~ Leather ID Bracelet ~

People always ask me how things are made and how long each piece takes to create.  The majority of my jewelry is completely handmade by me - having only certain pre-fabricated components (like jump rings).  I recently made a production of sheet metal and leather ID bracelets.  This is the process for making them.

For all of my sheet metal jewelry, I use 24 gauge metals.  It comes raw in a long sheet.

I use very heavy duty scissors and lots of hand muscles to cut it into the desired shape.

It's super sharp on the edges after cutting, much like the edges of a tin can top after opening it with a can opener.  The first step in smoothing out the edges is to pound the edges flat using a heavy hammer and my trusty lil' anvil.

This not only helps to prepare the edges for polishing smooth, it also helps to shape the metal and gives it texture as well.

Next, I use a heavy duty black emery board (yes, for fingernails!) to smooth out all of the edges and corners of the piece.  I also sand over the front and back faces to remove any hammer marks and make the metal appear more polished.

Even after a good sanding, those edges are still pretty sharp and could probably give a nice cut, so I use a fine grade nail buffing block to smooth out the edges, corners and both sides.

Now that the metal is completely prepared, I mark where I want to punch the holes.

I love this tool!!!  It is supposed to be for punching leather, but I use it on sheet metal to mark holes, and more than anything to texturize and add designs.

Next, I use my other beloved tool, my heavy duty metal hole punch and punch my marked holes.

For this piece, I want the metal to appear a little less polished and a little more aged.  I use my pencil torch to apply some heat.  This quickly changes the color to a less "new" appearance.

Now I'm ready to attach the jump rings and create the straps.

I have tons of leather - in all different colors.  I buy what other people call "scrap leather" but it's perfect for my uses.  One person's trash is another person's treasure!

I use E-6000 adhesive.  It holds forever and a lifetime, but is pliable when it's dry making it perfect for use on leather and fabric.

Here's the finished product - photographed and posted on my website.
Total work time - about 40 minutes.


Tree Trimming

I have learned a ton about how much behind the scenes maintenance goes into operating a large, over populated 1st world city like Los Angeles, where I'm from.  There are so many things that are the responsibility of your local municipality.  Everyone pays their taxes and so for the most part, things are maintained.  I didn't learn this by living in the city, I learned this by living in the country...in the country of a country of a developing 2nd world country.  (That's a mouthful!!) 

By living in a place like this, it has becomes painfully apparent that it's necessary that I put everything I've learned in my "other life" (i.e., city dwelling) regarding basic safety -- behind me -- and embrace other ways of doing things.  Because let me assure you, there are ways of fixing things that you never in your wildest dreams would have imagined.

Like tree trimming.

When a very large tree went through a growing spurt and extended it's oh so heavy branches up, over and beyond the stores that make up my "corner of the planet", my husband inquired around town about who might be good with a chain saw.  I know, "chain saw" - it sounds pretty creepy, however, (another lesson learned) apparently knowing a guy that's good with a chain saw (or a machete!) is someone you want in your inner circle.  

I had no idea what it took to trim down a large tree -- I'd lived in a large city in an apartment for most of my life, I never had to worry about these things.

So, my husband located a friend of a friend of a cousin of a neighbor's nephew's daughter's second husband's father's, neighbor's second wife's brother's, ex-neighbor, who not only was known to be good with a chainsaw (I prefer not to inquire further into this "skill" nor how he gained this reputation), but was small and limber enough to take on this tree trimming job with the help of 2 other guys.

It went like this.....

Like a monkey, he scaled the tree, chainsaw in hand, and tied a rope around himself and then to the tree.  Another very long rope was then tied to the tree up where he was perched right above the portion that needed to be executed.  The free end of the rope was tossed over a strong branch of a neighboring tree and the end of the rope held securely by a faithful friend on the ground.

The concept was, Chainsaw Guy, gripping the trunk with his legs, revs up the chainsaw and cuts the trunk (ahem, minus any safety goggles) about a foot below where the rope is tied around it.  Then the large, heavy newly cut piece of trunk swings down top speed while Faithful Friend holding the rope which is looped over the other tree branch, tries to control this flying tree trunk like a giant pinata. 

Try to picture this, the momentum of an extremely heavy, solid object free falling out of a tall tree. Seriously.  It's horrifying to watch.

After this - I noticed tree maintenance more often.  Most times I just have to look away - terrified that I'm about to witness a tragedy.  
Look at how high up this guy is - - a bit above the bar's sign.

 Yikes, watch those fingers!!

I'm getting  used to things like this, slowly but surely just accepting what IS.  I'm learning to chuckle at the things that sometimes seem ridiculous and realize it's these things that make me love living here.