I’ve been thinking for a while there must be some kind of small case I could make for artists who do what’s called en plein air painting – painting on location. Besides the easel and canvases and extra clothing they’re hauling as they traipse up mountains and across dales to find the perfect spot, they have fiddly bits to keep track of, pencils and such.
Well, Alberta en plain air artist Annette Resler must be a mind-reader. Imagine my delight to receive this note from her:
I have had this idea floating around in my mind for some time and I’m wondering if you think it’d be a reasonable leatherwork project. I would like to have a roll-up-with-tie type of pouch for my pencils and drawing tools to tuck into my backpack so that I can carry them with me at all times. I’ve been trying several different methods of transport, from ziploc bag to small wooden box. I’ve not found the right solution yet. In my mind, I envision a way to keep the pencils separated by little loop holder/tabs plus a small pouch for kneaded eraser, pencil sharpener and the like. Soft leather. It will get dirty from the leads. Does this conjure up any ideas in your creative mind?
She sent along a quick sketch and I laughed because it fit what I’d been picturing.
Annette said it needs to hold,
pencil, pen (marker), “stomps” (the rolled paper smudging tool). And pouches at the bottom with slight darts to accommodate some, but not great, depth of items (eraser, pencil sharpener).
So, over to me. I believe the design of any handmade leather creation is governed by the leather, just as a sculpture is governed by its medium, but it’s also guided by the spirit of the recipient. I’ve been following Annette’s development since she shed her 9 to 5 role and immersed herself in art. See http://www.facebook.com/Annette-Resler-Art-454696787948898/
I know her to be a warm-hearted and multi-creative person, meticulous as a musician and graphic artist, and I suspect her self-discipline is intended to keep her mischievous streak in check. I sorted through my favourites hides and found a piece that absolutely called out to be used for her and for this concept. I love using the raw edges of a hide, but there’s a lot more middle than edge in any hide and it’s rare to find a nearly square raw-edged corner. What a lucky find!
The wrap had to start out looking rustic and aged, not be something perfect that would get wrecked with use. I made the stitching rough and oiled the leather with neetsfoot oil to bring out every nuance of grain and make it look like it’s been buried in a peat bog for centuries, ha. Just right either for someone who’s slap-dash with paint or someone who’s meticulous but hankers to be a little more slap-dash.
Here it is, trimmed, with three small pockets stitched along the bottom for erasers and pencil sharpener. They fall short of the full length of the case so the last turn will enclose the pockets completely. The strap is one single piece. On the inside, it forms a dozen loops to hold the tools snugly against the suede to grip them, and on the outside it wraps around to tie the cylinder closed. Beside the wrap is an un-oiled strip so you can see how the neetsfoot oil darkens the colour and brings out the grain.
Now it’s back over to Annette to give it a test-drive and say yea or nay.
After exactly one year: