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Fall is one of my favorite times of the year… the romantic season of hot teas, spices, writing letters and romantic walks in the sound of rusting leaves. The time when you curl up in your bed with a hot cocoa and a good book. Autumn is a time to appreciate the sound of the rain when you are warming up inside with an apple pie. The season when you become nostalgic, when you rediscover analogue things like a vinyl record or a beautiful pen that begs to be put to a good use. You can reflect on your day, scribbling in your diary or write to a pen pal.

Inspired by the fall, I created a few romantic leather journals to convey these beautiful feelings this season stirred up in me.

leather journals inspired by the fall that will become appreciated romantic gifts

What is your favorite little thing you can’t wait to do when fall comes, is it getting out your favorite cold weather sweater, making thanksgiving gifts or making your special signature dish? Are you a romantic like me or do you just want all the wet-and-cold weather to go away asap?

Salvează

You probably seen this leather before… used for messenger bags, belts or camp boots. It is an awesome leather, heavy duty, very nice to work with. I just love it, it is one of my favorite types of leather: the rugged masculine look, its sturdiness, its smooth  surface. This leather is called crazy horse 🙂 I’ve heard other funny names, like crazy leather or mad dog. It is also called Apache or saddle leather. But, in truth, it is the ol’ good cow leather.

Let me tell you a little bit about it. It is known for its durability, they say it will last a lifetime. I haven’t lived a lifetime yet so I can’t say I tested it myself 🙂 So I’ll update this blog post in about 70 years from now and will let you know (stay tuned!)

This leather is also known for the beautiful vintage look, the two tones that it makes where it is folded or was recently bent. I say recently, because after a while the leather returns to its uniform look. And when you bend it again, it will change its appearance again. It is a fun leather, I tell you, maybe I wouldn’t call it crazy… that’s a bit much, but it does have an interesting personality. It will easily pick up more nicks and scratches but they will vanish if you just rub it with your fingers. If it is often bent on one direction, it will keep that wrinkle and so in time the object made out of it will get a beautiful antique, worn, rustic look.

The superpowers of the crazy horse leather come from the way it was treated: First, the premium cattle leather is buffed – the leather surface is sanded with a very fine sandpaper, so that it’s natural grain is evened out and it gets a velvety surface. At that point the leather is called nubuck (think of a peach surface, or the finest powdery suede) Then some special oils are added, and a special wax on top – everything is special!

image found on http://englandevents.co.uk

 

I hope you enjoyed the story of the crazy horse. Have you ever owned something made of this type of leather? Is it me or does this fellow needs a teeth cleaning?

 

A LIL’ BIT ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ANCA

Anca is an artistic soul, with lots of ideas. She wants to try this and that, buys all the possible craft supplies that no one ever heard of, “for future projects” (she says)… She is a social media inamorata and ensures a quality customer service. She is our calligrapher and she plays the piano. a lot.

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One of the things I enjoy most when working on my journals is writing in them LOL Yes, I know what you must be thinking, my customers should write in them not me… well, I found a way to change that, by offering to write a custom calligraphy text in them, on the first page of the journal, up to 30 words, free of charge. Some of the quotes are very nice so I will share them with you. These are just famous quotes, that one can find online, I would never share private texts or quotes that customers give me. So, each month I will share a few custom quotes that I penned in the leather journals I made. I believe I am lucky because I get to know better the beautiful minds of my customers, and I think they are fascinating.

 

writing a custom calligraphy text, a quote from Marquis de Sade

 

I like people with depth, I like people with emotion, I like people with an interesting mind, and also I like people who can make me smile. ~ Quote by Abbey Lee Kershaw

…. and I like people that like such people 🙂

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. ~Albert Einstein

Not sure this one belongs to Einstein, I’ve seen a lot of quotes and even inspirational videos attributed to him, I guess putting a famous name underneath a quote adds some weight to it. Still, it’s a beautiful quote, though I myself find it hard to choose which way I live, I guess somewhere in between, I am a skeptic that sees the glass half full. What would you choose?

Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity ~Albert Einstein

I should write this one in a large font and hang it above my creative clutter 🙂

Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself. ~ Robin S. Sharma

I wish everybody would think like that, I would definitely sell more journals then!

Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance. ~ Samuel Johnson

Ah! Another one to hang on my wall.

Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person. ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

I just looove this one! in such simple words, you get an insight into the struggles of a writer.

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take. ~ Author Unknown

 

Do you have a quote that defines you or that you like very much? I’d love to hear it!

