Judy Gale Roberts remembers growing up in a creative environment encouraged by her parents, both artists. In the late 1970s she began working alongside her father, Pat Dudley Roberts. He worked in a variety of different medias–from oil paintings to sculpture, mostly creating project specific works for architects or interior designers. One project in particular was for a large atrium in a commercial building. Because the building had used natural wood throughout, Pat Roberts designed large Texas wildflowers made of wood. The pieces varied in size from 2-4 feet in diameter, and were highly dimensional and beautiful.
In 1974, shortly after that particular project, the two began working together. Judy recalls, “I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity. I helped to create wood murals, metal sculptures, etched glass, mixed media wall hangings, and painted murals. The wood murals were large; averaging 4 by 8 feet, the largest of which spanned 14 feet wide by 20 feet high.” In the mid 80s, after moving from Texas to Florida, she found out the pre-existing name for this technique, intarsia.
One-of-a-kind pieces for private collections followed, and in 1988 WOOD featured an article about the father daughter team and their partner at the time, Jerry Booher. At the end of the article it said, “For a list of Judy’s patterns send a self-addressed stamped envelope.” Thousands of letters were received proving the demand for intarsia patterns.
In 1997, Judy was inducted into the Woodworking Hall of Fame for Design, Craftsmanship, and Education in Intarsia. It was an extreme honor, as Judy was a one of ten initial inductees. To this day, she still finds it amazing that it all began from selling three patterns. There are currently 350 intarsia patterns available, more than 300 scrollsaw fretwork patterns, 14 published books, and various DVDs.
Judy enjoys teaching intarsia classes in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in the spring and fall.