Calgary artist, known for cat and mouse armour, embraces wearable art and mentorship
Jeff de Boer has always loved working with metal. His dad was a sheet metal worker and de Boer jokes that while other kids were getting toys ask kids, he would get a hammer.
As a teen he started to make himself suits of armour but when he went to art school he was forced to come up with a project that was a little smaller in scale.
It was 1986 when de Boer made his first suit of armour for a mouse. Cat armour soon followed and the pieces sold making him enough money to put him through school, and then some.
"It just opened up so many doors for me," said de Boer. "If you have a winning idea in the art world it’s sort of like winning the lottery."
More than 30,000 of his artifacts are now in the hands of collectors all over the world.
But de Boer has always wanted to make jewelry, so at the 2019 Calgary Stampede he introduced a line called Armét Canada. The wearable art was a hit with people visiting the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
While de Boer came up with the idea, he also mentored young artists to incorporate their own designs in the pieces through a community guild set up through his studio.
Andrew Holloway, an artist from Morley who received tutelage from de Boer, comes from a family of artists. "My grandfather was a crafter and my mother was too so I’ve learned from them and bring that into what I do".
"I really see potential for Andrew to come in and not just be a jewelry designer with in the Armét brand, but also be here in the studio and learn how to become a professional artist," explained de Boer, who hopes that all of those he mentors will become self-sufficient professional artists.