Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Guest Artist: Sue Hon

I've been good friends with Decorative Artist, Sue Hon, for several years.  In all that time and through many adventures, I don't have a single picture where she isn't surrounded by friends. Here she is(on the left) with Decorative Artist, Brenda Macaluso. It speaks volumes about Sue that she is liked and respected by her peers and her clients. Seriously, how often have you received a tip from a client? Sue's clients bought her an HVLP! Even a client's dog loves spending weeks with Sue and her husband Jim.

We are lucky in Kansas City to have a group of Finishers that genuinely give of their talent for friends in need. Sue is always one of the first to sign-up.  Our friend Dave Archeleta was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Decorative Artist, Heather McDonald (center in the blue) organized a day for us to finish a large commission for him.
That's Sue in the pink, next to Ashley. You will see this picture again because there are so many talented finishers to feature.  When a local finisher found herself with catastrophic medical bills for her new baby, Sue pitched in.  She and Jim have traveled with Surfaces to Meeting of the Masters and IDAL. They are brave people-following me driving the van and pulling a trailer takes a lot of courage! We've had many good times. Most recently, Sue went with us to Gary Lord's Open House.  Sue is a featured artist in his new book, Simply Creative Faux Finishes.

We sat down after her recent trip to Phoenix (she is in demand out-of-state) and talked a little about life. I also had the opportunity to photograph a spectacular home that showcases Sue's work and am excited to share the pictures with others.

Rebecca Slaton:  You told me a story about being a little girl and covering a sofa with flour...

Sue Hon:  I ran and jumped on it. Flour went everywhere.  I kept doing it until both me and the house were covered in it.  Then I blamed my older sister. We both got spanked-me for lying and her for accepting the blame.

RS:  I like that story because it shows your spirit. You spent your early years in Europe?

SH: Germany. My dad was in the military.

RS: That explains why you like Riesling! I enjoy our texting about Project Runway but you actually have a real background in fashion.

SH:  My education is in Fashion Design, specifically pattern making.  I worked for Nelly Dawn Sportswear.  Fresh out of college, I had to train at all of the factory stations.  In your 20's, you think you know it all.  I sewed or cut almost each piece wrong at first.  My trainer, an older lady, said, "Honey, now why are you here?"  But I learned to be a visual thinker and see projects in 3-D. This has helped after I switched over to decorative painting when all the garment work went overseas.

RS:  I guess you never thought that being an expert in patterns would help with giant Tater-Tots?

SH: The Hot Rod Tot!

RS: You spent hours helping me with this project...You saved my health, business, and possibly my marriage!  You've been a finisher for over 20 years and trained with many accomplished instructors.  What is the biggest change you've seen in the field?

SH:  Product Development.  I read my first faux finishing article in a 1985 Better Homes and Garden magazine.  The glaze was made with wallpaper paste.  Then it was mix your own sheet rock mud. It did teach me the fundamentals of painting and plasters.

RS: You were one of the first non-Faux Effects Instructors to work with the RS Series.

SH:  I started backwards with Designer Walls III.  I love how you can manipulate it.  After I take a class, I buy samples and start practicing right away-while it is fresh on my mind. Then I break the product down and try my own interpretation on samples.

RS: How did you name your business?

SH:  Before I had a name, an elderly client said, "Are you the one that fauxs the home?"  I liked it so my business is called Faux the Home.  It lets people know just what I do.

RS:  I work with Bruce. You work with your husband Jim.  "Spouses Fauxing Houses" would be a good reality show.  It is a growing sector. Any advice?

SH:  My helper quit when Jim retired so the timing was good.  You have to decide who is the boss.  We needed specific job descriptions.  Jim is methodical and wants to know each point from A to B to C.  I start with A, go to H, back to C. That is the artist's approach.  He learned to trust that I knew where I was headed.  It helps that he has been on several projects and knows the results. Having someone that is working in the best interest of your business as a partner is valuable.

RS: Speaking of projects...Let's look at this amazing project.
RS:  You did something to most of the walls in this home.  Which do you like better? Walls or Cabinets?

SH:  Walls but I've become more comfortable with cabinets.

RS: I love all the cabinet finishes.  What is your favorite finish?

SH: I'm known for the finish (pictured above) that was in Gary Lord's Book.  It happens to be in this same house.  Another new favorite is the Baked Raku I learned from you guys. I did that one out in Arizona.

RS:  The picture in Gary's book does the room more justice.  I know Gary really loves that finish.  One of my favorites is the Copper Caterer's Kitchen.  Wouldn't it be awesome to have a Caterer with their own kitchen?

SH:  This house has 6 garages!  But the homeowners are the nicest people.

RS I met the lady of the house.  She has a great sense of humor.
SH:  She let her daughter have a purple and green bedroom.

RS:  I should mention your talented sidekick, Debbie Wetschensky. She did the fantastic murals in this home.
SH:  She does this all free-hand with a chalk drawing!  There is a little mouse in the dome.  She hid little mice throughout the house.

RS:  Debbie free-handed a lot of those Tots.  All things lead back to the Tots!  Thanks Sue for sharing your work and your thoughts. See you next Girls Night Out!

Sue Hon will be a featured presenter at Surfaces' Faux Fest in February and you can follow her Powder Room Project in Gary Lords New Book Simply Creative Faux Finishes.

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