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The Ears Have It

An Oxford teen hones her business and creative skills by making and selling colorful clay earrings.


Written by Leslie Criss  |  Photographed by Joe Worthem

 

In the many months of the global COVID-19 pandemic, people discovered different ways of dealing with being housebound. Some baked bread, some caught up on their reading, some streamed all manner of movies and series and others picked out, practiced or perfected their art of choice.

 

Oxford-born Callie Bennett decided to make her own earrings. She was 12 at the time. It was not something she’d done before, but she watched a video she found on Pinterest and felt brave enough to give it a try.

 

“I had gotten my ears pierced a year or two before,” said Bennett, now 16 and a sophomore at Oxford High School. “I needed something to do during the quarantine. So, I ordered with my allowance the stuff I needed to get started.”

 

Her initial creative endeavors, she admitted, were “pretty bad,” but persistence and practice pointed her in a direction nearer perfection.

 

“Those early ones were certainly not the best. But in my eyes, they were great,” she said. “There was definitely a learning curve.”

 

In the beginning, Bennett used a rolling pin and cookie cutters for working with the polymer clay she uses for her earrings. But as she continued creating, she discovered better ways to do that. She invested in a pasta maker she could use to roll out the polymer clay.

 

Today, Bennett is passionate about color, and she loves coming up with unique color combinations. Her jewelry often reflects specific holidays — Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Halloween — or the seasons, with items like colorful spring butterflies or Ole Miss football-themed earrings.



She has continued to learn more about jewelry making from Instagram and YouTube videos and has found there’s always something new to discover. In fact, after she’d been using resin in her process for a while, she learned something new from her continuing education.

 

“I didn’t know, but using resin is kind of dangerous,” she said, laughing. “I had always used it inside, but apparently the fumes are not good. Now I do all my resin work outside.”

 

After her 13th birthday in October 2020, Bennett, with the blessing and support of her parents, Amanda and Scott Bennett, created a shop on Etsy for showcasing and selling her colorful earrings.

 

That shop, Cgb Crafts Jewelry (the “Cgb” is for Callie Grace Bennett), is still open and has done well.

 

Bennett also posts her latest creations, product launches and flash sales on her Instagram page, @cgb_crafts.

Bennett has also tried her hand selling at a few local arts festivals, such as Water Valley’s Watermelon Festival, Bruce’s Sawmill Festival and Tallahatchie Riverfest in New Albany.

 

“My dad helps me get everything set up, and my good friend Eden Bodie usually goes with me and suffers through the heat,” Bennett said. “So many of the festivals are when it’s so hot.”

 

She also has a space in Memphis at Arrow Creative where she sells her earrings. And, yes, she will happily work on commission.

 

She doesn’t think her art abilities have much to do with genetics, but she has always had a penchant for artistic projects.

 

“I think I’ve always wanted to be creative. Even when I was a little girl, I was always cutting up little pieces of paper all over the house. I could make a mess,” Bennett said. “My brother likes to draw, but my parents are not particularly artsy. My mom’s a first-grade teacher.”

 

Though she’s got plenty of time to plan her future, Bennett, whose favorite subject is math, would like to study architecture. Still, she’s likely not going to give up on her earring making any time soon.

 

“I’m not sure it will always be earrings,” she said. “One day it might evolve into something else, but for now, I get inspiration from others, and I love coming up with new ideas for my earrings. I am definitely having fun being creative.”

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