Judy Deboer is known around the Shuswap and in the artists’ circles for her beautiful stained glass creations. Her style is abstract; she didn’t want to do typical stained glass pictures.
“I don’t like tradition. I like outside the box.”
But her relationship with stained glass didn’t have an auspicious beginning.
“I hated it,” she says laughing and looking at her husband, Dan. “You bought me tools and a course and I started doing it. In the beginning I cut myself and I burned myself.”
She got into her new hobby and then came along the twins, Ryan and Dawson. Pretty soon she was taking the boys on road trips to farmers’ markets and art shows as her hobby turned into a business.
“We went everywhere – the Harrison Art Festival, the White Rock Art Festival - that was beautiful - the New Denver Garlic Festival, and Art in the Park in Kamloops.”
Judy’s family moved to the Shuswap when she was a teenager. She grew up working in her parents plastics factory in Calgary. When they moved to Salmon Arm they started Lakeside Plastics.
“I think it gave me a good work ethic,” she says.
Dan also worked for his parents growing up. His parents, Pete and Helen Deboer, had a dairy farm in Grandview Bench.
“I ended up owning it with my dad and about 20 years ago we sold it,” he says. By that time he and Judy were married. Being a farmer’s wife was just something Judy had never envisioned being a city girl through and through.
They met at Sidetrax bar. Judy went over to talk to Dan.
“I knew of Dan and that he drove a red Trans Am. I was ordering my own – a white one. I just went up to him and said, ‘How do you like your car?’ and, I’ll never forget this, he gave me the keys.”
She and her friend were excited to take it by themselves for a test drive but it had a distinct farm odour.
“It reeked of manure and we went ‘eeeewwww,’” she says laughing at the memory. “After that Dan wouldn’t leave me alone.”
This year they’re celebrating 33 years of marriage. In these past few years Dan has found his own creative talent by accident, or rather, by necessity.
“I wanted a dog gate,” he says. The dog gate was not only efficient but also a work of art. Soon he was getting orders for gates, privacy screens and metal art. He does his work free-hand. Animals and nature are popular themes, everything from crows, herons and owls to salmon, elephants and sunflowers. (He did the gate for the Falling Coconut in Enderby and metal art for the Gourmet Burgary in Salmon Arm).
Judy doesn’t spend the hours doing her stained glass anymore because her years of being a florist has taken its toll.
“I live in chronic pain. I basically have to limit myself; I can’t sit for more than two hours. I do it part time and I still do a few festivals and shows.”
It’s something they enjoy doing together as Dan takes his art on the road as well. They make it affordable because it shouldn’t be a luxury when it’s really a necessity, just like food is for the body.
“We make attainable art,” says Judy. “Art feeds your soul.”