Ahoy, There Be Journals!

So, hi! Guess whose been neglecting their blog? No? Anyone?

Even though I’ve gotten horribly lax about updating on here (and Tumblr, and I’m still trying to figure out the Facebook thing), I’ve still been super busy making new works of functional art! Let me show them off here before I dive into rambling:


I started making the Traveler’s Notebook style journals in May of this year. I have so far sold 23 of them! This month marks the first month I’ve actually exceeded my (still really modest) sales goal. It also marks my first returning customer, which was a total joy for me, and I had a blast making her custom order!

Speaking of custom orders, they account for half my sales. This makes me happy. It’s hard to list everything I can customize about each journal on Etsy, so I’m glad people are comfortable enough to contact me so we can co-create a journal especially for them.

I’ve also gotten into experimenting. You may be able to see it jammed up in the upper left corner of the last photo, but I finally got around to using my studiomate’s fancy shmancy printer to print on canvas. I chose Mucha’s “Zodiac” because it’s one of my favorite works of art in public domain, and mounted that canvas on leather. It happily found its home already, but I plan on playing with the printer more in the future. (Which means I can REALLY customize journals!)



You might also be able to tell I changed my photo style. I spent the better part of this year flitting between different setups, only to return to a modified version of my original! I’m really happy with it; it’s still got white which makes everything feel nice and clean, but I like using one of my drawings as the backdrop. It makes it unique and kind of encapsulates my aesthetic fairly well!

I’ve got a lot of plans going into the New Year, so stay tuned for hopefully more frequent updates!

Major Clearance and Markdowns at Lily, Lion, Labyrinth!


It’s been a great ride so far this year, moving from wire wrapped jewelry, to painted shells, sculptures, bookmarks, and leather pouches. And while every piece of art I have listed on my Etsy store is high-quality and lives up to my rigorous standards for my work, my focus has shifted.

I want my store to represent that shift in focus, so I can more easily showcase my leather masquerade masks, journal covers, and new handbound journals.

In order to facilitate this, I’m having a huge clearance event! Many items are marked down up to 50%. Clearance items will expire in early December 2014, and will not be renewed again, so get them while they last!

Here’s a taste of some of the 30+ sale goodies:

Dollism 2014, Here I Come! New Batch of Fauxdori Journals on Etsy

I have exciting news: my partner-in-crime and myself are going to be at Dollism 2014 in September!

For those who don’t know, Dollism is an annual convention for Ball-Jointed Dolls (BJDs). This year it’s being held stateside, in Buffalo, NY. We got our registration, plane, and hotel all squared away.

Over the past few months, I’ve taken to helping out my studiomate whenever I can with their doll projects. I have been learning the basics, not enough I feel comfortable with them on my own, but good enough to think of myself as an assistant. This includes things like making molds, casting, sanding (still working on that one!), working on costumes, etc.

I will also be sculpting a head for a doll that will be entered in Dollism’s Masquerade Costume Contset! I plan on making a doll inspired by the story of Ariadne and the Minotaur.

In addition to that, Dollism has this awesome Room Sales option, where con goers can sell both factory and handmade, new and pre-owned goods related to dolls. Accessories are something I’m good at, so in addition to helping my partner-in-crime make dolls for the convention, I’ve already started working on making doll-sized leather masquerade masks, and necklaces. I also hope to finish up some leather wing sets, horn sets, corsets/waist-cinchers, hair barrettes, and more, all at doll scale. (Maybe, MAYBE little books, just to get the bookbinding bug out of my system until the fall when I’ll have more time to delve into it).

I’m super psyched! And also in a place where I’m feeling the time crunch too much, and too little. Too much to feel like I can pull it off, and too little for it to light a fire under my ass to get going. Also, I realized that the timing could be better. I’m new to selling masks, but I figure one of the busiest times will be for Halloween, so having a good stock in my shop BEFORE the convention would be best. Oi!

Lastly, I wanted to point out that in one of my creative binges, I wound up making a whopping 8 new Midori inspired Fauxdori journals this week! They showcase a good chunk of my current leather inventory, many of which are surprisingly subdued and neutral. They are currently priced in the $25 – $35 range, and can be found on my Etsy store.

Winter: A Story of Life, Encapsulated

Mixed Media Wall Piece

Mixed Media Wall Piece


I mentioned a while back that I was working on a piece for a gallery call. Unfortunately, my piece did not quite make it in, but the whole thing was a grand learning experience for me. I was able to take a concept sketch for a complicated piece and turn it into reality, almost exactly how I had envisioned. On top of that, I actually submitted it somewhere, which is one of those things I never thought I could handle doing.