 

 

A LIL’ BIT ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ANCA

Anca is an artistic soul, with lots of ideas. She wants to try this and that, buys all the possible craft supplies that no one ever heard of, “for future projects” (she says)… She is a social media inamorata and ensures a quality customer service. She is our calligrapher and she plays the piano. a lot.

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From time to time, my mind urges me to make something different, to try something new. So what better thing would be, for someone that writes in her own self made books, than to try and make her own writing instruments? This is how my feather quill making journey begins. Step one – find a tutorial that you think you can trust – I followed this one: http://www.flick.com/~liralen/quills/quills.html

As with all things I didn’t followed the step-by-step tutorial exactly by the book, and tried to see what works best for me. The results came fast. Well… depending on what you call fast – first, I sunk the feathers in water overnight Second, I dipped them in hot sand (from the oven) and left them there till the sand was cold.

Indeed it had an interesting effect, it hardened the quills quite a lot. It is called tempering, and I imagine the feather shaft is similar as in structure to the fingernails, they get soft in water but harden in heat.

I prepared quite a lot of tools to try and find the perfect one, the only ones I found useful were the little blade (used for thinning leather) and the crochet. It seems the perfect knife should be small and not flexible. And very very sharp – you can see I used a jewelers rouge (that chunky white stuff in the photo) – that works like a very fine sand paper, you rub it onto the backside of a leather piece and then sharpen the knife on it.

The reason why the blade has to be short is so that you have good smooth control over it. It has to be a stiff blade so that it won’t bend and wobble while you cut, and very sharp so that you can cut things with one single diagonal strike and not have to make the back and forth movement like with a saw, that would give uneven results, some kind of “stairs” to your cut.

Also at some point you have to remove the residue inside the feather shaft/tube, people use all kinds of self-made instruments for that, I used a crochet but I could improve my instrument. It’s not that important anyway, if you can’t remove the stuff, just press it to the end of the tube with a stick and it will stay there. I am such a perfectionist, I know :p

That being said, all that remains is cutting the feather. It’s “top” is the one you would see when writing, and that will get the slit like nibs have. The top is situated on the convex side of the feather, like, if you hold the feather in your hand to write, you want the quill curved with the convex side up, and concave side down, like sheltering your hand, to rest comfortably in your hand.

So, the first cut is made from the top, not what you’d expect, I know. Not sure how steep the angle should be, I just cut diagonally with a long strike. Let’s say 45 degrees angle, for those that care for numbers. If the feather shatters a bit, like a broken fingernail and you know the knife is well sharpened, just repeat the cut a bit further up, you have to find that portion of the quill which is hardened but still flexible, the end portion of my feathers did that shattering thing but as I moved upper I could see that the cut lines were smoother and I could sculpt the feather more precise. The second cut is opposite to the first one, so it is on the concave side, close to the paper when you would write with the quill. This second cut has to be more elongated and made further up the feather (closer to the fluffy barbs of the feather) You would then obtain a weird thing with two “horns”. Some tutorials recommend you to cut the slit of the nib with an Xacto knife, and you can do just that, if this method I like best doesn’t work:

Just press the two horns together until the feather cracks and a slit forms naturally. I think this is the best method as I tried the knife thing and the slit tends to widen too much and you end up with a nib that writes double. After you have the slit in place on your horned feather, you just need to sculpt the nib, getting rid of the horns, and shape it to resemble a metal nib. Also you may need to recut the bottom side so that it is elongated enough and the quill pen would look close to this:

After you made a fairly symmetrical nib,  very pointy at the slit, you can sharpen its end point, peeling it with the knife, making tiny cuts to both top and bottom to make the nib flatter. The last thing is to put the nib on a straight surface, at the edge of the work table, and just remove the very end, the pointy bit, pressing it with the knife perpendicular on the feather shaft and straight down towards the table.

Don’t remove too much, just as little as you can. If you’d leave it as it is, I guess the end would be too flimsy and irregular and would wear out instantaneously, and because it would be so thin and narrow it would stumble and get stuck in the paper fibers and splatter the ink all over. To sum it up, you’d have 9 steps: 1: soak feathers in water, 2: heat them in sand, 3: cut it on the top, 4: clean the inside, 5: cut the bottom side, 6: make the slit, 7: sculpt both sides of the nib, 8: sharpen the nib end, 9: cut the very point of the nib (nipping it). That’s it, you can dip your feather quill into ink and try it. If something doesn’t look right, try and see if there are differences in shape to the quill shown in the picture. Cause that one works nice.

Please don’t be deterred by the long explanations, it takes 1 minute to cut a feather into a usable quill pen, I just made it seem like a long tedious operation because I tried to explain it thoroughly, so that you understand which is the top of the feather and which is the bottom, etc.

