We're so pleased to have been asked to review the shop of Cassie Stephens, beltmaker. We have had the pleasure of getting to know Cassie and becoming friends with her. The work she
does is astounding and we can't rave about her more.
Many of you have seen her on our blog a couple times; she sponsored part of our A Blogtastic Giveaway and we featured her bunny belt in our We're Diggin' series. Actually, we stumbled upon her Etsy shop when looking for awesome bunny and rabbit goodies to celebrate the Lunar New Year. From the moment we found her shop, we were obsessed. Her drool worthy reversible belts are, simply, incredible.
Cassie sent us 3 of her reversible belts...
We were already HUGE fans of hers but when we saw her art in person, we were floored. GORGEOUS! The pictures at her shop are great but definitely do not do her pieces justice. She creates such beauty with her hand crafted, ceramic, belt buckles that have the most wondrous patterns and the colors are incredible. Cassie even included our favorite that we were swooning over, the seahorse belt! The fabrics she chooses are so indulgent and are sewn to perfection. We really can't say enough about her belts.
Cassie's belts are also found in locally owned shops in Nashville, where she lives. How lucky are they?! Read a little more about Cassie in her own words...
"I'm not a native Nashvillian. I moved here almost 15 years ago after finishing up my student teaching experience in County Kildare, Ireland. And, no, I'm not Irish, I just wanted to try my hand at international teaching after finishing my studies at Indiana University. I currently teach art to elementary aged kids. We have a great time creating, laughing and making huge messes that we usually neglect to clean up.
After teaching, I spend much of my time working on my belts. I began creating them on a whim a couple of years ago and haven't been able to stop since. I absolutely love the process. There are so many different steps that it allows me to create in a variety ways. I begin with a piece of clay that I emboss with a texture such as vintage lace, stamps, burlap, etc. From there, I hand cut the shape of the buckle from a design that I have created. My most popular designs seem to be the bird and the bunny buckle. At this point, the buckle must dry out for several days until it has become what ceramic artists call "greenware".
The buckles are then fired, at which point they are called bisqueware, and ready to be glazed. I love experimenting with glaze. I've found metallic glazes, glass crackle glazes and satin finish earth toned glazes to be my favorite. Often the glazing process can take up to two additional firings to achieve the right finish.
Once the buckles are complete, I can begin pairing them with fabric to create a belt. I have found velvets to be fun to work with this winter as they look very warm and rich. I also love working with satins and lace. But my favorite is vintage fabric.
Another love of mine is creating customized belts. I've had so many great customers that have just the right buckle idea in mind. There is no extra charge for this, so if anyone has something in mind, all they have to do is ask."
You totally dig Cassie too now, we know! How could you not?! Well, go visit her shop now...