A lesson for anyone else who is afraid to put themselves out there: it is totally worth it. When I got the e-mail that I was not selected, my reaction was as follows:

Minute 1: Shock
Minute 2-4: Upset
Minute 5 and Beyond: Proud

Because in addition to not having your work seen and shown somewhere, if you never put yourself out there, it’s insanely hard to actually grow with your work. I was tempted to throw in the towel MANY TIMES during this project, because it was the most complicated thing I have ever done, and insanely difficult at times. But if I had given up, then I would have looked back on the whole thing with regret. Instead, I have the satisfaction of knowing I did the best I could. And that really goes a long, long way.

That’s it in the bordering on cliche life lessons department. Now onto the piece itself: Life, Encapsulated.

The theme for the gallery call was Winter. Being a native of Texas, the winters here in New England definitely were a shock for me. I was used to living in a city where half an inch of snow or ice would shut the entire place down, but here I was, some snow banks taller than I was. The quiet, yet very fierce quality, of walking through a blizzard where I could literally not see the end of the block in front of me. Seeing even signs of city life engulfed and swallowed by ice: bicycles people forgot to move, cars completely buried, park benches gone without a trace – some not to relive again until the last traces of snow melted late into the Spring.

It was this idea of ice ensnaring life in a kind of time capsule, that I wanted to play with.


Straight out of my sketchbook, bad handwriting and all.

Straight out of my sketchbook, bad handwriting and all.


I decided pretty early on that I wanted my piece to not only be wearable, but stand alone on a wall as a complete work of art. My artwork tends to balance precipitously on the edge of art versus craft, and I normally like that kind of liminal, subjective quality. But sometimes it can be nice to firmly plant yourself on one side or the other. For me, this meant also making the leap of crafting a stand for the mask/headdress.

I have worked in 3D before, but I can safely say deciding to sculpt a life-size face from a material I had hardly ever worked with before, was a challenge (and something I want to repeat!). The face is done with polymer clay, and has been painted with acrylics, dry pigments, and marker. I wanted the face to read as feminine, but not overly so, and icy. In my head, this face was some kind of elemental entity, who not only froze life, but harbored it safely until the warmer months.

I also inadvertently learned how to make faux moonstone in this process. And that, while noses are terribly difficult for me to draw, they are very easy to sculpt. Process works in reverse for mouths.


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The mask/headdress piece is made from tooling leather, painted with acrylic. The veil is a sheer fabric, that changes colors between watery blue, and fiery red. It features silver chain, with Swarovski crystal accents, and plastic icicles. The ice accents and cage are also plastic – all made from CD shards and adhesive. Inside the cage, a lone seedling stands, made from polymer clay and wire. The back of the piece is partially lined with suede, so that it can be worn comfortably for short durations.

The deadline this was done on was tight: 3 weeks. Considering the majority of the piece was new techniques (I do NOT recommend working with CDs as an art medium for the faint of heart), that’s not too bad. But in addition to sleepless nights, it also meant a very quick photo session. I hope to retake these pictures at a later date!


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(I also owe a big thanks to my partner-in-crime, who not only helped me sculpt the mouth, but gave constant moral support to push me through!)

It Feels Like Art School All Over Again

Deadlines are nice things. They make you actually commit to, and follow through on, a project. For me, they help give guidance, and a desperately needed sense of structure and routine. Yeah. I’m one of those people that needs structure in my life or I go crazy.

On the flip side, deadlines suck. Big time. Because no matter how much I try to plan,  I have a tendency to fall behind schedule. This is because of two things: other aspects of my life get in the way, and I wind up underestimating how much time learning a new skill that will be implemented in a project might take.

So, when you have a partner-in-crime like I do, that can get amplified sometimes. In addition to their projects, they also wind up helping me – correcting anatomy in drawings, modelling masks and jewelry, helping me hold unwieldy pieces of leather while I beat them into submission.

But just as often, I wind up helping in their projects, too. That’s what this past long weekend has been about. Sleepless nights, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Three pitchers, in fact. We both have deadlines on June 20th, for a local gallery’s submission call (hopefully we’ll get them done and make the cut! More on that project later). But my studiomate also has a deadline of today, the 15th, for a magazine submission call.

I’ve been taking on as much of the grunt work as I can, to help lighten the load. Cutting. Sealing. Grommet-setting. But for this project, I’ve had to learn a few new skills. The first is sitting on my workspace as we speak: rivets. Very nifty little things. Great for connecting pieces of leather together for doll-sized armor. Pain in the ass, but pretty straightforward.

