- Associated Press - Sunday, July 23, 2017

BEATRICE, Neb. (AP) - If you go to Theresa Hauser’s home, you’ll notice she likes bottles. She really likes bottles.

There are shelves full of bottles by the front door and bottles with candles by the sink. There are even bottles hanging from the ceiling, and it is all a part of Hauser’s new business.

Hauser makes wind chimes with fishing lures and bottles. Spoons, crankbaits and spinners, all flowing gracefully down a hand-bent length of copper wiring.

Now, Hauser is refining her recently-patented design_she has a provisional patent right now, and she’s working toward getting the finalized design patent in about a year. She hopes it might solve a problem that a lot of women face: men who are difficult to shop for.

“I thought it’s really sad that men—they develop such a good relationship with these intimate little pieces—that it’s a shame that they have to keep them in boxes, tucked in a hole, maybe to be seen once or twice a year,” Hauser said. “I thought it would be really nice to make something that they could use to display these with.”

A few months ago, she picked up a couple of vintage fishing bobbers at an antique store that look like a giant red and white toothpick. They’re hard to display, and so are fishing lures. Tackle boxes were made for a reason, but they don’t show off the artistry that went into hand-making the old fishing supplies, Hauser said.

With that in mind, she tried her hand at cutting bottles. It didn’t go so well, she said. After spending a half hour getting the perfect cut on the bottom of a bottle, there’d be a hairline crack that splintered up the side as soon as she started sanding the sharp edges.

She got better at it, she said, but she’s recently started buying pre-cut bottles which help eliminate some of the headaches.

In the basement of her apartment building, she has a workshop where she’ll bend metal and craft each wind chime.

Hauser’s new wind chime business has become therapeutic for her. It’s an outlet, she said, that came when she needed it most.

After getting married and moving to Beatrice late last year, Hauser found herself forced out of her home after only a month.

The Beatrice Daily Sun (https://bit.ly/2u2PYEt ) reports that for 47 years, she’d never married, she said, but when she finally did, it ended abruptly. She was newly divorced and nearly homeless: she had only her car, her clothes and her dogs, she said.

“I had sacrificed a lot of stuff,” Hauser said. “I had given up a farm and acreage in Firth to be with my husband. I had no place to go, I had to sell my cattle.”

That’s when her current landlord, Ron Hasley, offered Hauser her current apartment. It was furnished, plus Hasley let her bring the dogs, and it had a space in the basement that Hasley said she was free to use.

The months following her divorce was a dark time, Hauser said. She was depressed, and she needed something to keep herself occupied. That’s when she went down to the basement.

She started painting boxes. It was something to do and it was a creative outlet. Plus, the dogs really like sleeping on the rug down there, so she had company. Then she gave bottles a try. She painted an old wine bottle and hung it from a length of copper.

It was pretty, but something was missing. That’s when she found the vintage fishing bobbers in an antique shop.

“I felt kind of like those bobbers,” she said. “Kind of discarded, forgotten about. Left alone. I thought, this is a shame, they still have so much to offer.”

She cut her first bottle, strung the bobber up, and really liked the way it looked. She tried the next one with a spoon lure her father-in-law had given her. It turned out really well, she said.

She started buying up lures and asking around to see if anyone had some they wouldn’t mind parting with.

She took a whole bunch of them to the flea market and people really seemed to like them. They’d never seen anything like them, she said. That’s when she got the idea to apply for a patent.

The patent company she’s working with is currently taking her wind chimes to retailers and manufacturers to see if she can get wider distribution on them in the future, she said.

While seeing them in Bass Pro Shops or Cabela’s sometime down the road would be a dream, she said, she’s got her hands full right now with orders from co-workers at the Beatrice State Developmental Center, where she works as a job coach.

“It’s still such a new baby for me that I’m still kind of coddling it,” she said. “I don’t want to let go of it. I’m still in the stage where I’m nurturing it and I need the chimes. They’re still my therapy.”

The trunk of her Dodge Challenger is packed full with boxes of carefully-wrapped wind chimes. She’s down to just a handful of the 50 or so she recently made. Business is picking up, and, while that’s a good thing, she said, she’s happy to be surrounded by things she loves.

She picked up a bottle from next to the door, tipped it sideways to get a better view of the angles and nodded approvingly.

“Maybe I have a thing for bottles,” she said. “I don’t know.”


Information from: Beatrice Sun, https://www.beatricedailysun.com

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