May 2009: Looking Homeward, hooked rug by Judy Colein
Header image: Looking Homeward, hooked rug by Judy Colein

Featured Artist: Judy Colein

Portrait: Judy Colein

Judy Colein

Judy was full of protests when we told her we wanted to profile her for a “featured artist”, because she didn’t feel that she was polished enough in any area to count, and then in answer to our questions, went on to demonstrate exactly why we did want her. Our take has always been that for most of us, art lies in the doing, in the joy of creative expression. Judy’s enthusiastic approach to and exploration of a number of different forms of artistic expression and the satisfaction that the pursuit gives her are perfect examples of the joys that the pursuit and sharing of art can bring. Since retiring to Sugar Island three years ago, Judy has taken classes with Jeanne Tubman and audited another with Maureen Mousley; participated in the Sault Summer Arts Festival; shown her work at Alberta House, along with Jeanne Tubman and Donna Jarvis; taken a rug hooking class from Joan Muckelbauer and had a hooked rug in the juried Home exhibition in April. She also volunteers in Alberta House.

Judy’s academic degrees reflect her varied interests. She has a B.S. in home Economics from Michigan State, an MD M.Ed from Loyola College (Maryland) in the Education of the Emotionally Impaired and an M.S. in Biology from the University of Michigan. She also completed Orton-Gillingham training for Learning Disabled, and Reading Recovery, training through Oakland University. She taught Home Economics in Port Huron; taught five years at Linwood Children’s Center for autistic and psychotic children in Ellicott City, Maryland; taught Special Education in Marine City, Michigan; and taught eleven years at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. She then returned to Port Huron, where she taught another fourteen years.

When asked how she and her husband happened to retire to Sugar Island, she said that she grew up near the St. Clair River and longed for blue waters and freighters while living out-of-state. She also knew she wanted access to open fields. An ad for land on Sugar Island introduced the couple to the area and, while they didn’t buy at that time, the friendliness of the people, the beauty of the area, and the proximity to blue water, freighters, and open fields brought them back repeatedly. The prospect of “having” to ride the ferry didn’t hurt either! Sugar Island, she says, is a perfect match for them.

The craft that has taken most of Judy’s time in the past three years is the making of soaps and body products, an endeavor that began when she created soaps with toys inside for her five grandchildren (she has two sons), grew when she began making scented soaps for gifts for adults, and developed into a business creating and selling soaps, lotions and other body products (about thirty different products in all), as individual items and in beautifully arranged baskets. Individual soaps became objects of art when she embellished them with flowers, birds, and boats. The body product items are available in Alberta House, at art fairs and other venues, and directly from Judy.

Judy has so much she wants to do she doesn’t know what to do first. Her body product line has eaten up a lot of her time. Lately she has been doing more rug hooking, going back to a craft she first took up about forty years ago, before the needs of her career and family put it on the back burner. She says she carried a lot of wool with her as she moved from place to place with the idea that she would start hooking again. Her entry in the Home show is an original design featuring a black bear. She has done some dyeing of wool and plans to do more. She also plans to attend the On the Lake Rug Hooking Conference in Cedarville in late September. Her other interests include photography and making jewelry. In between artistic endeavors she indulges in her love of nature (the couple had two black bears on their property earlier this year) and recently she has been gathering sap for maple syrup. In many respects, she has become a typical Yooper, celebrating the beauty and the bounty of the U.P.

Works by Judy Colein
Click on a thumbnail to see a larger version.

Looking Homeward, hooked rug by Judy Colein

Looking Homeward, hooked rug

Moose Whimsy, hooked rug by Judy Colein

Moose Whimsy, hooked rug, made in Joan Muckelbauer’s class

Hummingbird and Fuschia, painting, with hummingbird soaps by Judy Colein

Hummingbird and Fuschia, painting, with hummingbird soaps

Soaps by Judy Colein


Dragonfly soap by Judy Colein

Dragonfly soap

Trillium soap by Judy Colein

Trillium soap

Last updated: May 1, 2009

Sault Area Arts Council Home Page 217 Ferris Street, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
e-mail: Phone: (906) 635-1312