Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Always a Bridesmaid

smokey poppy cuff (375x250)smokey poppy cuff 2 (375x250)smokey poppy cuff 3 (375x250)smokey poppy cuff 4 (375x250)

Can you believe I’ve never been a bridesmaid?  Chalk it up to my deliberate lack of girliness, or sisters,  but I’ve only once been a bride (we’re hoping to keep it at that) and have never had the privilege of being a bridesmaid.  Nonetheless, I love to daydream about planning a wedding.  It’s a funny thing to do when my husband and I just celebrated our 7th anniversary, but I do love a party, and an excuse to get dressed up extra fancy like (don’t worry honey – you’re still the groom in all the daydreams).

So when I made the Smokey Poppy Cuff for a customer recently, I couldn’t help but think it would make a wonderful bridesmaid gift.  Especially since you can customize the inscription on each, and if you’d like, just shoot me an email (caitlin@moxieandoliver.com) and I can do custom colors/flowers to match your wedding.  Your bridesmaids could wear them in the wedding, and then have a personalized reminder of the wedding, and how important they are in your life.  Think of it as the modern friendship bracelet.

More on weddings coming soon.  Tis the season!




Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Personal Favorite


smokey sketchbook 1 (1500x1000)smokey sketchbook 2 (1500x1000)sketch inside (1500x1000)

Over the holidays a customer who I’ve worked with before asked me to make a journal with a very, very long quote on it.  I told her the only way it could possibly fit on something would be to go with the 8.5 x 11 size sketchbook, so we did.  The piece turned out beautifully, and the quote was one of the most beautiful inscriptions I’ve done to date. I’d been discussing the virtues of love at length with a friend recently (apparently I “love love”) and so it seemed especially poignant.  So, without further ado, here’s the quote, and you can find the Personalized Smokey Sketchbook on MOXIEandOLIVER.com.

"Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around.  You tell them things that you've never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more.  You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you.  When something wonderful happens, you can't wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement.  They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself.  Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful.  There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around.  You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are.  The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever.  Colors seem brighter and more brilliant.  Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn't exist at all.  A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day's work and always brings a smile.  In their presence, there's no need for continuous conversation, but you find you're quite content just having them nearby.  Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you.  You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do.  Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind, special song, or even a flower or rainbow.  You open your heart knowing that there's a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible.  You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure so real it scares you.  You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end.  Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile.  Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are part of your life." -Bob Marley



Thursday, March 7, 2013

How do you write on leather?

smokey clutch front (1500x1000)

Ever wondered how those lovely inscriptions get on my personalized leather pieces? A lot of people do, and I have gotten an incredible variety of guesses over the years.  So, here’s the answer, along with a brief explanation of the techniques I don’t use!

Are they engraved?  Nope.  Engraving is something you do to a hard, flat, surface (think metal, glass, and the like). Engraving incises (cuts) a fine line into the surface of the object to create the word or pattern.  It’s been used in printmaking, jewelry, and other mediums, but doesn’t doo much to leather.  Leather is too soft, and the lines of an engraver too fine, to make anything very visible (trust me, I tried).

Are they tooled? Stamped? Carved?  Nope, none of these.  I put them all together because people generally mean the same thing, or subtle variations on the same thing, when they ask these questions.  The tradition of leather tooling involves using hard metal tools and a mallet to compress parts of the leather, creating a pattern.  Carving is easiest to explain as a “freestyle” version, using tools to create pattern and shape, whereas stamping uses metal tools with letters or shapes at the end (some can be repeated to create a pattern such as a basketweave) to create the design. Leather tooling can refer to stamping or carving.  These are obviously great ways to mark leather, but they don’t give you the fine line that I need.

Are they embossed?  Nope, not that either. Embossing involves applying heat and pressure to create a raised pattern.  Each embossed design requires two dies – a male and female that fit together, and are pressed with the leather or other material between.  Not totally feasible for all the custom work that I do, since it would either be a letter at a time, or every piece would require a custom die set.

Are they drawn on with pen?  Nope, definitely not that one either.  Assuming we all know what pens are (please tell me I’m not old enough that pens have become antiquated!), I won’t go into the process this would involve.  But I will just say that drawing on leather with pen isn’t an elegant option for creating a custom piece.  It may stay for a while, but it will look like you drew on it in pen, which you almost certainly will not be happy with.

So, what do you do?  I brand.  Also called pyrography (though don’t ask me to say it), leather branding is a fantastic way to get a fine line on the leather, and allows for an infinite variation of patterns and styles.  Since everything I do is done with a red-hot pen, directly on the leather, I have the freedom and ability to customize the leather with your choice of inscription. And, the handwriting you see in the Smokey pattern pieces – that’s my handwriting. 


The one thing I’m seldom asked is if I use a laser to put my patterns on the leather.  Maybe it’s because you all can see the rustic charm from the pictures, or maybe you’ve figured I’m really not that tech savvy, either way, it doesn’t come up much even though it seems to be the way of the future.  I absolutely treasure the hands-on experience of making leather pieces and can’t imagine doing it in any way other than the traditional way.  So I’ll stick with the branding iron, tooling leather, and my studio – oh, and handmade.

Happy Thursday.