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. Yes...my 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.