Saturday, December 19, 2009

What would you do?

When I began this Internet business in leather crafting I swore to myself and my husband that everything that left our home would be my best. It is, and will remain, our slogan., "Where quality, craftsmanship and excellence meet."

The "For Your Eyes Only" leather wristbands series was designed exclusively by us. It was our brain child and we wanted every buyer to be part of the process in creating this unique and personalized keepsake that could be looked back on for many years to come.

The contents of each piece comes from the hearts of the person buying it. Only they and the recipient know the true value of the text. It is our honor to be part of something so special and we treat is as such.

Recently, I received a negative feedback to our Etsy shop. I was devastated to say the least. I make a point of reading and responding to all of our convo's and emails from general inquiries to buyers messages. Being a romantic at heart I put my heart into my work - moreover my passion.
To my dismay the buyer sent me an email telling how disappointed she was with her wristband that I made for her. She claimed that the text was slanted and the text went into the stitching. She believed it was "slopped" together. We asked her to send us a picture of it because I know what every item looks like when I send it out. If either John or I disapprove of any aspect of it, it doesn't leave the house. The buyer was very adamant and when we received the picture I could not see what it was that upset her so much. Below is a picture of a similar item that is listed in our Etsy shop.

The picture below is what the buyer sent to us. Both John and I examined the item carefully and couldn't see what she saw. If anything the accent, over the "o", which is above the text was in the stitching. The text appears even and centered.

Knowing how much this meant to the buyer we offered to make her a new one, against our store policy. Because time was an issue - the replacement wristband would not have been received by her in time for Christmas - we suggested that she give the one she had to her husband for Christmas and IF he didn't approve of it we would gladly replace it once she returned the one she had. The buyer was very upset with this proposal. She wanted us to replace the wristband immediately and she would cut up the one she had. We did not concede to this. I had numerous other buyers waiting on their purchases so I thought my suggestion was most feasible considering all factors involved.

As part of my standards I invite your opinion as to what you might think would work best for both parties involved.

I look forward to any suggestions you might have.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's a wonderful Life!

December is a month of milestones for us.
My son, Chris, turned sixteen years old. My youngest daughter, Renee, turned thirteen and my dear husband, John turned sixty. Amanda, my oldest daughter will be eighteen in January.

I met my husband in 1989 - well I didn't actually meet him; we worked at the same police station but on opposite shifts.

I remember going to the stations hockey games and watching John goal tend when they made the play-offs. I was in the middle of my "I hate men" period in life when John spoke to me for the first time. He offered me some chocolate covered almonds he had just bought, while I was in the guard room waiting to parade for duty. I ate the entire box. A few days later, to my surprise, he invited me to dinner.
I have to laugh. I told my escort that shift, that John had asked me out. I remember Freddy saying, "go out to dinner with him. You don't have to marry the guy." LOL

Never, in my wildest dreams, could I have imagined that I could love a person as deeply as I do John. He has always treated me with love and respect.
I think the success to our marriage can be attributed to knowing when to stop talking, leaving the room when opinions are at a stalemate and never going to bed angry. We hold true the same beliefs that family always comes first and good times can be had even with empty pockets.

I thank God everyday for my life, my wonderful family and my loving husband. Happy birthday, sweetheart!! May God bless me with many more loving years with you.

John pictured here with my oldest daughter, Amanda in 1992
John pictured here, as handsome as ever, with our youngest daughter, Renee.
May everyone be a blessed as I am.
I would like to wish all our friends and acquaintances a Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year!
Anne ^i^

Friday, November 20, 2009

Horse Brass Mounts

Dating as far back as 527 - 565 AD in Emperor Justinian - a roman emperor - horse brasses were prevalent. They were used as harness straps on horses.

It wasn't until Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887 did the horse or pub brass straps come into popularity. It was Mr. Crawford, who was a robe maker and designer of coats of arms and heraldic banners, that made this possible.

