Say hi to Sue, owner of CraftBritannia Shop of the Week SunnyCrystals – in addition to an amazing collection of crystal tumblestones and crystal gemstone jewellery, Sue also hand-crafts 3D decoupage cards
Describe your “typical” working day or week
Gosh… No two days or two weeks are ever the same, and they can also depend on the season. From late Spring until early Autumn I love to spend as much time as possible outside – pottering around my garden – whereas I love to spend the colder months warm inside, crafting away to my hearts content. I suppose the only two constants that never change from day to day are – come rain or shine – our dogs always get at least an hours walk, and over my lunch I always relax and read a chapter of the latest novel that I have my nose buried in.
I sell online through a number of venues, including my own website, and this does seem to take over a huge chunk of my life. I never intended it to when I was fortunate to give up full time work but one site led to another and then another… at times it feels more like a full time career, but without the salary! I still keep my hand in with my former profession (I was the Finance Director of an Engineering firm in my previous life), and the first week of the month is always busy updating my client’s accounts.
When you are not doing Etsy related things, what are you doing?
I knit and crochet, but only for myself and family. My Nanna taught me at a very early age so all my teddies and dolls wore my creations; nowadays I tend to knit lovely chunky Aran jumpers. I just use a basic crew neck design and then go to town using all the cabling and fancy stitches I have learned over the years. I am also an avid reader, and have been my whole life… I could read before I started school and held the record for being the youngest member of our local library. However, I am old fashioned and prefer a ‘proper’ book to an electronic one!
And we have a Scottish hideaway… a static caravan located near Dornoch in the Scottish Highlands which we love to escape to as often as we can, although sadly the 850 mile round trip means this is not as often we would like. So, if you ever see my Etsy store in vacation mode, that’s where I am. I am also passionate about Ancient Egypt and have been very fortunate to have visited there three times. The marvellous temples and sites still leave me in awe, and I’m so passionate about it that I have a diploma in Egyptology that I took through distance learning (I used to love preparing for my 4000 word essays, which always had to be whittled down from about 6000 words). At the last count I had well over 150 books on the subject and would have loved to have taken it to degree level, but sadly the course was stopped due to university cut-backs.
What was the first piece you ever sold?
It wasn’t actually a piece, it was a collection of 22 crystal tumblestones, and I can even tell you the date – 6th September 2005. I think I walked around with a stupid grin glued to my face for days afterwards I was so elated to have my first ever sale!
What advice would you give someone taking up your craft for the first time?
My advice? Well it does not actually relate just solely to my crafts as it’s a general idiom… just enjoy it! It does not matter whether you are thinking of making items to sell or just making a small gift for a friend or relative, take pleasure and pride in what you are creating. To me crafting is a great de-stresser. I love to create and when I am crafting, time just loses all perspective, I can lose myself for hours – what’s starts off with me saying to my hubby “I will just be 10 minutes” can end up as 4 hour’s later saying “oops sorry, I got a bit carried away”.
If you could try a new craft, what would it be?
Well… I am in the middle of trying to learn a new craft – Needle Felting. I bought myself a kit to make some “Needle Felted Fruit” back in January 2011 and thoroughly enjoyed doing it, though my hubby nearly laughed his socks off at my results… men!!!! But it did spur me on to be a bit more adventurous, so I spent a fortune on lots of beautiful Merino wool and needles etc planning to spend the Summer mastering the craft. But last July we adopted a young Belgian Shepherd from the RSPCA so, along with our other 2 dogs, the whole time seemed to be taken over with dog training and making sure they all became pals. This summer I am determined to have another go . I am also determined to master wire wrapping; as yet my attempts have not been successful but I am not giving up hope yet – it seems a shame not to take advantage and use my crystals and sea glass myself!
Which piece of equipment would you be helpless without?
Obviously, for my crystal tumblestones, I would be lost without my tumbling machines. I have four but my favourite one is still the first machine I ever bought – a small 3lb ‘Tumblemaster’. It’s the most reliable of them all, so I use it solely for the final polishing stage.
For my jewellery I would be helpless without my hands-free magnifier. When I first started I used to pinch my hubby’s so much that he bought me one for myself – it’s perfect for doing all the ‘fiddly’ things when you need something a little stronger than reading glasses.
And finally, for my Decoupage Cards, I would be lost without my steel ruler (another pinch from my hubby) and my sharp cutting knife… I did try using plastic rulers when I first started but they ended up with so many chunks cut out of them, I was going through one a week!
Tell us about one handmade item that you own and love
This would have to be a bracelet that my Gran brought me back from a holiday in Austria when I was about 4 years old. It was the first ‘proper’ piece of jewellery that I had ever owned and, although it is far too small for me wear now, I still have it tucked away in my jewellery box. It brings back many happy memories of her, as she passed away when I was only 7.
What plans do you have for your shop in the future?
My immediate plans, once the sunny weather resumes, is to get out in the garden with my camera and photograph my 2012 collection of new necklaces and bracelets – I have some very exciting new designs to list. I am also looking at bringing a few beading supplies to my store, all made from natural gemstones and crystals of course, but this idea is still at the research stage. But in the main it will be lots more cards, crystals and jewellery. And, fingers crossed, a busy year with many sales from happy satisfied buyers!
Thank you Sue for such an interesting read, and we look forward to seeing your new designs!
You can follow Sue on Twitter at @SunnySues