Sunday, May 2, 2010

Attitude and Altitude Adjustments

I kept my leather business for the almost two years that I attended The University of Colorado. Out of the blue one of my clients, Jim, of Dark Horse Leather, invited me to spend my summer in beautiful Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. He had a store and he needed two young girls to sell for him. (Things were different then.) My friend, Jane, from Remington West, and I decided to take the plunge, and leave the hippie student town of Boulder to live with the throngs of tourists that make up Estes. We rented a little cabin by the river and learned many new skills, including sneaking into the towns only bar as underage drinkers.

I made the adjustment from the creating side of the business, back to the selling side. I was very good at explaining the process by which the inventory was made and that detail made me a great salesperson for his company. When the major part of tourist season ended, I thought I had fallen in love with my boss and I believed he felt the same, when he cajoled me into moving to Steamboat Springs, Colorado to work in his other store of the same name. I gave up school, dropped out, and decided I would have plenty of time for all of that...later....much later. In fact, it would be 20 more years before I returned to school. I was ready for adventure and fun. I was on my way to Ski Town USA!

I was all long hair and attitude. I was in love and flying high on my independence. They were my decisions.It was my life! I was only getting started. I was 20 then, trying to find my path and listening to no one. What were you doing when you were 20?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Baby Entrepreneur

I worked for Remington West for what felt like years. I learned so much, but being young and cocky, I thought I could do it better myself. I had learned how to use the industrial sewing machines on leather and I saved my money. Finally, with the help of The Bank of Frank, (my daddy) I bought an industrial sewing machine. I had it all figured out. I was thrilled to be working on my own time, on my own schedule, and my schedule tended to be, sleep in, hang out awhile, then bust my butt sewing into the wee hours. I was free! I was college age, remember? I listened to Bob Dylan, my idol, The Allman Brothers, Lynard Skynard, Little Feat and Bonnie Raitt. (I still believe she sang her songs just for me!) while I made leather vests, lots of backpacks, and of course, the halter tops. I worked hard in reality, because it was for me. I didn't have to answer to anyone. Here's a picture of me with my mom and grandmother, in my Boulder, Colorado apartment that was the jungle and workshop. You can see a few of those plants in the background. At this stage, I still wanted to work in the field of horticulture.

I think it's safe to say that I didn't have a clue about business plans, taxes, accounting, all of the non -creative parts of running a business. Still I enjoyed working with my hands and I was good at it.

The one thing I hated was having to sell my wares. I was very shy and unsure of myself when faced with the people who needed to purchase my goods. I had no problem when I sold, for instance, at Tandy, but when faced with selling my own creations, that was a whole different ballgame! It was scary! Rejection felt personal.  I had to knock on doors and ask shop owners. There was no email or social networking then. I couldn't hide behind a computer. Everything went well...for a time.

I formed relationships with my customers, slowly but surely. I sold leather goods to a man who owned shops in Estes Park, Colorado and Steamboat Springs too. The name of the company was Dark Horse  Leather.There were lots of leather shops back then and his were located in two of the most beautiful spots in the state. After awhile, he approached me with an entirely different job offer, and I took it.

I am thinking, right now, about how all of these experiences made me who I am today, right this minute. Could you change any little piece of your life, knowing it might have changed many other things as well? What do you think?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Temporary Insanity Mixed Media Vintage People WINNER!!!!

It is with great pleasure and an  equal  amount of gratitude that I announce the winner of the 1000 Temporary Insanity fans give away! Judith come on down! You've just won Gigi, the Parisian Artist and Her Little Dog, Fifi! Congratulations! Please contact me at, so I can get your address and send her on to her new loving home!

This drawing was completed on

That was fun!! I think I'll have to do another one. Maybe at 1500?

Gigi, The Parisian Artist and Her Little Dog, Fifi

Introducing Gigi, The Parisian Artist and Her Little Dog, Fifi!

Gigi has finally found her passion. She's unlocked the keys to who she really is. What a breakthrough! It couldn't have been done without, Fifi, her muse. Fifi has shown her the importance of having your own style, your own flair, how to be who you really are! Fifi is on a long leash and she understands the importance of letting go and running. Gigi has decided she is an artist and now creativity is flowing out of her every pore! She holds her head high with confidence and struts her stuff, just like Fifi!

