Friday, September 7, 2012

Current custom order to-do list

So this is our list of custom orders! Hopefully this should give you an idea of when to expect your order. Rush orders are marked with an asterisk *

Pre-exising designs: because we already have a template and know exactly what we're doing, these masks typically only take only 1 day to make.

Custom colors on pre-existing designs: these usually take a little longer, because I want to make sure I the mask looks how you want it to look. Still, the painting is the easy part, so it usually doesn't take more than 2 work days.

Custom designs: These take noticeably longer for a number of reasons (creating a new design, making it functional for the wearer's needs, making sure it's what the wearer wants etc.), so please allow for several weeks for a completed piece. Smaller custom orders will go faster.

The list!

Red and gold dragon for Michael - Shaped

Snowy Owl mask - need by oct 24th
Full face stone mask for William - need by December.
Demon helmet mask for OmbreCacciatore - not started (need next year)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Oak Myth + Environment & Animal Awareness

Working with leather has been, for the most part, a positive experience for us. However, every so often we find ourselves having to defend our craft from people of varying view points regarding animal rights and the environment. There is a lot of incorrect, inaccurate, and biased information floating around, so tracking down all of this was difficult much of the time. We have done a whole lot of research and want to be as transparent as possible. This is going to be a long blog post, so please bear with me!

To note: We are not trying to convince anyone who is morally/ethically against animal parts in art to change their views. If you have questions, comments, or if you disagree with our choices please feel free to comment. Our only request is that you are respectful as you do so.


Our leather comes from Wickett & Craig. W&C is a family owned tannery on the east coast of the US. All of our leather is vegetable tanned tooling leather (which you can read more about below). W&C have received The Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence for establishing near zero solid waste disposal among other accomplishments (source).  
Wickett & Craig of America only uses 100% unbranded hides from cattle raised in Ontario and Quebec. All cattle hides are carefully selected and supplied by their parent company Bank Bros & Son Ltd, Toronto, Canada. In Ontario, the typical meat cow farm keeps only 300-400 cows, as opposed to meat cow farms in the US that keep upwards of 80,000-100,000 cows. Canadian cows can be tended to individually to make sure their quality of life is good. (source)
You can read more about the Ontario cattle farmers and the cows' quality of life here: Link -- these animals are not tortured and they live wonderful lives outside in the fresh air.We never use animal parts from illegal or endangered species.
All unused leather and scrap is used to create keychains and hair accessories, or donated to our local community college sculpture room. We also recycle garment leather from old coats and bags that have been donated to us.

Vegetable-tanned leather is tanned using tannin and other ingredients found in vegetable matter, such as tree bark prepared in bark mills, and other similar sources. Historically, it was occasionally used as armor after hardening, and it has also been used for book binding. (source
We never use leather tanned with chemicals like chrome,  aldehyde, or aluminum.

Why Leather?

It is our belief that in creating artwork out of leather we are respecting the animal's life. If animals were to be only used for meat, the hides would be discarded to rot in a landfill. This way, we feel that we are honoring the animal. It is largely a spiritual choice. We are very much aware that our medium of choice once belonged to a living, breathing animal and we are as conscious and respectful of that as we can be. 


We use Eco-Flo water based dyes and acrylic paints to add color to our leather items. Both of these mediums are surface only. Water based dyes and acrylic paints do not soak into the leather (which you can test by simply slicing into a piece that has been painted and dried). To achieve a full soak through the leather, we would have to use alcohol based dyes, which we won't do. Certain pigments of acrylic paint do have toxic minerals in them, however these substances are only harmful when the paint is wet. The only danger posed is to the painter (me), if I happen to ingest, inhale, or absorb the paint through the pores in the skin.  Most acrylic paints are non-toxic because they are water based. (source) "The acrylic colors that contain toxic chemicals will have it marked on the label - these include cadmium, cobalt, magnesium, chromium, and lead. They only become toxic when used for airbrushing, or when sanded, or if large amounts are accidentally ingested. For the most part, when you use them for typical acrylic painting purposes (applying them with a brush to the canvas), then they won't be harmful to you." - (source)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Halloween Orders 2012

It's mid August and the orders are already flying in! We're going to keep our etsy shop as stocked as possible, however we have some general guidelines and shipping deadlines for custom orders. Even if an item is marked as in stock, it would be a good idea to read this. :)

Custom Orders:

This applies to pre-existing (marked as "made-to-order" on our etsy) designs and brand new designs.

