Facing a blank piece of paper gives me anxiety because I don’t know if I’ll be able to fill it with a design, but picking up a pencil and watching a design flow out soothes my heart. I don’t think it’s magic and I don’t think it’s natural talent — I believe it’s years of paying attention and filling my head with beauty, and gradually I become confident and sure when I pick up that pencil.
I read Tom T. Hall’s book about songwriting; he was working at a radio station where he had a filthy little office and that’s where he wrote songs. He went on vacation one time and they remodeled his office, and it took him months to write again because everything was all wrong. I feel that way about my workbench. I can’t draw unless I have the correct pencil and the poster board I like and I’m sitting at my bench.
I finally got around to decorating my shop today, mostly because I need the shelf these albums and frames have been sitting on. Astute viewers will notice a theme. The art piece on the bottom left was a thoughtful gift from my friend Holly.
My friend Carina sent photos from my presentation at the conference! I spoke briefly about the history of leather inlay and overlay, and then talked about the making of the Oklahoma boots which are now on permanent display at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
I saw a boot constructed like this somewhere online (I don’t remember the shoemaker but the boots were bright blue) and I was immediately obsessed with the way the quarter is inserted into the vamp. I made several changes but I copied that detail. Then, because I’m still a very inexperienced shoemaker, I put these uppers together in my head several times so I’d understand how they were constructed and the order they needed to go together. It worked too — once the day came that I actually sewed all the pieces together, everything worked as anticipated.
In case you’ve ever wondered what leather art looks like from the back, here’s a look at all of the pieces working together to create the image. Also, remember not to judge leather inlay/overlay work until it’s stitched because stitching is responsible for all detail, light, shadow, movement… all of the things that bring it to life.