Joseph 2bears started his stained glass work in 1981 to incorporate stained glass panels in cabinets he designed and made in a part time woodworking business. It wasn’t long before his interest in glass art overtook his interest in fine woodworking. By the time he married Vicki Lynn in 1990, glass had become his passion (after Vicki, of course).
Vicki Lynn started calligraphy in 1971 as a hobby. During the 1990s she helped Joseph 2bears build a stained glass workshop with the request that she have an area to pursue her hobbies. In 1996 a fire destroyed our home, and all our work went up in smoke. Since the fire had not destroyed our dreams, this tragedy only strengthened our passion for life, and we started rebuilding all that was lost.
In 2003 when the stained glass hobby was transformed into a full-time business, Vicki Lynn decided to apply her calligraphy talents to glass. Trained by Norm and Ruth Dobbins, two of the foremost artists in the country in etched and carved glass, Vicki Lynn has developed a passion for this art medium far beyond her calligraphy interests. While her work adds new services to the business, she also adds a new dimension to Joseph 2bears’ panels.
I am often asked if I am a Native American because of my name. No, I am of German and European heritage. My forefathers came to this country in 1846. The name, Joseph 2bears was given to me by two, part-Cherokee brothers in a mining camp. Every year a group of miners gets together and works a placer gold mine on the Mokelumne River in California. My wife Vicki and I are regulars in this venture. Several years ago the Cherokee brothers joined the group for one summer. We were working a gravel bar on what is called "Indian Island" in the middle of a bend in the river. History says this gravel bar was the site of a summer encampment of the Miwok tribe of Central California. Since the gravel bar floods every winter, there have never been any artifacts found to support the "history". I had unearthed a 200-300lb boulder that was in the hole I was digging down to a bedrock shelf that underlies this part of the gravel bar. I squatted down, got a bear hug around that boulder, and said, "Oh Great Spirit, give me the strength of two bears." I lifted the boulder and heaved it out of the hole. The invocation seemed appropriate for "Indian Island". The Cherokee brothers shouted "Good going, 2bears", and the name stuck.
Every miner earns a nickname that he is known by in the mining camps. Mine is Joseph 2bears (Vicki Lynn’s mining camp name is “Lotta Harte”, but that is another story). I use the Joseph 2bears name with honor, as the name of my studio and my Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) alias.