Thursday, October 9, 2014

We had quite a summer, as I'm sure a lot of people did! It was fast and furious, led by months of demo on the house my husband and I will be moving to at the end of our third - and last - year in the Univ of North Texas Honor's Hall. Followed by, a long month of pretty heavy-duty spine surgery, and recovery for Ethan, our oldest son, and braille reader. (He's doing great, and is now the proud owner of two cobalt rods, and 22 titanium nuts and bolts, and is now an inch and a half taller, too!)

Our younger son, Nick, now 16, is working every day after school, as well as Saturday mornings, calling people, and encouraging (harassing) them to give to various organizations; hey, it beats slapping hamburger patties, or scooping ice cream. ;)

In a last-minute save at the end of Summer, my husband, Eric, was appointed University of North Texas Interim Dean of the College of Visual Art and Design, where he's taught communication design for 23 years, and has served first, as Area Coordinator for eight years, and then, Associate Dean for the last three years. We're really proud of him, and know he'll be a great faculty leader, following on the heels of Robert Milnes, a "damn fine Dean."

Now, the fun jewelry news: I'm about to produce new castings of the ORIGINAL Braille Alphabet Bracelet - in Goldie bronze! This will give those who've been clambering for a gold version of my design, but without that pesky 14K price. I'll be able to hand make each one to fit, using a lovely clasp I'm working on, and these, along with a lower price (thank goodness the sterling silver prices came back down to a sane level again) on the solid sterling silver version I've been producing for 10 years, will be ready for ordering just in time for the holidays. :D

I'll also continue hand making other OOAK pieces out of various metals, and hand casting my pewter pieces. I will be adding Paypal buttons to my web site soon, so holiday buying will be hopefully 
easier this year.

Here's hoping your school year and Fall is off to a great start. This year, we're saluting Ethan - our high school senior, who will be off to slay the International Studies world next Fall! I'm also saluting Ethan's Braille teacher for all 13 of his entire primary school years - our very own Braille diva, Diane Briggs, and, bringing in the last shout-out, his incredibly enthusiastic o & m teacher, Lisa Hanson! May each and every one of your children have the bright, fearless, glorious results we've had, due in great part to the two wonderful, strong, persevering women. Yea, Team Ethan!

I did work on a special metals project this summer: Ethan's Mean Green Eagle pupils I enameled onto brass, so the ocularist could imbed them into a spare set of lenses for him to wear on UNT game days! They've been a real hit on campus , and we're hoping it'll help him show he's got such UNT spirit, he'll be accepted as one of The Tallons, the Mean Green football spirit team!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Happy Summer, everyone!

I hope many parents, as well as teachers, will be attending the International Association for Education and Rehabilitation (IAER) July 30 through Agust 3, at the Grand Hyatt Riverwalk, along the lovely San Anonio, Texas Riverwalk. Moving Into the Future is this year's theme, so hopefully, there'll be many good and interesting sessions regarding increasing Braille literacy levels, utilizing innovative new technology, and broadcasting new and badly needed orientation and mobility techniques.

Though it's aimed at professionals, Eric and I usually learned much more at these conferences (as well as Getting In Touch With Literacy), than at parent support group meetings; we could get the needed facts, then utilize them to suit Ethan to his best advantage. Could be it's because every person who's blind or visually impaired is different, as is every professional who works with them! You think?! ;)

Since our braille reader, Ethan is entering his senior year of high school, and is (thanks in no small part to his very own secret weapon/brl diva teacher, the mighty fabulous Diane Briggs) poised to begin college and start Moving Into his own quite tangible Future, I won't be attending. My work is done there! :) I will, however, be sending a large number of my hand cast pewter Braille jewelry pieces 

- "dirty braille," included - with Teri from Reading and Radio Resources Dallas, where I volunteer as an AIRS news and book reader. The pieces sold will go toward benefitting reading services for people who for any reason, are unable to read for themselves.

As a last note, I hope everyone will make a special trip to the American Printing House f/t Blind table. They'll have jewelry making kits that include the plastic version of my Original braille/print alphabet beads, the design for which I donated to them so they could continue offering fun, creative ways for children to get braille into their hands - and onto their wrists!

Whatever you do for the rest of the summer, I hope you can slow it down a bit for the really hot days, and then, go flying into your Fall months of school and fun!

Sincere best, as always

Friday, April 4, 2014

It's happened ...

I've sold the last fashion version of the mom-designed, blind kid tested and approved Original Braille Alphabet Bracelet. I shipped a large one out to Finland today, and the smaller is going to a long-time acquaintance - another mom in the Vegas area.

I do still have some individual cell beads, but so few vowels, I can't really do names; I could, however, make initial necklaces, earrings, or bracelets, so please call or write if that sounds like something you'd be interested in! 214-675-4061 :

As I've tried letting people know, I will continue hand making the solid sterling silver cell beads that comprise the various necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and of course, the Smithsonian American Printing House award-winning Original Braille Alphabet bracelet loved by many.

Thank you for over 13 years of braille fashion cheat-sheet years of sales and fund-raising!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Spring, everyone!

