27 Jan 2008

Artisan of the Week, Susan Hume of Callooh Callay

This week I'm proud to present to you Susan Hume. Re-cycling, re-using and up-cycling are topics dear to my heart. I think it's high time we humans cut down on the amount of waste we produce. Susan does her bit in a very stylish way. Using vintage items she creates new and beauty goods. I'll let her tell you about it in her own words...

1. Could you please introduce us to who you are and what you do?

Hi, my name is Susan Hume and I have an Etsy shop named Callooh Callay (a phrase from Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky poem), which carries a few vintage items but primarily jewelry that I make out of vintage buttons. I started out with a lot of brooches but have been adding pendants, bobby pins—earrings and collaged boxes next, I think.

2. What led you to take up your craft?

My whole career has been in writing, editing, and corporate communications, but for the past five or six years I’ve been freelancing and, in my spare time, also writing short stories and a novel--a whole lot more exciting than working in an office. I’ve always done some artwork on the side and decided it would be fun to try selling it. I started out with the button jewelry because it was something I’d been making anyway and I like the results (and hope it will sell).

3. Which part of your work do you most enjoy?

I like looking at little things, little beautiful or bizarre or unique objects, and playing around to see what fits together. Sometimes I’ll get in a new bunch of buttons, and two of them will find each other like magic. No other combination could even be considered. My new pin with the large red Bakelite is an example of that. Other times I have buttons laid out on trays and play around with them for a few weeks before deciding what goes together. Sometimes the combinations are subdued and elegant, and other times they’re a little quirky or weird, and I think, why not? I’d wear it! An example of this is the funky pink pin with the red ball on top—strange but compelling.

Two more things I enjoy: the hunt for cool materials and the late night forums with other Etsy artists.

4. Which part do you find hardest?

There are so many other jewelry makers on the Internet, it’s hard to attract people to the site. As I’m writing this, I’m in my third week with the store open, and I haven’t had time to do all the marketing they say you have to do to succeed (like this blog!). So I just keep plugging and try to be patient and try to do a little each week—with my freelancing jobs still having to get done and kids to get to school and….well, just like everyone else, I guess. Not enough time.

5. Where do you hope to be in 1 year’s time?

I’d like to see my art evolve to more creative pieces, incorporating vintage items but also going off in different directions. Of course, it all should sell. And I’d like to be writing more, which I’ve been neglecting since I started my Etsy shop. It’s difficult to balance the two and to find a way to make them symbiotic, rather than one of them taking all my attention.

6. What is the best advice you have ever been given?

This isn’t really advice (and some would question whether I was wise to heed it), but at my last real job I had an index card on the bulletin board with a quote from James Thurber: “You might as well fall flat on your face as lean too far backwards.” I took that to mean, take a chance, speak up, don’t wait for things to happen, and don’t let the bastards get you down. The results at that particular job were not happy (another story), but as far as my life in general goes, it’s been great. I guess with this new shop I’m trying to take that advice to the next level.

7. Name other artisans sites/shops would you recommend are worth a visit?

Oh my god, so many talented people out there. Just to pick one category, mixed media assemblage, four Etsy artists that I’ve been looking at this week (with envy and despair) are ravenwolf, indiandollartworks, colleenbang, and junkyardgypsy.

8.What is your favourite sandwich filling?

A slice of good cheese with a fresh, warm tomato from my garden (only available a few months out of the year, in years we actually get around to planting).

Thank you for being our Artisan of the Week Susan. I very much look forward to seeing your shop becoming a top seller. Good luck for the future!

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