Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fall Leather, Part 3 - High Wax, Oil Treated and Distressed

Watt Tyler park at sunset, The UK

I have always been amazed with marshlands. Must be the moody, almost haunted landscape, patches of grass and water, the birds.... Also, perhaps because I've spent most of my life in the city, I find marshlands exotically beautiful and mysterious. Dry land ends, and water begins, life ends, and begins again.

A landscape like that calls for acceptance - of beauty within mud; change in attitude - from town to country; change in attire - from cool to cozy.

I draw alot of inspiration from the country landscapes, ambiance and lifestyle and try to rework Country Traditionalism into streams, that would fit a broader range of preferences. Most of the Pre-Fall collection bags are one way, or another shaped by country looks, lines and influences.

Fox Hunt, source Old-Photos

My marshland fashion began in the previous season, with the pretty traditional Western Rounded sack, KERRY,  eventually transformed into Classical TCB satchel JAKI TOTE , which also features country lace detailing.  This season it is continuing with TERRI ANN, a minimalist saddle bag; SARAH,  a shoulder bag with a bridle loop strap and multi -tiered ruffles - just to point out a couple...  There still are several other styles to come...
Jaki Shoulder bag

For the Fall, I would like to go even deeper into Marshy Country, and use the materials, that are traditional for the theme, yet adoptable for my styling...

Some leather types are traditionally more "Country" than others. There is, of course, Suede - a staple for the look; there are heavyweight vegetable tanned leathers, various large grained or distressed hides, High Wax finished and Oil Treated (or Utility) leathers. They all represent the low gloss, humble, often sturdy and rugged, or cozy and elegant look of rural aesthetics. JAKI Shoulder bag (left) is made of Oil Treated leather.

High Wax leather, which I love, has matte, unfinished look and a sense of moisture to the touch. Usually lightweight, very pliable and ages beautifully. This exact Sarah bag (left) is made of Mustard Green garment weight unfinished High Wax. Also, think, gloves, hats, lightweight belts, clothing straps, book covers, etc.

Oil Treated (Utility) leather - is a rare find for me, and I get very excited each time I am able to snag some of it...
Oil Treated leather - Burgundy

It is beautifully matte; sturdy in its nature, yet surprisingly responsive to work with. Moist feeling supple surface, that changes its tone at the fold or stitch lines. This is considered a sign of high quality oil treatment, and this feature is unique and only found in Oil Treated leathers. Ages amazingly, building new character as it goes. Commonly used for bridles, dog leashes, boots, belts, handbags and firearm cases.

Distressed leather - Latte
Distressed leather - even though, come in all weights, I have mostly worked with upholstery. It is strong, drier feeling finished  leather, with unique colouring qualities. The edges of grain come off in paler tones than the rest of the surface, due to special treatment, preventing colour from saturating through.  Distressed hides look like an endless maze of pale webbing, stretched over a field of solid colour.

Very popular for country style interior furnishings, handbags, footwear and saddle decor.

This post sums up my main leather arsenal for this fall - as you know, it will change as the season progresses and will inform you on my upcoming finds. In the next few weeks I will try to deliver the  Pre-Fall 2010 Coming Of Age collection in its entirety, so we could give these patches of leather their new life...

In the case you'd like to know more - **Useful links on leather and leatherwork: **
Tandy Leather Factory

Zack White Leather
Kingsmere Crafts

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Leather for the Fall part 2 - Unfinished and Deertanned cowhide

Not all my bags come in the most traditional leather surface finishes. As a true fan of this craft, I have always been trying to seek out the rarer, different types or treatments of leather, and try to work with all of it, within limits, set by my believes.

Because Leather is not a vegan by nature, and therefore, a cruelty free material, I decided to not contribute to the increase of its production, but use up the leftovers instead for my craft. Even though it would perhaps be interesting, I do not work with Wild animal, Exotic, Hair-on-hide, Fur, or NEW leather. I also do not shop charity stores for leather clothing to make my bags from, as only a small portion of the 'recycled' item can be used (usually shell only, making for 30% of entire materials), whilst the rest of it is thrown away (up to 70%).