As we head into the end of the academic year, I hope you'll plan ahead a bit and remember those graduates, fabulous braille and o&m teachers (and best moms, on Mother's Day) who could quite possibly be very happy to receive some beautiful, fun, or cheeky braille bling from At First Sight - the ORIGINAL braille fashion jewelry!

Since I've begun reading every week for iBlink radio/AIRS, and doing voiceover work, my time is a bit more precious, so be sure to let me know your orders as soon as you can, so I can get it out to you in time. Every thing is hand made, but special order/one of a kind pieces take the longest - up to four weeks, depending.

Our family life in Honors Hall at the University of North Texas is going into the third - and last - year; hard to believe we've been there two years, already! We're still enjoying it, though we are looking forward to living in the lovely little Trafalgar Square townhouse we now own and are renovating. (It has a great, 70s open-living concept, so, no walls have been destroyed in the remaking, but it did need a good deal of dragging to get it into the 21st century.) I live there the majority of the time, working, sanding, hammering, taking out old bath cabinets and trying to incorporate little surprises and unexpected touches here and there, and Eric has taken the helm of seeing after our two teens, Ethan and Nicholas (Nick), driving them hither and thither, throughout Denton. (Last year, Ethan [our soon-to-be 17-year-old who's blind] worked a University internship, and with guidance from Bob Sweetman of Sweetman Systems, electronically marked all of UNT, and much of Denton Square for other electronic Braille users, and worked on a student video about how professors could make Blackboard [a substitute classroom program used by many faculty] more accessible to blind and visually impaired students. This year, Ethan will be working at ODA again, and unfortunately, taking a break mid-July for a fairly difficult surgery. <sigh> Nick has already started his work life, diligently going after his first steady job - even before he turns 16 in late August - so, he'll be working a lot this summer, racking up work points and saving for the many cool things he's got plans for buying!) We shall see what Summer brings Eric and me ...

My little studio shop on the Denton Square is now rid of me, and I'm back working in a home studio - which is as I write, a complete and total crash, since I've just started unpacking and planning arrangement here. :/ <wonk face> My big plan, or course, is to be on my toes, ready for May orders, and for making jewelry I'll be sending to the INTERNATIONAL AER CONFERENCE in late July to be sold at the Reading and Radio Resources Booth. Fingers crossed, right?!

My best to you all - enjoy your gardens, Leslie :) <smiley face>

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Well, what a year we've had!

I haven't been gone, or even out of touch, really, just learning to put a new spin on our family life, living among and having programs for 200 Honors College students. It's been an absolutely amazing journey; we've already forged close friendships with a handful of students from our first year with whom we would never want to loose touch completely. We've got two more years to go, so I expect we'll come to love several more students in that time ...

Mean time, as some of you who use Facebook may know, I've sold out of the shiny silver plated fashion version of the braille alphabet bracelet. I do still have many individual letters in the shiny silver fashion finish, so for those of you who make, or know someone who can make jewelry, those are available for the reduced price of $1.00 each. For some reason, the brushed silver plated fashion version  of the alphabet bracelet wasn't as popular as the shiny (though I actually preferred it, because it looks more like solid sterling silver as it ages) so, at this point I've still got those, and will sell them at the greatly reduced price of $30.00 until they're sold out, which may get us through the Winter holidays, so now's a great time to buy!


Now, on to what's been happening.

Katwise is a wonderful woman with an online shop I love going to. (Sadly, I've not yet had the opportunity of buying one of her works of art/love in the form of magical, multicolored/patterned coats from upcycled sweaters — it just so rarely gets really cold here, it's difficult to rationalize paying for her higher priced, full-length sweater coats, but someday, I'd love to get myself one of her shorter jackets.)

It's not just her work I adore, it's her incredible free spirit. This is someone who would easily take you in on a dark and stormy night, with relatively few questions, and offer you a place in her "whimsical world of recycled sweaters, wacky art, tall tales, psychedelic school buses and general creative mayhem." She reminds me of the people I knew in my days as a Rennaisance Faire magician's assistant, living off-grid, by the seat of our pants. It's a lovely life that I'm frankly, still attracted to, but there's just a tad too much realist or whatever in me that kept me from going that direction forever. (My husband was pretty intrigued by that life, though, so it certainly worked in my favor!) ;)

This month, what I read on Kat's blog mirrored many of the feelings and thoughts I've had throughout the last several years, particularly regarding publication of a tutorial for the sweater coats her name is synonymous with. Ultimately, she dared to brave going from a safe place where she kept everything tightly around her, doing everything herself and battling encroachers, to letting much of that go and finding unimagined happiness, with unexpected "heartwarming repercussions" in so doing. What a lesson that was for me, as well, and it was confirming and uplifting for me to read that someone as lovely as she is went through a similarly ugly place as I did. As she points out, it took wise, direct words from colleagues to see she didn't have to live there permanently!

Our experiences aren't identical — my jewelry work isn't like her sewing work; there is no tutorial I could publish (I don't believe). Any jeweler could do what I do. Conversely, I can do what most of the people now making their own braille jewelry do. Like Kat, I scrambled one Christmas making anything and everything anyone asked for, just to prove I could make whatever anyone else could! So, how'd that work for me? you're asking. LOL Needless to say, I didn't repeat that the following year, and I also started letting go of a lot of the hurt feelings that drove me to do such a silly thing in the first place. Letting go of being hurt and angry, trying to keep up, and trying to do more and more, instead of embracing the vast numbers of people and companies that now make braille jewelry. If there were a way to write a tutorial for the various ways braille jewelry can be made, I'd write it, believe me, and I have spent many hours on the phone and email explaining it to a few people.

I suppose my only lingering regret now, as I begin narrowing the focus of this phase of my life to broaden the focus of the next, is that I've really got nothing to pass on to my kids. I do have memories and stories, mind you, many of which are incredibly beautiful, and both of our sons know those. But I had at one time, imagined this (and my husband's braille/print books) could give our sons something to hang on to in a storm, because even with zealous planning and great care, you never know what will happen for your children, and we all want to give them as much as possible, right? Even through the accolades after winning two National awards, I (just like Kat) felt a bit like I didn't really deserve it, because the truth wasn't completely pretty; I'd done a lot of things for the wrong reasons.

As Kat writes, "the truth is I wrote the tutorial not because I was generous, but because I was scared. At the time, my shop was getting crazy amounts of orders she could hardly keep up, and email was taking hours every day, sapping my creative and physical energy even to sew. Though the interest in my work was amazing, I realized that others in 'Internet Land' saw what was going on with my shop and took it as an opportunity for themselves, with first one, then another copycat sweater shop appearing on Etsy faster than I could keep track."

As she continues, she really cuts to the core of my experiences. "At first, it felt like a knife to my heart. How can someone do that to another artist?! Many people were even copying my own words and putting my (trademarked!) name on their listings. I took it very personally and felt quite wounded and confused by fellow artists. I'm sure many people had good intentions, but still ... I was amazed how unscrupulous some people were being. It made me feel really vulnerable. ... I know a lot of people reading this are other crafters who have probably dealt with the punch in the stomach of being copied."

She goes on to say the whole point of mentioning the copying is that none of us live in or "spring forth from vacuums; we are ALL copycats to an extent." I 'borrow' lovely swooshes, marks and frames from centuries old printer's ornamentation books that belong to my husband, a graphic designer and university professor who teaches classes that include discussions about plagiarism. There is a fine line between borrowing/copying from the general design arena, and outright plagiarism. Very fine. (All it takes in the legal copyright world is a change of a mere ten percent.)

And, like Kat, I had a lot of upset and worry invested, and as with her, it was EATING ME ALIVE! I had to begin letting go of that before it took over my soul. So, several years ago, in the midst of all of the anger, I hacked, weeded and dug my way out of that bad place by putting in a huge, corner garden at our former house on Maid Marian. (Katwise's house is just incredibly colorful - take a look.) Just before we moved last year from our lovely home of 12 years, we were all sitting on the front deck my husband had built in the center of what I began calling "my hard-years garden," and Ethan says, "Wow, Mom. Look what a beautiful place you made out of a really bad time." Wow, indeed. The garden worked its magic on me, and then, selling that beautiful home was the icing on the cake for me to make the changes I believed I needed to get to "the other side."

So, after selling, giving away and carting off the stuff that manages to migrate to closets and corners in the span of over a decade in four people's lives, we moved with the things that were my mother's and grandmother's and only the furniture we truly love, away from our four room/three and a half bath, 2800 square foot home on almost half an acre, with my "dream-stream" with a shallow pool and hot tub, to a two room, one and a (thank goodness!) half bath, 1100 square foot apartment on the east end of the University of North Texas Honors Hall, never to look back to the life we'd had in a home that holds my children's hand prints in the plaster we used to cover old, ugly fake wood paneling, the disc swing Ethan spun on for HOURS at a time (and broke his leg on!), the yard filled with huge old trees that provided Nick with enough sticks to make weapons for an entire make-believe army, and the growth chart dug into the frame of the back door to the garage ...

Not surprisingly, we have all been changed by the events of this past year, but the biggest and best changes belong to Ethan; this is truly the best gift we could ever have given him, and we couldn't have done it by ourselves! He has gone from being a trapped young teen in an out-of-the-way neighborhood with no specific destinations, to an amazing, trail-blazing 16-year-old, trekking around the entire campus alone. His first job this summer during his internship at the Office of Disability Accomodation, was to electronically tag all of the buildings and the stadium on UNT's campus so that future electronic braille users can simply download the maps he's made, thereby gaining access to everything here via their electronic note takers. (UNT is only the second university ever to do so; the first was tagged by a good friend, Bob Sweetman, of Sweetman Systems, as part of his Master's project, using federal grant funding.)

Our younger son, Nick, has grown and learned a lot, too. He knows now, a bit more about using his time wisely, hanging out in the lobby with older friends a little (this year), while still being able to finish high school.  :/

Eric and I have grown. And, sometimes it hurt a bit. This has been an incredible year of letting go for both of us — especially, me — and I wouldn't trade it for anything!

As I begin selling out my studio, and moving on to Phase Four, I want to thank everyone who's supported my braille jewelry dream — even those who did it through "the highest form of flattery." May you all continue to propel the exponential dream of greater braille literacy through beautiful things. And may those of you who are new to the blindness community and/or want your beauty served to you, may you continue being amazed by the numbers of people producing what you never imagined even existed — lots of fun, interesting, and beautiful BRAILLE JEWELRY!

Sincere best wishes,
Leslie and the boys

Thursday, May 3, 2012


With under 100 more community members to go before reaching 1000, we're almost to the end of our latest Facebook Community challenge - the Braille Fashion Cheat-Sheet Challenge 1000!

The twist this time (thanks to the suggestion of community member, Kimberly Y. (who's getting a little giftie in the mail) - when the 1000th person signs on, we'll do a random drawing of all community members (though, it may take me a couple of days to figure out how to do it through Facebook). The person whose name is drawn AND the person who referred them (you'll have to tell me) will each win a braille fashion alphabet bracelet (soon to be a rarity) and a sterling silver spin ring! Keep 'em guessing 'til the end, right?!

Speaking of keeping people guessing, I think in my rather emotional writing haste (you, Leslie, really?!) it sounded like I was closing out of everything to do with jewelry, when it's actually only the mass-produced pieces (i.e., the braille fashion alphabet bracelet (as opposed to the solid sterling silver with pearl or gemstone clasp, which I will continue to hand make per order); the silver plated heart pendant; the Faith pendant; and the sterling silver spin ring.

The mass-production and all that entails has always made life more difficult. Any time they feel like it, manufacturers can raise prices, lose, or change jewelry molds, and raise prices - without letting me know beforehand! I kept trying to keep shlogging through all of it thinking/hoping it would settle and/or organizations would take advantage of the discount for ordering larger amounts to use for raising funds. That never really happened, though, so after my last huge order, when the bracelets manufacturer raised the prices and added an interest rate, I decided that was the biggest culprit of my unhappiness and dissatisfaction with the jewelry. So ...

I will continue hand making pieces for people per order, and will always enjoy working with many of the incredibly kind and lovely people I've worked with through the last 11 years; I've got at least another five years or so left in these hands!

New things: Check out this video of the RNIB BrailleKing pocket slate & stylus, which allows you to write as you normally tend to think of braille; left to right, instead of having to braille "backwards." I ordered two dozen from them and am selling them for $25.00. One US catalog company is carrying them for $32.00, but I just think it's so much easier to jot a quick note this way, encouraging others to do so, as well, that I want to sell them as low as possible!

I've also got this new hand poured and finished pewter piece that can be used as shown (a bookmark), a necklace or bracelet for $30.00. I'll have more as soon as I get out from the house hell ; ) we're in with our pending house sale!

Last, I'm in the thick of end-of-year, and retirement pieces that I will get out this week so we can move from the family home we've enjoyed for the past 12 years, and into the Scholar's Apartment in the Honor's Dorm at the Univ. of North Texas for the next two years. With excitement (and I must confess, a bit trepidation on my part) w'll be living with our two teenage boys in a 2/1.5 apt. among some of the brightest kids on the campus, allowing our boys to learn the campus before they even attend college there. It'll be particularly useful for Ethan, our white cane user, to learn to map the campus three years ahead of time, and with his love of languages (he's spouting a little something in over 45, at last count) he'll be able to have conversations with kids from all over the world!

Change is good and we're all excited about this, but I'm quickly (at least, I hope) getting to a time in the next few weeks when I'll be trying to squeeze our belongings into new and tighter spaces, and setting up my studio in a little apartment near our living space. The timing should work fine, though, as June and July are usually not busy months, anyway; bear with me, though, if you would.

Thanks for all of the good wishes and kind thoughts from everyone who wrote to ask me not to close down completely - I appreciate every singe word of every single note; thanks for your patience, too, as I change and grow!

Sincere best,

Leslie and the boys <3

Monday, January 16, 2012

2012 - FREE STUFF!

After only a few hick-ups, our new year has started well; I hope it has for everyone else.

First thing on my jewelry to do list is offer customers something more. So, the big news is - FREE SHIPPING for all orders  over $50.00 and shipped through USPS within the continental US! There have always been shipping cost differences and discrepancies and I'm often spending a lot of time figuring shipping charges before I'm able to add it in and give a total price. Now, no one has to worry about that; it's done!

The next thing on my list is to add more pewter pieces. Soon, I'll have a page simply titled PEWTER where you'll find my most recent pieces, hand made and finished by me, right here in Denton, TX!

Don't let Valentine's Day creep up unexpectedly - it'll be here before you know it! Start clicking through the site, looking for just the right thing for a sweet, special someone. Don't forget to treat yourself, too!

