Spotlight: Janet Colvin (UniQue Treasures)

By Nancy Polanski (nap) on April 5, 2010

Janet Colvin is a Texas based artist who, with her sister Connie, works metals and other assorted odds and ends into magical garden figures, some human, some not so human. Come and meet Janet........

~You've probably seen some of Janet's photos and her videos here in Cubits.org and on Dave's Garden. She has a Cubit, Artisan's Nook, where she generously promotes other artists' talents as well as her own. We asked Janet some questions that we thought would help us all get to know her better.~

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 Q) Thanks for agreeing to this interview.  We have some questions for you now...

Janet:  I got one trait from my mother, and that is that I can tell you a story the normal person would take three sentences to tell, but I have to go around the whole thing to get you to see what each sentence means.

Q)  Okay!  To start, what was it like growing up with two older sisters?

Janet:  I had a pretty typical childhood growing up in San Antonio.  Being the youngest, 3-5 years behind Connie and Diana, I got left out most of the time.  Back then we had no computers and only 2010-04-03/nap/ae806dthree channels on TV, and they were all black and white.

I remember we had some pretty big trees in our front yard that we used to love to climb in.  Each of us had "our spot" in this one tree beside the driveway.  My spot happened to be a low-hanging limb.  Well, I was hanging upside down from that limb and it broke.  Diana had the brilliant idea of using electrical tape to put the limb back where it had been.  Our Dad had a pretty short fuse and I think she was just trying to keep me from getting a spanking.  Looking back on it later, I determined that she was using that as control over me.  The reason I say that is because anytime Diana or Connie wanted me to do something, they'd say, "If you don't do this I'll tell Daddy you broke the limb."  Now I was about five or so when that limb broke.  This underhanded blackmail when on for many years.  I must have been about thirteen (and the limb had already grown back) when I said, "Go right ahead!"  The look on both of their faces was priceless!  We laughed about that for years after we beca2010-04-03/nap/b58c8bme adults.

I was the last to get married of us three girls.  Almost two years after I graduated from High School, in April of 1979, I married the love of my life, Rick.  On Memorial Day 1979, Diana and her husband, Bob, invited us to come visit them in Beaumont.  Bob needed another installer for his business and offered Rick a job.  That weekend, we went out on Bob's boat and had a wonderful time getting to know him and two weeks later, everything we owned (which wasn't a whole lot at that time) and my little VW Bug were inside a UHaul Truck and we were on our way to Beaumont to live.

Q)  What got you started in expressing your creative interests?

Janet:   In 2001, I started making jewelry.  It all started innocently enough when I walked into an out of the way place called Possibilities.  The lady there showed me how to string beads together and how to wire wrap beads to make my own jewelry.  She had such a beautiful assortment of gemstones and glass beads.  I started working as a bookkeeper for her husband just to pay for my newest addiction, beads!  I stayed there for several months and during that time I made close to one hundred sets of jewelry.  I had something to go with every outfit I owned!

Q)  Your interest in crafting really picked up when you joined Dave's Garden, isn't that right?

Janet:  Fast forward in my life to May 2006.  Memorial Day.  Rick and his brother Robbin were at the place where Robbin's girlfriend worked.  We'd been through Hurricane Rita in September 2005, which demolished our back yard, and had already gotten most of our own back yard together.  Robbin's girlfriend worked in an Atrium.  The whole building was going to be demolished because there was too much damage from the Hurricane.  The guys went there to get some of the plants out before the demo work was going to be done the next day.  They pulled out Split Leaf Philodendrons and Fiddle Leaf Figs that were eight to ten feet tall.  I didn't know that much about plants at the time and started Googling on how to care for these plants.  That's when I found Dave's Garden.  I could see that I'd get a lot of good out of the site so I joined that day.  That was the best $15 I'd ever spent on myself!  I felt like a kid in a candy store.  The folks there were awesome.  I met so many wonderful people.  I told Connie all about it and she joined DG too so she could have some fun with me.

Q)  OK, so now get to the part about making sculptures....

Janet:  Years ago, Connie used to get fittings, pipes, etc from her husband's truck and make yard critters.  They were very crude (her words) but still just as cute as could be.  She used his welding tank to put these together.  She made lizards, frogs and other bugs.  Mostly life size, but some were a bit bigger than life.  :-)

Well, one day I was at Connie's shop and we were just fooling around and made a Texas-size mosquito.  He was HUGE!  About sixteen inches across his wing span.  Yep, everything is bigger in Texas.  Anyhow, I had already posted some of Connie's critters.  When I posted that 'skeeter, someone asked if we'd make them one for a rain barrel.  So we did. 

I had many beads left over from my jewelry making.  Those came in handy to adorn the copper sculptures we were making.  Some were golfers, some were nymphs, more folks saw the 'skeeters and we made more of those.  With each one we made, we'd post it in the Garden Art forum for others to see and enjoy.  Then Dave opened up the Artisans Forum.

Q)  You use a variety of materials in your sculptures, don't you?

Janet:  Yes, we use mainly Copper but we use glass fo2010-04-03/nap/901b87r the heads and glass or gemstones for the arms, legs, etc.  We've used Sculpey Clay for a head for the Mermaid and for the Dragon.

Q)  Who is Balvenie?

