I first came across Susmitha’s creations via a “mutual friend” on Facebook. (Why do I have a strong belief that a lot friend stories are going to be starting with this line in this decade 🙂 ?) What struck me the most about Susmitha’s creations were that they were simple, beautiful, earthy, and in some way reflected exactly what I wanted to see in jewelry. Since then, of course, it’s been a non-stop admiration spin!
Susmitha is a creator, a designer, a vegan (and a great vegan cook!), practices reiki, and as much a warm, earthy, fun and great person as is her jewelry. She hammers, twists, stamps and hand crafts all her creations herself. So without much more rambling from me, heeeeeeeeeeeere she is! Loved the insight I got into her as a person and her creations in her own words…
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hmm… where do I begin? =oP I’m completely vegan, partly geeky, slightly goofy, mostly lazy, wholeheartedly creative and pretty spiritual (at least, I’d like to think I am). I spread good cheer wherever I go (oh wait, that might be Santa). I’m really lazy. I thoroughly enjoy experimenting with vegan cooking and baking (experiment being the key word here). I see humor in almost anything and laugh very easily and a tad too loudly too, if I go by certain…err… embarrassing experiences (but enough said about that). I’m a lazy bum. I love my mommy (my daddy, my baby sis and my hubby too, but most of all my mommy). I’m a night owl. Oh, and did I already mention that I’m lazy? And apparently, I abuse parentheses (exclamation points and smileys too).
Do you have an artistic education? How did making jewelry develop as a passion for you?
I was one of those kids at school who never finished art class projects. My mom was always the one stuck completing them for me. So, 15 years ago, if someone had said I’d one day be an artist of sorts, I’d have laughed right at their face!
I did always love playing with clay though. There’s always been something very calming and joyful about that squishy, smooshy feeling of clay between my palms and fingers. When I was a wee girl, I regularly asked mom for chapathi dough to make little things with.
After college, I was home for a while. You know, the cross-roads of your early twenties where you’re not quite sure what do do with your life (no, I’m not talking to you CA/MBA/Doctor/Architect… life-all-planned-out people! Hrrumph!) Anyways, during that time, I came across my little cousin brother’s Playdoh kit and started making a small, highly detailed village for him. That was the precise point when my love for clay got reignited. I started trying out various media (terracotta, ceramic clay, cement, papier maché…) I made miniature things first and then had the idea of adding wire to turn them into earrings and pendants.
Then I got married and moved to NY for a while and that’s where I discovered Polymer Clay! Oh the joy!!! It was the most amazing, versatile medium I had ever come across. I started reading up online, buying books on polymer clay and picking up new techniques. Then I began to include beads and wire and make more and more complicated jewellery. I spent all my time creating during those years. And at some point, unnoticed by me, what started as a hobby had turned into a raging passion and I was sucked in forever! 🙂
People who see my work now are surprised when I tell them that I’m self-taught (ie: I have never attended a course or a formal class where I studies about what I create now). But really, it isn’t such a big deal. There is so much easily accessible information out there. With a bit of reading and research, it’s easy to learn new techniques. As for the designing and creating, I believe that is not something which can be taught. Each person has an artistic side to them. It’s just a matter of the right outlet coming their way and then magic just happens all on its own. :).
Can you share the philosophy behind your art? You mention that you instill your creations with positive energy. Tell us more…
Whatever I create, I want it to make the person who finally receives it, truly happy. Not just in an aesthetically appealing way, but also in the vibrations the creation carries. To begin with, all the materials I use are completely vegan. If there’s something which comes from the abuse/exploitation of an innocent being, I will not touch it with a 10 foot pole. There are always plenty of kinder alternatives to pick from and I choose those. This decision, in itself, keeps a lot of unwanted energies at bay.
In addition, I cleanse all the gemstones that I use and lovingly infuse all my creations with Reiki to enhance the positive properties.
And most importantly, I only make things which I personally desire. Every creation of mine, I want to keep for myself! LOL Each time I create something, I spend some time just staring at it and admiring it. I can’s help myself! Especially my mini monsters and animals! Those cuties always make me smile when I pass by the display. 🙂
So, I know for a fact that I’m offering only my best work to others. And I would also like to believe that every time I pack up my art and send it off, I’m sending it to a loving new home where it will be loved and cherished for many, many, many generations to come.
Machine-made is out and hand-crafted, exclusive is in – in a large part of the world of fashion and accessorizing. And stores like yours offer just that. How has this phenomenon changed the market?
In India, even just two generations ago, using handmade goods on a daily basis was a way of life. Then commercialization took over. Big brands and mass produced goods became popular. Everyone wanted what everyone else had and hand making things was considered unfashionable. However, this overlapped with a shift in attitude in the West in the opposite direction. People there began to desire the handmade and saw value in the uniqueness and exclusivity of hand crafted creations. And as the cycle goes, this started to rub off on India once more. Especially in the past couple of years, I’ve seen a steadily growing demand for handcrafted creations in India. Also a wider interest within people to hand make things themselves. Right now, even though the customer base for these kinds of creations is sizable, I would say it’s still a niche market. It’s not everyone who can appreciate the charm and value of handmade creations. The urban, globally sensible people are the ones who are the connoisseurs of things which have been made by a single individual with love and attention to detail.
Personally, I am a snob when it comes to selling my art. God help those who refer to my jewellery as ‘artificial’. I give them a look of such loathing that all they can do is go very still and carefully step backwards and away. =oP
I want my ‘babies’ to go only to those homes where they will be appreciated. It’s okay if the market is small, niches are a good thing. As long as those who wear my jewellery and adopts my critters, truly value the time, effort and love which went into making them, it’s all good. 🙂
There’s more from Sus! So watch this space for part II.
All photos courtesy Susmitha. Please do not copy without permission.