Friday, December 11, 2009

Lotus Blossom in progress

This is a quick photo of another Lotus Blossom cuff bracelet that is currently on my work table. Unlike the first version which was in shades of black & grey, this one is in luminous sunset (or sunrise) colors of pale reds, oranges, and yellows. All of the coloration was done with successive layers of dyes which are translucent and absorb into the leather which gives this lotus beautiful depth that is hard to capture in the photograph.

It hasn't quite been completed yet as you can see, but it should be done soon for placement in my Etsy shop.

Prints now available

I now have a few matted prints available in my Etsy shop, just in time for the holiday season. A few more should be added soon.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Featured Artisans: JungleTribe

In addition to highlighting my own art & craft, I'd also like this blog to be a place to draw attention to other artisans whose work has inspired and influenced me. I plan to especially focus on fellow leatherworkers because 1) leathercraft has become one of my profound joys and 2) it doesn't seem to get nearly enough attention in comparison to other contemporary crafts and artforms.

As my first feature, I'd like to introduce you to the wonderful work of the two nomadic twin brothers, Beau & Dust, of JungleTribe. I'm particularly fond of their Steampunk Militia series of hip bags which feature cabochons of turquoise, brass filigree, and skeleton keys along with their signature use of layers and hardware as design elements. This elegant yet industrial aesthetic is continued in a line of cuff bracelets which they offer in collaboration with RockLove Jewelry.
Being versatile in style, they also create pieces with an edgier, darker and more thickly textured feel under the title of Galactic Gothic Graveyard. Their collective talent isn't limited to leatherwork though, they also make jewelry. To see more of their amazing work, head over to their Etsy shop.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Little Finch • Necklace with Leather, Silk, & Sterling Silver

This little songbird was inspired by the House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) who came to nest in a tree which I can see from the window by my desk at work. I saw them for months darting into and out of the Arborvitae and posing to sing on its branches. I always enjoyed their visits. Although they are native to the US, House Finches were only introduced to the northeastern region where I live in the 1940s, but they have naturalized well and are now very common.

This little finch hangs asymmetrically from a sky blue silk cord strung with beads in colors to compliment his feathers: primarily various shades of warm grey and brown, scarlet red, and black. These beads include labradorite briolettes with brilliant blue flash, freshwater pearls, and glittering swarovski crystals. The necklace closes with a delicate, handmade hook closure of sterling silver.

The House Finch is handcrafted of vegetable-tanned leather which has been carved and tooled into a low-relief sculpture. He was then dyed and painted with acrylics to highlight his plumage, and he has been signed by the artist on the reverse. He's been sealed with a protective coating to help ensure that he sings to you for a long time to come, however, he is not suited to bird baths so do keep him nice and dry.

measurements • necklace is approximately 26"(66cm) long; finch pendant is about 2.5" wide and 2.25" high at its broadest points
materials • hand-carved & painted leather finch; silk cord; sterling silver clasp; labradorite briolettes; freshwater pearls; swarovski crystals; glass beads

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

La Catrina · Leather, Sterling Silver Necklace

Catrina is a representation of Lady Death at her most elegant. Originally depicted in a 1913 etching by Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, she has become an icon and an archetype.

Her face is adorned with designs similar to those found on sugar skulls which are given to both the living and the dead in celebration of the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday. A six-pointed star sits at her crown, a shining anatomical heart floats before her chest, and she is flanked with the outspread wings of a bird of prey. La Catrina hangs delicately from a series of faceted, jet black, glass beads reminiscent of a rosary which are then attached to lengths of soft suede lace. The necklace closes with a handmade hook clasp adorned with the same glass beads.

The main pendant was was hand carved and tooled from vegetable-tanned leather and then dyed and painted. Her eyes and heart have a high gloss finish so they glisten in the light. The front of the pendant is sealed with an acrylic coating to ensure that it stays vibrant for a long time to come, but please keep it dry and out of prolonged exposure to direct sunlight to ensure its longevity. It is signed by the artist on the reverse.

measurements • necklace is about 21"(53.3cm) in length; pendant is approximately 3.5"(8.4cm) wide by 3"(7.6cm) long at its broadest points
materials • hand-carved & painted leather, sterling silver wire, glass beads

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Art & Jewelry at the Riegelsville Gallery

These two bracelets along with two sets of earrings, two matted prints and several postcards of my art are now available through the Riegelsville Gallery & Tattoo Shop. They host a nice selection of other items including jewelry, leather craft, glass, and paintings by additional local artisans, and of course if you're interested in some quality ink I'm sure they'd be happy to assist.

