Up-Cycled

Most of you know that I love working with leather; it is my number one hobby and favorite pastime. But you may not know that I used to really enjoy and do a lot of woodworking, too. Many factors have greatly limited how much (or little) I’ve worked with wood over the last 10-15 years but a new trend called “upcycling” has brought this hobby back into the forefront of my mind.

If you’re not familiar with it, Upcycling us basically taking some worn out or generally worthless item or material and re-making it into a new, functional and valuable item. For instance, I have been working on a coffee table made from 100% salvaged wood that looked like it was good for nothing other than the landfill or burn barrel. In fact, upon seeing it piled in the bed of truck a few weeks ago one of my Brothers called “craft wood”, or maybe he used a similar word that only sounded like “craft”; I’m not sure. But I digress…

It occurred to me that the grace extended to us is a lot like the Lord’s way of “up-cycling” us. After all, we are, in our unregenerate state, nothing more than depraved sinners worthy of the justice of a holy and righteous God. And yet He made a way for us to be “up-cycled” into a brand new creature, imparting His pure righteousness to each one that will by faith accept Jesus Christ as the Savior they so desperately need. Think about that: from enemy to heir in an instant! Thank God for His way of “up-cycling” us from worthless to priceless. And thank God for Jesus, the One who paid the price for each of us.

Last Minute Christmas Gift

This year I was just too busy to make any thing for Christmas gifts. I had so many other things on my plate I decided to forego making any leather craft gifts. That was the plan anyway…

My son took an order for a hand tooled wallet for a coworker. He called and asked me to pick him up a kit from the hobby store, which I couldn’t do: they were out of stock. So, he asks if I can make him a kit from scratch, which I could, and agreed to do. Then a few hours later he calls and says he has to work a double shift and needs the wallet by 6:30 tomorrow morning; can I make the whole thing? I agreed even though I probably shouldn’t have; the design was to include a figure carving of a deer head, which I’d never done before (any animal figure carvings for that matter) and really don’t have the “right” tools to do it. A few hours later and I ended up with a pretty decent project. And having learned a few things to boot!

The entire “kit” was hand cut and after carving and finishing it was hand sewn and laced. I used Tandy Leather products for most of the finish along with a few other items to get this nice rustic look. SuperSheen was my resist, EcoFlo briar brown highlight was next, followed by two spray coats of Krylon clear acrylic satin. I then used my secret weapon: Kiwi shoe polish in brown. This takes the edge off the excessive (in my opinion) shine and warms it very naturally, along with giving a bit more highlight.

I know the deer isn’t perfect but not bad for a first try. And one that was not planned for or had the correct tools to do.

The interior came out nicely I think. I sewed the top edge instead of lacing it as I usually do. This greatly reduced the bulk and make it much sleeker. I painted the top edge with my own recipe of edge dressing: one part acrylic paint (black here) mix with one part SuperSheen.

The lace is goatskin. I like its strength and performance. And I think it’s a great value for my money. It’s a combination of single (on the thinner edge) and double loop lacing. I also found a new-to-me way of ending my lacing. And I’m extremely happy with the new way and how it looks. It’s detailed in one of the teaching manuals I got from TLF, though I can’t recall the title at the moment.

So, he’s happy, I learned a thing or two and I got forced into relaxing for a few hours at my favorite hobby. Oh, and someone is getting a nice hand crafted wallet for Christmas. I guess this one is a win-win-win.

Merry Christmas!

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Teaching Leather to Kids

Today I had the pleasure of instructing about three dozen kids and several adults in the art and craft of leather work at our association’s church camp. I’ve done this before and I always enjoy every minute of it. But today I didn’t enjoy every minute: I smashed the tar our of my finger with a two pound mallet and the was nothing to enjoy about it! The kids were all concerned and my brothers and sisters were kind of enough to not take any jabs at me for my bad luck, even though it was a prime opportunity.

This evening I was thinking about some of the jokes that could have been lobbed at me and one sticks out in my mind: do as I say not as I do. I think this is because of the good discussion we had along this line at Wednesday night prayer meeting.