Oh and I got the best results with the goose feathers, will give the others one more try but first, I have to become a pro with the easiest-to-work-with materials.

All the writing you see in this post’s pictures was made with the quills I made, I am pretty happy with the results, since they are much better than the ones I had using this commercial feather quill I bought from Shepherds /Falkiner: http://store.bookbinding.co.uk/store/product/3296/Quill-Cut-&-Hardened/

Hope you’ll try making a quill someday, if you ever get stuck in the middle of nowhere with no tool to write your memoirs… that will be one useful quill… umm skill!

A LIL’ BIT ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ANCA

Anca is an artistic soul, with lots of ideas. She wants to try this and that, buys all the possible craft supplies that no one ever heard of, “for future projects” (she says)… She is a social media inamorata and ensures a quality customer service. She is our calligrapher and she plays the piano. a lot.

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You probably never heard of them, but these are some interesting keys with an unusual shape and history. First of all, let me brag with my little collection:

First time I saw one of these keys I was so puzzled, I even begun to think the previous owner of it made the weird slits by himself for an unknown purpose. I’ve seen a lot of unusual vintage keys since then.

But after researching I found there was a proper name for these types of keys, and I discovered their history.

The Bramah keys are named after their inventor, Joseph Bramah (1748-1814), a cabinet maker that invented many things, from the hydraulic press, a paper making machine, to an improved flushing system for the toilet 😀 This is how inventors were back then, they looked around and thought about what they could improve in the world around them.

Around 1800, he made the Bramah padlock, and he was so confident and proud of his invention that he challenged people to lock-pick it, displaying the “Challenge Lock” in the window of his shop with a note saying: “The artist who can make an instrument that will pick or open this lock shall receive 200 guineas the moment it is produced.” 200 guineas were a lot of money back then. Anyone could try, but it took more than 60 years until someone finally succeeded. So for 60 years, the locks held the title of unpickable locks and were used for diamond safes and important secrets 🙂 Most burglars and thieves gave up instantly when they saw a Bramah lock.

image from www.antiquebox.org

The American locksmith Alfred Charles Hobbs worked 16 days, few hours a day totaling 52 hours, and finally managed to open it and got the big prize. Hobbs was a seller of locks too, and he was driven not by the large money amount, but he was determined to ruin the reputation of the locks sold by his competition, something he did on regular basis 🙂 After he opened the Bramah lock, the Bank of England got scared and had all of their locks swapped out for the ones Hubbs was selling. Talking about a good salesman!

The Challenge Lock is now displayed at the Science Museum in London. Bramah locks and their tubular keys are still made today with variations and no two keys are ever repeated.

A LIL’ BIT ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ILONKA

Ilonka has an eye for finding the most interesting treasures for us to use in our work, to collect and sell in our shop. She’s in love with everything vintage and doesn’t miss a fair day, like, ever! Ilonka is an artist and her designs are mostly one of a kind art books. That’s because she’s got too many ideas and too little time.

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This is the pray I carried home from the fair! It may not seem a lot but there are treasures within! There are a bunch of stamps (I am a regular for the sellers in the vintage fair that sell old stamps, they even wait for me at the fair saying: Here, I saved these for you ’cause I knew you’d come) also two lovely keys from late 1800’s or beginning of 1900’s.

Also these pretty playing cards:

The playing cards are so beautifully made, I mean, look of the details of each queen, jack and king! I love them! A little piece of art in each one. And the costumes… I think I will use these as ex-libris, on the front page of some small leather journals.

I wonder which people played with these cards, if some lost money or some became richer 🙂

A social game using playing cards. Oil painting by an unknown artist, c1850, source: Wikipedia

I also buy a lot of vintage photos, usually separate pictures, but these were in an album and they were all interesting so we will remake the weathered cover of this album and restore its former glory.There are fancy ladies, some with gloves, some with pearls, some with really elegant hats. And as usual, they had lots and lots of kids, that, apparently had no mood for posing 🙂 Look at those faces LOL

 

 

And last, but not least, a little brass thimble. It was a bargain! That’s why I love the vintage fair 🙂 When you look up close to it, you can see a detailed little icon. It has some writings on it as well but it is so tiny that I haven’t decipher it yet.

 

That’s all for today, I am pretty happy with my finds! If you know a similar thimble, I’d love to see some photos, I haven’t seen anything like this before!

A LIL’ BIT ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ILONKA

Ilonka has an eye for finding the most interesting treasures for us to use in our work, to collect and sell in our shop. She’s in love with everything vintage and doesn’t miss a fair day, like, ever! Ilonka is an artist and her designs are mostly one of a kind art books. That’s because she’s got too many ideas and too little time.

