Barbara Wilson was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She spent her early childhood there and her teen years across the harbour in Dartmouth when her family moved to a new house. Any school day that had an art class in it was a good day for Barb.

Soon after high school she became Mrs. Barbara Cross and began life as a busy military wife. Two years later she became a mother to Anthony and five and a half years later was blessed with another son, Aaron.

Throughout these whirlwind years of raising children and transferring from base to base, Barb’s passion for expression did not diminish; she dabbled in a wide variety of arts and crafts, some of which are sketching, composition and oil painting, plaster of Paris, knitting, rug hooking, primitive weaving and macramé. They were entertaining and somewhat fulfilling but none seemed to hold long term appeal for her. 

In the fall of 1976 Barb and her family said goodbye to the military and began a new life in Alberta; original home of her husband, Richard. It was here that she found PAPER TOLE. One class and she was hooked! This was the art medium she had been seeking. Soon she was producing and selling her work throughout Alberta. By popular demand, she began teaching as well and, by 1982 had opened a home business to supply tools, mats, frames and teaching services.

Eleven years and a mountain of completed pieces later Barb moved into a shared market retail space in a busy Edmonton mall. She expanded and grew her retail business and increased her student body for the next six years. 

In 1999 Barb moved her Busy B Workshop to West Edmonton Mall, the largest mall in the world at that time; home to more than 850 retail outlets. She stayed and built her business until 2006 when she moved her storefront to her town of residence, Stony Plain, where she remains today.

When Barb found paper tole in the late ‘70’s she was totally captivated and enthused. She resolved to learn all she could about this beautiful art and improve it to add to its appeal if she could. She began experimenting  with different techniques and materials; her students were the first to share her findings. She promoted her art form at major art competitions and craft fairs where her works were very well received.

When interest in paper tole began to wane in other areas, Barb and her student body kept moving forward; constantly improving methods, techniques and presentation. Improved cutting and molding methods have resulted in a very realistic finished product. Twelve years ago Barb developed a unique style to add even more realism to her pictures utilising punches and supplemental background painting. She has proudly shared this with students from all over the world. Eventually these improvements changed the paper tole model enough to become referred to as 3D Paper Sculpture. Barb has become well-known for her spectacular sceneries in this genre. 

Through the last 35 years Barb’s reputation for innovation and top quality work has grown. She is an artisan at the top of her game; consequently, she is sought out by teachers from other areas in the world for her instruction and advice. She and her students enjoy having their works viewed; it serves to keep up interest and attract new participation.

Constant experimentation and refinement have led to Barb’s success in promoting and preserving her beloved art form. She willingly shares her findings with all who study with her. She is extremely proud to see her students enter major exhibitions and come away with awards. She considers it affirmation of her methods and a sound endorsement of her teaching abilities. 

Thirty-five years have brought an astonishing number of interested students to Barb’s door; as a result, many, many long lasting friendships have been forged. Barb has interacted with paper tole teachers from all corners of the globe and is always happy to meet new friends who share her love and passion for this beautiful and enduring art form.