It’s taken me this week to get re-organized after the inspiring, creative, Makerie retreat last week. I am just so thankful that I was invited to teach & was included in the round-up of the most talented & wonderful teachers. I feel like I spent most of the weekend with a smile on my face & laughing out loud. On the last evening there was a book making party where we could compile our own book that was put together in a very speedy 2 day class, “Crafting Content” with Janine Vangool of Uppercase Magazine. What a special souvenir to go home with.
The class I taught, “Modern Leather Accessories” was so much fun & the students caught on to the techniques immediately & went on their way to create lots of very fun wearable art & summer jewelry. Everyone got to learn the basics of leather work & then was able to apply their own special touches to make the pieces uniquely theirs.
The nights were always a great chance to catch up with others over a delicious dinner in the newly renovated Chautaugua Dining Hall. Saturday night the whole place was decorated with beautiful paper flower centerpieces & bright washi tape all around. The sponser of the evening was Creativebug, a very cool craft video website from Sanfrancisco, who were in town filming pieces from the Makerie weekend.
To be surrounded by the beauty of the mountains & the creative energy of all that attended surely made it a most successful weekend. Great job to Ali Dejohn & Emily Clark who pulled the whole thing off without a hitch & make it look so effortless. That in itself is a true talent. Below is a recap of the teachers & classes that were offered. All the photos were taken from the Makerie Book. Who could ask for anything more?
Happy Spring! Please come join Ali’s Summer Makerie series for your own magical day!
Well, it was a great 10 days with launching the store, learning how to pack & ship & becoming very good friend with my local post office. The part of the whole process I liked the most was getting to meet either through emails, or in person, the lovely ladies that were my customers. I love to be able to put a face to a name & personally pass off their bag. They were truly the kindest women & so full of positive energy. I also had some really nice email bantering that always put a happy spin on the day. The whole experience was so positive that I’m busy at work again getting ready to open another shop in mid April- A more exact date to be posted in the next few weeks! This time around it won’t be a “pop-up” shop, just a shop.
I thought I’d share one of the more simple bags that was available & I do have a couple left as I thought for something like this, one of a kind won’t fly. This is a great basic clutch that would fit into any lifestyle & has just the right amount of organization on the inside so you don’t loose your pieces at the bottom of a bag. I added a small embroidery to the front flap which gives it the handmade touch along with a contrast hand stitched tack at the opening. The leather is just the best thick veg tan quality that is firm yet soft. It is the perfect weight & quality for so many projects!
I look forward to creating more with this beautiful leather.
A big thank you again for all the support & encouragement I was given the last month and a half as I was in the process of trying to figure out how to actually put together a store. I have so much more to learn but it should be a ton easier the second time around.
I got out my blue dyes & started staining natural veg leather. The next step was to start playing with the color & see what pattern could be made without it looking too sloppy. I went for dots. I love the outcome & the unevenness of the dye. I also like the splatter effect. These 2 small purses was all I did with this technique- I’m ready to play some more!
I found these amazing Italian military sacks in Texas last October. They were very dirty but had the most amazing character & stenciling on each one. I only found 3 & ended up keeping one for myself because I thought, “this is one of the coolest fabrics I’m bound to ever find.” The bottoms were pretty wrecked so I took the seams apart & patched on leather bottoms with additional pockets. The old worn in belts were perfect to keep the flaps down & the shoulder straps were well worn horse bridles. This combination was just perfect together & gave it a very vintage feel. They definitely appear to be from the WWII era & if I’m extra lucky, maybe I’ll trip over more someday.
I’ve been playing with different proportions & construction & this is one of the models that popped up. I like how the handle fits through the top hole & how the flap is a natural edge shaped by the leather hide. This is my new favorite leather & I’ve got a bunch of it so will be trying out all sorts of models. I’ve also been playing with “self” handles so the whole bag has the same color & texture. It looks very grown up to me like it should be out on the way to an important meeting.
