Barbara Hessenbruch

   Barbara Sherman Hessenbruch was born June 20, 1922 in Spring Lake, New Jersey. She was graduated from Columbia High School (Maplewood, NJ) in 1940 and from Wellesley College with a B.A. in English in 1944. During her senior year, she married Herman Markle Hessenbruch, who was serving in the Naval Fleet in Japan. After graduation, she held a variety of jobs while waiting for the war to end and her husband to return home. The couple attended Wesleyan University from 1946-1947 (Herman, finishing his B.A.; Barbara, working on her M.A. in English). After several years and several moves, the Hessenbruchs settled in Ridgewood, NJ, a suburb of New York City.
   Barb and "Hess" had three children: John Markle (born 1949), Carolyn (born 1953), and Andra (born 1956). As a young mother, Barbara enjoyed pursuing her interests of music (violin performance) and jewelry making (primarily silver). In 1959, Barbara was widowed when her husband suffered a heart attack. Never having remarried, she successfully juggled raising three children, traveled extensively with her young family, as well as continuing to broaden her own interests. Besides being fluent in French and Latin, Barbara acquired a strong background in Spanish, Italian, German, and Greek through night classes. Her knowledge of languages proved invaluable during her many travels, both within the U.S. and internationally (Europe, Eastern Europe, British Isles, Scandinavia, Middle East, South America, Central America, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, and Canada).

   Barbara showed interest in rocks during college---at a different place and a different time, she might have forgone the English major for a career in geology. Her enthusiasm for the science rubbed off on two of her children, both of whom received their M.S. in the field. A trip to Florence in 1970 led her to the Museo dell'Opificio delle Pietre Dure a Firenze (Museum of Hard Stones), a magnificent monument to the art of intarsia. From that point on, she was hooked. She began acquiring pieces, both large and small.
In 1980, she relocated to San Clemente, CA, where her interest in stones and intarsia became a passion. Her micromount mineral collection continued to grow. She became an active member of the Capistrano Valley Rock and Mineral Club and the LA County Museum. Her calendar soon revolved around gem shows and field trips. Barbara enrolled in her first lapidary class in 1985. Ultimately, she graduated into working almost exclusively in intarsia. She completed a wall hanging of the Hessenbruch family crest in 1994. Since then she has focused on smaller pieces, primarily miniatures with an ocean theme. On her most recent trip to Florence (1997), she and a stone master designed a table she purchased depicting a bird in a flowering tree---the results are exquisite.
   Barbara moved to Bellingham, WA in June of 1999, where she continues to reside. Although new to the area, she has already become involved in the Mt. Baker Rock and Mineral Club.

Previous - Next

back to top

Back to Biographies G - M