about it and so it took me about 10 minutes and I called her back and I said okay I sell them to you for the market and I made more.
After Christmas I took a box of crosses over to Robert Hawkins at Surroundings in Houston. Funny…I worked a couple of days just on box presentation. I walked in and I said ….."you don’t really want to buy these do you?” and I held them up in front of him. He said “ Yes I would like the whole box!” I was in my first store and very excited. Three days later he wanted more and I made more. (He still sells them for me and we laugh at that story.)
Soon I was filling up the neighborhood kiln with crosses, and expanded to more stores. My little business has grown through the years. I continue to be amazed every time I hear about how they have touched someone and all the different ways that they are used. I also love all the wonderful people I have met along the way. This adventure has all been one big blessing."
Here the artist is shown in her home. She currently resides in Houston, Texas working as an artist making hearts, crosses, paintings, and custom creations. Shop her hearts for Valentine's Day HERE.