Being married to a history enthusiast and Englishman made me familiar with horse brasses. Nary a pub or fireplace in England would you find without a horse brass mounted.
Over the years I acquired some beautiful horse brasses but couldn't find the leather strap to house them. Luckily for me and John we worked with leather. Our first project was that of a 5 tiered strap from a buyer at our local farmers market. Once we designed and created it there was no stopping us. I had a china cabinet full of these wonderful treasures and nowhere to put them. It is often the desires of others that compels us to make these things for ourselves. With the pattern we created I made several other straps for our brasses. My personal favourite is the Prince Charles and lady Diana collection. I was her age and back in 1981 when the fairy tale romance began. I, like many other girls that age, wanted the dream. I got my prince in shining armor. How about you?

If you find yourself in a quandary about where to have a custom horse brass strap made - look no further. We can accommodate your very needs. Contact us or visit our sites.
Anne ^i^

Sunday, November 15, 2009


About this time twelve years ago I was happy with three young children, a wonderful husband and a thriving career in law enforcement. Having a double income lifestyle made everything comfortable for us. I was preparing to return to duty after my maternity leave when life presented a unexpected change. My career ended and my husband and I found ourselves with half the income we had previously enjoyed for several years.

I was devastated. The commitments that we easily met before were difficult to fulfill. Things like coffees, take-out and buying clothes became luxuries to us. There came a day that buying milk for my youngest daughter, approaching her 1st Christmas with us, was non-existent.
Worried for the welfare of our children we did the only thing we could. We visited our local food bank sponsored by the Salvation Army and received a box of food and a $25.00 food voucher.

It was a humbling experience, but we were grateful it was available to us. Christmas wasn't as elaborate as we had wanted and our children were confused because it was so lean. We explained to them, in a way a child could understand, our circumstances.

Miraculously, our situation worked out in the long run. It was a long, tough road ahead but we survived. The following Christmas we saw a Christmas wish tree in the mall. It was then that we decided to pass it forward. We picked two names from the tree, a boy and a girl, to buy gifts for. It filled our hearts knowing that some child, like ours, would have a Christmas.
Last year I started selling glass ornament earrings at our local farmers market and donated the proceeds to Adopt-A-family. The results were overwhelming. With every $50.00 we raised, our money provided a turkey with all the fixings and a small gift for the children in the house.

As I write this I feel overjoyed about the recipient families. This is a time to help one another and what better way than purchasing a gift box that includes 2 sets of ornament earrings and helping to give a Christmas to another family.

You can either contact me (type "Adopt-a-family" in the subject box and I will invoice you) OR click on the title link to purchase this set Or visit our shop at Catch A Shining Star.
Please note that the earrings will vary in design (glitter and pattern) so when you order please advise what colour you want.

I will post the amount raised each week on this blog. 50% of the proceeds (the rest to cover the cost of materials) will be delivered to the Town of Cobourg Women's services via the LCBO drop off.

Thank you and God bless,

From our family to yours!!

Anne & John

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gift ideas for co-workers, friends or for those who are difficult to buy for

I would have to say that John and I are free thinkers. If it can be thought, it can be created.

This has demonstrated itself to us many times over by repeat buyers asking us to make things that no-one else will look at.

So, in saying that, this is the time of year when bosses, supervisor's and co-workers start to think about what they can give to each other as a decent gift. I know, because I was there. It is difficult to buy for someone you don't really know. Sure, you work with them every day but do you really know them? Well, I have to say that through our experience people love to see their name or initials on items they receive. Pictured are just a few of the items that seem to receive the most accolades from buyers.

For the boss that has everything - wouldn't you gain brownie points giving him/her this all- leather monogrammed magnetic money clip.

Or..., for your friends/co-workers that will be enjoying their holidays in the sun and/or away from the office.... I do sense a tad of jealousy here... it can't be helped because I wish I were there too :D!!

OR...., for a more practical gift.... for friends and/or co-workers that will be commuting to their family's homes over the holidays, one of our personalized leather key chains.

Nothing is better, in our opinion, than a personalized gift. It shows that you had the foresight to think ahead of time to plan for a unique and personal gift.
Thanks for stopping by. Visit our shop for more gift ideas.

Anne & John

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Life's good moments - if only for us!

It was one of those days when I was in a bitchy type of mood. I didn't want to ask anyone for help because I knew it wasn't coming too soon.

