Sophomore Lucy Callicott lays down on the carpet of her dorm room amidst an array of craft supplies, almost as if in a world of her own.
She focuses attentively on her work, polishing small pieces of brightly colored clay on a gridded mat. Some marbled, some painted, these individual clay shapes come together to make up a stunning pair of earrings.
A jeweler specializing in polymer clay earrings, Callicott is one of over 40 students involved in Elon University’s Student-Made Store.
After finishing up her summer job in August 2019, Callicott began searching for an activity to fill her free time before the start of the fall semester.
That’s when she came up with the idea to make jewelry.
“On Pinterest, I saw some polymer clay earrings. I was like, ‘Those are so cute — I bet I can make them.’ So, I did,” Callicot said.
Callicott is a self-taught artist, having learned jewelry techniques through social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube. Callicott looks at techniques other artists use and implements them in her own work. As her own teacher, she said the creation process has been full of trial and error.
“I’ve changed the way that I’ve made them so many times now just because I find new things that work. I found certain clays that I really like to work with and clays that I don’t like to work with,” Callicott said.
When brainstorming, Instagram serves as a huge source of inspiration for Callicott. Oftentimes, she goes on the app to look at clay earring trends and to get ideas about color patterns she can use. Callicott said she also frequently looks to nature and fashion when creating her designs.
“I look to nature a lot. And then also fashion design and just little things,” Callicott said. “You know, pieces of art, pieces of fashion that have already been made to kind of get inspiration about different color patterns that I can use together.”
Art has always been an important part of Callicott’s life, she said. Coming from an artistic family, she said she grew up constantly creating and designing.
“I remember I used to act like I had a fashion company. I would draw out designs and make clothes for my American Girl dolls or my stuffed animals. I was always painting and journaling, and it’s always been a really big part of my life. I think my family definitely cultivates art,” Callicott said.“All of my siblings are pretty artistic. So it’s a good way for us to connect too.”
Besides serving as a creative outlet, Callicott said, making jewelry also gives her time to relax.
“If I’m coming back from class or want time to myself, I’ll find myself making earrings because it’s what I like to do. Manipulating the clay is really therapeutic and coming up with new designs, so I think I definitely get in a zen zone when I’m creating,” Callicot said. “I think it helps my mental health when I get to prioritize making art. It’s kind of my ‘me time.’ And now that I’ve been selling them, it’s been a really fun way to connect with other people.”
At the beginning of her sophomore year, Callicott saw a Facebook post from Lindsay Reeth ‘19, creator of the Student-Made Store, attempting to recruit artists to get involved. As a new jeweler, Callicott was excited by the opportunity to join, and Reeth welcomed her with open arms.
With minimal experience making jewelry, Callicott had little expectations regarding her sales.
But, to her surprise, her earrings sold well at the first event, and her brand Lucy Light Designs began to take off.
“It really kick-started my whole business. It gave me my first outlet to sell my earrings, and then I could, from there, gauge interest in people. It helped me get my first sales — I wouldn’t have been able to start selling my earrings without it.” Callicott said. “My favorite part is the events, just being able to get my name out there and show my art. Those were super helpful, and I got to meet so many cool new people through that.”
Now, Callicott mainly sells her work on Instagram but still offers a few pieces on the Student-Made Store website; she will continue to sell her earrings at the store’s events.
Throughout her journey as a jeweler, Callicott said her friends have been a tremendous support system. Sophomore Sophia Gerth is both a friend and customer of Callicott.
Gerth said she loves “Lucy Light Designs,” as the price and quality of the earrings are fantastic and buying Callicott’s earrings allows Gerth to support one of Elon’s local artists.
“The Elon community can be an incredibly powerful thing, and rallying behind the projects and creative outlets of our peers is so meaningful,” Gerth said.
Every Callicott creates a batch of earrings to ensure her online orders are filled in a reasonable time. Customers can purchase earrings designed and pre-made by Callicott, but they can also place custom orders.
Some customers, like Gerth, ask for custom orders in honor of traditions such as Christmas and sorority recruitment.
“My largest order was one that I custom designed with Lucy’s help for Christmas; I ended up getting a unique pair of earrings for my mom, sister and aunt. Each one was different and specifically crafted for their personality,” Gerth said. “I have also purchased a couple of pairs for myself. One of them Lucy designed for my sorority recruitment outfit. That one was made with white clay and blue sparkly stars to match the colors of my sorority.”
Callicott said the name of her jewelry brand originated from a Latin translation of her name.
“My brand is called Lucy Light Designs because my name means light. And I always say I think it’s my purpose in life to be a light to others, so that’s why I named it that,” Callicott said. “I want my earrings to do the same thing and be a light in people’s day and be able to encourage other people to be confident.”
To those who know Callicott, her business is just one of many things that make her special.
“This business is just a fraction of all the things that Lucy can do, and she puts her heart into everything,” Gerth said.