By Nancy Varekamp | CNews Editor
Twelve bars of soap turned Susan Hathaway into an artist at age 6, although now her medium is glass
“My grandparents worked with their hands,” she recalled. “They influenced me to want to work with mine.”
Her grandmother had planned to put the bars of soap to traditional use. However, when the grandmother returned home one day, Susan and the grandfather had put a carving knife to use. The result? Twelve animals.
In high school, her medium became paper and ink. Calligraphy launched Susan’s early career in an Old Town shop, where she penned wedding and shower invitations, framed pieces, and more.
A young man on a bicycle delivered sandwiches to the shop one day and now he – David – and Susan have been married 45 years.
When Susan was 26, she found her permanent artistic calling during a stained glass class, a gift from her mother. Cutting and applying lead and solder to colored glass wasn’t sufficient.
“From then on it was all about fusing glass,” Susan said. With the gift of a kiln from her uncle, she became a self-taught glass maker.
During the 10 years she managed a daycare center in the Concordia home the Hathaways bought in 1978, glassmaking time was limited. When Susan was able to hire part-time help – fellow Vernon School parent Teri Knesal – she was afforded time to work with glass.
“Teri and David became my marketers,” she explained. And they continue to help out at street fairs and craft shows in northeast and southeast Portland, and previously for 20 years at Saturday Market.
You can also look for Concordia Glass earrings, necklaces, hair clips, garden stakes, angel ornaments and five-character nativity sets on sale nearby at:
- Sharon’s Hair and Nails, 4216 N.E. Mason St.
- Hollywood Senior Center‘s Golden Treasures shop
- McMenamins Edgefield’s Gorge Glashaus
Although Susan stopped selling to Made in Oregon after a few years and left Saturday Market two years ago, she can still be found at local craft fairs with David and Teri.
“I’m her chauffeur and sometimes her ‘show-er,’” David rhymed. He retired three years ago years ago from Cloudburst Recycling.
Selling wholesale to stores helps pay the bills, but the shows offer them contact with the customers, Susan pointed out.
“It’s nice just to have people appreciate what you’re doing, and I enjoy talking to the other vendors.”
David agreed and added, “The entry fees you pay to be in many of them – like the Hollywood Senior Center and All Saints School – go to a good cause.”
Editor’s note: Find Susan – and most likely David and Teri – Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Hollywood Senior Center Holiday Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1820 N.E, 40th Ave. In addition to shopping at the Concordia Glass table, you’ll find other local crafters with their wares, plus soup and pie for lunch.
Nancy Varekamp is semiretired from her career in journalism, public relations and – her favorite work engagement – writing and editing targeted newsletters.