I started to pick things up and within minutes the rest of the family followed. Amanda, my oldest, cleaned the family room - muttering annoyances about her younger sister under her breathe. John, my HD, cleaned the filing cabinets, did dishes, made lunch and maintained harmony as he always does. Renee my youngest helped her dad for as long as she could and finally disappeared to my bed for rest. (she was after all taken to the ER for a high fever ..., the night before). To my great surprise everyone chipped in without any harsh words or encouragement.

Exhausted from a few days of hysteria, John and I sat on the couch and relaxed a tad. The door bell rang and I answered it.
What appeared to be "Carrot top" and "Clarence Williams III" of mod squad, were at my door donning there best, MIB outfits, stood there smiling at me.

"Hi, I must tell you I was at the hospital last night", and *cough, cough*" With my daughter who coughed up blood. I wouldn't get too close if I were you."

Both "Carrot top" and "Clarence" backed away from my door - gingerly handing me one of their cards with a picture of their huuuuugeee headquarters in Utah.

Carrot top - " I am sorry to hear that. Is there something we can do for you?"

Uumm, I am thinking to myself. Well I am pretty hungry and 123 Chinese food sounds really nice. I bit my tongue. "Thank you but we're good."

Carrot top - "If there are any questions you have for us?"

Uummm, well yes...., I'm thinking. Do you know Donny and Marie?

Although I kid I do appreciate there mission although it is not my belief.
In the minutes to follow, soaked with fatigue and full of levity John, in a rather giddy demeanour states, "This is John" tapping his right foot and then tapping his right, "this is Jack, his evil brother, the tripper".
Funny how exhaustion makes one giddy about nonsensical things. With tears of laughter running down our cheeks I called out to Amanda, our oldest daughter.

Me - "Amanda, didn't you name your feet in grade school?"

Amanda - "It was my shoes. And I named them Eddie and Marvin."(Now we're talking to a girl that just received high honours in her studies.)

John introduced John and Jack to Amanda using his cane.
Don't you find that the more idiotic the topic the funnier sometimes it seems.

This was one of those moments that no matter what someone said the questions, "Do you know Donny and Marie? cropped up in the conversation.

I guess although it was one of those moments where you had to be there. It was one of those moments that were meant to help lift our spirits. I think everyone should have them once in a while - no matter how lame.

May you laugh at least once a day.

Anne ^i^

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A very special anniversary gift

About two months ago I had the great pleasure of chatting with a wonderful lady named, Meredith, about a special gift she wanted us to make for her husband for their anniversary. This gift took a great deal of planning from both us and her. She wanted us to create a unique watch band that had a carved exterior and a sentimental inscription on the interior.

Alone the carved exterior or the inscription interior were not a challenge. But combined it drew many obstacles. We had to take the assembly, functionality and doable possibilities into consideration as well as making it look aesthetically pleasing. The swirl design on the exterior has a special meaning, something only the buyer and her husband can identify with. So we had to replicate it as close as possible to the diagram she sent us.

The interior, was to be created just like one of our "For your eyes only" wristbands. However the text needed to be situated so as not to be hidden by the whip stitched edging or the buckle holes she wanted on the finished watch band.

As John and I often do, we sat in the evening and stared at the unfinished article and brainstormed. Will this work..., maybe but no.., this has to change. This went on for some time until we were both satisfied with the outcome. The watch face that the buyer sent us had to be fitted on the band before any holes or dying could take place. John meticulously measured and re-measured it until it was flawless. My task was to fit 62 characters of text onto the interior band keeping in mind the buckle placement and holes for both lacing and buckle.
I must say we did have several sleepless nights thinking about the process.

When all was said and done, we were able to deliver what she wanted.

With the clink of wine glasses together John and I toasted ourselves for another job well done.

We sent the watch to Meredith sometime ago and have not heard from her since. Her anniversary date in coming up soon, John and I would like to extend our best wishes to her and her husband on their anniversary.