They do not have a website at the moment, but if you happen to be north easternmost section of Bucks County bordering Northampton, drop by for a visit:

Riegelsville Gallery
671 Easton Road (Route 611)
Riegelsville, PA 18077-7219

Thursday, October 8, 2009

She might appear angelic now....

These are two leather pendants on which I'm currently working. I hope to get them completed for Hallowe'en/Samhain/Dia de los Muertos as they have an elegant chthonian theme (although the pendant in progress on the table has more of a creepy-cute look) in keeping with the holiday. The figure in the central pendant looks benign and angelic now, but I have other plans for her!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Perhaps the best $3.00 I've ever spent

I'd been putting buying off an Edge Slicker for a while. I'm not really sure why, but for some reason whenever I was making an order from Tandy Leather I always considered it but never actually went ahead and bought it. Now I see the error of my ways!

I finally purchased one of these white plastic wheels and it is probably the best $3.00 I've ever spent for my crafty endeavors. It's a basic, little tool but it makes such a difference in giving a much more refined, professional look to my leather creations. It's extremely simple to use: slightly wet the edge of the leather, place it in the groove which runs around the whole of the wheel, and then rapidly move the wheel (or the leather) back and forth to burnish the edge of the leather to smooth, rounded finish. Apparently you can also hook one of these wheels up to a power drill to make this process go even faster, but for the size of my projects that really isn't necessary.

If you happen to work with vegetable-tanned leather (I don't have much experience using it with other types of leather) and don't own this or a similar tool, do yourself a favor and get one!

No Postage Required · Leather, Sterling Silver Earrings

Maybe they're love letters, notes from a long-lost friend, or birthday cards from a relative. (Then again these little envelopes may just contain your latest credit card statements, but I'd like to think they're too whimsical for that purpose!) We'll never know for sure, but they contain the potential to symbolize any sort of mail that you might wish to send or receive.

Each miniature, sealed envelope was carved out of vegetable-tanned leather and then subtly stained. They dangle along with olivine freshwater pearls and two different kinds of chain from hand-crafted ear hooks of sterling silver.

measurements • envelopes are approximately 0.875"(2.2cm) long by 0.5"(1.3cm) wide; they dangle about 1.5"(3.8cm) from below the ear hook (not including the chains)

materials • hand-carved and stained leather; sterling silver wire & chain; freshwater pearls


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Transitioning to Blogger

I'm just beginning to transition my craft blog from LiveJournal to Blogger. While I find that there still are a handful of pros to LiveJournal, for instance the comment structures which function more like forum posts and the groups to which you can belong and post, overall I prefer Blogger's ease of use and its lack of advertisements (unless you want them). Actually posting first to Blogger might make it easier to later cross post to Livejournal, so perhaps I can have my cake & eat it too!

I'm starting by posting some of my recent, unsold creations, but I hope to give this journal a larger scope and include more information about my inspirations, techniques, materials, etc. I have a commission I'm working on so perhaps I'll post information on how my artistic process works along with meeting the desires of a client and show some in progress work. We'll see.

I have a few other projects in the works too, but unlike the vast majority of my jewelry, it's not intended to be sold online via Etsy. I may have found myself a real live bricks & mortar gallery/boutique to offer some of my wares which is exciting. More information on that to come!

Faery Wing · Leather & Sterling Silver Necklace

When most people think of faeries, they think of wings: lovely little sprites or enchanting maidens with insect wings unfolding delicately from their backs. It might be surprising for some to learn that before Shakespeare's time, wings were not a common, defining trait for faeries and in fact it is very rare to find reference to them in traditional European myth, legend, and balladry. The faery folk of old could be beautiful or bizarre-looking, and encounters with them were perhaps more feared than they were desired, but they were always respected as being embodiments of something sacred and numinous.