The Bible clearly teaches us that we are to live our lives in a manner that brings glory to God and reflects Jesus through our deeds and thoughts. It asks, essentially, do we practice what we preach? We are to be the light of Christ to the world. And a light won’t penetrate very far if it’s tucked away under a basket.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

My Wife’s Belt

I just finished up this belt for my wife this evening. She’ll be wearing tomorrow so this less-than-ideal photo may be the only one I get to take any time soon. The stamps are Hides to Art matching cross basket and border. This is my first experience with HTA’s tools and I’m really fond of them; I figure I’ll add more as I am able (no affiliation with them, just a happy customer). The finish is EcoFlo Timber Brown with a diluted Briar Brown wash and finished off with brown Kiwi shoe polish. The belt buckle is a recycled brass one, from the belt this one will replace.

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Reflecting on 2009

I’ve been reflecting on last year a bit the last few days. I know most folks do this a little closer to New Year’s Day, but it’s taken me a little longer to get my thoughts in order on this subject.

At first, I had agreed with a friend that 2009 wasn’t a banner year. I don’t recall my reasoning behind that conclusion at the moment. But that was what I initially concluded.

Over these last few weeks God has brought to mind that last year indeed held many good and wonderful things. I saw Him work in mighty and powerful ways last year in my and my family’s lives. I saw many prayers answered last year and many instances of His intervention in our lives.

Some of the things I didn’t understand at the time and some of them didn’t seem so good as they occured. But looking back with opended eyes of faith I see most of them clearly. And I realize that as the Bible promises all things work out to the good for those who love God (Rom. 8:28).

My faith was strengthened and my knowledge increased. He saw fit to used me as a tool for His purposes more in the last year than ever before, likely because I was obediently open to His will, most of the time. And doing His will has been the biggest blessing of all that I was given.

Last year He gratiously opened up a new hobby to me in my leather work/craft. In giving this to me He has allowed me new and different ways to serve Him and reach people I would otherwise not have been able to. His ways are indeed so much farther above our ways.

I pray as we go into 2010 that He sees fit to continue to work in and through me. I pray that I will be more and more obedient to His call, no matter what that call may be.

Service Project

Our church is doing a service project for a local girl’s group home. My understanding is they are teens that have been basically abandoned or abused, ranging from 12 to 18 years old. There are currently 24 girls living there. We are making up gift boxes for them this year; last year we filled huge stockings.

One of the items on the list was hair bows or barrettes. So I decided to make each of them tooled leather ones. Thus far I have half of them tooled and carved and half yet to go, not to mention needing to finish and seal all two dozen. Oh, and I realized last night they have to be done by Sunday. So I have some work to do!

I’m more excited about this project than any other I’ve done, not counting VBS. I hope they like them and find them to be unique, one of a kind, imperfect, handmade items, just like they and we all are.

As I begin to work on each one, I look at the girl’s name and I pray for her. No, I don’t know any of them or their specific needs or situations. But God does. And I hope and pray that through this small gesture of love they will each see the love of Christ.

Biker Barrette

I’ve made many hair barrettes for folks as gifts, mostly oval shaped and rather simple.  The other day, my wife’s cousin asked me if I could make her one that was for a ‘biker girl’.  I said I would and went to pondering on what I’d make her.

I decided that I wanted to go with something other than the standard oval so I cut out a bar and shield type of shape, to look a little bit Harley-ish.  Then my imagination took over the design process.  This is what I came up with:

Biker Barette

Biker Barette

This is the tooled but unfinished product.  It has two swivel knife cut and beveled borders, a third burnished border with stamping between the second and third borders.  The center has a Tandy 3D stamp with a star-rope stamp on either side.

Finished Barrette

Finished Barrette

Above is the finished product.  It is stained with aged oak Min-Wax gel stain with some neatsfoot oil mixed into it.  I the top coated it with Super Sheene.  The edges are hand burnished as is the back.  The back is also sealed with a wax-based waterproofing product, making the entire barrette waterproofed.

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