The LAST day to contact us and put a down payment on a custom order for Halloween is Friday, September 21st, 11:59PM Pacific Standard Time. If you place an order after that, we will do our very best to make it on time, but we cannot guarantee it. Custom orders pile up super quick during this season, and it can take up to 4-5 weeks to get an order finished and shipped.

In Stock Orders:

We will be shipping as quickly as possible, as each order comes in. The last day for standard domestic shipping guaranteed to arrive by Halloween is Wednesday, October 24th, 3:00PM Pacific Standard Time. It usually only takes 2 days for domestic shipments, however it can take up to 7 days. If you order after that date and need the mask by Halloween, contact us and we can upgrade your shipping.

International Orders:

It typically takes one week to arrive outside the US, however since customs could potentially hang onto the item, we cannot guarantee arrival dates. Upgraded faster shipping is available upon request, however there's still no definite way to be sure that custom's won't hold the item for many weeks. We have never had that happen, though it's still a possibility. Always, we provide customs declaration numbers with every order so you can contact them to get everything sorted. My best advice would be to order as quickly as possible.

That's all for now! Expect another one like this once the winter holiday season picks up.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

IndieGoGo Campaign for the use of a laser cutter!

Hi! So, short post. BUT we've started a campaign to raise the necessary funds to access a laser cutter for 1 year. All the information is in that link. Or, if you could help spread the word, it would be much appreciated!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

FaerieWorlds 2012

What a crazy wild weekend that was! I'm still in the process of sobering up from the high that is FaerieWorlds.

For starters, I've uploaded a n00b video montage of my experience there:

I can't even really properly word all of everything that happened. So, I'll keep this fairly short.

It was absolutely incredible to see so many hordes of people, characters, musicians, and others all wearing Oak Myth Masks. Very quickly, I had lost count of every sighting of past and new creations that were wandering around out there, in the wild. Old customers would even wander in from time to time to tell us stories of all the adventures they had gone on with their masks and crowns. I think that's probably what I love the most... the stories and journeys that people embark upon with these wearable art pieces Eve and I create.

Carmen, our dearest and beloved model, came with us again for this ride (and drove the car most of the way... god, I love that woman). She performed magically! It's thanks to her that Oak Myth Masks will be appearing in a documentary.
She attracted the attention of a film crew, who invited her (wearing the white wolf mask) to be in their documentary titled: "A Journey Through Transformation Festivals." Later, they came into our booth to film and photograph lots of our creations. We're going to be in the credits!
You can watch the trailer here:

And visit their website / Facebook page!

So, I suppose to wrap this post up, I'll leave you all with some wonderful photographs I've collected from the festival:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Last work day

Well today is the last day to finish up the remaining 3 out of 54 masks going to FaerieWorlds, our most profitable festival. All that's left is some varnishing, ribboning, and basic finishing touches.

I'm thrilled to be working on my FOURTH big peacock mask. The more expensive ones don't sell as frequently... Naturally the demographic for mask lovers narrows when you get up into the $200 range. Still, four peacocks!
Our other big expensive one is the wolf... Dunno if I can count how many of those we've sold. Six I think? Whew!

Anywho, we'll have no shortage of masks and crowns for this big beautiful festival. Some tiny top hats and hair clips too. All leather delights :)

Also, our lovely friend, Carmen from FancyFoxHats on Etsy will be selling some of her creations with us!

I'm incredibly excited to go back to the realm. We leave Thursday at 6:00am :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

About Laser Cutting/Engraving

A few months ago, I posted on YouTube a video about the laser cutting process and how awesome it is to laser cut leather:

Since then, we've been getting a lot of emails and messages on Etsy from people looking for advice and information about laser cutters/engravers. So, I've written up this blog post to try and answer any and all questions as best as I can. 

1. What kind of laser cutter do you use? 

Laser cutter, epilog (Helix 60 Watt) 

2. How much did the machine cost? 
We didn't buy one. Currently we purchase day passes to TechShop in San Francisco ($25 for past members, $50 if you haven't been a member), and reserve the use of the Epilog Laser Cutter for 2 hours. This is much less expensive than buying a new laser cutter. High quality laser cutters can cost around $15,000. 

3. How can I use the laser cutter at my local TechShop? 
First you need to take the introductory and safety class ($60). You can find a list of upcoming classes to TechShop by visiting their website, clicking "Classes" on the left menu, selecting your nearest TechShop location, and then clicking on "Laser Cutter." This will pull up a calender displaying all upcoming laser cutting classes. Once you've taken the intro and safety class, you can call your local TechShop to reserve up to 2 hours per day, 6 hours per week on a machine.  

