Tuesday, May 25, 2010

You Call this Retiring?

I have always wondered what I would do when I retire.  After working at a corporate job for many years, the idea of not having my life ruled by the clock and deadlines just seems so appealing -- and so unattainable! LOL.  But Jan and Don, a husband and wife team from Ontario, California, showed me that it is possible to retire from the rat race and live the kind of life I dream of.

Jan and Don are behind the Artfire shop On Pens and Needles.  Their shop carries beautiful handmade pens, wooden jewelry and embroidered and sewn items - Don is the artisan behind the pens and wooden jewelry while Jan puts her sewing and embroidery talents to good use by whipping out lovely items from colorful fabric. 

Upon his retirement from the navy, Don took up working with a scroll saw and during one of the regular meetings held by the local scroll saw club of which he is a member, he saw a demo on pen making and tried his hand at it.  Four years later, Don is still making pens and he has never enjoyed himself more.  His skill in woodworking has earned him a few prizes and awards, among them a 1st Place Blue Ribbon and Judges Award of Merit during the Los Angeles Country Fair for his piece "Rose Window of the Notre Dame Cathedral", a beautiful piece showing intricate and precise woodcuts that are so detailed they look like lace.

Jan, the other half of the team, retired from her nursing career a few years ago and as she was no stranger to the needle and thread (she had made her own clothes when she was younger as well as clothes for their two daughters when they were little), purchasing an embroidery machine and the software to digitize and edit designs seemed like a logical step to take.

These two are obviously not the kind to just sit and let their retirement years pass by.  Jan and Don thought it would be a good idea to turn their little hobbies into a small venture that not only allowed them to indulge their creative streak but earn them a little money.  After getting their feet wet selling at small local craft shows and doing the Christmas craft fair round in their area, they ventured into online selling to reach a wider market -- On Pens and Needles was born.

Browsing through their shop you will find well made items that reflect the meticulous attention to fine detail that Don likes to put in his work (his pens are something to see!) and you will be cheered by the colorful (and practical!) creations that Jan designs and makes. Don's wooden pendants reflect the same kind of quality work and skill seen on the workmanship of his pens. Oh - did I forget to mention that he makes these great wooden toys too?

Jan's baby items are adorable -- her flannel washcloths are a riot of pattern and color.

Jan does custom orders for baby blankets as well and says that she enjoys the process of matching up color and pattern to come up with a one-of-a-kind design for that one-of-a-kind angel.

 Always the brave one to try new media, Jan has also ventured into the world of scrapbooking and their shop features some of the scrapbook embellishments she has made by hand.

The shop has been running for over a year now but Don and Jan say that they are enjoying the experience and have never felt younger!  They hope to expand their presence online in the next few years and to participate in larger craft shows in their area.  If you want to see Jan and Don and their great handmade pieces in person, they will be at the Changing Seasons Craft Show, the Crafts Unlimited Craft Show, the Orange Grove Festival and the Ontario Marketplace in June. 

Hmmmm - if my retirement years will be anything like what these two have, I think I'll go check out our company's early retirement package! LOL

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