Saturday, April 18, 2009

Summer Schedules

I've been busy making plans for summer, which seems a little ironic when we've just stepped into spring. But schedules do fill up quickly, which is why I'm letting you know about one of the summer shows where you can see me and my work in person!

The Muskoka Arts & Crafts 47th Annual Summer Show is a great three-day arts festival, on the riverfront at Annie Williams Memorial Park in Bracebridge, Ontario. This year's show dates are July 17 - 19, and will host 200 Canadian artisans and their work (including mine and my friend Arlene's, from Sewlutions by AMO (

Photos of our work have made it onto the official show website! Take a peek, here:

The Muskoka region is the Ontario equivalent of New York's Hamptons -- all of the Who's Who of Toronto will escape the sticky summer weather and retreat to their palatial waterfront homes, spread along the shores of the region's three pristine lakes: Lake Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, and Lake Joseph. Here's a photo of a boathouse from the area, that won a Governor-General's Award for Architecture. Wow!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring is here!

Today has been a glorious day... I can finally believe that spring is just around the corner! I know, that sounds odd for those who have been enjoying 80-degree weather already, but winter holds on long and tight here in northern Ontario and I think its grip has finally broken.

With that in mind, I've begun working on my spring orders for clients, including a really pretty plus-sized dress that combines printed Swiss cotton, bias-cut edging, and a burn-out silk fabric.

I've mentioned before that my design style is sometimes very organic -- how it begins may not be how it ends -- and that is very evident here. In the photo above, you can see where I've chalked out several curved lines that flow from the neckline to hem of the dress. Only the last one made the cut... pardon the pun! :P

Once the style lines were (finally!) determined, I stitched bias-cut binding along each edge, as seen here on one sleeve. The bias is trimmed, turned under, and edge stitched for a clean finish.

Each piece of the dress -- front, back, and both sleeves -- will get the same bias treatment before the garment is stitched together. It's not finished yet, but you can start to see the big picture!

Monday, April 6, 2009

What's in a Name?

I have a double life... and it's about to be revealed!

I often forget that most people don't know I am really two businesses: AnvilArtshop, my online boutique of leathergoods and fashion accessories; and Abbey Hill Design, in which I design couture suits and one-of-a-kind eveningwear for diplomats and CEOs.

While there is some crossover between the two lines -- from techniques to supplies to logo -- the styles are quite different.

Here's an example from my AnvilArtshop boutique on Etsy:

Here's an example from my custom Abbey Hill Design portfolio:

Textiles and surface design pieces can fall into either camp. I have the fun, sassy pieces listed on Etsy...

... and the more serious, "status" silks are made-to-order for my clientele.
So the next time you see me with two hats on, don't be concerned... it's all good!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Trunkt Show

I was very excited this week to have been featured on Trunkt's Fashionable Finds blog, in a brief article written by my good friend Darlene from BijouxBead (

A photo of my Red Paisley Leather Obi belt (above) also made it into the article, it's my new favorite design and is sweeping the runways for Fall 09. (Hint: try one over an eyelet dress for summer, or over a boyfriend jacket or slouchy sweater for fall high fashion!)

My obi design can transform you from glamor puss to corporate maven in seconds -- just slide off the obi and you're left with a beautiful topgrain leather belt that can hold up your pinstripes in style!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Belated Blogroll

Sometimes it IS better late than never... I found out late last week that one of my leather cuffs had been featured on this blog:

I'm joined there by several other members of the Etsy Leather Team, in a collection of cuffs and leatherwork that is so striking when seen en masse. Thanks for including my "Wishbone" cuff!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bon Voyage!

My Victoriana messenger bag is on its way overseas this week... thanks to Etsy and its international fanbase of handmade artistry.
I love the mix of sturdy leather and mannish messenger style, alongside the more delicate elements like the vintage cameo and a feminine ruffle of Italian leather. I hope the new owner in Istanbul will enjoy it as much as I did creating it!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Eyelet Ecstasy

The leather eyelet jacket begun earlier on this blog (see my post of February 4, 2009) was completed and delivered to a *very* happy client this past weekend!

As a plus size, she'd never believed she could wear a leather jacket. To her delight, I created a jacket style for her that was both slimming to the eye, and lightweight to wear.

The reverse side of this purple embossed ostrich was an amazing coral-red shade; thanks to the hand punching, the coral tone peeps through each eyelet and adds depth to the design. Oversized antique brass hooks form the closure for the jacket, unusual in that the hooks are "on display" on the front side rather than hidden underneath.

When my clients are happy, I'm happy! :D

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pod People

Isn't it crazy? I didn't blog for a month, and now two entries in one week... but I'm just so excited about my new backpack design that I've gotta share!

The "Pod" is surprisingly roomy while the slim, curvy shape hugs the small of your back -- you barely can tell that you have it on. On this prototype, I paired caramel brown leather with an Italian suede that has chromosome shapes scattered across it (one of my all-time favorites) plus goldtone hardware, from rivets to zippers to a huge ring for those times when you hand-carry your bag.

I loooove this bag, and can see it in so many different color combinations for Spring...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Leatherworks: Redux

I've been working on a fun project this week... creating leather wristlets and cosmetics cases out of the leather tiles from my gallery exhibit Leatherworks: From Form and Function to Fashion, on display at the WKP Kennedy Gallery in North Bay, Ontario in early 2008.

A leather shield/wall hanging was a large part of the exhibit -- pardon the pun, the shield itself was over nine feet tall! -- and, once dismantled, was simply waiting for its reinterpretation into something new and wonderful.

The shield protrayed the Lion Rampant of Scotland, using an applique technique similar to South American mola textile work. I layered pearlescent blue leather with four additional shades of red and blue lambskin and outlined each portion of the design with metallic thread.
Reinterpreted into chic cosmetics bags, each case is a unique part of the shield -- no two are alike!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Featured Artist

There's a mini-interview with me on the following blog, check it out!

A big thank you to my teammates on that blog, it's great to be a part of the Etsy Leather Team (officially, the Association of Workers in Leather, hence the AWL name as well as wordplay for one of the more common tools of the leather trade). They're a talented bunch of artisans from all four corners of the globe, and we all work with leather in some form, shape or another.

In our team forums, we discuss leather techniques, ask questions, share our frustrations and our joys as well -- we've even swapped leather from one studio to the next, as one artisan's overstock of mushroom-colored suede becomes another artisan's dream project.

If you haven't shopped on Etsy before, now is the time to start. It's an online marketplace for everything handmade, handcrafted, and handsome... you'll love it!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Leather Confetti

I began work on a custom leather jacket. First step seems to be, making a mess.

This is my new leather hole punch, along with some of the zillions of "holes" from making leather eyelets in the new jacket. Each panel of the jacket will be entirely punched by hand, creating a feminine, lacy effect in the leather.

The silk charmeuse lining will be a gorgeous lavender shade, just one tone lighter than the plum leather -- you can see here how the leather was originally embossed to look like ostrich. I'm scattering my eyelets in triangular-shaped groups of three, a nice odd number. (Ever notice how jackets always have either three, five, or seven buttons? There is a DaVinci code for fashion too!)

There's lots of work yet to be done -- the amount of punching is actually bruising my hand, ow ow! -- but I am *so* pleased with the effect.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

In the Beginning

We all start somewhere, right?

Today, I began my blog. My audience is few -- alright, only my cats -- but I hope they enjoy it nonetheless. Stop looking out the window, boys, the good stuff's right here.

I completed a new handbag design yesterday, the Solaris. I'd received a shipment of new hardware, including some jumbo gold rings that definitely looked a lot smaller in the catalog than spilled across my lap.

Let me just say, I love hardware... and hardware stores. I'm a sucker for things that clip and clink, that click shut and snap open again. When I was a kid, I used to design earrings from bits of circuit boards and multicolored telephone wires -- none of which clicked or clamped, which would probably explain why I gave up on them so quickly. Little did I know that I just hadn't found the right medium yet.

These jumbo gold rings were begging to be... well, clipped to something, and gold-studded straps became the answer. My original inspiration was a retro brass sunburst mirror, mixed with a dash of "Gladiator" thanks to Jack Whyte's Roman-to-Arthurian-Camelot history series ("A Dream of Eagles") which I've been re-reading lately. Salve, puella!