Sunday, December 1, 2013

Leaf Hair Slides Tutorial

So - Here is my very first How To -How to make Leather Leaf Hair Slides

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Craft Fair Prep - Part 2!

Today was an outstanding day thanks to Kelley of Hickory Lane Creations.  She and I are both attend the El Paso County craft fair on Wednesday and I have been feeling like I won't be anywhere near where I want to be for it.

Today I took a basket of started hair slides over and between her awesome brilliance and just having time away from my chaotic life I got them finished! I still need to sand and shorten the sticks, but there is happiness in my brain.

Pictures will come tomorrow - along with a tutorial!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Craft Fair Prep

As I mentioned last week, I am signed up to participate in a craft fair for El Paso County.  This means that I need to have a goodly supply of ready made items for sale.  This also suggests to me that armor may not be the best selection for the people who will be coming to this fair.

Instead I have been working a whole passel of hair trinkets and other leather "stuff".  I plan to do Leather Hair clips, slides, trivets for the kitchen, maybe some books, and a passel of whatever hits my fancy for leather cuffs and bracers. 

Which means I need to be working! WORKING!And I have been.  You can see what I pulled together on Saturday in a few hours. This week I hope to do some detail tooling, edge beveling, shaping, and possibly some dye depending on the level of crazy this week happens to have.

Thursday is the awesome-monsters birthday, so I am not sure how much work will happen as I am trying to spend extra times with her...and the weekend is jam-packed and crazy. 

My goal for the fair is to have 40 items to sell and to make $200 or more. We will see what all I end up with, and what the prices end up being.  I never really know how to price things, so I may make Kelley (who is also doing the fair) price all my stuff for me, or Ray.  They love me enough to do the hard stuff for me.

I love how different each of these leaves ended up! I can't wait to see how they look as hair slides.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

September Craft Day - AKA Actually working!

So, my dearest crafter from Hickory Lane Creations inspired me to get off my arse and get to work! 

Today we met and did a few hours of get together.  I made country loaf bread, some delicious chocolate-chocolate cookies and then worked with pony beads with my little one for a bit. Once the crowd left I lazed on facebook until finally the shame forced me to get to work.

I was able to size down the helmet base, repunch the holes and then I traced, cut out, and smoothed the faceplate/mask for the helmet.  In the process I also decided to use the scrap leather to make a mask for the little one.  There may also be a crown coming too!

To the right is the pile of today's accomplishments - a kiddo mask, a helmet mask/faceplate, 1/2 of the cookies I made, what's left of the loaf of bread, the resized helmet base and what will be the edges...and a messy kitchen.

Tomorrow I will be working on tooling the face and edges, resewing the base, and hopefully reaching out to determine the color patterns for the helmet.  I would love to have this done by needs to get out of my house! :)

Below is the kiddo trying on the mask. I can't wait to see what we decide to do with tooling, color, and accessories. Ignore the messy house behind her cuteness :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Other News

Good Morning Wonderful People! I don't know if you have noticed something new here at PheonixGateArts, but we have allowed Google to start putting ads up on the blog.  I am hoping they will be fairly easy to ignore if you would like, but I am also hoping they will help as we move forward.

But! I feel like I owe you all something for putting up with it :) Which means....PRIZES! I am going to work up a few new designs and will get them up soon - then, which ever project gets the most likes, we will give away one of them to one of you lovely readers!

Do you have anything you want to see us try to make? :)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Helm Update #1

There is no update. Seriously, the kiddo has bronchitis, and has been sick all week.

I have the helm base, may have the design issue worked out, and have a template for the face guard/mask - so at least some things have been done.  I still need to find where all my brace points have wandered off too.  Wish me luck with the upcoming week :) 

Monday, August 19, 2013


Hello Dear-Blog Readers! It's been a few weeks while I rest from the last big project and work on getting my house back in order from the flurry of summer, but I am back now!  My next project is creating a viking-style helmet.  Yes, a more realistic one which means there will not be horns on it. 

I am hoping to create something similar to the one on the left, but with some details similar to the one on the right as well. I found a very basic template online that is designed for a metal helmet, but I am hoping it will work.  I need to figure out which shape on the nasal/nose guard/mask that I am looking at creating.

My current challenges are 1) I am still busy as heck and need a break 2) My supplies are all over the house and need to be pulled back into one place 3) I don't wanna! 

As you can tell, I am ignoring my inner three year old right now and am planning to get to work tomorrow night and start determining some of my inner questions, and then pulling things together.  The next post will hopefully have an update with some pic's of my work...instead of random idea's off the internet.  Wish me Luck!


Friday, July 26, 2013

Bracers, Greaves, and a...Helm?

I am working on a set of Bracers and Greaves to go with the Red Viking Dragon Armor. These pieces are pretty easy, simple to do.  The challenge piece is also creating a helmet to go with! I am aiming to bring him all three things for the Saturday of last weekend of Fair - which gives me a week to go from Zero to helmet.  Wish me luck?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Making Armor and a Review

I thought some of you might be interested in hearing more about the process when I create an armor set. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tuesday Teaser

Tomorrow you will get to hear about making my second full set of armor - and a War Skirt...and adventures in sizing :)

All tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

On Fire Again

Here I am, hauling arse on this leather armor commission, and suddenly my surrounding area is on fire again! Don't worry, my house is well out of all it, but my day job has had me involved in a variety of ways.  It just means that the armor that is cut, tooled, and ready for dye - has just been sitting there.  SITTING THERE!

Hopefully This week I will have some time to get it finished. It's going to be awesome.  Seriously, AWESOME. :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Armor Progress - with PHOTO'S

This is my carry box
Now that my hands have healed from the great rush job I am back to working on Galen's armor. 

 Tonight I pulled out the box of pauldron lames (individual pieces) and crafted the articulation, designed the attachment, tooled the axeblade pieces that will go on top, finalized the tassetts, and cut and placed the tassetts as well.


Boon wants the armor

The whole family likes to help - from the beloved daughter helping me by being a mobile armor stand, husband helping with design issues, and even the cat! The dog ignored us, there wasn't food involved.

Doesn't it look great?
After fiddling with the Axeblade piece for thirty minutes or so Ray and I were able to come to an agreement on how they would attach. I love how this is looking! It is actually coming together really nicely. 

Of course, once I got everything cut out, tooled, and pieced together I get to take everything back apart so that I can begin the dye tomorrow. If I am lucky I have enough black on hand to get this all done.  It will be black with green details on the tooling and the pauldron (shoulder) edges. 
The rear and left side

Of course, I was still working after 9 PM, which means my cute helper crashed out next to me. Here is the pic of her as I type up this blog :) 

Sleeping baby...and armor

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Earing Swap Blog Hop - Part 2!

So, The US Postal service decided it didn't want to give my partner the earrings I sent her last week.  So, I made her a new pair!

I will add tracking to these! Let's hope they make it to her :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Great Earring Blog Swap - Reveal

One of the local shops that I try to support on Facebook is Whimsical Monkey, she makes neat things and is a craftsman located in my region. She posted about an Earring Swap Blog Hop in April and I thought that sounded like a great deal of fun. Here are the rules for the swap.

 1) Everyone must be paired with one partner. In special cases where there are an odd number of participants, they can be my partner or I will assign a group of three (but no more than one group of three). Partners will be randomly chosen.
2) You must create a pair of earrings. Any theme, any colors, any supplies, etc. Standard piercing sizes please (i.e. 18-20 gauge wire or earring hooks), no plugs, gauged spirals, etc. (Faux gauges are ok though). Clip on is allowed if your partner cannot wear pierced. 
3) You must have a blog or a Facebook business page for your reveal.
4) You must notify me 2 weeks before the reveal date if you have to cancel. This gives me enough time to find a new partner.

There were a lot of us who signed up! 
~Links of those participating. Check back on the reveal date (May 20th) and see what everybody made!~
Inge von Roos:
Nancy Smith:
Miranda Ackerley:
Shelley Graham Turner:
Ginger Davis Allman:
Nicole Valentine Rimmer:
Stephanie Weiss:
Spun Sugar Beadworks:
Beccy Peterson: Beccy's Baubles
Ani Forsyth: Veil Dancer
Marde Lowe: FanciMar Designs

I was matched with  Kayz Kreationz -  and I had to laugh - I, who am pretty much blue all the way through, got matched with someone who doesn't like blue and doesn't wear it.  It made me smile...and made this hard!

but...I gamely pulled out my beading supplies
 And got out the "Special Box"... :) And starting coming up with ideas.

