What started as a fun way share a Mother’s day with my makin' Mama, learning to create leather bracelets and a simple clutch at a drop-in class, has turned into an obsession. For the past few years, I have been consumed with developing clever and conscious solutions for the everyday (with maybe a few fancy touches), in leather.
I realize that I’m fortunate enough that I live in Chicago, one of the few cities with a well-equipped leather school and studio open to the public. Here, I’ve been able to learn traditional methods of leather working with the sharp, bold and talented Sara McIntosh, who began the Chicago School of Shoemaking to share her vast knowledge. Sara’s been making shoes for a good portion of her life and has taught me so much.
I’ve always been a maker - a lover of traditional arts and handmade techniques. My grandparents were very handy people. It's something, of which, I've always been proud and in awe. Though I'm a dreamer, I've never wanted to be the kind of person who couldn't change a lightbulb or fix simple things in my home. And fortunately, my family never let that happen. ;)
My mother’s father built their family home - even digging the foundation himself. He grew his own food and made wine. My father’s father was a welder and designed their family home, building so many cool pieces of furniture. My father crafts words beautifully and my mother crafts EVERY thing - to perfection. Making is part of my genetic coding.
Since learning my first leather techniques, I’ve found myself sketching designs on planes, staring at people’s bags during my commute, and analyzing the utility of every accessory I have. As a durable and organic material, I see a lot of potential. As a vegetarian, I’m also interested in investigating humane and sustainable alternatives.
The process has been long, fascinating and experimental. I’ve started making bags for friends and accessories for homes. While geeking out on textures and stitches, I’ve dragged friends and family into the studio and hopefully helped encourage a few converts to hand-crafting.
My last few months have been filled with designing plant slings. My friend and colleague from back in my magazine days at Time Out Chicago, Heather Shouse, now has a landscape and floral company, Bottle & Branch. She bedecks many of the finest Chicago restaurants with pretty
patios and bodacious botanicals.
When she asked if I could create some planter hangers to work into a few of her interior plans, I dove into all manners of designs. The result has been some stunning suspended installations, like one in El Che Bar, in the West Loop, and these smart slings that debuted at Harvest Juicery, in the highly-anticipated Revival Food Hall.
I have so much more in the works, including a new web site detailing my projects - plant-y and beyond! But for now, this seemed like a good place to preview things, with a few shots of the latest slings projects.