Photos and words by Gaige Davila
These days, Samantha Jo Finney is constantly baking. Baking clay, that is.
Finney is the mind and hands behind Across The Causeway, a jewelry brand selling handmade, polymer clay earrings and necklaces.
Finney started Across The Causeway in 2017, initially making anklets. During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, in early 2020, Finney started making the polymer clay earrings, which was met with nearly instant success: Finney sells out of her earrings, sold on Etsy.com, almost every month.
“People started to respond so insanely well when I started making them,” Finney said at her home office in Laguna Vista. “It’s literally inspiring.”
Across The Causeway has customers locally and across the country, including in Kansas and Virginia, with nearly 600 followers on Facebook. Finney has sold over 1400 pieces of jewelry, according to Across The Causeway’s Etsy page.
“People I know locally that I was never really close with have supported me so wholeheartedly from day one. There have been people who have bought from every single launch and that amazes me.”
The response was initially shocking to Finney, but she believes it’s the limitless accessorizing opportunities earrings provide that makes them so popular.
“I feel like they are such an easy way to accessorize,” Finney said. “You can be wearing a black t-shirt and black pants and you pop on a single pair of bat earrings and you’re spooky. One small piece can change your whole outfit, one way or another.”
The earrings start as a block, from which Finney cuts and molds into two millimeters sheets using a polymer clay press, or sometimes called a conditioner, running the clay through the press several times. To give you an idea of what the machine looks and operates like: Finney used to use a pasta machine she picked up at a garage sale to roll the clay.
Then, using a metal cutter, Finney punches out shapes of various designs and sizes. Those small pieces of still-soft clay get baked in an oven for around an hour, then sanded to smooth out the straight edges made from the cutter.
Finney attaches hardware, the “rings” in earrings, to the clay pieces, then assembles their packaging for launch.
Finney launches monthly, working from launch date to launch date, crafting over 200 pairs of earrings a month. This past launch, the earrings were Halloween-themed: bats, cats and pumpkins. Her next launch will be fall-themed, with warm colors.
Finney says she’s always been interested in making crafts, collecting $60 one week in 3rd grade from making and selling 50 cent beaded bracelets. She said she would pick up one craft and get bored of it, but that changed when she started using polymer clay.
“I feel like it was the first time that I didn’t lose interest,” Finney said. “I love making things, but after so many months, I would just be like, ‘I don’t really love it anymore.’ With (polymer clay) I’ve just never stopped loving and continue to be more and more excited as I do things.”
“It makes me feel there is worth in what I do and what I make and not only do I love it but people value it,” she said.
With a baby on the way, due this coming January, Finney hopes to make Across The Causeway a full time gig, allowing her to work from home and care for her first child. Finney also hopes to have Across The Causeway featured in local boutique and clothing stores, as she plans to expand the kinds of jewelry in her launches. And, eventually, a storefront.
Look out for Across The Causeway’s product launches on the last Saturday of every month on Etsy at www.etsy.com/shop/AcrossTheCauseway or follow for updates on Facebook, www.facebook.com/AcrossTheCausewayRGV.