The other was drawing on a large scale. My partner’s projects often require photo backdrops. I’ve done the all-too-familiar ocean at sunset, which is the backdrop for the majority of pieces in the gallery and on my Etsy page. I’ve done a wilderness-colored Rothko inspired piece. But this time, something more figural was needed: the Archangel Michael.

I’m no stranger to drawing angels. In fact, I used to be obsessed with doing so in high school, and they are still a theme that reverberates throughout my own work. But I’m used to drawing on a small scale. I’ve never drawn anything near the 22 x 44 inches this illustration was. (See below for scale – the coffee staining phase! That was fun).

Omnom coffee

Omnom coffee

In addition to the sheer scale, the figure I drew was male. Not smack-you-in-the-face masculine; I have a tendency to picture most angels as some gradient of androgynous. But male, and lacking a shirt. I have not drawn a male figure in around a decade. (I haven’t been doing much drawing lately, period).

And charcoal. I also haven’t used charcoal for probably 8 or 9 years. But the graphite proved too slow-going for a drawing that needed to be done in a small handful of hours. And like a lot of artists, this is what happens when I use charcoal:

This is me. Not that my studiomate fared much better. When they laughed, I put charcoal on their face in retaliation. Mwaha.

This is me. Not that my studiomate fared much better. When they laughed, I put charcoal on their face in retaliation. Mwaha.

Then I got to learn how to seal the sucker. Which would have been easier if the sun was not beating down on my sunburn from a parade yesterday. And if spiders were not lurking around every corner. I do not like spiders. Spiders make me hysterical.

But despite all the curve balls, I managed to pull it off. Below is a cropped version. If you want to see how the drawing gets used, I would recommend following my studiomate, who makes awesome ball-jointed dolls. Their website is under construction, but they’re on DeviantART here!

Cropped Version: graphite, charcoal, colored pencil, coffee

Cropped Version: graphite, charcoal, colored pencil, coffee

End of May Wrap-Up: Masquerade Masks, Midori Covers, Gallery Call, Site Updates, and The Complete Artist’s Way

I thought about trying to break this post into several smaller ones, but I think it’d be easier if I just got it all down in one go. So WoT warning, and photos! So many photos.

Masquerade Masks

In my last post, I mentioned having gotten a few masks ready to paint. My sense of time lately has been really messed up; I didn’t realize how far along I’d come since then. Those three flower-themed masks have been finished (and listed on Etsy!). I have also finished the first two colorways of my Iris mask!

My studiomate and I made it down to the local park to take some photographs of the masks being worn. I feel like doing this really helps convey their shape, size, and color better. So major credits go to SilverAshStudios (link goes to DeviantART), for both helping take photos, and model the masks.

In addition to getting those masks wrapped up, I’m in the process of another batch. The new batch includes two more color variations of the Lily and the Rose masks, as well as a silver and gold Icarus mask. I like working in batches. By the time I get settled into one step of making a mask, such as cutting or carving, it’s over. But by working in batches, I can get into the flow of it more.

The problem is, I think the batch is a bit large for me to handle comfortably. It’s not only six masks, but the Icarus mask is made up of multiple pieces. So in the future, I plan to work in batches of 4-5 single piece masks at once, with the exception being for bulk custom orders.

See the madness!

Next Batch of Leather Masquerade Masks

You will notice one of the lily masks is significantly darker than the other. That’s because it’s from our old stock of tooling leather. We (being studiomate) and I just took the plunge into buying a whole cow hide. Well, two halves of a whole hide. The leather came from Tandy last month when they were running a really good sale, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. And huge. See one of them (please excuse our couch; it’s super comfortable, and usually has an elegant cover on it, when it’s not being used to hold cattle):

One of the characteristics of handmade masks is that, no matter how careful you are, each one is going to be unique. Even when I use the same pattern, the molding stage can radically change not only the aesthetics of the mask, but its general energy. I knew this already, but didn’t really see it until I molded these two Icarus masks. Same pattern. Totally different feel. Now I get to decide which one is silver, and which is gold!:

Same pattern. Different molding style.

I have already started doing some concept sketches for another round of masks, including the themes of Tulips, the Minotaur, and Ariadne. I have some other projects to work on before I can get to them, however.