Last, remember there's the ongoing BRAILLE FASHION CHEAT-SHEET CHALLENGE 1000. For the 1000 person who signs on to the Facebook page, as well as the person who refers them, there'll be a free fashion finish alphabet bracelet and sterling silver, "follow your dreams" spin ring!

May your new year be filled with the challenges and happy moments with people and things you love.

Cheers to you all,

Monday, December 19, 2011

Say Goodbye to 2011

I appreciate all of the orders during the holidays, and all of your support throughout the year.

From tonight, Monday, Dec. 19th, through Friday, Dec. 24th, I am able to take (VERY) last minute orders, but they will all have to have expedited/overnight shipping. Please call me if you're not sure whether or not your order will be arriving by Christmas! (USPS is already recommending Express Shipping for all packages if they're to be expected by Christmas.)

I hope you'll all have a wonderful Christmas season, and look to your dreams for fulfillment in 2012!

Happy holidays,
Leslie, Eric, Ethan and Spencer

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy Holidays Here & My 10-Year Salute to Braille's Best!

I probably shouldn't blab it on my own web blog, but, I do often tell people I have no business having a business!

Ten years ago, I flew to Shanghai to propel an order for 2000 (that company's minimum) braille hearts. I had no business 'plan,' and no idea if the hearts I designed for mass-produced would actually sell or if we would just end up with an expensive bunch of Christmas ornaments for our tree the following year.They sold!

It was also ten years ago that my husband and I stumbled (before everyone had a home computer) on a braille literacy conference being held in Philadelphia; definitely meaningful to have it in Freedom City - it was certainly where our own braille freedom was born!

Eric and I flew to Philly, leaving our two little boys with a university student the boys knew from the child care lab. Tucked into my purse was a little piece of paper I'd been wagging around for a couple of months; on it, I'd drawn a heart design with the word 'love' in braille amidst some lovely swashes culled from 17th century bookplates from one of Eric's old letter press books. I showed the drawing to a few people that weekend, and they were all encouraging me to continue pursuing the braille jewelry dream, as well as the dream of crossing over the bridge to braille with Ethan, who was four at the time. We couldn't imagine letting him go off into real braille literacy without us, any more than letting him go away to school!

That conference was an incredible turning point in our lives, and I couldn't be more proud to be able to help out the amazing people who pull this conference together every two years on a limited budget, by donating my time making the 'keys to knowledge'.

Over the net few days (and nights) I'll be casting 300 flying book-keys with the phrase "key to knowledge," and will be hanging them from book hooks, key rings and lovely, rich, deep-turquoise satin ribbon for tree ornaments.

Whew! Hopefully, that will leave me enough time to make (with help from my new high school pal/bff, Sally - thank you, dear : ) lots of fun pieces to take with me to exhibit at the Getting In Touch With Literacy conference next week.

I hope you'll be able to take some time to check out GITWL's site. At their conference you'll learn all kinds of things about braille literacy, contracted braille and where that's going with new global braille codes, as well as meeting lots and lots of wonderfully nice, talented, underpaid braille divas! (It's for the fun; they do it for the laugh's, right?!) And my favorite - meeting 'new' parents. <3

I hope you'll have a wonderful, family-and-love-filled holiday, everyone. Remember to call me if you want to place a special order, but keep in mind my little side trip to Louisville for GITWL, Dec. 7-10. Otherwise, I'll see you on the flip side of the calendar!

Cheers and best wishes,
Leslie, Eric, Ethan and Spencer

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Making it Work!

Mid-September appears to have marked the beginning of one of the busiest Fall seasons I've ever been through. Beginning with an amazing, dream-like Teen Design Fair in Washington DC, co-sponsored by the FIrst Lady, where I was invited to join the 2011 Smithsonian/Cooper-Hewitt Design Award winners for a morning Q & A at the Nationl Portrait Gallery with over 400 area teens interested in design careers, followed by a fantastic four-course meal at the White House...

with First Lady, Michelle Obama. That day just could not have been better; incredible food and an inspiring speech by Mrs. Obama were topped by a delightful dollop of  lunch time companionship with several entertaining people, among them...
lucky me; seated at the same, design darling and educator, Tim Gunn, who is genuinely kind and incredibly focused, as you might expect!

The days' festivities culmintated with the nicest young man - one of about 20 students chosen to join us at the White House, and seated at our table - gallantly offering me his arm as we took the long staircase down to the sidewalk in front of the WH. (In a rther dancer-like way, he barely  moved his arm, but it was enough that I noticed and couldn't mistake the gesture. I told him, that was it for me and that magical day; I'd simply have to call my terrific husband and ask for a divorce! He just smiled and said, "Oh, sure, Ms. Leslie." (My own two teenage boys shall learn from this graceful, handsome young man, and believe me, I've recounted this portion of the story many times!)

