Meet Elisa Vanderschuit of Song of a Sparrow. A talented handmade artisan based in Lake Arrowhead, CA who creates amazing cold process vegan soaps using only the highest quality ingredients. Just by looking at her jaw-dropping photos, you can see the care and quality that she puts into each unique handmade item. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy this interview with one of today's incredible artisans.
An Interview with Elisa Vanderschuit - Song of a Sparrow
When did you first start your craft? I made my first batch of soap in 2012 from a soap kit.
What made you decide on handmade soap? My love for handmade soap began years ago as a girl when I visited a family-owned farm where they made and sold their own handmade herbal soaps. I was fascinated by the process and the beautiful result. They smelled amazing and looked so pretty in soap dishes, and made my skin feel so soft. So it became something I had always wanted to do.
How did you discover your talent?
I've always enjoyed creating. I come from a family of artists, so it's in my blood. I was never that good at drawing or painting, but I found other outlets for my creativity such as playing piano and guitar, singing, knitting, crocheting, cooking, photography, and I used to make my own beaded jewelry. .So years later after discovering handmade soap, I bought a soap kit and made my first batch of lavender soap. It was a little intimidating working with a hazardous chemical such as lye, but I did a lot of research and took all the precautions. I was so excited! I couldn't wait for it to be done curing. After two weeks of curing time, I took it out of the mold, cut it into bars, and couldn't believe I was using my own soap. The first batch I made lathered up well and smelled great, but it left my skin a little dry, so I wanted to make it better. I began experimenting with different oils and ingredients until I came up with a recipe for an all-natural bar of soap that I'm really happy with.
How did Song of a Sparrow come about? After I made soap a few times, I started sharing it with my friends and family. They loved it. I wrapped them up and gave them away as Christmas presents. I loved making soap and people seemed to love receiving it. It seems like there's something about handmade soap that some people just go gaga over. People either love it and can't get enough of it, or they aren't sure about it and are afraid to use it on their skin because it was handmade. I've had some customers buy it, but they don't want to use it because they say it's too pretty and smells so good. So they just like to display it.
The name is pretty cool, what made you decide on this? Thank you! The name Song of a Sparrow was inspired by the old gospel song "His Eye is on the Sparrow." It's a reminder about how God watches over people. Two of my favorite things are birds and music, and I wanted to incorporate them into my brand somehow, so I thought it was a perfect fit. I love sparrows. They are a humble bird and not showy. To me, they symbolize freedom. No one keeps a sparrow in a cage and they can make their home anywhere. One can find a sparrow on the city street or in a king's castle.
What drives you to create? I don't know. It's just something that I have to do. I believe that we're all created with gifts and talents and we need to use them. If we neglect to use them, we're not fulfilling part of our purpose here on earth. When I create something whether it's soap, playing a song on my guitar, or knitting a blanket I get joy out of it. It's fulfilling and therapeutic.
How do you get inspired? I don't think I consciously look for inspiration. It just comes and it's when you least expect it. Sometimes I'll get inspiration while I'm on a walk in the mountains where I live. I think being surrounded by beauty in nature inspires me. I get inspired when I see other art. I believe artists inspire other artists. It's like that with music, too. Musicians inspire other musicians.
How would you describe your style? I guess farmhouse meets bohochic. I'm not into expensive, flashy things but I'm not a total hippie either. I love things that are natural, simple, vintage, bohemian, but classy. Da Vinci said "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." I love that. It's true.
What is your favorite part about your creative process?
It's a great feeling when the end result turns out better than you had hoped, but it's not always that way. I think it's important to enjoy the whole process from beginning to end, because that's where the learning takes place. Mistakes are part of the creative process. I can be very hard on myself and I'm guilty of being somewhat of a perfectionist, but we're all imperfect and make mistakes. I'm learning that sometimes you need to just let things go when they don't turn out the way you had hoped and to show yourself grace. But the times when I learn from my mistakes and can improve on what I'm creating, I take great joy in that.
What are your favorite items?
With regard to creating, I'd say essential oils, dried herbs and flowers, yarn, my camera, and music.
What environment do you like to work in?
My studio is my cozy kitchen at home. I live in the mountains of southern California. It's very a peaceful and tranquil environment.
Do you listen to music while you work, and if so, what do you listen to?
Yes, I love listening to music while I work. I feel like something is missing if I don't. I like a lot of different kinds of music from hymns to metal, but right now I listen to a lot of folk and neo-bluegrass. My favorites are Patty Griffin, The Wailin' Jennys, Sandra McCracken, Crooked Still, Gillian Welch.
How much time do you spend in the studio?
Who are some of your biggest influences, artistically or personally? I have so many. My oldest brother is a big influence. He's a very talented artist. He does mostly figurative and expressionistic painting. Since I've been making soap, I've made quite a few friends on social media that are artists and makers and their work has inspired and influenced me
Not as much as I would like. I have a day job. I work almost full time as a captioner -- I provide closed captioning for the hearing impaired. I work out of my home for a Canadian company captioning Canadian TV and council meetings. As much as I enjoy my captioning job, someday I'd like to just make soap. But working out of my home captioning has been a good job and has allowed me time for soap making and to be home when my boys were little. My husband and I have two teenage boys that keep us busy. They're a lot of fun and they use my soap, too!
What are you currently working on? When I'm not making soap, I love to knit. I'm knitting a chunky blanket for my mom's friend right now. I also want to learn macrame.
What are your plans for the near future?
Right now I'm not thinking too much of the future. I'm happy where I live and doing what I'm doing, but I would like to make time to travel more.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
To not compare yourself to others. Do art that makes you happy. Don't neglect your gift.
Who would play you in the movie version of your life?
Hmm, this is a hard one. Not that I liken myself to these women, but some of my favorite actors are women who seem like they would be really cool and fun to hang out with in real life like Drew Barrymore, Kate Hudson, or Zooey Deschanel. I may be wrong, but they seem easy going and not self-absorbed and stuck up like so many celebrities do. So I guess I'd want it to be one of them.
Describe your work in three words.
Natural, beautiful and nourishing.
Follow Elisa on Social Media and visit her Etsy shop here:
Etsy website: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Son
If you are a handmade artisan, or know of one who you think should be interviewed, send me an email at: hello@ShopCYDesignStudio.com