Black Beauty, the story begins….

Oh English leather, how do I love thee?

And no, I’m not talking about the cologne for men. Although that is kinda sexy too, on the right guy…

Leather hides imported from England are things of rare beauty- so soft, so un-marred, so…blank. I horde the English hides I have, taking them out only for special occasions. The Jubilee party we had was AMAZING.

oh hey-look, pictures!


the small barrel Chuck Smith swivel knife with a carbide tip is perfect for this!
At the start, its all moist hides and high quality knives.

Look at those adorable teeth. Also notice the awesome Chuck Smith swivel knife with a carbide tip!

Now most of the images of the Black Beauty mount are kind of…lacking in serious skull detail. Except that hard core one with all the welding sparks. Thats just fierce! Again with the Chuck Smith swivel knife, I know, I know. My leatherworking tools are the only thing I’m a brand whore about, so…that makes it all better.
mmmmmm....brand whore for sharp things, and I don't mean heels!

Now the skull does need a lot of detail cutting- I’m going to have to pull a SVP memoir from a few years ago to help flesh out…er, I mean bone out? That sounds really inappropriate.

Where was I. Oh yeah,
Goodnight!

Microraptor!

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…