Smashing Glass Mosaics

I'm an artist...at least I try...painting, mosaics...garden art... I also am caregiver to bedridden parent and am raising my two children as well. I love animals, art, gardening and right now I am on a search to find myself. When you care for others 24/7 for many years you lose who "you" are...and so I search...

Who is Bobbi Fetterly?

Who am I? I have been thinking about that all week. How do I describe myself, , my art? It's tough writing a profile for yourself.

I was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. My mother was born in Hong Kong. Along with her older brother she lived there until she was sixteen. I have many pictures and stories of their lives growing up in the Orient. Her father, my grandfather, was the head of Forgien and Domestic Frieght for the Canadian Pacific Railroad (Steamship Division). Because of the nature of my grandfathers work they lived in China, Japan, Vancouver, San Francisco and Montreal. My father was born in Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe). He attended the University of Capetown in South Africa. My father was a civil engineer, my mother a lab technician.

I grew up an only child which had its good points and its bad ones. I was terribly shy and remain so to this day. My daughter now has Selective Mutism (I am sorry dear Megan to pass this affliction on to you). When I wasn't buried in my imagination alone, I would grab my best friend and we would roam the forests around where we lived for hours on end. I have many pleasant memories of our explorations. Forts were built...we pretended to be horses running here and there. Those were the happy times. I promised my self then that one day I would have a little farm and a horse of my own.

There were difficult times as well. Around the age of eleven I began being abused by my father. Life was difficult because my mother had to work which left me alone with him whenever he wasn't at work. I learned to hide in my closet when he was around, but mostly I slipped out a window or a door when he wasn't looking to play alone in the forest or walk the two miles to my mother's job and wait until it was time for her to go home.

For a brief time I was fortunate to have a friend to took me out and taught me how to horseback ride. That began a life long passion for horses. Sometimes when my father was asleep my mother and I would get in the car (in our dressing gowns and slippers!) and drive down to the shopping district. We would get out of the car, dressing gowns and all and window shop at midnight. Then we would jump back in the car and go to the local drive in restaraunt for coffee and dessert. Children are so strange, we never tell the other parent that we are being abused. I never blamed myself, but I never wanted to worry her either. I kept it to myself and dealt with it alone until I was seventeen. Then it all came out, my parents divorced and I was greatly relieved that we were both out of that situation.

I didn't have an artistic bone in my body until 1985 when I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lympoma in my mid-20's. I had been sick and undiagnosed for five years. At last weighing 80lbs and looking like death the doctor's took me seriously and finally discovered the reason. A couple of surgeries and a month of radiation and hospital stays followed and I slowly came around again to a point. Today I am cancer free but suffer from fibromyalgia, panic attacks and agoraphobia due to the long delay in diagnosis.

Interestingly, it was when I was recovering from the cancer that I found I now had some artistic ability. I began gardening in a community plot and fell in love with plants and landscape design. I also discovered fabric painting and found I could actually paint! What a surprise that was. Before the cancer I couldn't even draw a stick figure! Mom and I began sewing skirts and I would paint or applique tops to match the skirts. It was very theraputic for me to sew and paint as I tried to heal from all the treatments and weight loss. I rediscovered horses and took some lessons to help me get my strength back.

Eventually I got married and had two children. When my youngest was still in a snuggly I started Herbal Guild with a friend. We had a great group...40 or so members and learned alot about herbs and there various uses. During this time I was taking in International Language Students so I was a "Homestay Mom" to countless numbers of Japanese and Korean Students for the next eight years. During this time I marvelled at how artistic the Japanese are. My next discovery was glass paints. I couldn't begin to count how many glass pieces I painted over a few years. I took my knowledge of herb and mixed it with the glass painting to produce flavoured vinegars and no-salt herbal seasonings in hand-painted bottles and jars.

In 2000 my ten year marriage ended. I had two young children and my mother's health was beginning to fail. She had had two broken hips and was diagnosed with osetoperosis, scoliosis and macular degeneration. I was out of a full time job that I had left to care for my children. I didn't know what I was going to do. It was that time that I decided to take a big gamble, a big leap of faith. I remembered my dream as a child to have a farm and a horse. So, I packed up mom and the kids and bought a very small hobby farm in the Southern Interior of the province. It was too expensive for me to remain in Vancouver as a single parent.

We've been here almost three years. It is still a struggle physically and financially, but I will never regret my decision to follow my dream. We have a lovey little horse named Spirit (she came with that name and I thought it so appropriate) who shares our farm with us. Most of my time is spent caring for my mother and children, but I squeeze in art every moment that I can. This little farm is like a blank canvas. I am working away at the gardens and the house bit by bit...it will be an ongoing project for the rest of my life. My love for glass painting has evolved into a passion for mosaic work. I stain my own glass and relish the moment when I place the hammer to the glass to break it. Tempered glass takes one big hit to shatter and then the glass crackles and pops for hours afterwards.

I am evolving my mosiac work into mixed media mosaics and have discovered a liking for working with concrete as well. My passion for gardening lends itself well to mosaics and concrete work. When Spring returns you will find me working on my "whimsy garden", the rose garden, the perrenial garden..and of course, the weed filled vegetable garden. I am only truly happy when I am up to my elbows in the dirt, or concrete, or glass and glue. This little farm is secluded, surrounded on two sides by a slow moving creek and a greenbelt. The other direction lies a dairy farm and beyond that are mountains. It is truly my sanctuary and a very spiritual place for me. Here I am finally finding joy, serenity and creativity.