Calico Goose rules roost
Macedonia artist creates designs that others paint and sells her own work at craft festival, Web site

By Holly Pupino
Special to the Beacon Journal

Posted on Sun, Jan. 12, 2003

MACEDONIA - When she is out in the community, people often stop Barbara Franzreb and ask, ``Are you the Calico Goose?''

She takes it as a compliment. Over the past 20 years, Franzreb has become well known as a decorative painter. But she wears several hats connected with her home-based business, the Calico Goose. She not only paints and sells her own work, she teaches and designs patterns for other painters to use.

Franzreb of Macedonia recently had two of her Christmas designs featured in the December 2002 issue of Craftworks, a national magazine.

The design, a sprig of mistletoe, is painted on two pieces of tin ware: a match holder and heart-shaped basket that can be filled with greenery and hung on a wall. Both pieces offer lots of charm and nostalgia.

Another design, a still life featured on a small hurricane lamp, will be seen in the February issue of the same magazine.

The 53-year-old artist sells the tin ware, designs and instructions for other painters to make the pieces themselves. The tin even comes painted with an antique red base coat.

``If you're a painter, you appreciate that base coat,'' she said. ``You just want to get to the creative part.''

Franzreb is a member of the National Society of Tole and Decorative Painters, the Ohio Arts and Crafts Guild and Tole Painters of the Western Reserve.

She said friends and fellow painters describe her style as a New England folk art look.

Her Williamsburg-inspired home is filled with examples of her work. Tables, chairs and decorative accents have been

painted in designs inspired by famed folk artists such as Warner Wrede, John Dunn, Rufus Porter and Peter Ompir.

Franzreb paints on tin, wood and papier-mache with acrylics. Whether she is painting a rather simple sprig of mistletoe or a complete landscape, it is the details that make all the difference. The realism of one berry or leaf comes from taking the time to use different colors and several layers of paint.

She sells her own work at the Shaker Woods Festival, held during three August weekends in Columbiana. She also sells her unfinished materials and pattern kits at a conference held for decorative painters in Columbus.

This past year, she taught a class at the national convention of decorative painters in Charlotte, N.C.

What she loves just as much as painting and designing is teaching. She teaches beginner's and advanced decorative painting classes in her home.

Teaching painting

The three-hour classes are $9 each or $45 for a five-week class with an additional cost for supplies. Most classes are about five weeks long, resulting in a completed project.

``Probably, the thing I hear the most from beginning students is `Why doesn't my piece look like yours?' said Franzreb. ``I tell them painting styles are just as individual as handwriting styles. Plus, you don't just sit down at the piano for the first time and play something wonderful. It takes lots of practice.''

A creative spirit

Franzreb, who is married and has two grown sons, has always loved doing creative things. She is accomplished in sewing, embroidery, cross-stitch and knitting and has been painting about 20 years.

Franzreb's next five-week beginner's class will begin in late March. Students will be painting a round box with a gardening theme.

Color pictures of her painted designs on everything from antique spoons to recipe boxes and basket lids, can be found on her Web site at She can be reached at 330-467-7402 or via e-mail at

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