Irwin and Joyce Wilson’s retirement hobbies perfectly complement each other. Irwin specializes in designing and building playroom furniture and Joyce adds a whimsical touch with her paintings, which makes each item personal and unique. They call their business “Grandpa’s Stuff With Grandma’s Touch.”
Irwin never thought he’d go into woodworking. “I taught school for 19 years in the Prince Albert School District, then left teaching and worked for another 25 years with Parks Canada at the Batoche National Historic site as an interpretation supervisor. “I changed my classroom from indoors to outdoors,” he says.
The couple lived near McDowall, Sask. but moved to Saskatoon in 1989 when Irwin retired. Joyce decided to open a day care in Saskatoon.
Irwin soon got fed up repairing flimsy day-care furniture and began building his own — table and chair sets, fridge, stove and cupboard sets, rocking chairs, cradles, trunks and high chairs.
Joyce started off painting a mural on the wall of the day care, and soon branched off into wildlife art and scenery. “I found out I had a knack for art and enjoyed it. Then I started painting the teddy bears on the furniture Irwin was building,” she says. Word spread and the couple began receiving orders for furniture from parents of the day-care children.
In 1995 the Wilsons purchased a summer home at Echo Bay on Big Shell Lake. They loved the beautiful location and decided to sell their home in the city and live near the lake year round. Irwin converted the garage into a workshop, providing the space he needed for his woodworking projects, as well as Joyce’s painting. Orders continued to come in for their sturdy, unique furniture. They made items for kindergarten classrooms in Prince Albert and two local reserves requested furniture for their day cares. “I made a playhouse with a loft for one of the day cares. It was a project I hadn’t tackled before, but it turned out very well and the children love it,” he says.
The couple sells their furniture mainly through craft shows and by word-of-mouth sales. “We’ve had people visit from all over Canada, the U.S., China and Japan. We get orders from local people who plan to visit relatives in another province,” says Joyce. She’s now adding a line of handcrafted cloth handbags to the items she has for sale.
“We both enjoy our hobbies, and feel it’s important to be active when you get older. We keep young by doing something for young people,” Irwin says.
To learn more about the Wilsons’ furniture, call (306) 427-2063 or email them at [email protected]