Monday, December 29, 2014

Coming in 2015

As 2014 is coming to a close I hope everyone's enjoying their holidays.  In addition to our traditional end of the year festivities I've been considering how I could improve this blog and my shop in the coming year.  I'm sure this will be a never ending process but I have a few ideas on what to do:

  • Add a section describing the materials I most frequently use as well as providing photos of different staining and color choices.
  • Overhaul the tags so they're a little more consistent.  I'll be adding tags for materials and stains so it will be easier to find examples in the blog.
  • Retake several of the photos for the Etsy store that were taken before I had settled on my current setup.
  • If there's time I'd like to get back to writing more in depth posts similar to the SCIENCE! posts I used to write.  I'd like to write some more in-depth descriptions of the materials or some of the history of the techniques.  It's possible I might also get a bit off-topic and write some blurbs on things like D&D, gaming, or sheer randomness.

My plan is to have the first three points finished by the end of February.  In January I'll be heading back home to San Antonio, TX for PAX South and I've been working on a gun belt and some new pouches for a little impromptu cosplay.  Meanwhile, I plan to continue adding 1-2 items to the store every month, time allowing.  2015 is shaping up to be an interesting and productive year!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Holidays

Today happens to be the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.  After today, the days will start getting longer, bit by bit.  Nearly every culture on earth has some sort of holiday or festival that at least began by observing this annual occasion.  However your culture chooses to celebrate the season I hope it finds you in good health and happiness.  Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Tap + Bottle Belt Buckle

Things certainly have been hopping over here this holiday season.  I've been able to sell a few previously prepared items on the store and there hasn't been much want for commissions.  The latest has been this buckle.  The clients run a bar where one of the bartenders is known for wearing his large buckles.  They figured it'd be shiny if he had one with the bar's logo and I certainly agree.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Quote on a Guitar Strap

A young woman in Texas wanted to give her partner a gift this year of a guitar strap carved with a quote her partner had given her.  This order came in pretty much at the wire but I had -just- enough time to get it finished before the cut off for Christmas delivery.  I finished the guitar strap about an hour before the post office closed so I didn't really have time to set up any good shots with the finished product.  I did try something new this time around by stitching the strap while standing up.  This was markedly faster (probably ~25% so) but even so it's a bit tiring to stand by the workbench for 6 or 7 hours.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Riding Pouch, Mark II

The gentlemen who commissioned the first of these pouches had a few ideas for some improvements after using his first pouch in the field for awhile.  Namely he was looking for higher partitions, additional ports in the lid so that it was adjustable, and stitching the label to the keeper rather than the lid.  I was quite happy to make him another pouch and I'm sure he'll find these improvements pretty handy.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Handmade Holidays!

Last week I announced over twitter that I'm offering 10% all orders that use the offer code HANDMADEHOLIDAYS2014 during this Dec.  Today I'm upping the ante even further!  Any orders that use the offer code will also receive a complimentary christmas ornament with their order.

I'll also be offering the ornaments as a set of 3 in the store but you can get  one for free to mark your handmade holiday by using the offer code.  This is the last week where I can guarantee delivery by Christmas so be sure to get your order in quickly.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

MJF Theater Key Fobs

The holiday season rolls along with an order for a number of commemorative key fobs for the local Michael J Fox Theater.  The client is expecting to retire after working there for over two decades and he wanted to marked the occasion by handing out some key fobs.

As it happens, the design is simple even for a fob so I've been able to crank these out quicker than I'd expected.  The trickiest part has been layering the finish to achieve a matte finish while the letters are still shiny.  Of course this effect is impossible to photograph and subtle enough in person but I'm pretty happy with it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

3 Piece Guitar Strap & Latigo Ruler Case

This was a pretty big order for woman in the UK who's partner happens to be a fan of gibson guitars.  She had a very clear idea of what she was looking for in a gift for said partner and once we'd settled on the details I set about trying to bring that idea into reality.  The pencil case is something I've made several times though never quite this long (31 cm, about a foot).  The construction was tried and true but any longer and I don't think the creases would hold.