This entire watch band was hand cut, hand stamped and carved entirely by John and I. If you would like us to create something similar to this we invite you to visit our shop or contact us.
Pricing available upon request.
If you can think it, it can be made. Our shops at Etsy and Artfire
Anne and John

Friday, September 25, 2009

Trendy New Wedding Favors

Love is in the air and so it should be as brides and grooms get ready to take their wedding vows.

During the chaotic time one of the many worries that crops up is what to give the guests as a parting gift and souvenir to this momentous occasion. Well, one of my buyers had a wonderful idea of personalized leather luggage tags. The tags below were custom made for a lady as gifts to the bride and groom.

"How perfect", I ask? The tags in the first photo display the wedding date and a simple heart stamp commemorating the auspicious occasion. We have created a privacy flap on the reverse side of the tag for a more complete and aesthetically pleasing appearance.

The following photo had a similar stamp design except the buyer wanted the surname initial to be centered to be prominent and the first initials of the bride and groom flanking it in a different font. Quite effective and stunning I might add. With the simple heart stamped beneath the wedding date.

The last photo displayed 12 luggage tags with the guests initials on it as a parting memento with the wedding date beneath. These tags were for guests that confirmed their attendance. The unconfirmed guests will receive a tag with the wedding date and no initials.

I don't know about you but I would prefer a gift that is timeless and re-usable. Confectionery is nice but short lived (and fattening). ;D
So for those hard to shop for brides and grooms or as a neat parting gift for your guests, these tags make the perfect gift idea.
Visit either one of our shops at Etsy or ArtFire
Thanks for dropping by and have a great day!!
Anne ^i^

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Dye Makes it Unique

It dawned on me the other day, when talking with some friends, that quite a few people assumed that the leather we use to make bracelets comes to us coloured. That is not the case. The leather John and I use to make personalized wristbands, portfolios and wallets.., etc. is "Live Oak" premium tooling leather. We choose the premium leather rather than the usual crafters less expensive econo grade vegetable tan leather because it has less scars and flaws on it. We buy it by the hide in its natural state, flesh tone.

Each project requires certain leather thickness, or ounces weight to be more precise. (a topic I will cover in a subsequent posting). Presently, I will briefly describe the creative process of making a leather name band.

A) I select an area on the hide that is even in thickness and cut out the dimensions of the wristband using a utility knife. The thickness on the edges of the hide are thinner then that of the thickness in the center. This has to be carefully considered when making an item that requires a lot of leather.
Once it is cut I determine where the text/name will be stamped and dampen the leather with a sponge.
Some crafters use a pencil to draw a faint line on the leather but I prefer to eye-ball the line. When I have finished stamping the text or design I let it air dry.

This is an assembly line of orders in various stages

C) When the leather is completely dry (that can be determined by the coolness of the leather. If it is damp it will be cool to the touch and darker in colour) I can apply the dye colour. If it is a gel dye I use my finger and rub it in vigorously into the leather. With liquid dye I use a wool dobber and apply it in a circular motion. Two coats are usually what I apply for an even finish. If I want a darker hue I apply more coats to the leather. I use a flat sponge brush to apply coloured liquid dyes.

I prefer liquid dyes for belts and bigger projects and gel dye for smaller project like wristbands and wallets. Liquid dyes do not work well with highlighting text so I have found.

NOTE: dye colours my vary slightly in hue with each pieces of leather. Older or grainier leather may dye darker or unevenly.

Here I removed access gel dye from the leather

D) After the dye as been applied and sufficiently dry I use a soft cloth to buff off any residual colour.
E) For best results I let the dye dry over night and apply three coats of eco-wise, waterproof finish with a wool dobber (I usually wait 10 minutes between applications). It is applied in circular motion with the excess squeezed out.
F) When the protective/sealant coat has dried it can be buffed with a clean cloth.

We will use shoe polish on larger items to give them added luster.

Dying takes some practice and can be quiet frustrating. A few factors that effect the dye finish are; drying out, age and temperature. If done incorrectly the dye may appear blotchy or streaky. If applied too thick it will crack and fall off in time. I have scrapped a few projects in the past due to this and it was a costly lesson. From these heartbreaks I have learned and acheived my own technique with which I am happy with.