4. What settings do you use to cut through your leather? 
It should first be noted that the machines at TechShop SF aren't brand new, and are used frequently. So, the settings they recommend on the list of acceptable materials are a little off. You should always bring scrap material so that you can test the settings. It also should be noted that I typically don't do etching on my leather so these settings are for cutting out leather only. 

For 4 ounce leather: Speed 47, Power 98, Frequency 512, DPI 600 
For 8 ounce leather: Speed 40, Power 98, Frequency 518, DPI 600 

If you aren't sure if the laser has cut all the way through, just have it pass through again. You'll know the laser has passed all the way through the leather when it shines very bright, or when the leather starts to curl up around the edges that have been cut.  

5. I'm interested in cutting out X material with the laser! 
If you have your own machine then BE VERY CAREFUL experimenting with other materials. I know that lasers typically handle leather, acrylic, matte board, cardboard, paper, wood, chocolate, seaweed, (off the top of my head) very well... however certain metals and glass just will not work and can even break the machine. If you are using a laser cutter at TechShop, they have a list of materials that are absolutely not allowed. Always ask a staff member to get a material approved if it is not on the pre-approved list.  

6. How does the leather turn out when it is laser cut? 
As you can see in the video above, the laser does leave burn marks (the black lines), and it gets SUPER smelly. Hey, it's burned animal flesh after all, to put it bluntly. The burn marks can easily be painted over, and in some cases just rinsed away. Lightly washing the leather in warm water will combat the smell as well. After my second visit to TechShop, the smell didn't bother me too badly. It smells like funky burnt toast mixed with campfire and BBQ.  

Worth it? 

The cuts are incredibly even and don't leave any messy "fuzzies" behind. As I mentioned in the video, lasers can achieve precision that you just cannot do by hand. check out the center of this mask, just above the nose bridge. Those pieces would surely not even be attached if cut out by hand. It also saves a lot of painful labor and stress on your hands, arms, and back!

[a mask we sold at the Berkeley Pagan Festival 2012]

Hope that was helpful! Any further questions, just ask them and I'll try to include them in this FAQ. Happy crafting!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

FaerieWorlds Crunch Time

Hi Friends,

So as it usually goes 3 weeks before a festival, we're busily working away on building inventory.

For my own sanity, I'm making a o-do list in order of priority:

- finish all masks that are currently cut out
- stock up on more tiny top hats & hair accessories
- template new design ideas
- Finalize prices on everything + new master price sheet
- finalize new booth accessories
- make master packing list

Our goal for this year's FaerieWorlds is to have 50 masks, minimum. At our current rate we may very well have 65. Or more!

Also, I've been getting a lot of messages regarding using a laser cutter on leather, so I plan on making a big blog post about that. It will cover all the settings I use, general TechShop info, how to template a mask for laser cutting etc.

We've also been getting lots of requests for "vegan masks" or pleather masks. I'll be making a post about that in the future as well.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pagan Festival!

Well that was a lot of crazy fun!

I have to give some legit props to the people who organize the Berkeley Pagan Festival and The Pagan Alliance. Things got kind of hectic, but it all worked out.

Initially when our booth placement was emailed out, Oak Myth Masks and Leathercraft was somehow listed in three separate locations, despite us only paying for one. Noelle at Firebird had been emailing us and we kept asking for our booths to be next to each other, but we ended up with 2 booths between us. Ah oh well. We certainly still had plenty of time to visit, chat, and give lots of love to each other.

Numerous times, people wandered into the tent to tell us how wonderful and magical the masks are. "Best masks I have ever seen!" was heard a few times too!

A few authors as well as a famous advocate for religious equality walked in as well, with more praise to give.

Sales were better than expected. All costs were completely covered and Eve and I went home with a good chunk of change to split between the two of us. Very close to the amount we made at FaerieWorlds! Hooray!

Last but not least, our delightful and beautiful friend, Carmen, showed up! She really gets animated when she wears the masks. This time, she put on the fox mask and ran around, dancing like a sly little graceful canine. Scored us a number of sales ♥♥♥ Needless to say, she's now invited to travel with us up the coast during all of our vending adventures.

Here is a short video of the festival:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How to be a great customer with custom orders!