To continue on my finds for the Pre-Fall 2010 COMING OF AGE Collection, I must admit, my personal favourite is a rare and beautiful Unfinished (otherwise labeled Deertanned) cowhide. It feels velvety to the touch, has deep, matte look, and to some it is reminiscent of deer leather. The matte finish shows its imperfections slightly more than a glossy one, but that is exactly what makes this leather both velvety, robust and, yet, fluid at the same time, with lots of character.

Black Unfinished cowhide

Gold Tan Unfinished cowhide
Saddle Tan Unfinished cowhide

Other types of the touchable Unfinished leather I've found, were both, Upholstery and Garment weights will be great for bags in limited, fun colours... Just as gentle to the touch, and just as fluid to work with....

Coffee Brown
More on my bags, pls, visit the web-page : JOLAVDESIGNS.COM

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I have been pondering, if I were to make a belt - for myself, and others, what would it be.
I wanted something that is true to my No - Hardware - In - Sight taste, so right away I knew, the belt must not have a traditional buckle. I also wanted a belt, which would be timeless and understated, tasteful and really gets the materials its made of, shine!
Then came the idea that it should also fit most wearers, regardless of their size, height, age, and especially would suit many different outfits.

I decided to develop a 3-way fold Wrap Belt. It is easy to wear over any garment, suits all kinds of bodies and does not require punching holes, replacing buckles, and rather supplements your outfit, instead of overwhelming it.

My first Wraps are available in  1" width by 8 Ft length (3 by 244 cm) in Coffee Brown, Navy Blue and Taupe Grey.

More colours coming up soon! Visit my Etsy shop for yours!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Leather for the Fall part 1 - Finished Light (and not just light- ) Upholstery

I have been slowly rolling out the new Pre- Fall 2010 Coming Of Age collection since late spring.

With the weather changing and fall season getting closer, I have compiled the colours and textures of leather, to use for the most of my new Collection. 

It took me a while to come up with a bunch this beautiful, as all the leather you'll see here is cowhide - either overstock, liquidation, orphaned and found or otherwise reclaimed. I learned to be an opportunistic buyer, and just snatch a great hide (or bits and scraps) whenever I see it... And it could be the only one of its kind.... So, inevitably I will run out of either some of the colours, or finishes, and eventually they'll be replaced by new ones, as the season progresses.

The leather will serve to create bags in all my new different styles, requiring different characteristics. These are NOT all the colours I have sourced - these are the best ones!

This post covers the Light Upholstery Earth Tones and Brights.... 

Here's what I found.....

Staying true to my seasonless earth tones of Brick, Taupe, Ash, Navy and other neutrals. This fall, the colour perception divides into two sides, with neutrals standing in for one, and brights - for the opposite. Purple is a definite leading jewel tone - and the purple finished leather I found, is just beautiful. Glossy, fluid, captivating...  Also loved the Red, which, to me, speaks of Central European countryside's roofs and fences.

Brick Brown
Taupe Grey
Burnt Red

 But my very favourite finds, in fact, are these two: Orange! (I think Orange is great for winter, and I am only hoping I will not be the only one thinking so. It is the strongest 'Pick-me-up' colour for the dreary and rain filled Vancouver landscape..) and Olive - warm, somewhat mysterious, lightly textured and fluid. Can't wait to show you what I come up with, when I tackle these two....

Olive Green

In the next post I will cover the remaining different types and shades of leather for the Fall: and that is Unfinished, Oil treated, Distressed, Garment weight and others.... Sourcing materials in definitely one of the best parts of what I do....

*for custom orders, pls. visit my web-page, *

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Back to the edge of the world....

Amazingly, having started at dawn this past Saturday in Vilnius, some 18 hours later I ended up on the West Coast of Canada - also, on the same Saturday....

I am back, yet my watches are still showing the European time; I am up bright and early each morning (we're talking 5. 30 am) and start feeling fatigued and nappy in the afternoon. I took a couple of days to re-adjust, and now things must go back to normal.

This week is for catching up on custom bag orders, that collected while I was away, rolling out the rest of the Coming Of Age Pre-Fall 2010 Collection samples (several styles of which you have already seen and loved - Sarah, Katie, The Bag and Terri Ann ) and also to start getting ready for the upcoming Holiday season shows....

I am glad to be back - and now that I am, I 've realized how much I missed my studio, and my work.

Have a rewarding week!