G) When the dying process is finished the item is ready to be completed with snaps, lacing or stitching to create a stunning piece of fashionable jewelry.

The two sample wristbands were custom made and similar items can be created for you when you visit our Etsy or ArtFire shops.

I hope this post was helpful to folks that thought the leather in our personalized items started with coloured leather.

Thanks for dropping by!

Anne ^i^

Monday, September 7, 2009

There's No Place Like Home!!

I have heard the expression, "you don't know what you have until it's gone," many times in my life, but have never really appreciated it until just recently.

My husband, John, has been suffering with severely damaged hip joints for several years and rarely complained about it. It was only after loss of mobility and immense pain that he considered surgery.

I watched my athletic husband rapidly change into an old man. His zeal for life and activity greatly diminished when his hips bothered him. Where he used to love to go grocery shopping, he opted to remain in the vehicle and sat quietly waiting.

His sense of humour never faltered though. If anything he was more optimistic when he knew that the surgery was going to alleviate the pain and give him his mobility back.

On the 4th of September, also John's mothers birthday - Happy 84th birthday, Nan - he underwent the first of two total hip replacements by Dr. Stuart Parker at the Peterborough Civic Hospital. The procedure entailed the removal of the hip ball joint which is replaced by a porcelain type ball that is inserted into the leg bone. The hip socket is then lined with a metal plate and then re-attached to the leg. Yes! that made me somewhat squeamish but my faith in Dr. Parker far surpassed any doubts I had. My heart sank as I watched John walk towards the operating room. I knew he was ready for it but he looked back at me apprehensively. The procedure only took 1 and a half hours - recovery took 2. John chose to have the local anesthetic rather than the general (where the patient is totally under). My imagination ran amok as I waited. Then I had a moment of realization - I truly love this man, which I knew before, but was only now really feeling intensely.

Below is a picture of my dear husband, immediately after returning from recovery.
It was very difficult for me to leave but I knew that John wouldn't sleep until I did.
My three children attended the hospital the next day to visit their dad. To my surprise he was up and walked to the washroom - a feat that has progressed in leaps and bounds since earlier days of hip replacement. My daughter, Amanda taught John and I how to text on her cell. John was like a big kid, as was I, texting back and forth that night and the next.
What I found the most difficult in the entire process were the things that I thought I didn't take for granted. I have always been blessed with John's passion for cooking and cleaning up the kitchen when he was done. But now after 18 years of being spoiled, I had to retrain myself how to work these things back into my schedule. Also knowing that John was going to take some time to regain his mobility, I tackled these obstacles like a champ. My list of things-to-do doubled in length but it was my turn to return all the selfless deeds he has lovingly done for me over the years.
I just received a text from John that he passed his physio test and is awaiting for the doctors approval to go home. *fingers crossed*
In my prayers, I thanked God for John's speedy recovery and for sending him such a wonderful medical team. This whole ordeal has given me new eyes to see how totally blessed I am.
I want to thank all my friends for their prayers and good wishes - God bless!! <3
Anne ^i^

Saturday, September 5, 2009

It's All Goode - THG

This was a summer of making Good friends.

I met Jan via a convo through my Etsy shop. She is a huge follower, buyer and seller of the famed Hermes scarfs that have Wall Street bank execs. lining up on their lunch breaks waiting to buy.

Prior to getting an education on the fashion sect from Jan I had never heard of the Hermes line. *red faced*

Jan lives in New York city as well as operates her own website selling Hermes products which include jewelry, leather bags and scarves.

As the leader of a group called "THG" Jan wanted to design a tag that members could carry, on their person, as a quick representation of the following.

My Goode friend convo'd me with various ideas as to what she had in mind and after many ideas passing back and forth in emails this is what we came up with originally.

She already had the authentic Hermes name ribbon and was going to attach it to the tags I made which were made of thick leather and dyed in an acorn colour that closely represented the Hermes design.

A few weeks later Jan contacted me again and asked if I could incorporate a section of authentic Hermes crocodile leather into my tags. This is what I was able to do. She went with a natural dye instead of the acorn so as not to offset the crocodile leather.

