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)