Friday, January 20, 2012

Things in My Light Box

I took a few photos for the Wintergrass “Passport” and for the Bellevue Art Fair application this morning.  I love the way my work looks on a white background.  I might do it more.  I ended up with a few extra surprises in my light box, too. One of these surprises is now trying to eat my lunch.  Anyway, enjoy.

product shot1

hive clutch small

skull bag small





The non-leather ones are Astrophel and Stella, two Siberian Forest Cats from Tormodkot Cattery.  Love these two little kitties, and their very large personalities!



Thursday, January 19, 2012

Love My Customers

Every once in a while a wonderful customer will send me a photo.  With permission from Carole, here is the Plume Mandolin Strap on her mandolin.  Doesn’t it look fantastic?


Thanks Carole! You rock! (or bluegrass?)



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Winter Wreaths

I had an extra “platinum” colored 3’ tall fake Christmas Tree.  It was a pre-lit tree, and the first one I bought, the lights didn’t work.  So they sent another, and I had two.

I decided to cut one apart with a wire cutter, and bind it to a pretty, sparkly, slightly binding wreath:


Not my favorite photo of it, but I think it turned out pretty well.  Next year I’ll add stars or bells or lights or something, but by two days before Christmas, nobody had decorations anymore, just wrapping.

I did, on my holiday adventures, manage to find this beauty in a vintage store (for only $20! I couldn’t pass it up!):



I love the happy deer!  Maybe next year I should just glue toys to my sparkle wreath? Sparkle toys?

Back to leather…



Monday, January 16, 2012

Artist Statement: Take One

I have to write an artist statement. I didn’t realize how short they were supposed to be!  Here’s my first take:

I never wanted to become an artist. I wanted to be a lawyer. While working at a law firm, and deciding how and where to apply to law school, I found myself in need of a belt that was both work-appropriate and durable. After a fruitless search of department stores and boutiques, I reached back to my childhood experience tooling leather at family reunions, and bought a blank belt, and taught myself the fading art of leather working. For the last seven years I have been proudly producing durable leather goods in my home studio in Seattle, Washington. My work embraces my love of nature, geometry, and sometimes a little tongue-in-cheek humor. I delight in creating pieces that are functional, beautiful, and can bring an artistic flair to an item that would otherwise be overlooked, such as a belt, the band of a watch, or the strap on a purse.




Saturday, January 14, 2012

Starting at the Bottom

I went out Wednesday to take some photos.  I always love peoples artsy blog photos, but mine never turn out that way.  When I went to college I genuinely wanted to be a photographer (I’ve actually worked as a wedding/event photographer before, but haven’t kept up my skills… I turned the darkroom into the dying room).  There’s probably a reason I didn’t get in to the photography program.  They always told me that my photos weren’t abstract or “artsy” enough.  Of course, I always argued about that.  Isn’t the beauty of a photo the ability to capture reality, through someone’s eyes? So maybe I should listen to my younger self, and embrace my photographic style. On that same note I should probably be glad I didn’t get in to photography school.  I am relatively certain that if I had, there would be no Moxie & Oliver.

So, with a long introduction, here is the progress on the studio, in my style:





I’m told that the walls are now up on this little frame.  I’ll go check on it tomorrow. If it isn’t snowing too hard.



Thursday, January 12, 2012

Be Like Mike

Today I’m taking a sick day.  I didn’t sleep much at all last night, just a few 15-minute segments here and there. I stayed in bed late, missed my coffee date, and was trying to do something productive today.  Like buy Mike Doughty’s “The Book of Drugs” and curl up under a blanket, reading about, quite possibly, my favorite musician ever.

When I was in high school I was really into music, and going to concerts.  And boys.  I think those all kind of went together, especially if you take into account that I was (and still am) more than a little on the tone-deaf side.  This was a source of constant annoyance to my high school boyfriend, a talented guitarist who would play little pieces of songs in different notes (keys? I’m not sure honestly) and ask which I liked better.  I would say they both sounded the same.  “No, listen,” he’d say, and play them again.  They still sounded the same; they always sounded the same.

So with this bit of a musical obstacle, I always find it somewhat ironic that I ended up making guitar straps.  And I make a LOT of guitar straps.  I tried playing when I was a kid (again, I think that this had something to do with boys, or being cool, I’m not really sure) and it was a complete disaster.  My guitar teacher was hot.  That’s all I remember. 