Janet:  In October of 2006, Balvenie asked us to create a garden nymph for him to hang in his arbor gate.  He asked us to document the process and post it in the Artisans forum so that perhaps other copper artists could see what we had done and learn from it.  We both thought it was an excellent idea.  During the creation of Penelope and the elusive butterfly, we took LITERALLY thousands of photographs.  See our slideshow here.  Each night I'd come home and edit the photos thinking all the time about the proper vernacular that would go along with the photos.  Connie and I would discuss the whys and what ifs while we worked so I'd get the terms right.2010-04-04/nap/c3740f

We'd already decided that because Balvenie was such a special guy (we'd both admired his woodworking and knew what an incredible artist he was) that this sculpture would have to be rather remarkable.  We chose to make it kinetic (our first attempt at kinetics), but just in case we flopped at it, we didn't say a word until the official "unveiling" of Penelope.  We photographed and documented what we were doing in the forum, we just didn't say anything about it being kinetic during that week....just in case we couldn't get it to work properly.  Well, she did work beautifully, and when we finally posted photos and video of her, Connie and I could practically see everybody's jaw drop (at least we hoped they were dropping because ours had already dropped when we saw her in action)!  And the rest, as they say, is history....

Q)  And today...?

Janet:  We still only  make custom critters, and each one is made specifically for someone who has requested it.  We'll never mass produce what we do because we love that each one is unique.

Q)  So what's your next project?

Janet:  What's next?  Well, we are working on Alice's Coleus Mama right now.  We had plans to do an open-weave heart, but the gal who wants it hasn't contacted us yet.  She contacted us late in the Fall and said something about getting back with us in February or March.  She's in New York and I'm sure she is waiting for better weather.  March is over, and we may still do it.  Just not sure at this point.

Q)  Is there anything else that you'd like to tell us about yourself, Janet?

Janet:  Yes.  I spent over two years searching out my family's roots.  During that time I wrote seven books about our family to share with my relatives.  I'm still interested in Genealogy and love finding relatives that I never knew existed.  I have a Cubit, Ancestry and Genealogy that Carol (Okus) helps me with.  Carol is over in the UK and has access to all kinds of sites that I don't have access to, so she's been invaluable to our Cubit and looking up the old people.2010-04-03/nap/6d4a2d

I also have a Hunting and Fishing Cubit.  My husband and I hunt and fish together.  I spent almost thirty years as a hunting widow and finally figured if I wanted to spend any time with him, I'd best be learning how to hunt myself.  I'm a pretty good shot with a shotgun.  Haven't spent much time using other firearms yet, but I will.  We ride our four-wheelers at the deerlease in the off season and enjoy slinging mud.  I love to learn about wildlife management and enjoy visiting with other hunters.

We've just gone through a major remodel in our kitchen and still have more we want to do.  I've started a Home Remodelling Cubit because that also interests me.

I love to save money everywhere I can and also enjoy dumpster diving (see my Trash To Treasure Cubit) and shopping at thrift stores (and my Frugality aka Money Saving Tips Cubit).  I really enjoy giving things that were destined to be tossed a re-purpose in a next life.  Society these days is so wasteful and I hate seeing our landfills being filled up with perfectly good things when I can find another use for them.

I love watching things grow.  Seeing something come up out of the soil from seeds I've planted gives me an awesome sense of accomplishment, even though all I did was plant the seed and water the soil.

I love  using my imagination with my grandkids.  We now ha2010-04-03/nap/f9635dve four grandchildren, ranging in age from a few months to six years old, and they are all very special.

I also enjoy cooking.  I love good food and love to create food that is as pleasing to the eyes as it is to the palate.  We love to eat healthy and try to use our own home grown veggies and herbs as much as we can.  I've been teaching my granddaughter Jolie how to cook.  She just turned four and loves to get out her special stool so she can watch Maw Maw.  I let her do as much as I feel she is able and sometimes we load down the table with side dishes, just because we can.  She is always willing to eat everything we cook, so we try to cook things that are good for you.

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~And that wraps up our interview with Janet Colvin.  We've provided links throughout this article where you can see some of her creations.  Please visit her Cubits, if you haven't already, and feel free to leave Janet a greeting or ask her a question right here!~

Also, Janet may, from time to time, add more interesting information and links to more articles.  Please see the thread titled "Additions To The Interview."

 


 

 


Related articles:
ancestry, art, biography, copper, crafts, fishing, frugality, garden, genealogy, hunting, interview, metal, remodelling, sculpture

About Nancy Polanski
My husband and I live in Buffalo NY with our cats Daisy and Lucy. I love Western New York and all it has to offer. Some fabulous people live here.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
[Sticky] -- Janet's Additions To The Interview UniQueTreasures May 31, 2010 1:24 PM 7
Super Article Janet!!! putteringpossum May 15, 2010 4:42 PM 5
Untitled maidentheshade Apr 11, 2010 12:14 PM 1
Just a side note UniQueTreasures Apr 5, 2010 6:56 PM 10
Admired your work for so long Dea Apr 5, 2010 6:40 PM 1
Fun to know more details! Boopaints Apr 5, 2010 12:31 PM 6
Enjoyed the article Aguane Apr 5, 2010 11:37 AM 6
Great article Bubbles Apr 4, 2010 10:08 PM 1
I enjoyed reading... Zanymuse Apr 4, 2010 10:07 PM 3

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Who's Who Spotlight articles feature personal interviews and photos of individual Cubits members, sharing with you their talents and expertise in a variety of areas and interests.

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