Clean Slate

You may have noticed that I've managed to focus on only a few projects lately.  It's the joy and pain of custom orders. I truly enjoy the collaborative energy that customs take, but there's also the pressure of meeting deadlines and praying that my work will be what the receiver thinks she asked for (or he!). 


It means challenges in trying something new.  It means hoping the colors come out alright, working into the night. Photos are key in showing not only progress, but also changes to the original design. Communication is so important!  


There’s a lot of faith. 


There’s a lot of fear and frustration. 


My studio becomes messy, cluttered, near disaster zone status.  Scraps of leather everywhere, bungled rivets scatter the floor, fighting with spilled beads for dominance. (Watch your step!) There is a buzz of energy as deadlines approach (backpacks are needed when school starts! eep!) 


The sweet relief of a successful custom order is brilliant.  The deep breath when the last bead or rivet is put in its place.  The click of the shutter as I take photos to record, to remember.  The swoosh of the broom as I unearth the floor and workbench from the clutter. 

Then there’s all the other projects I have on my plate… the ones that I want to work on in tandem with the customs, but don’t have time at the end of the day to play with. 

Speaking of which...

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Backpack? Backpack!!

This backpack. Ooooh, this backpack. It nearly didn't happen, it nearly drove me insane.

Sound a bit dramatic? Yes, but it is the most challenging project I've taken on in a long, long time.  Which is why it kicked my bum.  Some of the pressure was totally my fault- it was requested by a dear, dear friend, it had a deadline that seemed manageable (or would have been if, you know, I didn't have a day job to deal with… oops).  On top of that, I threw in a completely new material. Plus it needed to be comfortable to wear, AND it needed leather to be involved as well.

I usually figure out construction in pieces and steps to about 95% before I start building a bag… This one was more like… oh, 60%. There were so many unknowns in this.  I had sketches, concepts, supplies, I knew I had the individual skills to pull it off… but would I be able to throw them all in the mixing bowl and come out with a usable bag? That was questionable.  

I can sew, but had never sewn with waxed fabric.  I can make a leather bag, but had never combined it with fabric in this way.  I’ve made purses, never backpacks.


It felt so personal, to make this right, to make it FIT her unique and fabulous body and spirit.

I almost dog-barfed it So. Many. Times.


As you can see, it worked. I had to simplify some things in the end, but it worked out.  She’s pleased as punch, and I'm exhausted and exhilarated to offer up my hand-work to such a challenging project.


I've learned a lot.


I do not know if I’ll make another, but I know enough to never lock a door to a challenge.  

Success is such a sweet reward.