Every year when I prepare for Wintergrass I stock up on straps.  I had three (!!) left in stock at the end of December, a record low.  I should have 60 in stock by the end of February.  Some will be new patterns, some old in new colors, and they generally come easy to me.  There is one pattern, though, that has been giving me trouble for years.  I’ve wanted to make a Clarke strap with my plaid on it, but could never get the layout right.  Then the other day I saw a picture of Mike Doughty fixing his plaid tie, and it suddenly all made sense.

So here it is, dedicated to Mike Doughty, the very first plaid strap. And Mike, if you’re reading this, the strap is yours if you want it.  Just say the word.

For everyone else, it is available at



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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Astrophel & Stella


astro and stella

They’re getting big, and naughty.  They spent yesterday stealing dog treats and trying to eat packing peanuts.  But they are good company.  Do you think they’d like to go with me to my new studio?  I will just take them, and the two dogs, with me every morning.  Cats like car rides, right?



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In the Light of Day

My daughter woke up at 5:30 this morning (two hours early) going “UUUH!  UUUH!” every few seconds.  She did this for at least an hour before finally going back to sleep.   She woke up around 7:30 to the sound of my husband coughing.  And I woke up with his cold.

In that space between when she went back to sleep and when he woke us all up I had a dream about the studio. It was coming together, turquoise countertops and all, and looking fabulous.  Then, in my dream, my daughter tumbled down a short flight of carpeted stairs.  I watched in slow-motion, unable to get to her in time. She’s only 18 months old, and I was terrified.  I called 9-1-1 and the operator laughed at me.  I was beyond furious.

I tossed and turned in bed before coming downstairs to a cuddly, adorable little girl, who was not the least bit injured by my dream.  I’ve said (for the last year and a half) that the hardest thing about being a parent is sleep.  Sometimes my work day ends early because her nap does, sometimes my sleep ends early because she wants to make adorable noises in her crib.  And sometimes I think she does these things on purpose, because on my hardest days she seems to wake up the earliest from her nap, helping me to re-focus on what is important in life.

There were a lot of hard days last week, and more than a few made me want to just throw in the towel. She helps me remember something that I often forget: focus on the good in life. There is more of it than there is bad. I’m still unsettled on a few things, but regardless of what else is going on in the world, she is my light.

And speaking of light, here are the ideas I obsessed over yesterday:


Library Wall Sconces by Barbara Cosgrove, $325 for the pair. Clayton Gray Home. Or, just found out they are $248 from Décor Interiors!  I think these would be great above a bathroom mirror.

Hollywood Boathouse Antique Nickel Light, $325.  Clayton Gray Home. The best deal I found was $285 from J Covington Designs.

Bell Jar Pendant Light by Barbara Cosgrove, $115.  Clayton Gray Home.


Marine Pendant Light by Barbara Cosgrove, $1015.  Clayton Gray Home.  (Totally not in the budget, but how cool is this?)

Hammered Iron Oval Pendant, $195.  Clayton Gray Home.

Pulley Wall Light from Go Home, $497.50. Décor Interiors.

Dakota Wall Light, $849.99 (sale). Cultured Living.

Boston Plug In Library Sconce, $335.90 (sale).  Bellacor.  I like that this could be pulled closer to you, much in the same way a pulley light could.  It would work well for task lighting, when you need a little extra brightness only where you are.

Extender Wall Lamp, $585. J Covington Designs.


1920’s Factory Sconce, $259 from Restoration Hardware.  I love the distinctly Steampunk vibe they have going on, though I am not sure I can pull it off.


Then late last night I found this:

Benjamin 17” Bomber Porcelain Stem Mount Light, $239. Barn Light Electric.

I spent hours looking through the Barn Light Electric site.  I love everything.  I want one of each, all in Jadeite! The pieces are simple, a little industrial, a little vintage, and you can order them in plenty of colors. They aren’t cheap, but they aren’t break the bank expensive either.  And barn lights + leather workshop, it just seems to fit.

Off to count down the days in my tiny studio…



Monday, January 9, 2012

Stop Obsessing!

Over the weekend I picked up a pair of really (really) funky French doors from the REStore (re-building supplies in Seattle) as well as a medicine cabinet door that is currently sitting in my living room.  And, woohoo, I got a sink on Craigslist for $20! Score! 

