A local artist who has recently emerged onto the scene is utilizing her skills to raise money and awareness for Ukraine. Samantha Chalfin, who launched a business making polymer clay earrings said while she was working in her studio, she was listening to news about the war in Ukraine. “I was feeling kind of helpless and was wondering if there was something I could do,” said Chalfin.

That’s when she came up with the idea to raise money for the citizens of Ukraine. Chalfin created earrings bearing the colors of the Ukrainian flag and has been selling them at farmers’ markets and online, with 50 percent of the proceeds going to Heart to Heart International. “When figuring out where to send the money, I saw a CNN list of most reliable organizations doing humanitarian aid and chose Heart to Heart International.” Chalfin says so far the response has been good. “People will say that’s really great. Maybe not everyone wants to wear blue and yellow, but I hope sales will pick up a bit although people don’t have to buy my jewelry to support the cause. I just want to help get the word out.”

Chalfin explained that she likes using polymer clay as a medium because it is very lightweight and she can mix a lot of different colors. “I was curious about clay as a medium and tried it out and really enjoyed it. It is a nice medium and is very forgiving, malleable, and you can create a lot of shapes and colors.”

While Chalfin has been making jewelry for almost 10 years, she said pursued her passion more during the pandemic. “I was looking for ways to express my creativity. I started making earrings and giving them out as gifts to friends and family, and as I was getting such positive feedback, I wanted to be able to share my jewelry with the wider community.”

Art has always been something of interest for Chalfin but she noted that one of the things that fascinated her was when she lived in Ghana in 2011 and 2012 and saw folks in a village where she visited making beads out of recycled glass.

Chalfin has also found ways to incorporate her hobby into her work as a school social worker. “I brought in a lot of clay for my students and they’re loving it. It’s a wonderful medium to support my student’s creativity and imagination. The students keep asking for more and they make things that have been inspiring to me and my art so it is mutually beneficial. It has been an incredible tool for art therapy and it provides a lot of insight into their lives and how they are feeling.”

While she has only recently started to sell her art as a vendor at the farmer’s markets at Four Quarters Brewery in Winooski, Chalfin hopes to be involved in other markets especially come summer.