Although this type of item is far removed from my daily life, Jan in her very gracious and unassuming manner, invited me as an honorary member of the "THG".

Do visit her website at It's all Goode.

Anne ^i^

P.S. I would like to ask for prayers for Jan's dear husband, Gus, as he has been battling cancer and could use all our prayers. God Bless!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Amongst Good Company

I was having one of those days when staying in bed would have been my best option. The sales I made buyers either forgot to pay or left out important information that I needed to start their order. My heavy sighs of frustration could be heard throughout the house.
With little energy or enthusiasm I had left in me I sat down in front of the computer and read my emails. Nothing piqued my interest until I came across one that read, "You have been featured in Dedicated Follower of Fashion - dated August 19, 2009. The Fall Forward: Stunningly Studded - Loud #4.

Without hesitation I clicked on the link and there they were, my studded earrings, in the middle of the "Loud"spread. I was so excited. My earrings were in the company of Nordstrom, Guess and Forever21. OMG!! My dream of having my products out there amongst the greats had started - if only in this single feature.

Although it may be a pipe dream - dreams do come true. This was a crowing moment and I relished every second of it with total excitement.

P.S. Thanks so much, Edi for you wonderful words of support. <3

Anne ^i^

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Inspiration is found...,

I have joined the party!!
Inspiration Avenue posted a blog inviting other bloggers to submit 5 things that inspired them to create the things they create. Well this is what works for me.

I find inspiration in a lot of my dreams. The items pictured below are samples of what have come to me in dreams. I have a note pad and pen next to my bed and when I receive these dreams I quickly jot them down and recreate them as soon as I can.

I dreamt of this necklace. I thought I didn't have the suede needed to make it only to find it buried beneath all my other leathers.

Fringed native style necklace W/ Czech glass beads - $45.00

I also find inspiration in fashion -new and old. As the saying goes," history repeats itself". So, I look back at what was popular when I was young and what is presently trendy with young people and glean some sort of idea from that.

Hair-on Cowhide Ring W/ nickel pyramid stud -$10.00
Another one of my inspiration comes from customers. I have had numerous people come to me and ask, "can you make this?" I as an artist and craftsman I never refuse a challenge and accept it with open arms as seen in the picture below.

When purging my closet I look at things like belts and bags and wonder..., hummm maybe if I did this or that I could create something new or unique. I came up with my Spatz when I looked closely at one of my 20 year old belts that would never again fit me.
Spatz - All Leather Boot Jewelry

Thanks for viewing.

If you have an idea that you would like us to create for you pass it by us. Maybe we can create something special and unique for you.

Contact us at Anne and John

Our shop at etsy AND Our shop at artfire

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Piece of Him to Cherish

I have always maintained that one of the greatest rewards in leather work is when a client comes to us with an cherished article of leather that has some sort of sentimental meaning to it and asks us if we can revamp it into a functional piece of jewelry, accessory or bag - whatever the case may be.

About a week ago, I received an email from a lady, Leslee, and she requested just that. She sent a picture, see below, of two pieces of leather and explained, "It belonged to my husband's father who died when he was very young and I want you to redo it for him as a birthday gift...," Not in our nature to turn down a challenge, John and I readily accepted it.

It arrived in the mail a couple of days later in a tight package. We could tell by the way she packed it, it was revered as something very special. As always we handled it with care.

The craftsmanship was impeccable and I could see why she wanted to resurrect it. The artist paid great attention to detail and I was in awe over it.
As our client further explained, "The leather comes in two pieces. It was from his dad's office blotter edges that he had tooled for him when he was just starting out."
We were committed to this undertaking and respected the delicate condition in which the panels were in. They are very old and if mistreated would break apart.
John and I worked together on this project. We had to measure and re-measure it to gage how much of the pattern we could afford to cut away to work into a 1 1/2 inch wide belt. The process took days of looking and re-assessing until we were both satisfied with our decision of where to cut. Because, once it is cut there is no going back.

