Friday, September 25, 2009

Trendy New Wedding Favors

Love is in the air and so it should be as brides and grooms get ready to take their wedding vows.

During the chaotic time one of the many worries that crops up is what to give the guests as a parting gift and souvenir to this momentous occasion. Well, one of my buyers had a wonderful idea of personalized leather luggage tags. The tags below were custom made for a lady as gifts to the bride and groom.

"How perfect", I ask? The tags in the first photo display the wedding date and a simple heart stamp commemorating the auspicious occasion. We have created a privacy flap on the reverse side of the tag for a more complete and aesthetically pleasing appearance.

The following photo had a similar stamp design except the buyer wanted the surname initial to be centered to be prominent and the first initials of the bride and groom flanking it in a different font. Quite effective and stunning I might add. With the simple heart stamped beneath the wedding date.

The last photo displayed 12 luggage tags with the guests initials on it as a parting memento with the wedding date beneath. These tags were for guests that confirmed their attendance. The unconfirmed guests will receive a tag with the wedding date and no initials.

I don't know about you but I would prefer a gift that is timeless and re-usable. Confectionery is nice but short lived (and fattening). ;D
So for those hard to shop for brides and grooms or as a neat parting gift for your guests, these tags make the perfect gift idea.
Visit either one of our shops at Etsy or ArtFire
Thanks for dropping by and have a great day!!
Anne ^i^

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Dye Makes it Unique

It dawned on me the other day, when talking with some friends, that quite a few people assumed that the leather we use to make bracelets comes to us coloured. That is not the case. The leather John and I use to make personalized wristbands, portfolios and wallets.., etc. is "Live Oak" premium tooling leather. We choose the premium leather rather than the usual crafters less expensive econo grade vegetable tan leather because it has less scars and flaws on it. We buy it by the hide in its natural state, flesh tone.

Each project requires certain leather thickness, or ounces weight to be more precise. (a topic I will cover in a subsequent posting). Presently, I will briefly describe the creative process of making a leather name band.

A) I select an area on the hide that is even in thickness and cut out the dimensions of the wristband using a utility knife. The thickness on the edges of the hide are thinner then that of the thickness in the center. This has to be carefully considered when making an item that requires a lot of leather.
Once it is cut I determine where the text/name will be stamped and dampen the leather with a sponge.
Some crafters use a pencil to draw a faint line on the leather but I prefer to eye-ball the line. When I have finished stamping the text or design I let it air dry.

This is an assembly line of orders in various stages

C) When the leather is completely dry (that can be determined by the coolness of the leather. If it is damp it will be cool to the touch and darker in colour) I can apply the dye colour. If it is a gel dye I use my finger and rub it in vigorously into the leather. With liquid dye I use a wool dobber and apply it in a circular motion. Two coats are usually what I apply for an even finish. If I want a darker hue I apply more coats to the leather. I use a flat sponge brush to apply coloured liquid dyes.

I prefer liquid dyes for belts and bigger projects and gel dye for smaller project like wristbands and wallets. Liquid dyes do not work well with highlighting text so I have found.

NOTE: dye colours my vary slightly in hue with each pieces of leather. Older or grainier leather may dye darker or unevenly.

Here I removed access gel dye from the leather

D) After the dye as been applied and sufficiently dry I use a soft cloth to buff off any residual colour.
E) For best results I let the dye dry over night and apply three coats of eco-wise, waterproof finish with a wool dobber (I usually wait 10 minutes between applications). It is applied in circular motion with the excess squeezed out.
F) When the protective/sealant coat has dried it can be buffed with a clean cloth.

We will use shoe polish on larger items to give them added luster.

Dying takes some practice and can be quiet frustrating. A few factors that effect the dye finish are; drying out, age and temperature. If done incorrectly the dye may appear blotchy or streaky. If applied too thick it will crack and fall off in time. I have scrapped a few projects in the past due to this and it was a costly lesson. From these heartbreaks I have learned and acheived my own technique with which I am happy with.

G) When the dying process is finished the item is ready to be completed with snaps, lacing or stitching to create a stunning piece of fashionable jewelry.

The two sample wristbands were custom made and similar items can be created for you when you visit our Etsy or ArtFire shops.

