Sue Rau is returning to her love of art.
“I’m just getting started again,” she said.
Rau double majored in art and education at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
“I started taking art courses, and I loved it,” she said. “As I got further into the degree, I got into the hands on with looms, sculpture, jewelry making. All the equipment in the jewelry class was my favorite.”
That was 40-some years ago.
After she graduated from UW-Oshkosh, she taught in the St. Francis School District for 35 years, where, as an elementary school teacher, her background in art was often put to use.
In 2005, she and her husband, Tim, moved permanently to Waupaca.
Since then, she began delving back into the arts.
The inspiration to do so came from several different directions.
Her mother’s jewelry was one of them.
“My mom liked jewelry, so I have taken a lot of her jewelry and redid it,” Rau said. “I knew she’d be happy to see it being used.”
Rau’s mother passed away about 1 1/2 years ago.
Going through the jewelry and creating new pieces became something Rau did for enjoyment.
She gave many of her creations to others as gifts.
Recently, Rau received more encouragement to continue her jewelry making.
Ever since she was a student at UW-Oshkosh, she had visited Reimer Jewelers in Oshkosh, whether it was to get a watch fixed or select a special piece of jewelry.
“I was going to Reimer Jewelers and doing a few pieces,” she said. “One day in the mail, I got a package.”
That was late last summer.
In the package were an oval blue topaz, sketch paper and pencils.
The items were for Reimer Jeweler’s “Expression of You” jewelry design contest.
Rau was one of 20 randomly who was given the opportunity to design a piece of jewelry.
“I was shocked when I got the box in the mail,” she said. “I had about six weeks to do the design.”
In all, 17 people submitted designs. They were reviewed by Reimer’s staff, as well as by a panel of celebrity judges.
Rau’s design, which she called “Cityscapes,” was the winner.
She started the design with geometric shapes, and after being chosen the winner, met with Paul Spanbauer, Reimer’s goldsmith and artist, to talk about her design and transform it into a piece of jewelry.
The piece was on display during the October Gallery Walk. Rau has since worn it and now wants to build on the design by creating earrings, a ring or bracelet to go with it.
“I want to dig into my mom’s jewelry even more,” she said.
Rau said the late Sherry Hamilton also inspired her to do jewelry making.
Hamilton was an art teacher at Waupaca Learning Center and also taught jewelry design classes.
Rau too, her classes and also takes painting classes with David DeBolt, of Originals, etc., in downtown Waupaca.
She plans to keep creating pieces of jewelry and possibly connecting with a jeweler.
And, she might even take some classes again at UW-Oshkosh.
“I like the oldness of some of these things from my mom,” Rau said. “I can build around them.”