Welcome to my website. I started turning wood in Dec. 1990. Since I had to support myself and a couple of kids, the first 8 years I did mostly architectural turning; porch and stair spindles, etc. for contractors and turning chair spindles, table legs, etc. for antique dealers. Before learning how to turn wood, I was a seamstress and along with sewing custom clothing and wedding gowns I did artistic fabric wall hangings with fabrics; then opened a small fabric shop. After selling that shop, a friend, Annette, and I opened an antique shop in her barn. We built a small shelter for her miniature goat and pot-belly pig, insulated the small barn and opened the shop. That was when I learned spindle turning and caning chair seats.
I can relate to my customers that sell their artwork. I understand creating, producing, marketing and sitting for 2 to 4 days in a booth at a craft fair trying to make a living; which only half worked so, in addition, I waitressed 4 days a week.
When I started doing artistic turning, in Feb. 2005, Tina LeCoff at "The Center for Art in Wood" commissioned me to make two dozen bottle stoppers for a gift shop they were starting in the museum. At that time the only style available for woodturners were the long chrome-plated style shown below. I made two and definitely did not care for the style nor the quality. Not having metal rods to work with, I put one of those chrome stoppers on my son's metal lathe, cut it down to a shape I liked. The first picture below shows the shaping cuts of the chrome stopper where I removed most of the height and before I shortened and softly rounded the nose.
The new design allowed my artwork to sit close to the top of the bottle where I felt it looked so much more comfortable. I took that cut-down chrome stopper to a small machine shop in town and asked about having them made; they were not interested and it took me 3 or 4 weeks to get them to give me a price....they figured it was a waste of their time! I got a lot of different brands of empty bottles (wine, liquor, oil) from the local recycling center and perfected the shape so it fit the vast majority of the bottles. I ordered 100 pieces for my own use. I was pleased with the results, everything was in proportion and I had so many more design possibilities with the lower profile stainless bottom.
Woodturning friends saw the stoppers and wanted them, they showed their friends and club members and thus was created the SS Niles Bottle Stoppers! I presented them at a woodturning symposium in Gainsville, GA. in April, 2005 and started selling to the public on my website in July, 2005.
A patent was applied for by the former manufacturer 2 years later on April 12, 2007 and granted Aug. 26, 2008: patent D575,639.
Glass blowers and fused glass workers found my website and asked about stoppers compatible with glass. I told them I was a woodturner, I knew nothing about glass but if they told me what they needed, it could be made. Next stone workers, bead workers, porcelain, door knobs, granite and lava rocks. Each dictated what they wanted or needed so the stoppers for that particular craft were designed by the artists themselves. I also needed to find a larger, more professional machine shop to handle the orders. I have sold over 300,000 stoppers since offering them to the public in 2005.
my original #301 design I replicated the taper cone shape of the chrome plated stoppers because I was only going to fill the commissioned order, I didn't want to be in the bottle stopper business. Silly me! A number of customers called saying the stoppers didn't fit some bottles and I started really looking at my stopper design for ways to improve it. The inside of bottles don't taper so with the tapered stopper shape, only 1 o-ring made contact. In a lot of bottles it sealed very nicely but I wanted it to seal more bottles and seal better. I knew the cork shape was the best way to go but my stoppers were selling so well that I kept putting off a new design.
As always happens in the manufacturing world, others decided to do knock-offs and copies of my stoppers so it was time to seriously design the best stopper possible. That's when I designed the 9000 stainless steel CORK, there is a patent pending on 3 design variations and it has become very popular with all of my customers. The 4 o-rings allow it to have a super fit in all wine bottles, both cork and screw-top, and a number of liquor bottles. Rockler Woodworking was the first to describe them as having a "friction fit" and they said their customers love the new improved Niles bottle stopper!
One of my customers who is a glass blower designed an exclusive stopper for PAU Vodka in Hawaii and we designed a custom cork-style stainless steel stopper for PAU's top-shelve brand. Another customer who does high-end jewelry was commissioned by Baccarat Glass to create a solid gold and sterling silver lion structure for the top of a stopper for their decanter. Baccarat loved our stainless cork style. Guess the cork shape is a winner!
All my products are Made in America! I firmly believe we should keep OUR economy in OUR country. In the beginning, as the orders increased I knew I needed to find a top-quality machine shop and a friend who designs lathes and lathe accessories introduced me to Precision Crafted Products in MO. Their attention to detail, fine quality machining and extra care in packing was impressive; they make all my stoppers and mandrels. My stoppers are made from FDA 304 grade stainless, they have been tested and I make sure I have all the mill certs to back that up because if I say they are "304", they darn well better be! Please beware of knock-offs that look like my stoppers (and mandrels)... if they don't say Niles, they are not the same top quality as mine.
This was an "accidental" business, I just needed to fill one order for 2 dozen finished bottle stoppers! I never dreamed so many artists wanted or needed a quality stainless steel bottle stopper for their artwork.
Today I still sell my woodturning work through artisan galleries so I am not just a supplier, I use my products and sell to the public. I support and promote my customers' work on the Artists' Gallery page where I put links to their websites or where their work can be purchased. I enjoy and am proud to have their work displayed.
I hope you enjoy my website.
If you have any comments or suggestions,
please do not hesitate to contact me.