I hope this post was helpful to folks that thought the leather in our personalized items started with coloured leather.

Thanks for dropping by!

Anne ^i^

Monday, September 7, 2009

There's No Place Like Home!!

I have heard the expression, "you don't know what you have until it's gone," many times in my life, but have never really appreciated it until just recently.

My husband, John, has been suffering with severely damaged hip joints for several years and rarely complained about it. It was only after loss of mobility and immense pain that he considered surgery.

I watched my athletic husband rapidly change into an old man. His zeal for life and activity greatly diminished when his hips bothered him. Where he used to love to go grocery shopping, he opted to remain in the vehicle and sat quietly waiting.

His sense of humour never faltered though. If anything he was more optimistic when he knew that the surgery was going to alleviate the pain and give him his mobility back.

On the 4th of September, also John's mothers birthday - Happy 84th birthday, Nan - he underwent the first of two total hip replacements by Dr. Stuart Parker at the Peterborough Civic Hospital. The procedure entailed the removal of the hip ball joint which is replaced by a porcelain type ball that is inserted into the leg bone. The hip socket is then lined with a metal plate and then re-attached to the leg. Yes! that made me somewhat squeamish but my faith in Dr. Parker far surpassed any doubts I had. My heart sank as I watched John walk towards the operating room. I knew he was ready for it but he looked back at me apprehensively. The procedure only took 1 and a half hours - recovery took 2. John chose to have the local anesthetic rather than the general (where the patient is totally under). My imagination ran amok as I waited. Then I had a moment of realization - I truly love this man, which I knew before, but was only now really feeling intensely.

Below is a picture of my dear husband, immediately after returning from recovery.
It was very difficult for me to leave but I knew that John wouldn't sleep until I did.
My three children attended the hospital the next day to visit their dad. To my surprise he was up and walked to the washroom - a feat that has progressed in leaps and bounds since earlier days of hip replacement. My daughter, Amanda taught John and I how to text on her cell. John was like a big kid, as was I, texting back and forth that night and the next.
What I found the most difficult in the entire process were the things that I thought I didn't take for granted. I have always been blessed with John's passion for cooking and cleaning up the kitchen when he was done. But now after 18 years of being spoiled, I had to retrain myself how to work these things back into my schedule. Also knowing that John was going to take some time to regain his mobility, I tackled these obstacles like a champ. My list of things-to-do doubled in length but it was my turn to return all the selfless deeds he has lovingly done for me over the years.
I just received a text from John that he passed his physio test and is awaiting for the doctors approval to go home. *fingers crossed*
In my prayers, I thanked God for John's speedy recovery and for sending him such a wonderful medical team. This whole ordeal has given me new eyes to see how totally blessed I am.
I want to thank all my friends for their prayers and good wishes - God bless!! <3
Anne ^i^

Saturday, September 5, 2009

It's All Goode - THG

This was a summer of making Good friends.

I met Jan via a convo through my Etsy shop. She is a huge follower, buyer and seller of the famed Hermes scarfs that have Wall Street bank execs. lining up on their lunch breaks waiting to buy.

Prior to getting an education on the fashion sect from Jan I had never heard of the Hermes line. *red faced*

Jan lives in New York city as well as operates her own website selling Hermes products which include jewelry, leather bags and scarves.

As the leader of a group called "THG" Jan wanted to design a tag that members could carry, on their person, as a quick representation of the following.

My Goode friend convo'd me with various ideas as to what she had in mind and after many ideas passing back and forth in emails this is what we came up with originally.

She already had the authentic Hermes name ribbon and was going to attach it to the tags I made which were made of thick leather and dyed in an acorn colour that closely represented the Hermes design.

A few weeks later Jan contacted me again and asked if I could incorporate a section of authentic Hermes crocodile leather into my tags. This is what I was able to do. She went with a natural dye instead of the acorn so as not to offset the crocodile leather.

Although this type of item is far removed from my daily life, Jan in her very gracious and unassuming manner, invited me as an honorary member of the "THG".

Do visit her website at It's all Goode.

Anne ^i^

P.S. I would like to ask for prayers for Jan's dear husband, Gus, as he has been battling cancer and could use all our prayers. God Bless!!