I'm winding up this week with a visit to the Dallas Museum of Art for a family art demonstration, showing young kids and their families how I make some of my braille pieces, different ways they can make their own art incorporating braille if they'd like to, and ultmately, how art I view at museums and in architecture influences what I make and the way I think about what  do.
Likely most of the designers, along with me and Tim Gunn, told the hundreds of teens at the Design Fair in DC, design is all around us, toucing, influencing us every moment of every day; most people just don't realize it! Art is there, too, in such open, free spaces as Dallas' Northpark Center (thanks to Ray Nasher) and outdoor sculpture, as well as museums and galleries.

Next piece (despite my inability to control and manipulate time, I'm determined!) based on this magnificent number displayed at the Renwick - one of my favorite small DC galleries. Perhaps one day I'll make a baille piece large enough to be hung in someone's gallery!
Enjoy the Fall days, everyone, and remember continue referring people to join us here and on the Facebook At First Sight Braille Jewelry page for the BRAILLE CHEAT-SHEET CHALLENGE 1000, where the 1000 person to join our FB AFS community, as well as the person who referred them, will both receive a braille fashion alphabet bracelet and (added for this special mark) a sterling silver "follow your dreams" braille spin ring!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sale Ending & Phase III, High School !

Like many other kids, our boys went back to school this week with relatively few glitches. Nothing like some kids in Virginia, who had a real reality check Tuesday, when the 5.8 earthquake hit the Northeast! Our biggest problems weren't bricks falling on our heads; only felt like that a bit when we heard Ethan won't have his braille copies of textbooks until three weeks after classes start, and his Apex (braille notetaker) took longer in repair in Canada, hey, so he started school with only his netbook. Could be worse.

Though, not as dramatic a start as the Virginia kids, Ethan was off Monday, to his first year of high school, and so far, it's been a pretty good beginning. He's already met a new friend in Latin, and lots of kids are participating in what many blindness community folks like to refer to as, "the parting of the Red Sea," when he's coming down the hallway. He told us tonight at dinner how funny it is when he can hear people in the hall saying, "Look out, the blind kid's coming!" Of course, we've now encouraged him (I'll up the anty by putting $$$ on it) to shout, "Oh, my gosh, there's a blind guy?! Where?" Keep on laughing, right...

Speaking of laughter, could ours be heard all around the country, as we walked last night, laughing about the Christmas decorations a few people have started putting up around here in our 3-digit weather? Some people's humor - sheesh! ;-D

With all of these new beginnings going on around us all, the hotter-than-&*%% temperatures in Texas, and new, special pewter pieces to start working on for an upcoming winter conference and Dialog-in-the-Dark museum exhibit, I'll be ending the alphabet bracelet sale at the end of August, but starting a new challenge: The Facebook At First Sight page Braille Fashion Cheat-Sheet Challenge 1000! The goal is to get 1000 people in that social network community, so tell your friends and tell them to tell their friends, because the 1000th person - as well as the person who referred them - will both win an expandable braille alphabet bracelet and a spin ring! So, go on, now - exponentiate!

My sincerest best wishes to everyone for a refreshing Fall~

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dog Days Sale and New Pewter Pieces

I've been running around the yard this last month, chasing my tail and trying to keep everything from dying - alas, it looks like I've lost three new trees; there's been NO RAIN! :-(

But, in light of my somewhat futile attempts to save plant lives, I've decided this is the perfect time to have...

A SALE! So, 10 percent off everything, and/or 25% off fashion alphabet bracelets!!! (What that means is, sorry, there's not an additional 10% off the already 25% off fashion alphabet bracelets.) Hopefully, this let's get something good out of this awful drought, right?! (I'll post a discount a.s.a.p.; until then, just order if you'd like, and I'll give the 10% off of whatever you order, and/or 25% off of the fashion alphabet bracelet after you've purchased.)

Also, if you're interested in any of the 'Dirty Braille,' (I've had a lot of requests for the 'f-bomb') or any of the other pewter pieces, such as the 'Touching Words,' pictured on the blog and FB, just ask. Sad to say, we've been so busy with house painting in 100+ degree temps and planting things that need babying in this heat wave, we've yet to post photos with proper buttons!

As we leave tomorrow to drive Ethan to his three-week NFB-CO Indipendence Initiative program, and Spencer goes next weekend to stay with his Nana and Papa in Hot Springs Village, Eric and I are looking forward to two weeks free of any obligations other than our own! BIZARRE!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Conference Season Starting!

I'm going just down to Dallas for my next conference  - about an hour from here - to the Texas AER teachers and parents conference. It's one long Thursday and a decent Friday of hotel land and gettig to see people I only see once a year. The people attending ad presenting sessions are those wo povide services throughout the state. Some of them are the best of the whole US crop, and I'm anxious to see whatthey've got at te sessions and get caught up on the newest technology from Dan the Man, our Human Ware rep! For those of you with kids who aren't yet using electronic note takers, just wait; your kiddos will be flying with them! Connecting t the Internet, writing papers, downloading and reading books...
there's so much you can do with them. I was hoping Ethan could go Friday, but no luck, he's got state mandated pre testing!