We dyed the tooling leather, as close as possible, to the dye color of the antique strips. John undertook the task of hand stitching both pieces to the belt.
We were both thrilled with the outcome and can only wish to be present when Leslee presents the belt to her husband. But for now her reaction to the end product with do.
We welcome you to bring your sentimental articles to us and perhaps we can work together to deliver to similar results.
Thank you for dropping by.
Anne & John

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Minimize and Accessorize

Over the years I have found that less can be better. Once that diaper bags and huge messenger bags full of kids' teddies and toys were no longer required, I liberated myself and carried only what was necessary. The large totes that I adored in high school and college no longer hold the appeal they used to. It's hands free all the way. I do wear a mini leather shoulder bag, across the body, and that is it. And on days when even that is too much, I carry my cell phone on my belt.

Alligator Embossed Leather Cell Phone Case $30.00

I wanted something elegant and durable. This cell case has two layers of leather. I finished with a matching topstitch and celtic concho to dress it up. I used a velco closure to prevent damage to the phone.

Also available in our ArtFire shop.

The interior was finished in a rich black dye with two coats of waterproofing conditioner.

The metal spring belt clip that was used on this cell case will secure nicely to your belt. All interior rivets are covered with felt to prevent scratches.

This is a sample of our handstamped cell case. This is the classic basket weave pattern with rope concho closure.
Our cases will hold most flip phones and can be personalized with initals and other patterns.

If you are looking for something unique this is where you will find it.

We have various colors including; walnut, med brown, acorn, mahogany, red, blue and green.

If you have any ideas that you would like to pass by us, send me an email and we can discuss the possibilites. Visit our shops at Etsy or ArtFire.

Thanks for viewing and have a great day,

Anne ^i^

Thursday, July 9, 2009

How Do You Rate?

When I started as an Internet seller one of my biggest fears was to receive a negative rating from a buyer. Seriously, I would stay up nights fretting over the possibility that a dissatisfied customer would leave me bad feedback and if they did, how it would affect my small business. It made me physically sick sometimes - waiting.

Why did I worry so? My first experience was with an alchemy request on the Etsy site. The gentleman prospect was looking for someone to design and create a leather duffel bag. I was thrilled and sent him an email with pictures of some of the leather bags I made. He reply. "Sorry but you have no feedback for me to compare your work." Feedback has its place for prospective online buyers. They do look at it. No feedback, no purchases. That very gentleman returned to my shop several months later and asked if I would design a journal for him so that he could have it reproduced elsewhere. I respectfully declined.

My husband and I have enjoyed our Internet business now for just over 13 months. With 463 sales under our belts, so to speak, we have received only one neutral feedback from a customer. The woman purchased a pair of my Spatz and didn't like the way the spots looked.They weren't exactly the same on both Spatz. But instead of contacting me and trying to rectify the problem, she left a neutral rating. I understand her feedback could have been worse and am relieved it wasn't. I could have made another pair of Spatz for her and replaced them for the ones she had. It was my suggestion that she return them, which she finally did after about 40 days. It also appeared that they had been worn.
Sometimes we all have to make exceptions. I was devastated over that ordeal, as I still can be when feedback doesn't read as I anticipated it should. In the end, I remained civil and returned positive feedback on her site.
As a buyer and a seller, I always take a few things into consideration before leaving a rating.

1) Did I receive the item that I purchased? If yes - a positive rating.
2) Did it arrive in a timely manner? Most mail delivery arrives between 5 to 7 business days after being posted. One must also consider the location from which the item is coming and if there are holidays surrounding it that may affect the shipping date. If yes - a positive rating.
3) Did it arrive in the condition as described in the listing. (worn, antiqued, faded, new, etc). If yes - a positive rating.

I have personally never left anyone a negative rating but if it were warranted I would try and resolve the issue first and only as a last resort, not comment.
Although there are other factors, which I consider important, they do not weigh in my feedback.
Packaging -if it is neat and secure, that is all that is required. Added gift wrapping and notes are very nice but not necessary for ranking. (I do both and include a business card as well - its my personal touch in this impersonal world). Some shops charge the same shipping cost for additional items. If that is an issue with you, contact the seller first to arrange alternative shipping fees. If they do not concede don't buy the item. Remember, it is always - Buyer beware!