I am head over heels in love with these old vintage boy scout back packs. I found one locally then went on line to hunt down some more. They are a labor of love. They spend a day soaking in oxiclean, then I have to cut off all the dry rot leather straps that have turned into a jelly consistency. They get washed, dried & then the fun reconstruction part starts. I add leather to flaps that would otherwise have gaping holes. I find alternative buckle solutions, add bright cording & sometimes new pack straps. I try to use all the original hardware so the bag stays authentic. I’ve also started adding shoulder straps so that it can be used 2 ways. I have found packs from the 1940′s & 50′s. You can tell by the rivets that are used. They are of a very vintage variety that we just don’t use anymore. If the pack has a leather patch on the back it is definitely from this time period as the later ones have a heavy plastic name patch. The more I learn, the more I love.
(*I call this one “The Reluctant Boy Scout” as the boy that had it colored in the logo)
This clutch is made from one of my new favorite veg tan leathers. It’s thick but spongy & soft. By adding this vintage buckle with just the right patina it seemed to finish the bag off nicely. What I like best about these fold over clutches is that there is a zipper closure for safe keeping & also the leather buckle can just be popped off by a button, no need to unfasten it.
I had a bit of this rugged brown leather available when putting together the holiday line. I made 3 across the body styles & a couple of bucket bags. It turned out that this quality was very popular. I enforced the back with vintage belting & the straps were one of a kind old horse bridles. Because I used the natural edge for the front flap, each bag had a unique look. This season was the first time that I made a lot of across the body styles. I don’t know why it hadn’t occur to me earlier. Check out the writing on the old bridle- I love that part! (*the light colored spots on the photos are from the sun, not flaws in the leather)
This month has been a complete whirlwind! I had to lay out my priorities & with making all the goods for the Holiday market, school obligations, husband traveling, after school sports, family with flu & getting ready for Christmas, I just had to draw the line somewhere & it was with the blog & computer use in general. I have always set such a firm schedule for myself when it came to this blog. I mean, this is where “it all started” in a way. It was an outlet to show what I like to make & to share creative ideas. It allowed doors to open & opportunities to come my way that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. I’ve been at it for just over a year & a half. What I didn’t expect was that I would actually end up with this small handmade company “by elke” that I adore. If I could have my way, I would be all day, every day up in my tiny studio with the radio on & my hands working. My production has gone way up & is taking more & more of my time which means less & less time on the computer & taking pictures in general. I still prefer to work in a way that allows me to be free in the afternoons with my children. I like to wear the 2 hats & I don’t want to give any of them up.
My goal for the new year is to do my best with keeping up this blog. Post projects that I have worked on & announce new things that are in the works. ……. Enough of this chatter- I’m not one for a ton of words & this already has way too many so lets just look at some new shiny things!
I never thought I’d be one for patent leather as I tend to be attracted more to the veg tan leathers & natural finishes. My friends who have a great antique pop-up shop, Highstreet Shoppes, here in Boulder had some rolls on hand that they wanted to part with. The colors were really classic & just right. I decided to take them off their hands & see what I could come up with. Here are just some examples of styles & goods. Because of the shiny, slippery nature of the leather, I came up with perforated designs as it seemed like a clean way to spruce it up a bit. Each design was drawn on the back of the leather & the holes were punched one at a time by hand. This ended up being a bit time consuming since I carried this technique & “signature stamp” throughout the line.
After I used up the first batch of leather, I went & got more from a leather source. I was smitten. I think I’ll be adding a bit of shine in the line going forward. Stay tuned!
I think the fold over clutch with the zipper would be a real snazzy bag to carry for New Years & all winter for that matter.
I’m having fun putting together a new line of bracelets for the Firefly Holiday market. These are made from horse bridles & have been strung with brass beads & sparkly chrystals. A little bling with old leather is such a nice contrast. Each bracelet is a different combination of leather & beads so when they’re all together it’s hard to pick a favorite.