I'm getting a lot more jewelry ready for the second of my Spring/Summer conferences. New, lower priced items with the silver plated cell beads, soldered copper and brass bracelets on leather or chain, a handful of Steampunk Braille and chain maille braille, as well as LOTS of new pewter pins, pendants, bracelets, necklaces and bookmarks. Whew!! There will be a lot of things I can make at the conference soyou can take it when you leave, instead of waiting to haveit mailed. (I swear I wn't forget my tools this conference!)

Heather, from the UNT metals class, has been here a few times and has halped me put together a lovely sterling silver and copper multi-layer locket, and she's chomping at the bit to throw some pieces into the caster for bronze reproduction! (She's just got to get through her final weeks of classs, first!) I'm hoping she and I will be able to get to a lot more fun, creative and inventive ideas during the summer when we're not busy with work.

I've been designing pieces for the five-year-old's graduate classes at the Anchor Center in Denver, a wonderful school providng servces and a social arena for children birth through age five, and two pieces for the Little Rock Foundation, a camp with its headquarters based in Voorhees, New Jersy. There are also pieces in the works for several people retiring or graduating from high shool and college. Casting has allowed me such an amazing outlet, and the people at Reaper Miniatures couldn't be more friendly and easy going, which makes the times I go in to work there much more fun!

I'll see you Texas folks at TAER, and of course, look forward seeing the other exhibitors from out of state - let the braille jewelry throw-down begin! ;-D

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Creations Springing Forth!

There's a lot going on this week! I leave Wednesday for a conference in Seattle sponsored by the American Foundation f/t Blind (AFB), the Washington School f/t Blind and the National Association of Parents of Children who are Visually Impaired (NAPVI). This is a first time conference that coincides with a conference I've been going to for 10 years in California. There were a couple of reasons I chose to go to this new conference instead of one I've loved attending for so long, the main one being a freind with AFB, Scott Truax, expected this conference to be a real first time success for everyone - let's hope so! Another big reason is the other parents I hope to see in the Pacific Northwest who I've been corrosponding with for years, but have never met; finally, a chance to meet some of them, as well as the professionals in the area who aren't often able to get to the California conference.
 I've been making all kinds of new things - and some of the standards - for the conference, but we've been celebrating around here because I finally have gotten some new designs cast in pewter, and gotten the hang of a cople of techniques that I'd just not really run with. I'm able to make my own designs, organization logos, most anything, and for the first time - quite easily!

There has been a somewhat unknown jewelry product available to people in the craft arena for years. It's called metal clay, and for those of you who do art/craft work, it's worked and sculpted a bit like polymer clay. Metal clays, however, are fired several different ways - I use a kiln or a torch - and when it is, everything burns out of it (rather magically) leaving only the desired metal shape. The "always friends" pendant is made from silver metal clay, which becomes fine silver (.999%) silver after it's fired.I earned Level One teaching certification in 2005, and have played and taught a bit with the silver since then, but the work most people wanted from me seemed to be pieces made with the individual cell tiles I designed for the alphabet bracelet. So, I inadvertently got passed by as newer, more easily worked - and by far, cheaper - clays became available in copper, bronze, steel and even glass. I'm determined to play catch-up, and have begun working with a couple of University of North Texas metals students who are brainstorming - a HUGE ingredient for creativity - with me and my witty, comm design prof. husband, who never fails to have witty, direct word play ideas I can bounce ideas off!

We have had the best time the last couple of months, and frankly, most of it in the last couple of weeks. Some of the ideas won't be on display at this week's conference, but will be at the following, Texas Association of Educators and Rehabilitators (AER) conference, slightly more than a week after this one ends.

I'll have lots of new pieces cast from pewter or bronze (Heather, one of my UNT student cohorts) loves bronze casting, so I'm taking her up on it - then, she can give me pointers! And, there'll also be pieces in bronze and silver clay, and hopefully some in the newest for me - steel!

With all of these new pieces and ideas, also comes greater potential for others in the jewelry arena to see how well braille jewelry is received in the blind and sighted communities. Though the numbers of people making braille jewelry and selling it primarily through such hand made arts and crafts sites as Etsy, were a surprise to me, and honestly, knocked the wind out of my lungs a couple of times, most of the people putting braille on anything from rings to hair pins, have fallen under braille's aesthetic spell, and several have come by it through family members who are blind, or were/are braille transcribers - who we adore! My hope is this new generation of braille jewelry makers will continue to ennovate, rather than emulate, and strive to make good braille jewelr; and even - dare I dare them...learn to read and write braille.

I've posted photos of some of the newest pieces, but they won't be available for purchase until about a week after I get back from this week's conference. That gives Mr. Creative (my husband,Eric) time to get the photos and buttons onto the web site!
Last, there's an entirely different air of excitement as Ethan finishes up his last year of middle school, poised for his first year of high school - taking Latin, AP classes, and Band - that truly does seem to have come out of nowhere so suddenly, it takes my breath away. With the rush of images from high school, college, and life on his own flying through my imagination, the words of a wonderful, wise friend and mentor, Patti at The Hatlan Center in CA, come to me now, as I feel myself being pulled toward the Type A mentality I have a propensity for: "What if Ethan does live for a year here; what would that hurt? It doesn't mean you did less than you should have, does it?"

