Meet Your Neighbor - Susan Chandel (aka SuzeesJubileeZ)

What is your shop name & URL, real name, and what do you sell?
My name is Susan Chandel. You can call me Suzee. SuzeesJubileeZ is my shop name. It can be found at When the company I worked for crashed I was collecting unemployment which I converted into a Maine Enterprise Opportunity grant which meant I had to come up with an idea for a business. My original intent for Suzee's JubileeZ was a party business. What could be better than a grant to organize parties?! As you can see, the idea evolved. Pinatas were just one element in that business. My Pinatas can be found at OoLaLa's on Union St. in Brunswick. I brought a pinata down to the brick and mortar Blue Moose in Richmond and Joselyn told me all about Etsy. You can read about Joselyn's Blue Moose Emporium in my blog or visit her Etsy store but I am getting ahead of myself. I sell custom pinatas, needlefelted creatures,and felted bags at this time.
I have really been into dollmaking lately. The dolls take on a life of their own. And that is ever so much fun. It says right in SuzeesJubileeZ that we are all about fun. To borrow from Joel Grey's Oscar winning performance in Cabaret “Zo leave your troubles outside. In here life is beautiful , ze girls are beautiful, even ze orchestra is beautiful...” I do sell bags to benefit family crisis as well, but even the social responsibility pART is fun for me.

Where do you live? Tell us a about your town.
I live in a log treehouse in a rural zone about three miles from downtown Brunswick/Topsham. Brunswick is the home of Bowdoin College and soon to be next terminus of the Downeaster rail line. I moved here from Fryeburg in 1997 because I had spent my wonder years in Brunswick and knew people in the area and because it was convenient to Portland, Lewiston and Augusta. It was an easy commute for work in human services that I was at the time hoping to find. From our perch we can see moose, fox, and lots of deer. I even saw a great blue heron flew by at eye level one day. There is a little pond and a vernal stream on our property so we hear the spring peepers. Topsham is on Merrymeeting Bay a noted birding area and we see all kinds of birds and small animals as well. I must say flying squirrels are very weird looking. I love it here because we are convenient to the ocean and I am an ocean person born on Cape Cod and have rarely lived far from the Atlantic. You can't beat the smell of sea air. My treehouse is surrounded by fields and woods, I can't see the road from my house and I'm minutes from town whats not to love. The place even had a name when we bought it “Maple Ledge Acres” how cool is that? We are short on acres but we do have a lot of maples. I spend a lot of time poking around Brunswick ( needlefelting). I can be found at one of the many cafes or on the “mall” ( = Brunswick's town green) stabbing at little dolls. Yes, thats right don't mess with me.

By the way downtown Brunswick must have the highest concentration of restaurants /cafes than any town in Maine. It also has a very active artist community. The Fort Andross mill is sprinkled with artist's lofts. There are several galleries and museums in town. The Joshua Chamberlain Museum is great for the civil war buff and its siter Museums the Pejepscot Historical Society and the Whittier Schofield house wonderful finds for the history buff or even the steampunk officianados among us. The art museum at Bowdoin is well worth a look, as is the Peary McMillan museum both on campus. Whether your are planning to take in a Broadway caliber play at the Maine State Music theater or another play at the Theater Project on School St. near the eclectic shopping spot the Tontine Mall, be sure to save time for museums. Harriet Beecher Stowe also called Brunswick home for a while, her house is on Federal St. There were many famous graduates of Bowdoin College given a nod in town. Maine Street boasts side walk tributes to its poets of yore. If you like consignment shops, Estilo's on Pleasant is a great place I swear that several people my size with my taste drop clothes off there for me to buy. New to town, Pleasant St. runs one way towards Maine St., so beware. Second Hand Rose is a venerable and funky consignment shop as well on Maine Street. I sell Halloween costumes there. If you like donuts, check out Frostie's the born again Christian donut shop with the Nordic track for sale in the window. It is only open during the week. They have the freshest donuts around. Brunswick is also the “gateway to the midcoast” and you have to go through it to get to Harpswell neck and islands, the most convenient place to catch the vision of soaring pines, granite and sea mist. The family graves of Robert P. Tristam Coffin local poet and English Professor at Bowdoin in the 40's and 50s are on the way to Cundy's Harbor which he designed himself... they are really something. He illustrated his books with woodblock prints.

Tell us about your family & pets.
I live with my partner of 9 years, Claire St. Laurent. We are kind of like the Odd Couple. I am fat and sloppy and she is thin and particular. We complement each other very well. My two sons Jake, 17 and Eric, 20 live with us as well. Jake's at Mt Ararat and aspires to be a graphic artist but he is also into found sculpture and can be found arranging items around the house into odd little stacks, thats how we know he has been there. He has a lot to work with in his room. If you wade through to the closet you will see it is a computer wasteland. He has worked at Maine Street Art in Brunswick off and on for a few years. Eric is a musician and has an on line band Never Hundred. He is going to write the music and lay down the tracks for Mungo Mango's Immor(T)als, my needle felted band for the next art walk in July. My 22 year old daughter Renee, ever the activist, lives in Philly and rabble rouses for union workers. As you may have gathered, I strove for the Frank Capra's “You Can't Take it With You” sort of family environment and I kind of got that. Fortunately, Claire, who is very level headed adds a little ballast and we aren't quite that over the edge yet (poor Claire). We inherited my daughters cat, Ojo and last but never least, we have a very spoiled giant long haired chihuahua, Cisco who is great fun and thinks he is a person. He loves to go for rides in Claire's convertible mustang. He is overprotective, as most chihuahuas are and a bit skittish with people at times. He does not like young men in general, I think one of Jake's friends teased him one day. Claire has a methoselioma-like cancer, which she is struggling with these days, so thats been a bit stressful. Art has always been a good way of coping and as you may note the more stressful things get the sillier I get in my work.