The golden ones one the left were, pretty...but I couldn't get the attachment to the earring to look professional because the are beaded...and I didn't want to send something half-done - plus they would look much better on brass or gold colored hooks.  The white stars were pretty...but I had the same problem...I couldn't get the attachment to the earring to look right,  and ended up sighing in exasperation and frustration. 

So I walked away for a bit.  Several hours. And I did research online for how to attach earrings...and still couldn't find anything.  So I started messing around in my box again and somehow came up with these.  These I could send to someone...a pretty purple opalescent bead, silver chain, and some quartz crystal...I like them! they went - I hope Kay likes them!

I got my package from Kay and she sent me TWO pairs! Check them out! I love the pair on the right extra for the pretty hooks and the lovely colors.  I am so glad I did this and I hope others also enjoyed the blog.  Even though I think Kay did a much better job of her send out, they looked awesome.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I has the dumb - Explanation and Lessons learned

Here is the art design but with a 5 inch gap in front

On Sunday (Mother's day) I got a message from someone on Etsy that had their commission through another leatherworker fall through. They needed a custom armor jacket and they needed it for a convention (CON) in Chicago on Friday. Could I help them?  Thus begins the saga.
Yes, I can do it (Won't probably again without a rush charge and a custom job charge).  We chatted, we shared images, we discussed what could be done and what was wanted and we ended up agreeing that it was a strong possibility, which turned into a commission (YAY!). It was needed for ACen in Chicago on Friday, so it had to arrive by Thursday if they were still going to make it on time.
This took between 21 and 25 hours of work.  I did it around my day job.  I labored, Ray labored, and Kasha tried very hard not to pout that for two entire nights we pretty much ignored her.  Monday we worked till Midnight and Tuesday until 2:30 in the morning..and still had more to do on Wednesday which was my drop dead shipping date.  My total profit may end up being less than $10 and sadly, I am concerned that we did not end up creating exactly what was wanted.  Ray said the customer called with some concerns after we shipped it off and sent the final photo's and as of today we haven't heard a word confirming that it was received or that it fits.
Seriously. I worked my arse off and Ray's arse off and no one may be happy about this deal. I got nada, and the customer that I wanted so badly to help might be unhappy. That's what is bothering me so much.  But I have learned some integral lessons.
1) Don't sell myself short. I threw in shipping for free. And a Nerf Gun Holster (that turned out BEAUTIFULLY!). And didn't charge for the rush.  And I didn't charge for the custom commission.  And I ended up not charging him for my time...or less than a dollar an hour for my time...let alone Ray's.

2) Don't be nice/Don't be desperate. See above. I really wanted to be nice to this person, so I kept trying to sweeten the deal. And I think I really wanted to get a sale, so I threw myself under the bus to get it, when I should have priced it more reasonably for the supplies, work, and labor.

 3) COMMUNICATE.  With a custom job you can't be sure that the picture and the description you were given are exactly what they just can't. So next time I need to make sure I send more in-progress photo's and make sure that the person is getting exactly what they want.

4) Never take a custom Rush job on a completely new product.  If he had just wanted some bitchin shoulder pauldrons in a custom color with special pattern - EASY. I could have guaranteed his success and happiness.  With the rush I needed to put my head down and pull, working hard and long, rather than taking the custom work approach of sending each step in pictures and checking to make sure it would fit.  A custom job should have the customer trying on a paper version of the armor, should have adjustments as we work to ensure it's perfection...a Custom job and Rush job are not compatible in my work :(

5) Be happy with what you did. - Ray and I made some awesome armor. This jacket really is very cool and the nerf holster is amazing (I am sure Ray wants at least one of his own now).  The pattern for this armor will help me make others...and they will be awesome!

6) Learn and grow.  If I remember to apply these lessons I will have a better Etsy shop and be more effective as a business person.

7) Mr. Bear looks awesome in armor.

Monday, May 13, 2013

2013 Garden

 Last year we were shocked when spring ran into summer and our front yard exploded with 13 different colored rose bushes. It was the kind of surprise that new homeowners fantasize about...and it was awesome!

