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!



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

5 Guy Gifts for Father’s Day

Believe it or not, Father’s Day is right around the corner, which means it’s time to start hunting down that perfect gift for Dad. Want to get a little more creative than the typical tie or baseball cap this year? Look no further than Moxie & Oliver for a unique leather item that your father is sure to appreciate and actually use. Our wide variety of handmade pieces provides something for everyone, and make for a perfect manly present for Dad. Plus: everything is customizable! Add your Dad’s initials or pick a cool pattern for any leather item.

Here are five of our favorite guy gifts:

The Simplicity iPad Case.
Whether Dad doesn’t have a case at all or could use an upgrade this is a great gift idea. Choose from camera straps, iPad/iPhone/iPod cases, Kindle cases, laptop sleeves, and nook cases. All made with quality vegetable-tanned leather, these electronic protectors are extremely durable and sure to last the device’s lifetime. Dad will think of you each time he uses it—which will be a lot. Go with a simple, solid colored iPad case or get Dad a cool wood grain patterned camera strap for his trusty Nikon or Canon camera.

A belt is debatably a man’s favorite and most practical accessory. Just like a button-down shirt or a tie, Dad could always use a new belt. Choose plain leather for a classic versatile look, or push for a fashion statement with a patterned belt like the Tweet Belt or the Sweet Home Belt.

The Wood Grain watch.
A wristwatch is a classic Father’s Day gift. Giving him a one-of-a-kind, high-quality leather one will show him how much thought went into it.  He’ll think of you every time he checks the clock. Moxie & Oliver’s cuff watches – like the Wood Grain watch and edgy Cow Skull are really unique and personalized pieces that dad will definitely use if he’s the watch-wearing type.

You know your dad will use this gift. Choose from a variety of shapes, sizes and styles to best suit your father’s day-to-day style. We carry executive, passport, bifold, trifold, biker and small wallets. Make it extra special with a customized pattern or engraving. The rustic Wild Wheat Money Clip Wallet is great for a father who’s all about simplicity, and the dad with a sense of humor will get a kick out of our tongue-in-cheek wallet styles, like the Cult Classic.

The Leif Flask.
If your dad’s a drinker, these beverage accessories will always come in handy. We have tons of flask sizes, even key chains, with many different patterns to choose from. A wine tote is a creative gift that would make for a great customizable piece. For the wine-o dads, a personalized wine tote is a unique statement shopping piece that shows he cares enough about tannins and the wine’s ‘nose’ to carry it in style. Or, a one-of-a-kind leaf-patterned flask is the perfect gift for a dad who likes to bring along a nip of whiskey to the summer barbecue.

Check out our five favorite guy gifts for Father’s Day.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Custom Guest Book–It’s Wedding Season!


So between trying to bang out chapters for my book on leathercraft (being published Summer 2015), filling orders, chasing after babies, and trying to make some progress ridding our house of the hideous colors left by the old owners, it’s wedding season. 

Now, most years wedding seasons would pass me by unnoticed, but this year is different.  So far this year I’ve had three cousins get married.  I have 30-some-odd cousins, so by volume it’s not that many, but still.   Still to come, that I’m aware of, are one more cousin wedding, two friend weddings, and my stepdad is getting married as well.

All this to say that I’m really getting into this wedding gift thing.  And wedding favors.  I will be doing a lot of those, too.

This guest book is our wedding gift to friends of ours who are getting hitched in about two weeks.  I loved the art deco feel of the invitation, so I used some of the stylistic elements, and the fonts, to create the pattern for the guest book.

For another layer of personalization, I added their names and their wedding date on the inside cover.  Not that either of them would ever forget…

ben and calsee 1ben and calsee 2ben and calsee 3ben and calsee 4

A handmade guest book makes a wonderful wedding gift, of course, and I have a growing collection on the Moxie and Oliver website.  I am also happy to do custom guest books by request – you can send me a scan of the invitation, or just give me some direction on what you would like.  Super heros? Sugar skulls? Something more traditional? Yes, I can do that.  Just send me an email ( with your custom request.

I hope all of y’all are getting out and enjoying the spring. It’s warm here, and that always makes it a little hard to stay inside and work.  This is why I think people in Seattle are so creative – it’s dreary here nine months out of the year, and we have to stay inside.  There’s nothing better to do when you’re a shut-in than to make stuff.