Dyeing is killing me

OK, not really. Dyeing the bag was actually very fun- I like distressing finishes. Stippling the new formulation of the Tandy line of waterstains is awesome- they layer beautifully. The new hi-lite (replacing the Antiquing) is the most forgiving stuff I’ve ever played with. It even washes off your skin, instead of leaving you looking like you’re developing leprosy. The kicker comes with the finishing. The new formulations of dyes don’t play nice with the old formulation Satin Sheens. How you ask? Well, they sorta dissolve the hi-lite and pull it out off all the nooks and crannies, and redistribute it in pools….really, not attractive. Before you ask, yes, I let the hi-lite cure for 2 days before finishing it.


(And saving the day for the finish was a combination of the old Satin Sheen and the amazingly finicky but tough Restolene!)

nearly there!

Pretty bird! err….dino

I have a bunch of pics for the sewing stage, which is about 1/3 of the way done. I’m off to construct a strap today, and edge finishing!


Yesterday morning I set off to my local (and awesome!) Tech Shop for a bit of recreational leather working. After a bit of frustration with the laser cutter, I finally had things all ready for my latest custom order, a field bag with everyones favorite quadra-winged raptor, Microraptor zhaoianus.

Specific tooling designs call for scribbles and notes. I prefer to do mine in as obnixous color as I can find.

I decided I wanted to keep the cracks in the slab as part of the design. This can be accomplished with tooling, but also picking a piece of leather that has some natural marks and scars.

The pale lines visible at this stage will take up dye differently than the other parts.

Then there’s the not so subtle approach where you just beat the texture into the leather with a pointy metal stick.

Once that is done, its off to adding depth and texture. Most people call this stage ‘beveling’. I call it the ugly stage. But it’s necessary, because in the final dyeing steps, those little checkerboard textures get filled with a deep stain, adding another layer of depth to the tooling.

Part of what makes these dinos so fascinating are how well the feather imprints get preserved. Grain size of the sediment that buried it millions of years ago is one factor that allows for this incredible preservation. I wanted to carry that into this design, but really was at a bit of a loss for how to do it. In the end, I grabbed some 80 grit sandpaper and a 4 lb deadblow mallet. The little pock marks in the image below are the result. It feels really cool, too. It actually feels a bit like limestone. I’m thinking it will look really great when the stain gets into those little divots.

At last, it was time to clean up the epic mess I made and go home.

(it’s not ALL my mess. Only about 7/8th of it…)

I still have a bit of the uglies to beat out of it, and the areas that I want super detail in still have some work that needs doing. A lot of the detail for the bones will be taken from the Hwang et al 2002 paper. And the feathers- I can’t wait to see how those will turn out. I have a feeling there are some really good images to work from for those.

For the record, I don’t really know what’s going on with that toe…

Photo album

Yeah, I know- no witty title, no silly monologue. So sue me. Errr, wait- I was kidding, I swear!!!

Deep in the recesses of memory come thoughts and memories of myself as a younger and more carefree soul. Ah, for those days! Before I had seen all that I have seen. Alas, through all those years a handful of fellow travelers have joined their paths to mine, and forever we are linked- come what may!

And holy crap let me tell you, the RELIEF that comes from marrying them off! I may finally start to sleep again.


So I made a very pretty photo album to bribe my newest chosen family member into the fold, begging her to please PLEASE marry my dear friend.

So, basing the design off of the amazingly talented Sergei, I grabbed my shiny and HOLY OMG spendy new bevelers and started on the design.

New tools, off to a good start!

As always, I bevel out the most prominent parts of the design. Except with the Kazakh Baroque style, this changes frequently due to the HOLY CRAP complexity of the design.

One of the things I really love about this design style is the amazing depth it brings. The top image is after all the beveling is complete. The lower image is how it looks once you’ve beaten it with a few strategically undercut bevels.

ok, so maybe there is some texturing and swivel cuts in this pic, but still!

More photos to come later. This was a great project, and the bride and groom loved it- she even ordered a matching iPad case for him for Christmas. Photos of that to come soon, too!

What I did on my summer vacation

Well dear readers, it is time to explore the dusty traces of this blog, and peel the aged veneer back to show yet more wondrous and terrible things.

Something I’ve been fixated on for a while now is odd feeling I get when confronted with ancient art. From the stone age cave paintings with their Therianthropes, Shamans, and Sorcerers to the Ukok Princess and her tattoos, along through strange disquieted eras that produced the fanciful interweavings of human and creature present in the Staffordshire Hoard artifacts… and the body-art of the bronze age Picts.

Combining some of the tropes present in the Staffordshire Hoard with some Pictish imagery, I came upon a card-case design for a friend of mine. It’s not finished yet, but just to give a taste to what I’ve doing with my months of silence.

design cut in with a swivel knife
Once the leather is properly moistened, the design get cut in with a special knife.

half complete!
About half way there

This stage is now complete.

The band closing the case will be a snake eating its tail. The part that holds the card deck is wet molded leather, laid to dry in the blistering sun.

so pretty!

With strange aeons

I’m tweaking the design of the Geo bags. This is the same one I had on display at the Maker Faire. I made me swell with joy to see people pick up the Lovecraft Ornaments and make happy sounds.
This would be my que to pull out some of the darker things, including the beautiful design of Cthulhu and the Sigil of the Gateway designed by Albino Dragon.

Ah fossils. Strange aeons and worlds past, death dies in finding immortatity in the imagination of children and a few singularly constructed adults. (If you don’t know what quote that is a riff from, I have a reading list for you….)

This still has some work left to be done on it- the gusset and the top/back are one color, and the bag front and pouch still have some coloration that needs to be added. The stitches have not been hammered flat yet, because I’m not done sewing just yet. Strap will be made last. I’m thinking of playing around with how I do it- something to match the detail on the pouch, I think.
Oh, and a closure. Still torn between just leaving like that and doing a button or something….

Now for more dinos.

Swivel Cut

Cut the design in
This lighting shows the texture of the hide really nicely.

Bone Machine

Tooled and Colored
I’m very happy with how the coloring turned out. The fossil is a very pale bone/burgandy color

For Books
Field notebook pouch, on the outside for easier access. The pencil holder is not yet sewn in. The pouch has not had the burgandy top coat yet, so its still plain tan.