Debby has painted and done crafts of all sorts for many years. Her “formal” training is limited to studying art at Michigan State Univ. when she was in high school, as she was from nearby Okemos, MI. She married her high school sweetheart, Howard, during the year after high school. They moved around quite a few times during the next three years, including moves to Canada and Alaska, then came back to Michigan to settle in the Frankenmuth area. During the next 30 years she and her husband worked at their respective jobs in the Saginaw area.
Debby worked for a large radio station in Saginaw for seven years, doing office and air work, then went to work for a school district as the high school principal’s secretary to be closer to home while raising her family of 2 children. She and her husband restored three Victorian homes during the next time period. One was their home in the Frankenmuth area and two were opened as bed and breakfasts. One of these was the Hanson House Bed and Breakfast in Grayling. During that restoration they discovered some of the original stenciled walls and frescoed ceilings and with guidance of the Michigan Historical Society, they repainted and restored some of the stenciled walls. They sold Hanson House in 1996. They also owned, restored and operated Garnet House B & B in the Keweenaw Peninsula for 15 years.
Debby’s job for the school system allowed her to run Garnet House during the summers. In 2000 Debby and Howard retired from their “regular” jobs, and in 2004 from their B & B in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Debby started creating vases from birch bark, where she was able to get away from the cylindrical shape of the birch bark by sewing to make a more vase-like shape. Bowls soon followed, also sewing to achieve pleasant shapes. At first she threw all the scraps from the vases and bowls in the fireplace. Because she ultimately decided this was a waste of birch bark, she developed a use for this by crafting journals and jewelry. The journals are hand bound with fine papers and using different layers of the birch bark t0 give an array of colors to make designs, weaves and scenes on the covers.
Debby & her husband now live in a log house on the AuSable River in Grayling where their love of nature has inspired Debby’s creation of birch bark items seen here at AuSable Artisan Village Art Gallery.