Looking for some boho style inspiration? I've compiled some of my favorite pics from recent Ninth House photoshoots by the super talented Kelly Sparks of Kelly Sparks Photography in the new Lookbooks section of the website! Kelly is a fellow Texan and does an amazing job capturing the "soul" of each piece. Click on the photos to see more from each set and shop the leather jewelry featured in each lookbook!
Dyeing leather can sometimes be a tedious process. There are a variety of oil, alcohol, and water based dyes available in the world of leather crafting. You can use them straight out of the jar, or even mix alcohol dyes for custom tones. Each one absorbs differently into leather and has its own set of characteristics. Many leather workers prefer using one kind over the others, or they choose the type of dye based on the project they're working on. Since I prefer to use antique stains on most of my leather bracelets, I typically use water based dyes to show off the tooling patterns.
Because I've gotten lots of complements on my work in "natural" form when sharing photos of the tooling before applying the leather stain, I've played around with the idea of offering a natural option (without a stain) for some of my leather cuffs and leather wristbands.
In toying with this idea, I decided I wanted to see what an antique leather stain would look like on one of my natural leather cuff bracelets. In other words, I wanted to only stain the tooling patterns and leave the rest of the leather unstained. So, I started playing around with leather resist techniques on the Bison Concho Leather Cuff which resulted in this.
I was thrilled that it turned out exactly how I imagined it. It really can't be that easy, can it? Hell no!
An important step after dyeing leather is to apply a protective water resistant finish. This is often the trickiest process, especially when working with darker stains like black and brown since water based dyes are often picked up by the acrylic finishes. This results in uneven, unattractive, blotchy color that can ruin your piece and send you into leather crafter despair unless you have some practice and application tricks up your sleeve.
So, of course, I was a little nervous when I went to apply the top coat onto this little experiment. And, well hell, it ended up pulling a lot of the color out of the tooling marks and I almost threw in the towel. I should have taken a picture, but instead of picking up the camera to snap a pic of my epic failure, I decided to stain it again but this time waited a few days before applying the top coat again.
Not bad for my second attempt with my first try. The leather outside of the tooling marks is a little darker than its natural form, but I think it has a rich, rustic look to it.
I still need a bit more practice before offering this option on more of my leather bracelets, so I'd love to hear what you guys think! Post a comment below and let me know.
At home most days you'll find me upstairs covered in leather dust (and dog hair) pounding away with my tools. When I'm not leather working, I'm busy multitasking on my computer and phone editing my online shops and Instagramming (is that a real verb now?!) while binge watching Netflix (currently I'm catching up on the last few seasons of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia).
Managing a small business is a lot of work, as many of you know firsthand. So I decided to put on yet another hat (let's see, currently there's the designer hat, leather worker hat, materials buyer hat, accountant hat, website developer hat, SEO hat, photography hat...you get the picture, my head has hats stacked as high as Marge Simpson's hair) and start a BLOG! Why? Because I just don't want to sleep anymore, that's why!
Really, though, I want to be able to share more of my process and work with you all. There's only so much that can be conveyed via social media, so the blog is where I will share more behind the scenes stuff and shop news with you, like previews of new ideas, sneak peaks of new leather goods, insights on leather crafting, highlights of other artisans I admire, and, best of all, pictures of my dog. Because we all know dog and cat pics are what really matter online.
So welcome to my virtual studio! Please excuse the mess, I've taken off my cleaning hat.