Huntingburg native creates one-of-a-kind jewelry



Susan "Goose" Tretter Zimmerman has always been a crafty person, even when she was a kid growing up in Huntingburg.

“I frequently saw something I liked and said, ‘I can make that,’” she recalled. “Then family and friends benefitted from my results.”

She dabbled in sewing, quilting, painting, wreath making, and many other crafts before discovering jewelry making.

Goose is now an artisan in Phoenix and owner of The Gifted Goose. She specializes in creating unique jewelry pieces using sterling silver or copper. “Much of my copper is recycled from my Indiana family,” she said. Along with jewelry, she has made bookends, barrettes, bookmarks and even boot anklets.

All of Goose’s jewelry is handcrafted, so no two pieces are exactly alike. “I start with either sheet metal or wire in sterling silver or copper,” she said. “Each step is done by hand. I cut, shape, file, texture, solder, oxidize, polish and seal my creations all by hand.”

The name of her shop comes from her nickname, which was given to her by a family member.

“My Uncle Archie, who gave everyone nicknames, gave me my name as a youngster. And it stuck,” Goose said. “Many friends don't even know my given name. I always got a kick out of my kids explaining to their friends that my name was Goose.”

Born and raised in Huntingburg, Goose left to attend St. Louis University and earned a physical therapy degree there. She worked in St. Louis for seven years and then moved to Hawaii. There, she met her husband, Jeff.

“I would take over the kitchen table when I came home for Christmas from Hawaii so that I could finish up my gifts,” Goose recalled. “My Dad dubbed me the Craft Queen.”

She lived in Hawaii for 10 years before moving to Phoenix in 1997 with Jeff. They now have three children: Quinn and Kai, who are both 20, and Kiera, 16. They also have a 9-month-old Australian shepherd/poodle/labradoodle named Zeus.

Goose was a physical therapist for 18 years, and then decided to become a stay-at-home mom. She started making jewelry about nine years ago.

“Physical therapy was my paying job, and crafting was my fun escape,” Goose said. “My jewelry making really took off in Arizona after discovering Creative U; I was fortunate to learn many techniques from some very talented artisans.”

Goose likes the rustic look and frequently gives sterling silver pieces a textured, oxidized or matte finish. She has now discovered flame painting on copper, which she enjoys doing as well.

“This is very fun, and I never know how it will turn out,” she said. “Surprisingly, the weather — primarily temperature and humidity — affects the results. So definitely no two pieces are alike.”

She also enjoys pairing earrings with pendants for a coordinating look, “but not too matchy-match,” she said. And she makes pendants reversible when possible.

“This came about after I saw a pendant of mine being worn ‘backwards’ from how I had pictured and created it, and it looked great,” she said.

Customers can customize pieces. They choose the piece’s size, metal and finish — from shiny, matte, textured, oxidized, or flame-painted finish — and the length of the chain or leather/suede cord for a pendant. Goose has also created custom pieces from people's ideas.

“One of my sisters likes to give me an idea she has in mind. We send pictures back and forth with me tweaking the piece until it matches her idea,” Goose said. “Those are fun projects that I enjoy.”

The Gifted Goose jewelry can be found at Firefly Boutique in Huntingburg and at Traditional Arts Today in Ferdinand. She does shows in the Phoenix area and has a shop online through Etsy, accessible via Currently she is working on Christmas orders, and is offering free shipping on all domestic orders through the end of 2020, “as my small way of helping others during this pandemic.”

Making jewelry is still a fun escape for Goose.

“It keeps me busy and feeds my creativity,” she said. “I still enjoy other types of crafting but jewelry is my favorite. And I love hearing how much someone enjoys wearing or gifting my creations; it is very satisfying.”

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