How long have you been making your craft & what got you into it?
I earned a degree in English (a degree U Mass has revoked it a million times I am sure, due to what is euphemistically known as fat fingers on blogs and forums where I misspell words and leave out letters and even words) Trying to get a raise, because I was working at a 24/7 shelter for families dealing with domestic violence, I also have a degree in psychology. I one time looked into Art Therapy School, but they told me I needed to be a professional artist or have a degree in art, which in most ways seemed like a bunch of bureaucratic bunk to me. I have been dabbling in arts and crafts all my life, but dabbling doesn't count, it has to be “official”. When I was a kid, I made all kinds of dolls. When I taught preschool in the 70's, I made paper mache puppets to go with the kids favorite stories. I am the “go to” person for costumes. My highest point in that arena was when the the Mount Ararat H.S. drama club came over to raid my costume bins and closets for Halloween. I have done pottery, stained glass, silver work, beading, batik, watercolor, macrame, leather name it I have tried it. I am also a published poet and do poetry readings from time to time. Pinatas I have been making since I was a kid. Needlefelting is new to my repertoire, I just picked that up. I saw some one doing some needlefelt embellishment last fall, then i seemed to notice it everywhere and just took off. I am a regular Geppetto. I make these creatures and they just come to life. It is a joyous occupation. When I take up a craft, I generally like to get the supplies and just do it with out any training. I think its more creative that way and I have never been big on recipes or instructions. Kits schmits I say.

Do you feel like your craft is related to where you live?
Actually I don't think it is, unless you mean as a means to keep the house of my dreams. I would be creating things or havoc no matter where I was. I am 1/8 Maine Indian ( isn't everyone?). I was raised as a military brat and have lived in quite a few different places went to 18 different school systems more owing to the size of my family and moving two or three times in each state in the area of the base. So while I love Maine and my grandfather, a commercial artist, was born and raised in Maine, I don't believe that my craft has much to do with living here now.

Tell us about the awesome craftspeople that you've met around Maine-- have you collaborated or met with any Maine Team members?
Yes where ever I go seeking the quintessential Parisian salon, always striving to rekindle my past life as Madame Recambier. I have met lots of artists and poets here in Maine. Both in Fryeburg (and greater Conway, NH) and in Brunswick. I already knew some poets from the area from way back. I met a stained glass artist and photographer from Harpswell when I first moved to Topsham at a conference on trauma in schools. We did a workshop there. I had been the project coordinator for a local clothesline project and at the time I was working for Training for Sustainable Development at University of New England, who were helping the Maine Department of Mental Health with the AMHI consent decree and that opportunity came up. That artist Alison Ammons and I are still friends. I met Kat Logan when I first came to Brunswick years ago, before she owned Maine Street Art in Brunswick who my youngest son Jake works for. I met a host of artists and activists through my daughter Renee who was very engaged in Brunswick Parks and Gardens and the Peace movement in town. I try to spend time at Josylen's shop Blue Moose Emporium every so often. Richmond is a very cool town and her shop is next to impossible to leave. I also go to Maine Fiber Arts which is right here in Topsham and I participate in the local art walks on the second friday of the month. I can't believe that I haven't run into Kellie while I'm poking around downtown. While I have gone to all the meetings for Maine Etsy, except the one in Rockland, I have not been as involved as I probably should be, owing to Claire and things being up so in the air. Last summer, I lived in the ICU at Central Maine Medical with her for a harrowing three weeks.

What are your plans for the future?
Currently, I am working on giving some needlefelting workshops. I have one scheduled at Blue Moose for on July 30th. I do like creating and working for myself, but I, like Shorty Parrot, am not very good at the business end of things (bookkeeping, etc) and my better half who is a wizard at such things, isn't really up to it these days. One thing I am thinking of doing business wise is building up Shorty's cat nip cat line by having my son and a friend of mine help make them. Another plan I have is too create a steampunk department “A&A Zapp's Purveyors of Esoteric Articles”, building on the foppish fellow Alphonso and his family. This means eventually, I might have to get back into metal work, but right now I have some steam punk ideas that I can do with out the full complement of metalworking tools. There are a lot of stories to tell about the Zapp family tree involving Aphonso, his brother Ambrose who is currently on expedition and his sister Antoinette the airship pilot. Then there is Alphonso's friend Beauticia Periwinkle the owner of the ballroom where Alphonso teaches Latin dance evenings. I may create a child in the Zapp family mix so I can rail against the “No child left behind act.” I do have to figure in social commentary some where here. .... Next venture itinerant storytelling.

Have some suggestions or want to be featured??-- Email Jamie at: jamieribisi {at}