Monday, July 28, 2014

The Duomo Duffel Bag

InstagramCapture_cc6c0646-41cd-4c85-96d2-25c2d3e73dbe_jpgduomo duffel 1duomo duffel 2duomo duffel 5duomo duffel 4duomo duffel 6

I think these pictures say it all. This bag is the ultimate luxury travel companion.  It’s a handmade leather duffel bag in the Duomo pattern, my old-world inspired architectural pattern, in sage, burgundy and antique black.

The Duomo Duffel Bag is cut from my original pattern, and the first one was made for Craig Forget of CarpenterCraig.  The dimensions are 10” by 10” by 20” and it has a zip closure and detachable handles and shoulder strap.

This bag is a wonderful size for a small travel – say, a weekend away? I need a weekend away, so I think one of my next projects will be to make myself one of these…



Friday, July 25, 2014

Bee Flask Friday!


Bee line 7-25

This week I chose the One Bee Flask.  I spend a lot of time drawing little bees, and this past week was no exception.

On Monday I had a videographer come in and shoot a video of me making a little bee pouch – so exciting!  Soon you’ll actually be able to see me making a leather good, all in the span of 90 seconds (which is, admittedly, much quicker than it took me to actually make it).

Anyway, on to the giveaway.  Thanks to all of you who entered last week, and congratulations to Lucy H. who entered on twitter and won!  Last week’s flask seems to be headed across the ocean.

This week the rules are the same, but the hash tag is different, so here it is – you can enter to win this flask three times, once on each platform.  Winner will be chosen 7/31.  Good luck!

1.  Follow us on Instagram (@moxieandoliver) and re-post the picture of this flask with tag #BestFlask

2.  Follow us on Facebook ( and share the picture of the flask with tag #BestFlask

3.  Follow us on Twitter (@moxieandoliver) and re-tweet our give-away tweet, with tag #BestFlask

Happy Friday,


Friday, July 18, 2014

Free Flask Friday!


7-18-14 simple

Today is an exciting day – it’s the first “Free Flask Friday” at the Moxie & Oliver studio.  For the last ten years I’ve been making hundreds, maybe thousands, of handmade leather and stainless steel flasks.  And because drinking is always better with friends, what better thing do do with these little beauties than to give some away?

The flask above was inspired by Cool Material’s month of beer quotes. Many of my flasks over the years have been personalized by customers with quotes of their choosing, but seeing a great collection of beer quotes inspired me to pick some of my own.  Oscar Wilde has some great drinking quotes, but this one from Bruce Tomlinson appealed to my hippy sensibilities as well.  There are a lot of spiritual people up here in the Northwest – no wonder we have so many craft distilleries!

This 4oz flask is the first we’ll give away. It is the Friday Flask with one of our favorite drinking quotes on it, in a beautiful blue color:

“Your body is a temple, you should keep some spirits in you.” – Bruce Tomlinson

To enter to win, just do the following:

1.  Follow us on Instagram (@moxieandoliver) and re-post the picture of this flask with tag #FFFmoxieandoliver

2.  Follow us on Facebook ( and share the picture of the flask with tag #FFFmoxieandoliver

3.  Follow us on Twitter (@moxieandoliver) and re-tweet our give-away tweet, with tag #FFFmoxieandoliver

Each # 1-3 above is good for one entry, and you can enter once on each platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) each week. Winner will be announced on all three on 7-24-14.  Good luck. 

In good spirits!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Forget the Wedding Registry

Custom tray

You know that thing the bride and groom spent so much time on? Forget it.  Throw it out.  Totally ignore every wedding wish they had.  Get them something handmade instead.  Why? Because unlike a cup, a fork, or a towel that will blend in with a sea  of sameness, every time they see the handmade gift you picked out for them, they will think of you.  And they will smile. Doesn’t a smile sound better than being forgotten?

chickadee tray 2nice trayonly us catch allnest tray pair

So, now that we’ve ditched the registry, what to get? I advocate for something that they will use every day, preferably together.  That is why these little leather valet trays are such a splendid gift.  You can personalize them – add initials or a custom inscription – and every day when the bride and groom come home and put their keys, cell phones, and other odds and ends in the tray they will think of you.

Smaller trays are also available, for just the wedding rings.

Happy Summer!
-c for custom requests

Monday, July 7, 2014

Benefits of Vegetable-Tanned Leather

At Moxie & Oliver, all of our products are made with the utmost quality and precision. You can be sure your item will last and only get better with age and wear. Every product is made from vegetable-tanned leather—a traditional and natural method of tanning hides.

Vegetable tanning is one of the oldest methods used by leather designers for thousands of years. This traditional craft process uses tannins and other natural ingredients found in wood, bark, and plants to convert the animal skin to leather. The raw hide’s transformation into leather occurs slowly, generally over one month, within tanning pits or wooden drums. The final product is a warm, rich brown color that is durable and susceptible to carving or stamping.

These are some of the many benefits of vegetable-tanned as opposed to other forms of leather tanning:

Natural. The process of vegetable tanning showcases leather in its most natural state because it involves only organic ingredients from plant materials and vegetable matter. It’s the only form of tanning that retains the natural markings of the animal hide, giving the leather unique characteristics.

Environmentally friendly. There is no use of chemicals in this process, only natural ingredients. Because of this, any leather products that have been vegetable tanned can be recycled.

Color. The tone of leather that has been vegetable-tanned is rich, warm, and vibrant. These blends of brown come from the natural materials such as bark and plant materials. One of the most unique aspects of this type of leather is that the color changes after being exposed to different elements such as light and oils, giving it a life that gets better with wear.

Value. Because of the time consuming process, vegetable-tanned leather is more valuable than chrome-tanned or other types of leather. It is usually sold at a higher price because of its intricate craft process, natural qualities and ability to age well.