And I obsessed more about lighting. I really think that recessed lighting is the way to go, I just hate it.  I mean, really, really hate it.  Or did, until I found this:

VE 863 Recessed Light by Ottocento from Lighting 55.  $140.00

But at $140/ea (and I need 10) this isn’t going to happen.  Maybe every other one could be special?  Doubtful, so I did a little research and found some very sweet trims for recessed lighting, that might make them a bit more bearable.  Almost all are under $30, and recessed lights are cheap when you buy boring ones, so this might be a good solution!

Victorian Trim, $11.99 from Lamps Plus.

Renaissance LR-105 in Old Wood Gold, $28 from Beaux Artes.  They have others, too, but this was my favorite. They also have a ton of finishes, too, so you can get a totally custom look!

Recessed Light Medallion, $16 from Rensup.  They also have other styles and this is one of the simpler ones.

Eurofase with Cast Wreath Gimbal Trim, $33.30 from CSN Lighting.  I would definitely paint this one so it wasn’t shiny.

Or could someone just cut me a little star trim like the first one for each?  I would be so thrilled.  And I’d paint it a nice light turquoise color….



Friday, January 6, 2012

Counter Colors

Never one to shy away from color, I’m thinking the Azurite Corian for the countertops (just in the kitchenette, though):

Is it too bright?  Mint Ice is also pretty, and more along the lines of the color scheme of that plywood walled apartment:

Aaah, maybe that is better.  Even better is stripes:

Photo from K+BB.

It’s a short post because I’m pretty decided on this one.  Bright greenish blue countertops. Maybe a pop of pink somewhere.  These will be perfect with my plywood walls and the vintage metal cabinets.  So excited.



Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lighting, Take Two.

Had a sit-down with the contractors, Todd and Kent, yesterday.

Todd:  “So what did you have in mind for lighting?”

Me: “I am kind of obsessed with the pulley pendants.  I think they’d be great because I could pull them down to a workspace, then push them out of the way when I’m not using them”   Yes, dramatic understatement.  I’m completely obsessed.

Kent: “Did you check what the drop is when they are fully up?”

Me: “Nope” and thinking, oh, crap.  That’s a deal breaker.  The roof in the space slopes from 10’ at one end to about 7’ at the other. 

I checked the drop last night.  These little beauties dropped themselves right off my list.  The shortest is 40” from the ceiling when fully retracted.  That puts it closer to the floor than the ceiling in the shorter space.  Darn.

So how about this, but inside:

These are strands of light strings that use full-size bulbs.  I’m pretty sure one would be enough for the entire studio since it has 24 bulbs (eek!) on it.  And they come in white. And they are well within budget!

Heavy-Duty Commercial Grade Outdoor Lights, $105/strand from Sival Lighting.

Just a thought, only a thought.



Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Taking Lighting to Task

Contractors said they thought pendant lights were the way to go.  And after a hard day of internet research, I found the Jade Rise and Fall Light from The French House on the Remodelista site (another new favorite).  Sadly, I think getting a collection of these for the studio is not in the budget (they are about $262 US each, not including shipping from the UK).   They are amazing, though, aren’t they?  And being able to pull a light closer to me as I work, or push it out of the way when not in use, is such a functional attribute.

I found some others, though they all seem so blah in comparison:

Hudson Valley Rise and Fall Light. $380.00 from Lighting Direct

Industrial Single Pulley Pendant. $249 from Restoration Hardware.

Architects & Heroes Pulley Mini Pendant. $190 from Bellacor.  This one actually might do. I like the milk glass shade.

Porter Pendant.  $79-129 from the Pottery Barn. They are simple, and really not that expensive, all things considered.  I think maybe (oh maybe) I can find some jade-colored high heat paint and just attack the metal ones….



Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year, a New Studio

I have never been fan of drywall.  It seems so artificial, and it’s definitely not a sturdy material. Not sturdy enough for a studio.  So I am thinking plywood.  I don’t honestly know where the idea came from, but here’s what I found: it is awesome.

From The Kitchen Vote

Photos from Dezeen

Photos from Design Crisis. One of my new favorite blogs.


I love this one.  It reminds me of my old neighbor Alice’s kitchen.  Photo from Bijou Kaleidoscope.

These last three were the ones that really started it all.  Originally from Country Home and re-posted in many places, I love the light aqua color against the soft light wood.  It’s that perfect combination of vintage, modern, and industrial that I can’t resist.  Contractors are onboard.  They break ground on Wednesday.  I can barely contain my excitement.