Midori (Fauxdori) Journal Covers

As I wrote about recently, I’ve gotten into making some Midori-inspired journal covers. Since Jack’s custom order, I received another order for a 6 x 8 inch cover. The woman was an absolute joy to work with, and reminded me of why I like making custom orders in the first place.

There are also the three small Passport sized covers still in my Etsy shop. One is made from a brown hide that still has its fur, with a buttery soft gray suede back. A second is just plain, sealed tooling leather. The third is the kind of journal I hope to be focusing on more in the future: painted tooling leather. I already have plans for a peacock, and a rose!

I also have some personal project ideas in the works. One, for an entirely handbound leather journal. The second, a prototype for a Midori-inspired cover that will work to cover wire spiral-bound notebooks and sketchbooks. My hope is to get that prototype done in June or July.

Winter Gallery Project

A local gallery has a submission call for a show this summer, with a Winter theme. I have never submitted anything to a gallery before. My art has not been in any kind of show since High School. I purposefully avoided all activities like that in college.

I’m nervous. I do consider the artwork I post here to be, well, art. But the piece I’m working on now is Art. Its concept is stronger and more involved, as is the overall design, and display.

I have something like 20 days left to pull it off. I will post more on it as things progress!

The Complete Artist’s Way

I’ve had Julia Cameron’s “The Complete Artist’s Way” sitting on my bookshelf for over four years now, unread. I actually left it behind in Texas when I moved, and only recently brought it back with me over my last visit.

Considering how stuck in a rut I’ve felt lately, and my sudden desperation to get out of it, I am hoping to start reading and doing the coursework. I sat down with the book today, and was already struck by her quote: “Leap, and the net will appear”.

Faith has never been a strong suit of mine. But it’s something I’ve been working on. And the theme of leaping and nets is a recurring one in my life, that I would like to explore more.

Not only that, Cameron then went on to talk about spirals. Her writing was almost word-for-word a conversation my studiomate and I had last night. Sometimes, it looks like you are just going in circles, going through the same issues over, and over again. But what you’re actually doing, is moving upwards in spirals, and each encounter of the same issue is like a new level.

The timing of it all has been uncanny. If the book and I get along and things pan out, I plan on writing more about my experiences with it on here in the future.

Site Updates

Site updates are incredibly overdue. I’m still trying to work out layout and design in my head, let alone updating the galleries on here. I also want to purchase a domain name. Stay tuned for a rehaul sometime this summer!

April Showers Bring May Flowers, but what do April Snowstorms Bring?

From what I hear, weather has been crazy all around this year. In my little corner of the world, it was still snowing as of April 16th. The whole onset of Spring feels delayed and stunted, and we go bouncing back and forth between 50s and 80s.

However, this past Saturday I went and hung out in the Boston Public Gardens. I spent most of the four hours just resting under what wound up being a Spruce tree, but I also got to see the Make Way for Ducklings statue and snatch some pictures including a selfie in which I am in camouflage among the cherry blossoms:

Seeing Cherry Blossoms in person was totally on my bucket list.

Seeing Cherry Blossoms in person was totally on my bucket list.

The first flowers I tend to see peeking through the soil other than Narcissus are the Tulips. And I mean TULIPS. Tulips EVERYWHERE, in every color imaginable. Tulips remind me of my mother, and their streamlined appearance has always struck me as unique:

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I took a small series of photos because I am working on a series of leather masquerade masks based on flowers. I never got around to posting about the first three as they were in their infancy, but here is a shot of Rose, Lily, and Poppy all molded and ready to paint:

From left to right: Lily, Rose, Poppy

From left to right: Lily, Rose, Poppy

At the moment, I’ve only made one of each. But I currently have three colorways planned for Lily and Rose, and two for Poppy.

My hope is to somehow manage to get them painted and straps installed in time for my partner-in-crime and I to take photos of them while the blossoming trees are still in bloom. So, like…now.

The next three in the Flowers series will probably be Tulip, Cherry Blossom, and Marigold. But since I don’t have concrete ideas for them yet, that could easily change.

In more mask project updates, I am working on coming up with a winter-themed piece to see if I can get it into a local gallery show. I also want to do Icarus V. 2, and start sketching plans for Halloween.

Busy, busy, busy!

My Adventures into Fauxdori Land

In my last post, I wrote about my partner-in-crime’s notebook cover being my gateway leather project. I also wrote about a good friend’s (Jack) custom order, which I want to talk more about here. (You should totally check out his blog; he writes awesome content about paganism, magic, and more).