Hi folks! Today we're going to go over how you can help us with the process of making a complete custom order!

1. Do you have a very clear and specific vision of what you want?

No: It's okay if you don't! Sometimes we just love running wild and free with a vague concept. Freedom is usually better, because we are creative people with a distinctive style. If you trust us, we can make it great! If you know of a general color scheme, animal, creature, or style, we can work with that. Concept sketches will be provided so you can let us know what design you like the best.

Yes: I hope you're contacting us very far in advance, because this will usually take a lot of back and forth. In order for us to match your vision to the best of our abilities, we can send progress photos which you can approve or request changes. However, some changes are complicated (especially after the leather is shaped! Painting changes usually aren't so bad.) so what you can do to help is give us AS MUCH references to work off of as possible. Possible references can include:
  • A sketch or drawing of what you want the mask to look like
  • Photographs of animals/plants
  • Any sort of art or music you think will inspire us*!
  • Color swatches! Got specific colors in mind? Send them over!
 *Note that we will never directly copy another artist's design. 

2. Tell us if you want accessories like feathers, rhinestones, etc.

It is very important that we know this in advance so we can give an accurate price quote! If we've already quoted you a price, and somewhere in the process you decide that you want the mask to have something that wasn't told to us from the beginning, we'll have to charge more to cover the cost.

3. I don't like X & Y on the mask! Can it be fixed?**

If there's a problem with something in one of the progress photos, please tell us [nicely] right away! Problems are easier to fix if they're caught right away. This is especially true for those of you who have a clear and specific vision of what you want. If you are very descriptive with the references, this usually isn't a problem.

The problem is with the shaping: Sometimes this can be fixed, but please note that the more a piece of leather is wet and shaped, the weaker it becomes.

The problem is with the tooling: We will show you a tooling pattern before any of the cuts and bevels are made, so you DO have time in advance to tell us if you like or don't like something. However once the cuts are made, they are final, unless you want to pay for the supply cost of a new piece of leather (we can give quotes).

The problem is with the painting: No worries! Paint can be painted over! Painting is the easiest part to fix.

**If you are so picky and there are too many change requests, we reserve the right to cancel the order. It's pretty exhausting going back and changing things again and again, despite offering tons of progress photos. At a certain point, the supplies and work time costs too much.

4. I have a deadline!!

Cool! TELL US. And please give us the exact date or week. Five weeks is the absolute -minimum- unless you want something supremely simple. 
Here's how YOU can decrease the time it takes to make your custom item:
  1. Fewer changes = faster mask
  2. Be easy to get in touch with (etsy, email, etc.)
  3. Read this entire blog post! 
  4. Be nice! Seriously. If we like working with you, talking to you, bouncing ideas off of each other, then making your mask will be so much more pleasant. 
  5. Stick to your deadline. Don't give us a zillion different dates. We need to know exactly how to pace ourselves.

5. The mask doesn't fit right!

Well, this doesn't happen too often but it's not impossible. So, if you care to tell us exactly how it doesn't fit (eyes too small, nose too narrow, doesn't sit well etc.) we can fix it. We'll happily carve out bigger eyes, wrestle with the nose, tweak things here and there.... you get the idea. 

You may be able to fix it yourself!
So I know you payed a lot of money for your mask and probably [hopefully] want to protect it, but the fact of the matter is that leather is flexible! You should be able to wrestle with the nose area to some degree and make it submit to your face. We've never experienced paint cracking, but if it does happen, send it back and we'll fix it for you.


Okay, I know that there's this popular concept of "the customer is always right," and yeah, we DO want to make you happy and make sure you have a really great piece of wearable artwork, we aren't going to sit back and accept abuse, passive aggression, or any sort of nastiness. We're here to work WITH you, not under you! 

And again, if you're a nice person, we'll probably put extra love into your mask! ♥

Thanks for reading!

Further information:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Oh The Festival Madness

We have three festivals scheduled for the next three months, and for past festivals we have  been averaging about 45 masks per festival. Hah... haha... this should be great.

I had a tech shop membership for a month to try out the laser cutter, and it was completely amazing. Turns out, a day pass is only $25, and we can cut out at least 15 masks in an hour. So with the next batch of leather I think we should be able to match our 45 item minimum. Here's a video of my experiences using the laser cutter:

The Berkeley Pagan festival is in 2 weeks and one day, so we have a LOT to do. Then the Walnut Creek Art and Wine festival is exactly 3 weeks after that (oh god why), and after that we have roughly 7 weeks to stock of for FaerieWorlds 2012.

