Artist Biography

Artist Biography

Sheila Mahanke Barnes is a native of  northern Idaho who has lived throughout the Pacific Northwest.  In 1993, a move to Wisconsin provided an opportunity to leave the workforce, set aside other crafts and immerse herself in the study of quilting techniques and history.

Although primarily self-taught, Sheila has studied with nationally known quilt instructors and historians.  She entered her first competition in 1994.  Since then, many of her original designs have won awards and been juried into national exhibitions.

Sheila’s love of antique quilts led to a firm grounding in traditional methods and patterns.  Yet she soon found her focus shifting to contemporary designs, non-traditional materials and newer techniques.  Elements of both worlds began to mingle in much of her work.  A brief business foray into fabric dyeing and marbling brought about a new understanding of color, heightening her interest in contemporary creations. 

In 2006, Sheila’s focus shifted to the art quilt.  Her current work incorporates commercial fabrics with the highly textured and richly colored cottons from her dyeing days as well as her more recent shibori, painted, stamped & discharged fabrics. She also works with her photographs to create computer generated collages and manipulations that she prints on fabric for use in her art.  Specialty yarns, decorative threads, thread painting and beads often embellish her designs  The lines, shapes, colors and textures in nature are her major source of inspiration. She enjoys working with organic as well as geometric designs and is constantly experimenting with new materials and techniques to create one-of-a-kind textile art.

Sheila’s return to North Idaho in 2006 fulfills her dream of once again living in the mountains and of pursuing her art.  With the lake nearby, she finds ample opportunity on her daily walks to drink in a natural world that fuels her creative journey.  As a member of Pend Oreille Arts Council, she exhibits her work locally and is co-founder of the fiberart critique group Third Mondays.

"Willow" by Sheila Mahanke Barnes ©2010

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