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Woohoo we reached 1000 likes on our Facebook page, so we are having a little giveaway!

We are grateful to all those that support us. Thank you! To celebrate, we’re having a giveaway 🙂 This little padlock is one from our own secret stash – it is tiny, but oh-so-adorable, with its brass body and his fancy bow little key. A piece of magic history! Specially since it is handmade! Yep, nowadays nobody makes handmade padlocks anymore 🙁 But back then… oh… people had skills, time and patience. The entries for the giveaway are accepted just until the 8th October, you just have to share (publicly) this post, and then our cat will draw the winner, he loves doing this in front of the camera! Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/MedievalJourneyArt/

Even though it is a fairly straightforward thing, to make a pendant out of a vintage key, there are several tips I want to share with you.

First and most important is the shape of the key – the easiest ones to work with are those that have a round bow, or a quatrefoil bow, that is because the key will stay vertical when it’s hanging from a chain. Otherwise, if the bow is oval, the gravity will make it slide in the jump ring and the key will fall in an diagonal position.

If you use an oval bow key like most are, you can use this design instead:

this will only work if the necklace is a short one as the bow of the key will have two distant supporting jump rings right and left. If the key would be on a long chain, the jump rings would be too close to each other, one slightly left and the other slightly right, and then the key might still tend to fall on one side.

Another approach would be to allow the oval bow key to slide on one side and fall diagonally and add some other little bits and pieces, beads or whatever to the necklace for a more hippie free-form gypsy look.

A thing to mention would be the thickness of the circular metal band from which the bow of the key is made, if it’s too thick, you’d have to use a large jump ring and that may not look too pretty if you’re aiming to make a delicate necklace. If, on the other hand, your key is a larger more industrial type of key, you can use large elements like a larger jump ring and a thicker bolder chain.

The last thing to mention would be protecting the keys from rust/oxydizing (after cleaning them beforehand).

There are a lot of solutions out there to protect metal from rust, basically any varnish, but the more specialized, the better. I use a metal sealer from Ranger which I like, as it has a satin finish, this doesn’t alter the look of the keys, doesn’t make them too shiny or too matte.

As for the chain, I prefer sturdy chains, ’cause I am a power user 🙂 the ones with soldered links are very solid, even though they look delicate.

The rest is up to you – I love to use gunpowder black chains or antiqued silver ones if I have an iron key, or brass if I have a brass key.

As each vintage key has its own personality, they will guide you to a certain type of necklace. Have fun and if you felt inspired to make something, show me your experiments!

 

A LIL’ BIT ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ANCA

Anca is an artistic soul, with lots of ideas. She wants to try this and that, buys all the possible craft supplies that no one ever heard of, “for future projects” (she says)… She is a social media inamorata and ensures a quality customer service. She is our calligrapher and she plays the piano. a lot.

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Sep 03

About Ideas

Deep in my mind a little thought springs into existence. It is small and featureless like the smallest seed, so humble in its ways that my conscious mind is not able to register its presence. There are many such little entities so similar and yet different popping in and out of existence just under the edge of my perception, unknown, secretive and ephemeral and each one gets its chance to grow or dye.

Sometimes I try to listen to them, to capture their essence because though individually insignificant, their endless dance choreographs the shape of my personality, my every desire and need, my future.

The ones that get to grow, do so fast, with a mesh of little roots that intertwine until it’s hard to tell them apart. They all seek to reach the light, they want to be part of my consciousness and to see the world through my eyes. They tug on me, like clumsy puppeteers in an uncoordinated and chaotic manner. But they are so many! Slowly during this fight some, coherent enough, get stronger, like ancient trees they grow and use their shadows to kill the worthless bush beneath. They became my conscious mind, my focus, my friends. In the end they get to dictate the course of my life.

And just like trees they bloom and make seeds, little seeds that fall through the roots at the bottom, the most humble place deep in my mind, far from light. Just like their older brothers they try to grow. Growing is harder this time, nevertheless they grow, because this time, they are the seeds of the ancient trees and in their concealing shape, they hide order and beauty.

A LIL’ BIT ABOUT THE AUTHOR: RADU Radu is our crazy scientist…. ahem the inventor, I mean. He is always doing some sort of experiment, and calls the workshop a lab… He takes the knowledge of old crafters to the next level, testing and improving the traditional recipes. He is a thinker, geek, perfectionist and a quality control freak. He owns a lot of radio controlled helicopters that we are all afraid of.

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