The area to the left of our driveway is a well established garden. Roses, filler flowers beneath them, and hopefully they are idiot proof (I have no clue where to get started with roses). Last year, my coworker came and spent HOURS cleaning up the roses for me.  And it showed, they were beautiful. It was awesome.

The rest of the yard? Not so much. It is this horrible silty - sandy poo.  It wouldn't grow zucchini. Seriously, Zucchini died here.  Last year I killed peas, zucchini, tomatos, berry plants, a new rose bush (or honestly 2), pansies, strawberries and a whole host of other assorted veggies I attempted to grow. It failed. 
 Now, its coming up on garden season again so we are trying again. I may be a demented optimist, but we will see. We are going to try doing small raised beds up front to see what we can do.  We are going to plant thorny berry bushes underneath the daughters bedroom, and hope they stick it out and grow into terrible beasty bushes :) Protection when she is a teenager.

We are also going to do several topsy turvey's - they did well here last year, and the house has a TON of the hooks for them along the back yard.  We are also doing all of this in a drought, with watering restrictions....

So..yeah - Nuts :)

I has the dumb

I just finished some 6 hours of armor work and tooling.  My hands and back and legs ache.  Pictures will come soon.

Along with an english language real update. For now... I has the dumb :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

High Gear

So, I am finally kicking it into High Gear. Mostly because my beloved husband wants me to start his armor, so I must finish my brothers.  Tonight I did all the interior articulation for the chest, did the front strapping and buckles and the side strap.  Sadly, I bought 1 inch buckles, and I need 2 inch ones for the size strapping.  That means back to Tandy's Leather I go. 

Hopefully tomorrow night I will get the side buckles on, the will do the pauldron articulation and figure out the axe-cover attachment method. 

So, In addition to everything else, my dear brother refuses to make a decision about color. I may leave it plain, or it may become black.  I am also thinking about tooling either a Tree of Life or a simple celtic knot onto the breast plate. What do you think? Leave it tan, or make it black with a green design?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Making Progress

Another photo-less post, but hopefully you will all cheer with me when I tell you I got him pinned (or duct taped) into it!!! YAY!

I was able to pin down my brother for his armor sizing and mark all the right sizes. Now its time for hole punches, and buckles and straps, and articulation, and then figuring out bracers and greaves and the darn war-skirt/tasset.  No matter that he still hasn't decided if he wants tooling, or color, or details.  Nor that I am not sure if I have enough leather left. (Please ignore the eye twitch, I swear it's normal).

And then, after all the sizing, marking, and hole starting...I left it all in Palmer Lake.  Sigh.  I should get it all on Thursday and then can try to hard-craft it through the weekend and have something substantial to show him when I see him again. My worst case scenario I will see him in two weeks. Imagine how cool it would be to have it all ready by then.  So...please, plague me, harass me, and ask me how it is coming! Your help would be greatly appreciated!

Monday, February 25, 2013

What do you do?

What do you do when your main project requires the model to come visit you for dinner and you can't get your brother to come down cause he really doesn't love  you? :)

In my case, I have cut out the armor for my brother. Breast plate, kidney articulation, Pauldrons are all done. I still need to create the tassets and decide on how much of a skirt they will have, then I need to make the greaves and bracers.  So maybe I only have the top half cut out.  It's close right?

I  sadly really need to have him here for a two to three hour bender so I can measure, shape, cut, and start molding all the pieces to him before I can put all these pretty leather pieces together.  Which is seriously a bummer. I hate waiting.

Thankfully, the leather cutting is done for now, as my hands hate me.  On the other hand, since I got my craft room cleaned and organized I can find everything I want for any project and may just haul through the triangle quiver and get it up and for sale soon.  We'll see.
The paper version of the armor used to determine the pattern.

Any votes for a project you would like to see me do? 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year New Entry?

Happy New  Year friends and loved ones! This year there will be a weekly post to update you on the projects that are happening and on how the shop and commissions are going.  And....I will be posting on the blog once a month a give away at the end of the month for people who comment on posts.  My goal is to get some interaction so I can find out what you lovelies want to hear more of! :)

So, comment here with any goals you are making for the new year, or any leather projects you are dying for and you may win the first prize ;)