Estate Sale Goodies: From the Estate of Barbara Shawcroft

Barbara Shawcroft was a textile artist in the 60’s and onward. She collected wonderful things during her life. The sale of her things attracted the heavy-duty textile people in the Bay Area. It started at 9:00 on Friday. I went with a friend at noon. By then the rush was over and what they missed was left to be discovered. What I missed were many fabulous pieces.

This is a bag from Uzbekistan. The inside fabric is Russian and much sought after. So brilliant the colors.

Here is the bag closed. Have you ever seen red and green so nicely together? The braid trim and long tie add tiny details.

A furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloth). I never have enough of these. The Japanese use them to carry things and wrap gifts. I have small to really big ones. What makes this one interesting is that the color in each quarter is different, so can be wrapped in different ways for different looks. This one is about a yard square.

The furoshiki opened out flat. Notice the iridescence especially in the purple quadrant. It comes from the warp and weft being different colors. This piece was woven this way with the color’s crossings in mind.

A genuine Barbara Shawcroft work. She also made huge balls and huge people. Her huge creation, “Legs” hung in one of the Embarcadero Center buildings for many years. It was originally yellow so when they took it down it was pretty dirty and discolored. My ball is about 18” in diameter. The more I ponder it, the happier I am that the early mob left it behind.

A simple basket that is quite lovely.

 A short Japanese kimono (Haori jacket?). The stencil printed sleeves are a beautiful addition to the blue and white kasuri pattern. All cotton. Very wearable.

I think this was a futon cover. It is made of double ikat squares and stenciled squares. A find.

A close-up of the futon cover. Perfection!

24 thoughts on “Estate Sale Goodies: From the Estate of Barbara Shawcroft”

    • Sad to hear of this passing and divestment. Any idea what happened to ‘Legs’. The bound sphere like object is wrapped tight, any idea of its concept?


      • I think Barbara got “Legs” back but that’s all I know. The sphere is wrapped tight. There were huge ones in the garden. I don’t know a thing about the concept. I don’t remember seeing them before and connecting to Barbara. I want to have a giant sale before I die. Working on it now and looking for a venue and next year. A big job–my collection and my work. I’ve got a lot of stuff! It will be in San Francisco.

  1. The estate sale continues this weekend in Davis.
    The hours have been changed: no Friday sale. Saturday 9-5 and Sunday 10-4.
    (Also a yard sale with lots of books, Saturday 9-2.)
    Lots left! There will be lots of rolls of wire and rope this weekend.
    This website gives an idea of what was there at the beginning of the estate sale:

  2. Hello
    I made a coat in the 1970’s for Barbara.. black and white crocheted piece with a bird on the front..
    Did it sell to someone you know?
    Just curious..
    Lori Hanson goldman

  3. Hi there,

    My parents helped set up Barbara’s estate sale. I’m so glad to see that folks who really appreciate her work were able to come. Going through all her things was fascinating, glad they ended up in good hands.

  4. Hi Peggy, Do you know anything about the Wangden rugs that Barbara had? I purchased 2 because of the lovely colors. Thanks for any info.

  5. Hello Peggy
    Spoke to you in February.
    I think about your 18” wrapped and tied sphere. I think it was a great catch. The early birds were not seeing the real Barbara Shawcroft.
    Are you saying there were much larger spheres made? 18” is a good size.
    Since there is not biographical book that I know of, one has to piece together her career.
    Do you work in textiles?
    How is your Estate Sale plan coming along? Not in the near future. Good to plan 25 years ahead 🙂

    • The large balls were waist high! I like mine a lot. Had a big sale last November. Have things left and thinking to do the next one on line–going instead to Japan in Ostober so thinking about 2024. Thanks for asking.

  6. I was a student of Barbara’s in the 1980s. She single-handedly had the largest design influence on me and my life that persists to this day nearly 40 years later, in everything I do.

    The mundane and everyday was a design exercise.

    Repetition with variation.

    Contrast – soft and hard, round and square, soft with hard materials and vice versa.

    Sumptuous color combinations.

    Concepts she loves.

    The spheres to me are about repetition and materiality. (They don’t likely have anything significant inside so don’t destroy them to find out.) Perhaps there is something that makes noise and engages another sense but nothing more.

    As a class project, we traveled to UC Berkeley. A couple of us stayed overnight in her studio. What a formative experience!

    We wove fabric out of coaxial cable and wrapped large rebar spheres with the fabric. We installed them on the roundabout in front of Hearst Hall. Somewhere I have pictures. I think they were an early test of the round forms at a larger scale. Of course, she had already created smaller orbs as infinitum in said studio.

    To me, these orbs were an exercise in textile design, repetition (they were various sizes), knot-making intricacy and simple beauty, transparency, and contrast (roundabout in plan brought to 3d form, soft against the hard beaux-arts and brutalist architecture around).

    What a wonderful trip down memory lane. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts.

    • I know you mean Barbara Shawcroft. I own one of her balls–about15″ in diameter. I would gladly send it to you if you would paby the postage from San Francisco. I assume you are pletty close. I live in Greenbrae near San Rafael. We could meet at my studio. I am trying to down-size and you might appreciate this work of art as I have.


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