Susan Harbourt

Artist Statement: 
I am always inspired by color and textures in the world around me. I keep a sketch book and colored pencils with me to capture inspiration when I see it. In my studio I experiment with shape by cutting out designs with my jewelers saw or stamp out designs I make with hand made pancake dies in my vintage kick press. I love to create unique textures with my collection of hammers and transferring texture from materials with a rolling mill. Some days I am very structured in my designs and work off a sketched design from my book, but most days I like to make a variety of components to play with and let inspiration in the moment lead me on how to place the pieces together. Once I have settled upon the design of the item, I adorn the pieces with a variety of finishing phases. All metal goes for a long tumble to insure the edges touchable smooth. I color my metal using various methods such as heat patina, chemical patina, paint, pencils, or ink. All of the color treatments undergo a multi step preservation process including a lacquer and final wax to help ensure its longevity. I also enjoy making most of my earring hooks, chains and findings. Commercial findings are only used on my entry point items so that I can still offer unique handcrafted items at a price anyone can enjoy. I have a collection of vintage necklaces and beads that are also used to adorn the chains and items I make.
Bio / Description: 

I have a degree in Materials Engineering and had a successful career in product development and project management. In my 30’s, my husband and I relocated from the East Coast to rural central Illinois. Needless to say, job prospects in my field were minimal, especially at the level my career had reached. During that next phase of my life, my husband and I bought a major fixer upper and did the work ourselves.
When we were upgrading the electric system that was originally from the time of Illinois’s “Rural Electrification Act” (circa 19305 - 1945) I found myself surrounded by so much copper wire. It was breathtaking! I absentmindedly created a bracelet and a ring with some of the wire that was sitting on the floor. That was the moment I discovered my new calling.

My foray into metalsmithing was a continued series of happy accidents that lead me to where I am now. I began making items for friends and family, who spread the word to others. Soon I was having strangers commission my to make special items from scraps of wire from their homes to keep or give as mementos. With all of this success I decided to venture out into a bigger audience and eventually entered a contest. that I won, with Uncommon Goods focused on making items with recycled or reclaimed materials. That win lead to a contract with the catalog and it kept growing from there as I moved into wholesale.

It all happened so fast and was very exciting at first. Orders came in, bulk product went out. Then I realized that I was missing out on doing what I loved, making one of a kind items that were as special and unique as the person who will wear it. So once again, at the height of my second career, I found myself pivoting direction and returning to the roots of my passion. Taking materials that are unique with a history all their own, and transforming them into one of a kind heirlooms to be treasured for generations to come, just like that old house my husband and I renovated.

Now I am happily in this next phase of life where I am motivated by my own internal passions and choose uniqueness and quality over quantity. I enjoy meeting the person who chooses one of my items and hearing what moves them about a piece. I love connecting on social media with them and seeing how that piece brings them joy after it leaves my hands. People don’t need jewelry in their life, but it sure brings them happiness. I am proud and honored to be someone who added a piece of happiness of so many peoples lives.

Phone: 
12178407993
Address: 
Saint Joseph, IL