We recently published Leather Jewelry: 30 Contemporary Projects. This book finds edgy and sophisticated ways to incorporate leather into the modern woman’s jewelry collection. The project designers Lark brought together in the book hail from all over the world, including France, Japan, Belgium, Argentina, Estonia, and Canada.
Leather Jewelry also contains an inspiring gallery of breath-taking professional work from a truly global collection of artists. Here’s a Q-and-A with the author, Lark Jewelry’s very own Nathalie Mornu.
Why should people try making this style of jewelry?
It’s fun, fast, easy, and satisfying to make—and casual to wear.
Where do you find inspiration when creating these pieces?
All over the place! I made 6 of the projects in the book, and each was drawn from a different idea.
The Regina project, for example, derived from a Seventeen magazine I read in something like 1980. They had a fashion spread loosely based on the Aesthetes, a movement associated with the pre-Raphaelites that existed around 1870 or 1880. The models wore lacy ruffs with gauzy blouses, and ever since, from time to time, I’ve made small ruffs from organza and trim and worn them. You see the impression that magazine article made on me!
Regina is a more restrained version of my ruffs. I’m less willing to dress experimentally these days!
DiscoBoa is a leather version of those delightful corkscrew scarves that you can knit or crochet. I started knitting such a scarf from a Loop-d-Loop pattern—that book is quite possibly the most beautiful craft book ever published—but never finished it.
On the Lark Crafts’ bonus content page, there are a couple of free project instructions from the book. How did you decide which ones to give away?
The only jewelry I wear consistently is earrings, so I naturally gravitated toward that type of project for the freebies. And you know, winter’s over, the trees are budding, and the Sprig earrings just feel so perfect for the season, in a cheerful green with a blossom print. I like the unexpected technique that designer Holly Strate uses—employing a rubber stamp to add a pretty floral design to the leather.
The other give-away project, Scrunch, I picked for its awesome texture, easy shape and jolt of color. Its designer, Joan K. Morris, has an amazing imagination and makes lots and lots of projects for Lark books.
What’s a little-known fact about yourself?
One of my youthful ambitions was to own a mini-golf empire.
If people are feeling really adventurous, which piece of jewelry would you suggest they make from the book Leather Jewelry?
I just don’t think any of the projects in the book are hard to make, but I guess I’d say Link requires the most cutting and it needs to be precise. What a terrific design! Marina Massone contributed it. She was trained as an industrial designer and makes beautiful, inventive jewelry in precious metal.
What I think is really challenging and exciting is the combination of leather with fabricated metal, as shown in many of the gallery images.
All the projects in the book are well made and could be used for any number of occasions. How did you go about selecting the projects for the book?
I started by searching online for artists who make leather jewelry, trying in different languages so I could find as many people as possible. Etsy is an invaluable tool, too, for finding just such a pool of crafters. I contacted them all to invite them to submit proposals, preferably photos of finished pieces.
Once I had all the submissions, the selection process began, and it was hard because I got so many cool ideas from so many talented artists! I chose based on techniques and materials used, trying to strike a balance to fill all the categories—necklaces, bracelets and cuffs, earrings, etc.—as well as a wide range of techniques. I knew I wanted to include some braiding, some knotting, some suede, some cord, and so on and so forth.
In a few cases, I got a technique I wasn’t expecting; a good example of that is the leafing on the Arabesque bracelet. I also wanted lots of colorful projects, and they had to be pretty.
For someone new to world of making leather jewelry, what advice would you give them about this art?
Get some pretty leather, so you’re really worked up about making and finishing the piece of jewelry.
How do you decide which leather works best for a given project?
Handle it with the project in mind. Is it too stiff? Too floppy? Too thick?
If you had the opportunity to make leather jewelry for someone, who would it be, and what would you create?
A triple- or quadruple-layer, super-long boa for Freddie Mercury (from Queen). The edges would have some bling attached at regular intervals, and it would strap on at the wrist, elbow and upper arm, then drape around his back to attach to the other arm in the same way, so he wouldn’t have to think about it while he was performing.
If you were set loose in a craft store, which 3 items would you search out first?
The craft store nearest my house carries chocolate Lindor balls. That’s the first place I’d go, hands down.
Number 2, the section where they sell ribbons. I got married in June, and I decorated the space where the ceremony and reception were held—you can’t imagine how much ribbon that required!
Number 3, back to the chocolates, oink oink!