Sue Scamihorn

Clay artist finds joy with whistles & whimsy

Posted on Oct 26 2017 in Features, General

Sue Scamihorn works on a whistle — this one an elephant — at her rural Wabash home studio. Her unique menagerie of whimsical animal whistles helped her become an “Indiana Artisan” (please see cover story).

Sue Scamihorn’s husband, Mike, says she must not have had enough toys when she was a child. Every day, she’s surrounding herself with a menagerie of playful little critters she sculpts with her own hands from stoneware. Most often, they come with a trademarked “overdeveloped sense of whimsy” — which is how a judge on the jury panel of Indiana Artisan put it. (Please see the cover story.) And many are whistles that, when blown into, make a bright toot.

“I’ve always been fascinated with miniatures,” said the 62-year-old clay artist from Wabash. “It’s fun to see people’s smiles.” She sells her creations at gift shops and festivals.

“Working with clay gives form to my desire to capture the artistic notions or creative insights we have as children and to share those imaginative moments with others,” she said describing her art. “My hands are constantly busy molding shaping, pressing, painting, tying or hinging.”

As a member of Indiana Artisan since 2012, she also sells her works at the Indiana Artisan store at the French Lick Springs Hotel and its annual marketplace at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. But long before Indiana Artisan, Scamihorn was a prolific participant in the Christmas ornament contest the Electric Consumer held from 1996-2005, entering most every year. Her works usually were among the top vote getters. More than once, the narrative quality of her works landed them on the cover of December issues of the past.

Along with little characters and scenes and animal whistles, she sculpts various depictions of the Nativity and molds inspirational sayings. Her favorite is Jeremiah 18:6, “As the clay is in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand.”

“The Nativities are very important to me to promote the true meaning of Christmas,” she added, “to remind people what it’s about.”

You can see her work at

Long before the Indiana Artisan program even began, the Heartland REMC consumer had her work appear many times in Electric Consumer during its run of annual Christmas tree ornament contests including, from left: an angel, 1997; lighted bird house, 2002; and caroling penguins, 1999.