Sus Devnani was born in Copenhagen, Denmark during World War II. "People didn't have much after the war," explains Sus yet her father, a salesman for Nestle, kept her entertained with a dollhouse and furniture he could build with very few supplies. He also built, in Sus, a life-long love of creating beautiful things using limited resources.
After thirteen years of schooling, Sus wanted to learn English and worked as an au-pair (part babysitter, part companion) in Sands Point, Long Island for one year. The Gubner family, for whom she worked, was an investor in the Safety Harbor Spa, and Sus has many happy memories of time spent in this area. After returning to Denmark to finish her schooling, Sus married the spa's manager Salu Devnani, and has lived in the United States for the last 35 years.
In Denmark, handmade Christmas decorations are a big part of the holiday season, and Sus decorated her home each year with white candles and paper ornaments reminiscent of her upbringing. As her children grew up, Sus began selling her hand-made ornaments in the Posh Pineapple antique store in Belleair Bluffs. Each Christmas her ornaments displayed a different theme such as sweets, clowns, trolls and even an all-American tree which she donated to the annual Festival of Trees.
After Devnani's husband became ill, Sus began working out of her home, selling her original creations in local stores and craft fairs. Devnani continued to have many requests for her original Christmas dolls, and many avid collectors asked that she make dolls for other holidays as well. In order to keep up with demand Sus now focuses solely on doll-making, spending 2-3 hours on each creation. She can make up to 5 of the palm-sized dolls each day and sold over 400 last year. "Now that I make the dolls for different holidays and with different themes, people are buying four or five at a time,"
Sus post-WWII upbringing in Denmark is important to her art. These delicate creations are made largely from paper, bits of felt and scraps of real mink that a friend sends her from Denmark. Just like her father, Devnani seems to make something beautiful from nothing. And Sus delights in the time spent creating these small collectibles. "I listen to classical music and I enjoy my life," remarks Devnani. Her talent has certainly caused enjoyment in the lives of those who own one of her timeless treasures.
To learn more about Sus Devnani's collection call 727-726-4101, or visit her website at: www.designsbysus.com.
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