Customer Service - If the product arrived damaged or not at all, good business practises might dictate that the seller replace the item or refund the money. I have replaced items that did not show up for a long period of time. Although I have no control over the postal service, I did feel obliged to replace the item. (I have acquired repeat customers for doing this on a few occasions.) And in some cases, I have replaced an item that the customer had a change of heart about, even though it was a custom order and I was under no obligation to replace it. I want people happy and to return. Unfortunately you cannot please all the people, all the time.
I do not believe the old adage that the customer is always right, because they are not. This statement may not lay well with some people, but how much abuse must a person endure to get a sale or good rating. I have been around long enough now to recognized a potentially difficult customer and have, in a diplomatic way, declined to work with them. It doesn't happen often but when it does they are flagged.
So for both buyer and seller alike, when you are faced with task of leaving feedback - be kind and think of the person on the receiving end. If a bad rating can be avoided, do try and rectify the problem. It will make life easier for all involved.
As I close this posting I received a purchase transaction from a repeat buyer that states, "Hi, I told you I'd be back! LOL!" Thanks Latiffia :D

Anne ^i^

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


In the spirit of freedom and independence I am very proud to introduce to you this fantastic artisan, Angel, of Strand of Glitter. She is the designer and creator of these exquisite bracelets in this feature.

I came across her site last year and fell in love the her work. It was fresh, crisp and very unique. She had a bracelet listed "The Flag" and I could not believe the great detail and skill that Angel must have had to turn out such a lovely piece. In expressing this to her in a brief convo she nonchalantly offered to design and create a similar one for me, only the Canadian flag. I readily accepted.

I am no stranger to bead work, except I use the old method of looming, and understand the amount of work and eye strain that might go into making a piece like this. But the day I received it I was floored. She had used what I would consider that smallest seed beads available. I would compare them to be sized a tad bigger that a poppy seed. Can you imagine the difficulty it must have been to thread and strand something that tiny. I can not fathom it and nor would I try.

Angels shop is absolutely worth a look. Her work is timeless, elegant and grossly under priced.

The Canadian Flag Bracelet - Presently one of a kind - MINE!!! :D
You will not find this in her shop because it was a custom order but if you would like to commission one for yourself it is well worth it.

This is the bracelet that drew me to her shop. It is brilliant, elegant and her interpretation of and original design. WOW!! what a find.

This is another bracelet that Angel made. It is simply gorgeous. If you are patriotic or just like the color combination it is definitely the bracelet for you.

As a proud Canadian I will be celebrating our independence or self government on July 1st and will be wearing my beautiful bracelet to show my support of this great country I call my home.

I would also like to wish our American friends a happy and safe Independence Day on July 4Th.

Anne ^i^

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Band For All Seasons

I don't think Paul Scoffield would mind the deviation in the title of his book, Sir Thomas More, A Man for All Seasons, if it is for the good of higher learning. :P

When I started in this business of customizing leather work, I experienced certain growing pains. As a matter of fact, we still have our ups and downs while discovering and testing new techniques and methods.

The word band we introduced a year ago has progressed from a basic name/text band, with a neat and even dyed finish, to a more distressing and aging appearance. We believe we have mastered the style pictured with positive results.

Coming from an era where a new product should appear crisp and clean, and then finding ourselves lost in this ever changing fashion world where no rules apply, can be quite a shocker. 0_o!!

This new look of thinner bands of distressed and worn out finishes was quite removed from your old school practises. But once I dabbled with the leather - mistreating it beyond my very belief - it was rather fun. I have formulated a new appreciation for this style.

I know we did something right when our teen children suddenly acknowledged our work with a "looks good, mom, " rather than the usual grunt of approval or half nod. *big grin*

My oldest daughter is looking at her university options and when she saw these wristbands, it piqued her excitement.

These bands are custom made and can accommodate up to 30 characters (including spaces.) We can engrave team names, fraternity and sorority house names, sayings, band names and text - the options are endless.

The bands are available in both 1 inch wide bands and 5/8 inch bands for only $12.50

Come visit our shops and take a look around. If you can think it, I can make it. Etsy Shop OR ArtFire Shop

Your comments are welcomed.

Anne ^i^