Long Beach, CA
Natalie Barnes is the owner of Beyond the Reef. She has been a Vendor at Road to California for quite a while. She is teaching a lecture this year – 8505 “What’s In Your Toolbox?” Make sure to go check it out at www.road2ca.com
Matt: Where were you born and what is your birth order?
Natalie: I was born in Pasadena – home of the Rose Parade – born and raised a sunny southern california girl! I was born “an only child”, so I was lucky to have a great mother to pal around with! We used to drive around in her yellow LTD singing, “We all live in a yellow LTD!” (Beatles – Yellow Submarine)
Matt: Where did you grow up?
Natalie: Most of my growing up occurred in Orange County – building forts below the trees in the orange groves, climbing oak trees in Temecula, and riding horses through fields of mustards as high as my horse’s belly. And trying to sew prom dresses out of very very funky stretchy fabrics….
Matt: What motivated you to begin quilting?
Natalie: I started cutting up squares of Woolworth fabrics after my high school boyfriend made me a bright yellow and green quilt for my birthday. Not to be out done, I made quilts for E-VVERYYYY-ONE.
Matt: Describe your “quilting studio” — is there something in it that you just can’t live without?
Natalie: I live in a small 1940’s beach cottage, so there is not a lot of space to be had, unless you’re out on the bay or the beach. In my studio. I have a day bed, a small round table/desk, my Bernina Industrial table mounted sewing machine that can sew fast enough to scare people, and a whole wall full of bookcases and enclosed storage holding tools, books, papers, favorite pics, a ukulele and mason jars full of every color thread imaginable. Is there something that I just can’t live without? For my quilting, the view through the house into the garden. For me, I just can’t live without the friends that come to stay, and accept the space as their own….
Matt: Does anyone else in your family quilt?
Natalie: I have very little family left…sadly. My grandmother, who passed away when I was in 2nd grade, was the closest I ever had to having a quilter in the family – she knit, crocheted, did some embroidery, and always made sure my Barbie dolls were very well dressed!
Matt: Do you have any other hobbies besides quilting?
Natalie: I love my yoga practice. And paddle boarding around the bay. I can swing a golf club here and there (let’s not officially call it Golf…) and I knit. Sew. Embroider. Make jewelry. Have a great raised bed veggie garden. Bike. Swim…
Matt: Do you have children, grandchildren etc?
Natalie: …only my good girlfriends’ kids….they’re the best!!
Matt: Do you have any pets?
Natalie: I do have a great (great!) dog named Buddy. He was dumped in the hills on the Central Coast. I gotta say, he was born and bred a cattle cutting dog – as a McNab – and has ended up with a quilter as an owner. I certainly appreciate his adaptability. And the fact that we have to walk long distances as a compromise to the work that he normally would be doing, is no compromise at all.
Matt: Do you have a favorite food, what is it?
Natalie: Honestly, I love a fresh from the garden arugula and blueberry salad. Warm tomatoes grown right at my door. Hand made hamburgers on the 4th of July eaten standing on the bay with the neighbors…and “made in my own kitchen” thai food with a table full of good friends. I guess you could say my favorite food is the company it keeps!
Matt: What is your favorite recepe for entertaining?
Natalie: Salad, salad, salad. Wedges with blue cheese and walnuts.
Arugula with berries and a great aged balsamic.
Romaine, white rice, frozen white corn, black beans, cheese, chicken, black olives, guacamole (from my haas avo tree) and a splash of sour cream.
For winter, homemade chili and crusty artisan bread.
Hot thai coconut chicken soup with fresh basil.
Or the conversation around the bbq while cooking something for dinner.
Matt: What would be on your “Bucket List” if you could do anything and money was not an object?
Natalie: I heard a great answer to this question – credit to the writers of The Mentalist – “Well, I WOULD like to have my own personal magic dragon…”
For me, I think I would like to take Buddy and “fly private” to New Zealand, and live for a year in a great big sprawling modern beach house on a big piece of land with some kind of herd and agriculture. And of course, invite all of my friends over, all expenses paid, any time they could get away to come visit.
I would have a big giant barn like structure classroom and create a ‘room and board’ place for people to come and learn and quilt and create.
Of course, world peace is still very high on the list – I would even settle for clean drinking water for all…
Matt: What is the best class you have taken?
Natalie: Every class is the best class I have ever taken. Marsha McClosky for perfect accurate piecing. Roxanne McElroy for applique. Sitting next to an expert hand quilter and just watching her quilt for quilting. I would love to be in a class with Gwen Marston – Denyse Schmidt – or learn how to McTavish!!
Matt: What is the funniest or most embarassing moment you have had happen while you were teaching?
Natalie: Honestly, it’s hard to pick just one embarrassing teaching moment – I have so many. On any given day, i will be on a roll, talking a blue streak and come to a screeching halt, looking for the word “rotary cutter” or “ruler” or “blue”. Inevitably, tho, whatever I am doing, ironing with an iron that’s not plugged in, cutting something the wrong size and having to toss the piece, forgetting the word “blue” – – it’s a way to engage the people in my class. A way to get human and connect.
Matt: Where have you traveled in your quilting career? Any favorite locations?
Natalie: In November, my favorite location will be Long Beach. I will be teaching there. In January, it will be Ontario, California. Wherever I go, wherever there are quilters, that is my favorite location. I enjoyed Florida. If I am ever asked to the show in Japan, I will love Japan. But no more or no less than Ontario California, or Denver, or Portland.
Matt: What is the last book you have read, and who is your favorite author?
Natalie: Oh oh…..this one might be a hard one… The very last book I read was some ‘guy book’ fiction about an ex military guy living on his boat. I am a pretty eclectic reader… It’s Easier Than You Think, Sylvia Boorstein. Lime Creek, Joe Henry (good friend of one of my good friends). Anything Jill Marie Landis (good girlfriend of mine). What the Dog Saw, Malcolm Gladwell. Fifty Acres and a Poodle, Jeanne Marie Laskas
Matt: What’s the best thing about teaching?
Natalie: The best thing about teaching? The people, of course!! Spreading enthusiasm and joy and wonder is just the best. Encouragement. I wake up every day so very thankful that I am chosen to do these kinds of things.