Saturday, August 15, 2009

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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