I was the geeky kid in elementary school who saved up all of their allowance to spend it on office supplies. Yes. Office supplies. (Oh my god, those erasable pens? Major let down). I practically hoarded journals my entire life, but never really wrote in them. They felt way too permanent. What would I do if I marred their perfect pages with messy graphite, or crossed out words?

So when I first discovered the concept of refillable journals, I was ecstatic. I purchased an awesome leather cover from a company called Renaissance Arts that could fit a Moleskine. I love  my leather work. But I go crazy for brown, distressed leather, of which I do not tend to work in because it clashes with my hand-drawn elements.

I do not use said notebook. Nowadays, I tend to favor sketchbooks and plain, old copy paper which I grew up drawing on and sticking in binders. I liked their versatility.

But last month, Jack asked me if I had ever heard of Midori. I, whose foreign language classes in college were in Japanese, was confused. Green? Have I heard of green?

Nope. Apparently Midori Notebooks are a completely awesome, and simple, system for keeping notebooks. They consist of a journal cover that has elastic sewn into it, that you can slip pamphlet-styled notebooks into. The elastic holds them in place, and many of the notebooks allow you to hold multiple inserts in one single, compact leather folio.

I liked this idea. Jack asked me if I would be up for making him one with a custom logo, even though I tend to do more religious work.

It’s true that my spirituality does tend to infuse most of my artwork, in the form of mythology. But there has always been something really magical to me about writing. (In addition to collecting office supplies, I also played “Publishing House” with a friend of mine instead of regular house. Yes. We totally wrote little books and made multiple copies and…yeah).

I think one of may favorite parts about my work, is that I make things people will use. Whether it’s wearable masks, or pouches to hold loose change, or journal covers – my art is meant to be functional. And the thought that somebody out there is using something I poured my heart into, and maybe if I am lucky that piece of my work contributes to their lives in some meaningful way, makes me happy beyond measure.

So my first adventure into Fauxdori Land was a big success. I loved the journal. More importantly, Jack seems to love the journal. And I quickly made three additional covers that I will soon be adding to Etsy. With more in the works.

I don’t have pictures of those three yet, but here. Have a picture of Jack’s custom order:


Leather Fauxdori

Back from Texas – Scarborough Faire, Commissions, and Masks!

So a little over a week ago, I made it back from visiting my family in Texas. I moved to Massachusetts nearing two years ago, and aside from my family, one of the things I miss most is the yearly Renaissance festival in Waxahachie – Scarborough Faire.

Lesson of the month: I work well with deadlines. I had debated making some accessories to wear at the festival, both to be, well, festive, and as a kind of walking advertisement. The stress of travel made me abandon those plans until the last second (2.5 days, still needing to pack) where this conversation totally happened:

Me: Whywhywhy do I do this to myself?

Partner-in-Crime:  Do what?

Me: Decide to make a big, complicated project when I have no time.

Partner-in-Crime: Because that’s what it takes for it to be interesting. “Make a belt in a week? Psh. Boring. Make a belt in two days? GAME ON.”

Me: …..

Partner-in-Crime:  When the weather gets cooler, we can get you a coat with a collar that you can turn up to look cool.

Me: Well, I do have the cheekbones.

Cookies to you if you get the reference!

Anyway, I did a marathon of an art session where I cranked out not only a waist cincher, but a hair piece, and finished up a purse, in the matter of two and a half days. I have yet to take good photos of any of these, but here, have a work-in-progress shot of the former:

Leather Waist Cincher WIP

Leather Waist Cincher WIP

Since I got back, I have been kind of burnt out, and mostly trying to recover and tidy up our apartment. I did get around to completing a custom order from a dear friend for a leather notebook cover. After I talk it over with him some, if he is willing, I will hopefully talk about it more on here later.

Little known fact: the entire reason I got into leatherwork was because of a journal. At the time, I was working on a studio art degree and one of my classes was Bookbinding. My partner-in-crime requested I make them a journal.

The project quickly turned from my binding a plain paper journal, into my making a leather cover that can be refilled with large Moleskine sketchbooks. The inspiration? The Corona Borealis constellation and the moon in a starry night sky. After a test run, the notebook wound up being my second ever leather project:

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But, back on point. I completed the custom order, and was so thrilled with the outcome, I plan on making some additional covers to sell, and opening up for custom orders. Also coming soon, are leather hair barrettes and new masks! My goal is to have a handful of them listed up by the end of the month. Until then, here is the concept art for the newest mask design, based on the goddess Iris (prints available on Etsy):

Iris Mask Concept Art

And now I am off to try – once again – to get the studio space just a little bit cleaner!