DECATUR, Ill. — In front of her, as Melanie Fisher sat back on her heels on her living room floor, was a slotted, rectangular tray, an array of colored beads semiscattered on the floor between her and the tray.
"The color, the size, that varies depending on what I'm doing," she said, aligning the beads in a blue-green color pattern, getting them ready to string.
"The tray tells her how long the collar will be," said her mother, Suzanne Craycroft.
Fisher, 39, is yet again creating another piece of "bling" for some unknown pet, the specialty collars something she has been making for about four years.
"I find this to be kind of relaxing," said Fisher, not worried whether the creation will sell.
Fisher doesn't get behind the wheel, but in the meantime, she said, "I drive a two-wheeled pink 'Cadillac.' At least I don't have to put any gas in it, and it's good exercise."
"I thought (making the collars) would be good to keep her busy," Craycroft said.
A selection of Fisher's creations is displayed for purchase at Brush College Animal Hospital. Fisher sometimes switches the designs out by the seasons, like using bead colors specific for Easter and Christmas, said Dina Rock, office manager at the animal hospital.
But Fisher also makes them based upon orders, and prices vary by beads and collar length. "I had a doctor's wife who ordered three or four different ones, and my Mom's neighbors and some other special ones," she said.
She'll even create matching bracelet and collar for owner and pet. "I've made my mom and my stepdad key chains," she added, and has tried other variations of beading.
She started out with collars which had a clasp and were also made of crystals but changed her mind. The crystals made the collars more expensive, and Fisher was worried a clasp fastener might be a safety issue for either cat or dog. The stretchy cord collar will easily remove, she said.
Fisher said she does this because animals are a "lifelong passion. Yes, I love animals. My mom started me and my brother real early to treat animals with respect."
Craycroft said she had been active in helping initiate Homeward Bound Pet Shelter and hopes to return to volunteering there with her daughter sometime soon.
"I hope I get to work with the cats," Fisher said. "That's probably what I would want to do. If they need (me) to clean the pens, whatever, that's what I'll do."
Information from: Herald & Review, http://www.herald-review.com