Eve just got her car repaired which cost more than she had anticipated. I'll likely be buying the next round of leather so that we can scramble and make as much as we possibly can for the Art and Wine festival... that is a HUGE event in the bay area which averages 90,000 people attending. This is our first festival of that size. To put things in perspective, FaerieWorlds has around 15,000+ attendance. Thankfully the Art and Wine festival is walking distance from my new home!

Right now we have about 40 items for the Berkeley Pagan Festival, though only a handful are actually ready for sale. I'm painting my ass off, to say the least :)

If you'd like to visit us at any of the above mentioned festivals here's some information:

Berkeley Pagan Festival
Saturday May 12, 2010
10:00 AM to 5:30 PM
Civic Center Park, Berkeley, California
Martin Luther King Jr. Way (between Center and Allston)
2151 Martin Luther King Jr. Way ,  Berkeley CA 94704
Walking distance from Downtown Berkeley BART station

Walnut Creek Art and Wine Festival
Saturday June 2 and Sunday June 3, 2012
Saturday: 11:00AM to 7:00PM
Sunday: 11:00AM to 6:00PM
Heather Farms Park, Walnut Creek, California
310 N. San Carlos Dr. (left turn off of Ygnacio)

FaerieWorlds Summer Celebration
NOT FREE EVENT - Ticket information here
(we usually receive a handful of free passes for Friday & Sunday as well as 20% off passes for Saturday that we can give out if you are interested)
Friday July 27, Saturday July 28, and Sunday July 29, 2012
Friday: 2:00PM - ?
Saturday: 12:30PM - ?
Sunday: 12:30PM - ?
(closing times usually around midnight but the party usually goes on well after)
 Directions here

Friday, March 2, 2012

Variance in Leather Weight and Size

This is something that came up recently in a conversation about a custom order, so I thought I would write it all out for easy reference.

So first things first. Tooling leather is sized in ounces (oz). The bigger the number in oz, the thicker the leather is.

These are the two sizes of leather that Eve and I work with. The left is 4oz leather, the right is 8oz leather.

8oz is roughly 1/8th of an inch thick. As such, 4oz is about 1/16th of an inch.

So why choose one over the other?

The thickness of the leather determines what you are able to do with it. Thin leather can be shaped dramatically with all sorts of gorgeous ridges and curves. This mask by beadmask is a beautiful example of what can be done with thin leather! This is a 4-5oz mask.

Sometimes masks with such dramatic shaping look better without tooling because the tooling can get a little warped and distorted.

As the thickness increases, it becomes more difficult to achieve such sharp folds in the leather, but tooling becomes less of a pain because there is actually depth to hammer into.
To the left, we have our Autumn Forest Mask, which is 4oz leather. As you can see, each leaf is hand tooled, but there is still a significant amount of what I call "tight flexibility." The vines can be twisted into tiny little tight curls. 4oz is a great middle ground if you want something that can be tooled as well as intricately shaped. There's also a lot of layering that can be done without making the mask too heavy or unstable.

Thick leather allows for gorgeous deep and intricate tooling. 4oz can be tooled, but not as dramatically as 8oz can be tooled. Shaping an 8oz mask is a bit trickier and requires a fair amount of wrestling to work with. It's also mildly heavier, but still very comfortable to wear.

That's not to say that you can't do some awesome things with 8oz leather in terms of shaping! The dragon mask is a great example of shape paired with detail. This is what the full mask looks like, in all of its horned and finned glory. The key difference here is that while the horns do spiral up, those spirals are wide and not at all tight like the curls in the Autumn Forest Mask.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Making the business official!

As the title states, Eve and I are finally taking the necessary steps in order to make our business all official and such. The Berkeley Pagan Festival is coming up, and in order to participate we need a resale license (which means we're going to have to start charging tax for all purchases made in CA).

In order to get a resale license, we have to register our business name AND register our partnership. The resale license is free, but the latter two are pricey. It needs to be done, though. And, while we're at it, we might as well get our business name trademarked.

We're looking into getting a membership to TechShop in San Francisco as well, which is hugely exciting! They have a lot of machinery at their disposal, which would be very handy, considering we're still working out of a small bedroom. In particular, we're looking at utilizing their laser cutters, which would be used to cut out all the detail crazy masks and most of the 8oz works. It would spare our hands the long term pain, and make production a lot quicker. I'm pretty excited about that.