The guitar strap was another matter.  This was my first time working with this pattern and it was certainly a learning experience.  I triple counted the stitches so I'm pretty sure the twist that developed in the center piece will work out over time.  It's an interesting design and when I get a chance I think I'd like to modify it into something I could add as a regular item for the store.  As it was I was hard pressed to get this order finished by the deadline to ship it.  By working through the weekend I managed to set the final stitch about 1.5 hours before the post office closed.  That didn't leave me too much time to set up any photos but hopefully they still get the notion across.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Heron Pouch

During a recent visit, my Mother decided she'd like one of my pouches.  Having the benefit of being able to look at my materials she decided she wanted black oiled leather for the body of the pouch and green suede for the walls.  She wasn't entirely sure what kind of decoration she wanted though, so she left that to me.  I'm pretty glad she did because it gave me a great opportunity to try something out that I've been pondering for a while.  Some designs are precise or symmetrical enough that going through the process of carving the design into the leather would be very time consuming and the results can be uncertain.  For designs that don't have much inherent depth I'd wondered if I mightn't be able to to just do an ink transfer and leave it at that.  So that's what I did here, an ink transfer covered in a couple coats of super sheen and stitched to the front of the pouch.  I like to think the stitching makes it something of a window/frame but either way it was a pretty dandy way to slap a heron on some veg-tan.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Big Buddy's Beefy Collar

22" might not sound like much but when it's the circumference of a pup's neck it certainly looks pretty sizeable.  So much so that I upgraded the thickness of the leather to make this guy's collar.  That posed an interesting challenge with the tiny skull conchos but nothing some skiving and creative metal pounding couldn't resolve.  The client apparently liked the collar I'd made for Killer back in the summer and wanted the same style just twice as wide (2") and with their phone number stamped into the leather.  I wound up stamping the phone number into a separate piece of leather so I could stain it differently but it's blurred out for the internet so I guess you'd have to trust that it looks pretty legible and nice.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Testimonial: Wallet Lanyard

It's always nice hearing from clients once they've gotten their orders but this just made my day.

Wow! This is one beautiful piece sir. I love it! It's exactly what I wanted. I didn't want anything too showy -- low key, but well made was the plan. Thank you very much for your thoughtfulness and custom touches. Your workmanship is superb sir!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Wallet Lanyard

I happen to come from a place where it's pretty common to keep your wallet on a chain but I can't say I'd ever done it myself.  So when I was asked to braid a custom lanyard I admit I had to google wallet lanyards to remind myself of the details.  The client had just obtained a very nice deerskin wallet and they were looking for a matching lanyard.  Deerskin is a bit unusual as a braiding material because it lacks the tensile strength of other leathers.  It's very soft and supple and comfy, but the low tensile strength makes it challenging to braid.

I reinforced the braid on the whole by giving it a latigo core that's fixed to the anchors (cut from some bison leather) which hold some solid brass trigger snaps for fasteners.  That sentence might be a lot of mumbo jumbo but it amounts to the deerskin being a part of the structure without having to bear much, if any force or stress along the lanyard.  It's a simple little thing but I put a fair bit of thought into it and I'm pretty happy with the result.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Riding Pouch

Another one of the more interesting orders I've had recently.  This gentleman in the UK wanted a belt pouch that he could take riding that would hold all his stuff securely if there was a tumble but still be easy enough to open.  I used a combination of a keeper and a stud button and a lot of very secure saddle stitching to make sure this pouch would do all these things.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sheridan Guitar Strap

I know it's been a good while since my last post but there's been ample cause.  I've been fortunate enough to have quite a few orders coming in now that the holidays are approaching.  I've been so busy making things I haven't had much opportunity to sit down and write anything. 

This is one of those orders: a sheridan guitar strap to be a gift for a gentlemen in Calgary.  I gave the client a number of options for the design and she selected the full-on sheridan all the way down the guitar strap.  I'm pretty glad she did since I think it came out pretty nice.