Today the wings of faeries are regarded as literal, but perhaps they were not meant to be so. During the same time period when wings became to be a newly popular attribute of fey creatures, interest was being renewed in the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome. The word for butterfly in ancient Greek was psyche which also happened to be the word for 'soul.' Psyche was also the name of a mythical girl who became the lover of the God Eros. In classical artwork Eros was shown with feathered wings and Psyche was often represented with the wings of her namesake as a visual cue to her identity. Perhaps those who originally associated the fey with butterfly wings were really intending to use metaphorical clues to show the sacred nature of Faery as well as its proclivity for transformation.

This necklace is a lovely reminder that not everything valuable in the world is to be taken literally and not all knowledge lies on the surface.

The letters stamped across the hand-carved and painted leather pendant read "Wings are but a symbol of the soul." From delicate chains hang briolettes of labradorite and moonstone with inner flashes of blue, freshwater pearls, glittering swarovski crystals, and semi-precious stones to compliment the colors in the faery wing.

measurements • the overall length of the necklace is approximately 17 inches and closes with a lobster clasp; the faery wing pendant is about 2.5 inches long by about 1.75 inches wide at its greatest points and dangles 1.5 inches from the main portion of the necklace
materials • hand-carved & painted leather faery wing; sterling silver chain & wire; freshwater pearls; labradorite & moonstone briolettes; swarovski crystals; coral; semi-precious stones; glass beads

Wicked Vixen · Original ACEO Painting

Inspired by antique Victorian and Edwardian erotica, this sultry seductress gazes out from the canvas, enticing the viewer to come hither. Approach her with caution though for she keeps some strange company. What appears as a collection of shapes in the background when the painting is viewed from straight on reveals itself to be a thoughtful skull with a piercing stare.

"Wicked Vixen" is an original acrylic painting on a miniature stretched canvas in ACEO format. Parts of the painting have been treated with a crackle finish to lend an aged, creepy quality to accentuate the subject matter.

ACEO is an acronym standing for Art Cards, Editions & Originals. They are small pieces of art measuring 2.5 by 3.5 inches, the same dimensions as a baseball card, and are a great format for collecting. The canvas is approximately 3/8ths of an inch deep and can be hung quickly and simply on a small nail but would look lovely in an ornate little frame in your Gothic boudoir.

This piece is signed and dated on the reverse by the artist. The copyright notice does not appear on the original piece, but the artist does retain all rights to the image even after purchase.

measurements • 2.5 x 3.5 x 0.375 inches
materials • acrylic paint & ink on canvas

Mortal Geisha · Leather Cuff Bracelet

This is the second version of this bracelet that I've created, and I'm much more pleased with the carving & tooling aspect than I was with the original. The first time around the leather was being strangely finicky (I think that I got it too wet in preparation for carving) so I was having difficulty getting details and nice crisp lines. The original version still turned out nice — better than I first anticipated — but this version I feel is a great improvement. I really wanted to highlight the carving so I left the color scheme rather simple: earth tones with a halo of red.

Mortal Geisha is a hand-crafted leather cuff bracelet inspired by my love for the Japanese tradition and by tattooing.

The design was originally slated to be part of a series of tattoo flash I was working on, but I decided that I liked it so much that I wanted to use it in a leather piece. A woman's profile superimposed with that of a skull is a common motif in American old school style tattooing (likely derived from calaveras, sugar skulls, and other Day of the Dead imagery).

My unique twist incorporates an influence from Japanese woodblock prints of geisha and courtesans of the floating world. Perhaps it represents the "Lady from Hell," the courtesan Jigokudayu who achieved enlightenment upon gazing at herself in a mirror and seeing a skeleton reflected there instead of her own youthful form. A gnarled pine tree curves around her neck, clouds swirl about her head, and a flame licks up from her collarbone. She is silhouetted by a scarlet stain.

The main portion of this cuff bracelet was hand-carved from vegetable-tanned leather and then dyed and painted. A strap of supple mocha-colored leather is affixed to one side of the pictorial panel using two gold-toned rivets and on the other with a gold-toned snap closure. The front of the carved leather portion is sealed with an acrylic coating to ensure that it stays vibrant for a long time to come, but please keep it dry to ensure its longevity. It is signed by the artist on the reverse.

measurements • bracelet is about 3.75 inches wide at its broadest point and approximately 7.5 inches around
materials • hand-carved & painted leather, gold-toned rivets and snap
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