You’ll have to go to market to find artist’s bird-friendly works

  • <b>FRIENDS & NEIGHBORS | </b>By Ashley Stewart Herald writer
  • Tuesday, August 14, 2012 6:39pm

Go to artist Roberta James’ house, and you will be welcomed by crowing roosters and the labored bark of her 10-year-old Saint Bernard, Precious.

There’s a garden studded with intricate mosaic bird houses, baths and feeders made from teapots, and a porch lined with handmade Adirondack chairs, made by her late husband.

Just as she has for the last nine years, James sets up shop at the Edmonds Summer Market every Saturday. She sells bird houses, baths, feeders and pots like those found at her home that she spends the year crafting.

James has done ceramics with a group of six women every Wednesday for the last 20 years. About a decade ago, she began searching for a new hobby to fill her time when her ceramics teacher goes on hiatus during the holiday season.

“I’ve always enjoyed color and art,” James said. “And I don’t just sit, I needed something to do and it just kind of grew from there.”

Drawing inspiration from her mother’s mosaic work, James started with a plate, towel and hammer and began a hobby that would grow to become a successful, albeit small, business.

Today, James uses acrylic paints, marble, tiles, pebbles, plates, seashells and stain glass.

She uses grout to seal the objects on to recycled birdhouses, terra-cotta pots that she uses as a base for bird baths, and whatever else she finds during her weekly trips to Goodwill.

In the winter, James experiments with different techniques and tests their resilience to the elements before selling them to customers.

When she’s not working on mosaics, James works as an X-ray technician at Swedish/Edmonds Hospital. She spends her free time gardening and caring for her many animals.

James’ house sits on an acre in unincorporated Lynnwood, which she shares with close to 50 chickens, seven barn cats, two house cats, two goats, two alpaca, Precious and an 18-year-old Toulouse goose called Goose-Goose who James said guards her home, alerting her to visitors and lunging at the occasional guest.

She has two gardens, where she grows sage, chives, basil, onions, carrots, raspberries, blueberries and “more kale than she knows what to do with,” she said.

Where to find her

Artist Roberta James doesn’t have a website or store. She sells her work at the Edmonds Summer Market, in downtown Edmonds on Fifth and Bell streets, which runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 6. Most of her work is priced at less than $50.