Barbara Klunder was born in Toronto in 1948 and grew up in an artistic household, which was her basic education, and attended Ontario College of Art 1965-66. She started doing illustration at the age of 17 (for the Globe and Mail) and continued as a freelance illustrator/designer.
At the age of 28 she started designing hand-knit sweaters, launching them in New York with the help of Vogue Magazine. Both the sweaters and her subsequent rug designs used her skills as an illustrator and designer as she discovered the possibilities of textile and fibre. She participated in a show in 1991 at the Textile Musem of Canada of 14 very large hand-hooked rugs from makers around the world. Gradually her interests grew into making conceptual pieces that had ‘commentary’ built into them. 27 Downsized Purses was a collection (that eventually became a solo show at the Canadian Craft Museum in 1996) of small purses made out of a variety of materials from nature (birchbark, pine cones,wood), with embroidery, knitting, and rug hooking. Music is a recurring theme in her graphic work over the years, having done the posters for both Vancouver and Toronto Jazz Festivals for twelve years, among other musical event posters.
Barbara has lived on Toronto Island for the past 20 years, but now finds herself in downtown Toronto. She has been teaching Drawing and Painting at the Art Gallery of Ontario for the past few years, and is asked annually to lecture at many Art colleges and Craft Guilds in the Toronto region. She is also asked to be on many juries, from National Magazine Awards to contemporary Art competitions.