All Moxie & Oliver products are made from vegetable-tanned leather, which is only the best type.

Start shopping and get your quality vegetable-tanned leather product at Moxie & Oliver!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Weddings and Anniversaries



That’s my hubby and me, ca. 2006.  Yesterday was our eight year wedding anniversary.  Can you believe it? I can’t.  He offered to take me out somewhere fancy – I looked at the menu and asked “isn’t there anywhere that takes the Prime/Passport card?”  It’s our dining discount card.  His co-workers don’t believe that (frugal) women like me exist.  Gotta save money on food if you want to keep yourself in cowgirl boots, right?

Anyway, we celebrated by going to a taproom near our house. We started our marriage on a beach in Mexico with 10 of our friends and family in attendance, plus two people we had just met (our photographer and his wife).  I’ve always been a no-frills kind of girl.  Recently I’ve been reading Hippie Homesteaders and realizing just how much of that translates into my work as well. I want things to look good, function better, and last forever. My work, my marriage – it’s the same no-frills functionality for everything.


Most of my wedding thoughts recently, though, have been occupied by other peoples.  This is wedding season, and that means that I am making a lot of monogram flasks for people to give as groomsmen gifts. Sometimes I think the initials are not really initials, but more an abbreviation for a nickname, like the money clip I did years ago that said “PITA” on it.


I’ve also been thinking about bridal party stuff. The pattern above is a new one of mine called “Aurora” – the name was a customer suggestion and she says it is inspired by the castle in Sleeping Beauty. I love that imagery and think it’s so appropriate for a wedding.  After 100 years of sleeping, the prince shows up and the thorns on the castle (that have killed every other suitor, at least in the version I have) shrivel away to let him pass.  These flowers don’t have thorns, but the gears combined with the soft flowers and vines create a feeling of rebirth, fusion of the natural and mechanical (perfect for marriage? maybe – I’m the natural in ours), and a lovely harmony.  I think these sweet clutches would make wonderful bridesmaid gifts, and maybe the larger one for the bride herself.

Those are all my musings for now.  Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How do you repair a scratch in leather?


A customer asked recently how you repair a scratch in leather.  If you want to skip all the detailed explanation and complicated analogies, the short answer is that you don’t.  The best you can do for a scratch in leather is to try to dye it so it will blend in.

Now, here’s the extended version:  Leather has a rough “flesh” side and a smooth “grain” side.  Recently when I was doing some research in my book I came across a very detailed illustration of the layers of leather.  It’s a much better picture than I would draw for you, so here it is -


And here is the book it came from -


So the outside of your leather what-not (handbag, couch, belt, shoes, etc.) is the grain side.  It is smooth and probably a little shiny.  It’s the pretty side, that’s why they put it on the outside.  Well, right under that nice finished “grain” side of the leather, the texture starts to change very rapidly.  If you remove, ever so carefully, the very tip top layer of the leather as a paper-thin sheet, what is left is rough.  Not as rough as the flesh side (the rough underside), but still pretty rough.

When you scratch leather, you’re disrupting the smooth finish on the flesh side and exposing the rough portion.  Or, even if you don’t make it all the way down to the rough part, you’ve at least disturbed the smooth finish of the grain side.

How could you fix this?  Well, you can’t “fix” it but you can do a few things to minimize the appearance of a scratch.

1.  Try a bit of oil.  Sometimes rubbing a little oil on the surface, or dabbing it on with a Q-Tip, is all it takes.  Anyone will tell you to both test on a hidden part of the piece, and also to use whatever oil your manufacturer recommends.  Lexol Neatsfoot oil has always been a favorite of mine, but yes, it really does depend on the leather that you are working with.

2.  Dye it.  So usually a scratch will show up as a lighter color than the rest of the leather and this is because the top portion, the dyed portion, of the leather has been removed.  Think of it like a veneer on wood, where the veneer has been scratched off. You can’t sand it because the veneer is so thin, so you take one of those funny little touch-up pens and just color it in.  It’s not fixed, but it’s not as noticeable.

It’s the same principle with leather.  You’re not going to repair the scratch, strictly speaking, but you can color it so it doesn’t look so bad.  If you’re dealing with chrome tanned leather, you can probably use shoe polish (yeah, all those little scratches on your shoes, it takes care of them.  Suddenly it all makes sense…) but be very careful to buff it really well, especially if you’re doing it to a couch. Any residual dye or polish could deposit on your bum!

Some leathers may require a special dye, and your local leather shop will be able to give you more direction.  Or you can try to color-match it online and then, of course, test a spot first.

For veg tan, you can usually just use the original dye color (if it is a Moxie & Oliver piece, I can make you a leather repair kit!) and either a Q-tip if it is a alcohol or water based dye or a paper towel for a gel antique dye to touch up the scratched spot.  You’ll always want to use a topcoat in this case to seal the dye in.

3.  Spray paint it.  No, I’m not kidding.  If you had someone or something really do a number on your couch, the consensus seems to be that you sand it down, fill it in, and then spray paint it with a leather paint to make it look like new.  Here’s a tutorial showing how to repair cat scratches on leather.  But again, think of it more like a veneer on wood than like a solid piece of wood – once you sand it down, you’re going to have to put on a faux finish to get the couch, purse, etc. to look like new again.

In any of these scenarios the texture of the scratch, or scratched patch, will be slightly different, but you’re probably the only one who will notice.

PHEW!  That was totally the long answer.  Me, I’d just make a nifty patch out of leather and slap it on the couch, or my bag, or shoes, or what have you.  Those silver tips on cowboy boots are because the toes wear out so quickly and can’t really be repaired, right?

Time to take the dogs for a walk!