Thank you all so much for being fans of Temporary Insanity! I have so much gratitude for the connection and support I've had from everyone! Good luck tonight!

Moving Up the Leather Ladder

I graduated early from high school, gathering all of my credits as fast as I could! I was determined to be on my own, an adult in my own mind, ready for whatever the world had to dish out! I moved to Boulder, Colorado and started my first semester at The University of Colorado. I was simply getting the basics out of the way so that I could move on to Colorado State University where I would study science and horticulture. passion had become plants. I loved them like they were my little babies. I gingerly cleaned leaves and gently swabbed off mealy bugs, giving them all the TLC I possibly could. My apartment was a jungle.

Like everyone else though, I needed money. Leather was what I understood, so I started to look in that arena. I found a job hand crafting leather goods, but it was nothing I had ever done before. The company was called Remington West and there were six of us working out of the owner's home, all of us college age. This point would come into play much later in my life, as life marches full circle.

Remington West produced hand sewn and laced deerskin halter tops, men's and  ladies leather vests and purses and backpacks. It was a workroom and my job was paid on commission, per finished piece. The vests and bags were sewn on an industrial sewing machine. There was a person to cut patterns, a person to pound on the hardware and Indian nickle buttons, a couple of sewers and me. I took the halter tops from start to finish. I found the perfect position from which to cut the hides so that the jagged edges were at the bottom. I learned how to cut three feet of lacing from one three inch square. I punched holes and adorned them with pheasant feathers, falling gracefully from the necks. I glued turquoise cabochons and surrounded them with leather ovals that I hand laced over the turquoise. I laced the front seams and braided lacing for a criss cross tie across the back.

When they asked me to draw around the necks and seams and then hand burn the design in, I balked. "I can't draw," I told them over and over." I don't want to, please don't make me." My reluctance fell on deaf ears. It was part of my job and I hated it! I started slowly with viney flower designs and far away mountain ranges. The burner had to be used with a very light touch. Deerskin is so soft and draws in immediately when touched.

The designs were drawn on with a brown marker and the burning replaced the marker. Here is an example of the deerskin with the design drawn on, ready to burn. All of the pieces I made were sold and we didn't have the kind of camera access that we have today, so I have only my memories of my creations. Digging through a box of leather scrap a few years ago I found this.

I looked at it and laughed. I felt the embarrassment of those days when I begged not to have to draw. Then I took it and placed it right next to my desk where I do most of my work, to remind me of how far I've come. The pink quote tacked up next to it reads, "Personality is more important than beauty, but imagination is more important than both of them."

I look at it lovingly now and with compassion for the little girl I was then. I am the eagle now...soaring high.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Path to Being an Artist Isn't Obvious-Step One-Tandy Leather Co.

During high school, I had to get a job. After all, I had a 1965 Ford Falcon, cherry red with a three speed on the column, to maintain and fill with gas in order to drive my friends around. The most important thing in the world was being able to drive, leave school at lunch time and hang out, or "say" that I was going to a football game! ( I hated sports.)

I did my door knocking on various business's. I was determined not to serve food, I don't know why really, but all in all, it led me to Tandy Leather Company. Back then, in the '70's, there were Tandy Leather stores everywhere. I think I was paid $4.25 an hour. I was little then, barely 5'3" tall, and sopping wet I weighed all of 90 pounds. My job was to use a utility knife and cut leather pieces, by the foot out of belt weight cow hide. Making purses and belts was a very popular craft in the '70's, much like macramé. I had to literally climb up on the tall cutting table, hold the leather down with my knees and using a steel straight -edge, cut what was needed for the customers, who were mostly men.

After showing my prowess for this job, it was deemed that I was ready to learn how to stamp and carve leather, in order to give demonstrations. I learned how to make bags and belts and punch holes and lace and I learned carving techniques. I hand crafted some really fun things, spent a small fortune of my pay on leather and tools and realized that I loved working with my hands. So, I was a crafts person, maybe, but I wasn't an artist. It took much, much longer for that notion to pop into my head!