I have been doing some screen printing and sewing with recycled leather making some sweet things: onesies with the bird with attitude front and centre, lucy canvas pouches, glasses/phone/makeup cases. and small change pouches.
HAPPY APRIL 1st! Here in Ontario we have sun and double digit temperatures, finally. The sap in the maple trees is pouring and it’s time to get out the bikes. HURRAH!
We made a spring change on the blog too. We put a new button on the right side of the page under Navigation: Rug Hooking Gallery. A selection of my rugs was on the blog at some point, but in one of the updates that page was replaced and somehow the gap slipped by. So I have reposted some of them on this special page accessed from the sidebar button. Check them out when you have a minute. I haven’t been working on my latest rug, How We Spend out Days, for some time but I will get back at that this summer.
I’m also back in the studio and inspired–finally! I decided to ‘test drive’ one of my totes, a good thing to do for quality control, to see what it is like to live with and use a design. So I packed up this one and took it to Seattle as a carry-on. I’ve been using it every day since. It’s made from deep brown upholstery remnants and it is both roomy and tough. I can stuff it with all my sketching gear, gym shoes, macbook and other paraphernalia and it handles it well.
So…I had some equally good black upholstery remnants and upcycled men’s leather jacket pieces, not enough for a tote, but enough for a shoulder bag. You can see the start here on the cutting table. I’m considering adding a flash of red to this one, maybe under a pocket flap, or inside the strap tabs.
And to finish off with some colour. This pile of cashmere was on the table–glorious colours. I bought them at a thrift store sale deep in the winter and there they were, through the freezer and washing stages and ready to inspire.
These key rings will be a bright reminder of where your keys are. There is a stainless ring on one end which opens to hold your keys and a clip on the other to hold the key ring securely in your bag or clip on to a special key. I’ve been saving small pieces of my favourite leather for ages, just unwilling to part with them, and this was the perfect project for them. Each is made of two pieces of leather, usually contrasting. The orange, for example, is lined with pink. These will be at the show next week and following that in the on-line store.
I went to the city on Saturday for two main reasons. First I wanted to to see Ancestry and Aristry, the display of Mayan textiles from Guatemala and secondly I knew of a good quality leather remnant sale.
Toronto was in the midst of a deluge, and of course crowded to the hilt with Film Festival goers–Brad Pitt arrived just after I walked along King St–(no I didn’t see him!) But my umbrella and I were able to get to both of my venues with ease. The display at the Textile Museum was wonderful. I especially was interested in the three hooked rugs from the Thirteen Threads Cooperative where Mary Anne Wise has been teaching rug hooking. Jenn Manuell was there this year and posted great photos on her blog. The colours and vitality of all the work, mostly embroidery and weaving, were outstanding–and the women have carried these qualities into their rug hooking. Of course I am interested in how their techniques of using traditional motifs and patterns can apply to hooking in Kenya. And interested too in the fabrics they used which seemed to be pretty much what they could lay their hands on.
I was thrilled to get this 4 kg pile of good quality leather remnants. I find that a small piece spurs my imagination and I come up with new designs which would not occur to me if I had lots of leather. The red piece in particular beckons.
Here are some new Colour Therapy pouches made out of my scraps of recycled leather. I love combining the various pieces of skirts and jackets and coloured zippers to make a statement. Some of these are lined with fine black cotton and some with cotton batik. Each pouch will be listed separately in the on-line store, I hope by tomorrow.
I’ve also made another cobalt clutch with detachable wrist strap, great batik lining and a magenta leather interior pocket. This is a rich colour and super leather–you may remember my finding not one, but two cobalt leather skirts. So I should be able to make a couple more of these. This one is a great size–9.5″ wide, 7.5″ tall and 3″ deep–will carry all your essentials. The interior slip pocket is great for subway tokens, credit cards or theatre tickets. And the clip-on wrist strap is for easy carrying — or attaching inside your tote or travel bag. Check the shop tomorrow morning for this too.
Recycled leather, new designs. Just a visual hint about what is coming. I’m revisiting my recycled bins to make some new totes. I have also decided to start a new hooked piece and make it entirely out of my leftovers from previous rugs, baskets of them. Currently I am inspired by the Brazilian design team of Humberto and Fernando Campana and the circles in their Sushi Chair made of recycled carpet ends.
One of the best ways for me to process a significant experience is to throw myself into the activity of ‘making’. I learned last year that a month in Kenya, living alongside the people there — not travelling to and looking at — but living with them, is a marvellous gift. But it is a gift that takes time to process and then from there to take action. I’ve learned that I do my best processing when I am involved in making something. I’ve been sketching from the photos I took while there. I love the elegance of the women as they go about their daily chores and I am trying to capture that in my sketches. And I’ve been in the studio working with some leather and evocative pieces of cotton. For me, the leather and lining of each bag tell a story. The leather has had a former life–and the lining evokes the day, the place and the emotion surrounding its purchase or creation. Heavy freight for a bag you throw your wallet and your lunch in? Yes, maybe. But it is where my mind goes when I am making and how I work the memories and the plans into the texture of my days.
Below is the Bondo Luna bag made from 2 remnants of pebbly chocolate leather and a small piece of the Montreal black biker leather pants. Inside is the cotton fabric bought in the Bondo market. The colours are the colours of Bondo. The bag is 13″x12″x4″ with an adjustable shoulder strap, two interior leather pockets and a zipper closing.
And then I have been making some small shoulder bags out of various pieces of recycled leather. These measure approximately 6″x6″ with a shoulder strap of 43″. They have a pocket both outside and inside and a snap closure. Update March 4: the turquoise and black bags are sold.
This new Keller travel tote is made to carry all your travel gear. It is 16.5″x 16″ with a 6.5″ bottom, two pockets on the outside and two large ones inside and a metal zipper closing. I like the options of a shoulder strap and handles on a large tote and this tote has an adjustable webbing strap which I ‘borrowed’ from another bag. In fact this whole bag is a reincarnation–it had another life as a jacket and pair of Ralph Lauren pants. I have tried to retain as many of the geometric lines of the jacket as I could. The lining is heavy-duty canvas which gives the bag the strength it will need–and of course a couple of birdbrain graphics to make the owner smile.
I have begun to hook with strips of t-shirt material and it is taking some getting used to. First of all the cutting of the strips is a challenge. I am currently using a rotary cutter, but that takes so much time! Then there is deciding on the width of the strip–wider seems better. And I am discovering that cotton does not behave in the accommodating way wool does. In addition, finding good colours is a challenge–I have slipped in some dyed lime green nylons in this square, just for some pizzazz.
With all these negatives, why am I doing this, you ask? Well it is a challenge. And it is recycling. But the main reason is I am going to Kenya in January and hoping to teach the women in the village there how to hook rugs. I was looking for material which would be locally available and thought immediately of this source of cotton. So I am experimenting with all facets of this new hooking and will keep you posted.
And here is the next leather bag–still very much in process. This will be a big travel tote with handles and a cross-body strap. I order to make something this size, I am using two leather sources, a pebbly bomber jacket and a pair of leather pants. The colours seem to work well together, so I am just trying to work with the many seams in the jacket. Will let you know how this goes as well.