Here's to Spencer, who put it so well I'm determined to get it on a piece of jewelry said, "Kids; they blow up so fast!"

Happy Springing Everyone!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A wonderful news story about my jewelry.

Last night, our local ABC affiliate (WFAA) ran a piece about braille literacy and my jewelry. (Clicking the image will take you to the video.) They did a really terrific job with the story! (I've written to see if I can post a link to the video, but no answer yet. I'll keep you posted.) And this morning I heard from a dear friend who saw the same story on her local ABC affiliate in California! I am so appreciative of the notice and the well wishes that keep coming my way. Thank you.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Another birth!

Here's the video my husband, Eric, has produced for application to a juried, international design competition. It's his first and I think he did a wonderful editing job, with help (thanks, Keith).
One of the competition jurors had kindly extended an invitation for me to apply with my alphabet bracelet design, but I couldn't because I've been in business for just over 10 years - their criteria states no more than five. BrailleInk makes it in just before the bell!

I'm as proud of this format as I am of the alphabet bracelet because it grew out of our own frustrations and trials with Ethan in the early reading days...

I remember lying on the floor next to four-year-old, Ethan, reading one of his favorite books, Fuzzy Bear with the fuzzy fake fur jacket. He was doing such a great job of touching the pages 'reading' the dots, as we read aloud together, I didn't want to stop and ask him to move his fingers because I was having such a hard time reading the braille or the print!

We got through that evening's reading, but there were many more times when even his little hands covered the braille we were all just learning, as well as the print that would help me help him with words or letters he hadn't yet learned.

If you've had this situation in your family, you might want to take a look at the video and then at BrailleInk's web site,, and check out the two books currently in publication.

With a monetary award like this one, they could actually get the presses up and running again - keep dreaming!

(A note to my friend, Elizabeth: thank goodness this is the only birthing going on around here. Half of us are too young; the other half too old!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Beginnings

Things are really changing fast around here. Our boys are getting older and even a little wiser (discounting Spencer's decision to go completely into the creek today on the last day of break) and I'm getting settled into my new, larger studio space, really trying to make useful choices instead of just making do with things I've had and/or added over the years in a hodgepodge fashion. (I can't believe all of the waste there was around me before; yikes!)

I'll be traveling to Ruidoso, NM this week to work with another silversmith who will be casting the sterling cell tiles. It's going to be wonderful having them cast Stateside, instead of overseas, and I'll have more input, and control, as well as the benefit of input from another metal worker, which is never a bad thing. I'm also hoping  to start casting my own designs - new and old - in pewter. Very exciting! I'll be learning to work with another metal, and have opportunities for making smaller run productions of various designs. That means even more variety, and lower prices! (The pewter heart with decorative bail is $10.00.) Often, though, I have plans to do new things and keep the wheels turning, but seem to be thwarted by the stuff of life (i.e., kids, housework, dance classes) that I don't get to the other side of the planning, so wish me well on this one, would you?!

There are a couple of new articles around -Flaunt Magazine (if anyone can even find a copy of it) and Southern Lady - about my braille jewelry and why I make it, as well as an upcoming news segment; I'll try to post these as soon as they're available to me. Hopefully, these will all go further toward propelling the braille literacy agenda. (Though, some of us are still hoping for A and B to adopt a child who's blind or v.i.!) ;-D

Let's all get going this new year in the directions we want to go in, with personal goals held high and dry, unforgotten, and braille literacy in mind!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I had so many people comment about the "new" version of the alphabet bracelet while the Christmas special was up (I've had this style for about five years) that I've decided to leave this photo front and center for a while longer!
I do carry this solid sterling version of the alphabet bracelet - the one I wear almost every day - with the luminescent pearl clasp, encircled by granulation dots of silver to mimic the braille. I also have other gemstone clasps available in place of the pearl. Simply and timelessly beautiful!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

FastCompany Magazine

Robert Safian, the editor of FastCompany Magazine, sat next to me during the National Design Award Gala in October. He was warm and humorous, with a good ear for overly-excited moms who don't get out much. Listening more attentively than I imagined that night, I told him about the sadly dwindling numbers of braille readers over the last 50 years; I even taught him "60-second elevator braille," which, even amidst the melee of that crowded, beautiful hall, he got - just under the wire!

He's generously focused this month's Letter from the Editor on the reason for my having designed and made braille jewelry, trying to please as many tastes as possible, over the last 10 years. It's not about jewelry; it's not even about Ethan. It's about literacy...
which leads to independence and freedom we all want for ourselves and our family.

Thank you very much, Bob, for your attention and interest!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Celebrate with Us !

You can have your very own People's Design Award-winning Braille Alphabet Bracelet. They make great Christmas gifts for family and friends (or for you own stocking!). And it is a gift that gives back to support non-profit organizations that support Braille literacy. What could be better than that?
To order, just click the link below. You'll be asked to specify the finish (shiny or brushed silver) and size (7", 7.5", or 8.25") when ordering.