Origin Story #3: Susie

July 31, 2017 Susie Cassel

From the time I was five, our family would spend a week each summer in the secluded woods and lakes of the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. One of our favorite pastimes was building little houses and villages out of moss, sticks, mushrooms, and leaves . . .  In my eyes, they were the most beautiful little creations ever. That simple activity captivated my imagination.

My understanding of art was informed by visits Mom and I–then just three–would make to New York City art museums the year we lived there. The time Mom and I spent together, viewing and later making art, set me on a course to walk in her footsteps . . . in my own way. 

Besides Mom, another major influence on my creativity was Carolyn LeMaire, my elementary art teacher. Although she taught many forms of art, she also modeled the loving guidance involved in teaching. I credit her with my decision to follow in her footsteps and become a teacher. 

​​I have a degree in elementary education, and although I didn't major or minor in art, took quite a few art classes in fiber arts, ceramics and photography. A few years after graduation, I got a call from my elementary school, inquiring if I would teach art there. I accepted and found I love the combination of kids and art. I love classroom teaching, working alongside them, and rooting them on! I started painting sets for the school's annual musicals in 1992, and have worked with students to create them every year since, except one! 

I knew I had found my way artistically when my mentor became a colleague. My set design work has expanded, and I also create sets for the musicals at Wheaton Academy, my high school alma mater. Through that, I have the great honor of working alongside Carolyn LeMaire. She's an active 84-year-old, sewing costumes and continuing to inspire future artists.

My sister Wendyand I began collaborating artistically when our children were young, making items to sell at an annual bazaar as a way to stay home with our children and contribute to our family's incomes. Cofounding LucyBlueKnits ten years ago was our way to share our love of fiber art with others and spend time together.

I met my husband Nate at church, and we married in 1991. When his analytical left brain meets my creative art right brain, things can get pretty interesting sometimes! We share a love of cooking and entertaining, hosting weekly Sunday dinners for friends and family. We have four children, each of whom is creative in their own way.

Karl just graduated with a degree in interpersonal communications from Wheaton College. He leaves in a little over a week to drive from San Francisco to Patagonia! Looking back on my upbringing, it's no surprise he's setting out on thisadventure! You can follow his journey at ProjectGoThere.

Olivia inherited her love of the outdoors from our family camping trips to those same Boundary Waters where my parents took me. She is a senior, majoring in biology and botany. She loves ceramics, and ran the ceramics program at the camp where she worked last summer.

Britta loves children, and is following in my footsteps as an elementary education major. She is our Pinterest queen and a soccer player. She's coaching children this summer and will resume her leadership role with Young Life in the fall.

Lars . . . oh, Lars. My youngest, who shares my birthday, is a sophomore in high school. He too plays soccer and expresses his creativity as a member of the improv team.

​​Like Wendy, dogs are part of our family life. Currently, we have Trygg, our St. Bernard, and a Puggle puppy named Daisy.

A perfect moment for me would be one of the following (or all three in the same day): going on a long walk with a friend and our dogs, painting musical sets with my artist girlfriends until we are so tired we can hardly move, or sitting by a campfire on a crisp fall evening!