Friday, July 31, 2009

Setting Snaps Can Make You Cuss

Snap placement is one of those necessary chores many leather-crafters have come to dread. Bent posts, misaligned caps, squished parts - the list of ways a snap can go wrong is extensive.
I've received a few requests to do a tutorial video on snap-setting, so I did one with my methods for the two most-used snaps in leather-crafting, the heavy-duty Line 24 snaps and the lighter-duty Segma snaps.
At 3 1/2 minutes, the download was too big for the Blogger system, but I've posted it to YouTube. Here's the link -
Here is a summary of what it covers:
Part of the difficulty arises from the tools that many of us use.
The mallet-driven setters are economical but often not worth the savings, particularly when setting the Line 24 snaps.
If you set a lot of these snaps, or wish you could, I strongly recommend an investment in a snap-setting tool. There are a few on the market, but my favorite is the Pres-n-Snap.
Insanely, this tool is not available through the normal Leather-Crafting suppliers. You can, however, find it online if you do a search with the name spelled as above or through upholstery-tool outlets. Mine came with the parts for setting snaps and grommets for about $150.00. It works well with the Tandy Line 24 snaps and, in my opinion, was worth every penny.
For the Segma snaps, the drive-tools are adequate. They can be tricky nonetheless. My two main bits of advice are:
1) Focus your attention on the tool rather than the mallet, the project or your hand. Keeping this tool aligned vertically is critical.
2) Do not over-set the snap. Two or three firm strikes of the mallet should be sufficient. Over-setting will ruin the snap.
I hope this information is helpful!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Earth Medallions for July

I've finally managed to get pictures taken of my newest Earth Medallions and have posted most of them to my Etsy shop with a few on my website as well.
There are some real stunners in this batch following another trip to my favorite local rock & bead store, Nawbin of Traverse City.
I got more of that delicious Lizard Stone Jasper I discovered just recently -- I love this cool green stone! It appeals to the Earth-child in me on a number of levels.
Also, my-oh-my, look what Karl had for me!

At first I thought these were the most distinctive Crazy Lace Agate cabochons I had ever seen, but no. Karl calls this Lapis-Laced Onyx.

White Onyx with occlusions of Lapis Lazuli. Breathtaking, literally - I actually gasped when he showed these to me.
Most of these pictures are linked to the listings on Etsy where you'll find info on size and a few more pictures. (Sorry - the horizontal Lizard Stone pendant is no longer available)
There are also some other new pendants -- too many to fit into this post.
Of course, as always, I need to get back to work!
I've said it before; so many stones, so little time!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lake Michigan

I spent a beautiful evening on the Leelanau Peninsula shore of Lake Michigan.
The sky was colored like abalone shell and alive with fast-moving clouds and showers, the surf was pounding.
Almost as big as the State of West Virginia, this inland sea is the only one of the five Great Lakes located entirely within the US borders.
North and South Manitou Islands to the left as I look westward, North Fox dotting the horizon on the right. Further away than the eye can see is Wisconsin.
This is the location my daughter and her fiance have chosen for their upcoming wedding; we were there taking measurements and pictures, then walking the beach and doing some rock-hounding. We even found a few small Petoskey Stones!
Here are a few of my favorites from among the dozens of pictures I took.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pow Wow Clothing Done Right

If you participate in powwows in the Great Lakes Area or the Ohio Valley, chances are very good that you know Sharon Denson either personally or by her wares.
Countless people dance in outfits that include work from her talented hands. If you dance in the circle and you don't own one of her shirts or skirts, I can say with confidence that you've danced next to someone who does.
Sharon and her husband Bill are very active in the community, having both participated in and headed up powwow committees.
Bill is a constant source of information and assistance to all, and a wonderful foil for his no-nonsense wife!
Their booth draws you in with the vibrant colors of multiple racks of Sharon's top-quality clothing , but often people wind up staying for the conversation and laughter. Few people tell a joke better than Bill and few people take a joke better than Sharon.

These are truly special people; valued friends in my life, but I digress... the clothing is the thing!
Sharon is a professional seamstress with decades of experience and expertise. Her designs are elegant with attention paid to detail and the traditions of the area.
The colors and patterns of her cloth are powwow-perfect and unlike anything I've ever seen in any fabric store.
The only downside to Sharon's clothing has been that you had to see her at a powwow to purchase her wares. Well, that has changed...
I am delighted to announce that Sharon Denson now has an Internet presence. She is selling her wonderful dresses, skirts, blouses and ribbon shirts on Etsy. You can find her shop at
You can also click on any of these pictures to go to the respective listings in her shop.
I personally recommend her work highly and without reservation!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Home-Made Stamping Tools

Like anyone whose been plying their craft for multiple decades, I've built up an impressive set of tools.
In the way of most working-class artisans, it was put together one tool at a time. My most lusted-after items in those long-ago early years were the stamping tools that are so critical to what I do. The half-dozen that I started with were enough, but only barely!
It was Dad that suggested that I could make my own with heavy nails and his bench grinder. An afternoon in his workshop more than doubled my stamp supply; better still, they were unique and kind of funky, different from anything commercially available.
The first step, of course, is to remove the point from the tip to fashion a strike-end.
Then work at the edges and the surface of the nail-head to create your desired imprint shape.
I did a couple with the large spikes, but they really chewed up Dad's grinding wheel. So I went to a smaller size, which worked well. I also did one with a cement nail - that one is a favorite because I can reverse it and use the strike-end to make a diamond mark.
With just a few cents worth of nails (and another few dollars to replace the grinding wheel that I pretty much wore away) I created a handful of stamping tools that I still use to this day.
All of these tooling examples were made with at least one of these stamps. The black wristband at the bottom is entirely made of homemade tools.

The message, of course, is that you needn't be limited by convention. I consider this just further proof that the old adage about necessity and invention holds true!

These and many more wristbands are available at my Etsy shop