I have used all of the soft goat leather that I had bought for to make my book jackets. I think they look pretty good. The rustic nature of the sewn edged bothered me at first, but now I think it adds to the appeal of the piece. I'm quite fond of the rugged adventurer vibe these book jackets exude.
I think I have the skill down now, though it still takes far too long for me to sew each one. As I am now, I can safely say I can make one book cover a day of soft leather. That means that should I make any tooled leather, it will take me two days or so to complete the project.
I had hoped that I would be able to do two a day of the soft leather, but as it stands, I am not. That means, unfortunately, that I don't think I'd be able to make enough in a month to sustain the business. At least, not at these prices.
I'm not willing to charge more for the leather pieces. I think the price as it is now is fair, considering everything is hand done. No machines involved.
I am also unwilling to drive myself mad trying to make enough in a month to earn what amounts to minimum wage each month. All that will lead to is burn-out and my inability to make and send client orders in a timely manner.
So I'm in a bit of a bind, currently. I think the smartest way I can do things is to simply limit the number of orders of book jackets to twenty a month - whether they are tooled or plain. That way, I'll be able to complete orders in good time without becoming swamped by an insurmountable backlog.
Is that enough to live off of? Unlikely. It would be if I managed to sell twenty at the highest price point in a month. Which is exceedingly unlikely. However, if I can supplement that with original art sales and sales of prints, as well as any meagre income I might garner from book sales, I won't be starving.
Of course, there's no guarantee of any sales whatsoever, which is something that is quite likely. I am a terrible marketer, and plenty of people in this economy haven't the funds to buy handmade goods from people like myself. It's not a grand time to be starting a business.
All the same, I've really enjoyed making these covers, even when it got frustrating, and I'm hopeful that someone will like them enough to pick up one for their books. The goat leather book jackets are now listed in my new online shop. They are the only items listed, as they're the only one made thus far.
I'm currently working on a new book jacket made of slightly stiffer goat leather and hand tooled with some of my designs. The first of the designs is one that makes me giggle, and I'm quite looking forward to having that done. But that will take me a couple of days to complete.
My second attempt at a leather book jacket proved much more successful than my first.
I still cannot, for the life of me, seem to cut a straight line, and I had to make adjustments as I went. That said, both the cutting and the sewing went much more smoothly this time. I think it helped that I lifted my cutting surface up from the living room floor to the coffee table, which is where, thanks to space constraints, I currently have my workshop.
After cutting, I had worried that I made it too small. The cutting went better, but was far from perfect. Testing the jacket, however, on the same book used to test my first attempt, it turned out that I had gotten it just right. The book fit, and it fit well.
The stitching is still (I'll generously call) rustic, but I actually have grown quite fond of the look. All the slight imperfections makes it look handmade, and there's something to be said for that aesthetic. I find it appealing, personally.
With my second attempt going much better than the first, I think that I'll stick with the soft goat leather for a slightly less expensive option. When funds allow, I will be buying some cow leather to make both plain and carved options, which I'll offer at a slightly higher price point. Cow leather is much more expensive, after all.
Tomorrow, I plan to make the same size out of my black goat leather, and if I'm satisfied with it, I will upload the pictures and open my online store. There will, of course, be only one item available from my shop currently, available in two colours. That would be the plain soft leather book jackets.
Hopefully, however, I will be able to slowly add items. I don't think I'll keep any stock of these items, save for a couple which I will bring with me to any conventions or events I will sell at, and simply make them to order. That will save me a great deal of stress and space, I think.
All told, I am satisfied with my work this time around.
The last of my leather supplies arrived yesterday, and so I spent the day trying to figure out how to make a leather book jacket. You know, so you can carry around a paperback without having to worry so much about how damaged it'll get in your bag.
I had bought goat leather, as it's less expensive than cow, thinking that I'd be able to offer a less expensive option at first. It's quite a thing to work with. It's soft and supple, and that made it a lot more difficult to work with than I thought it would. All the leather I had worked with to day was cow, and a good deal thicker and stiffer. I think, all told, I prefer working with the stiffer stuff, but the goat leather sure feels soft.
Next time, if I have funds enough, I'll get some cow leather and try to make a stiffer book jacket out of that. For now, though, I will finish working with the goat leather and see what I can do.
There are some things I have learnt trying to make the book jacket out of goat leather. The first is that even with the aid of an L ruler, I can't cut a straight line to save my life. Hopefully practice will make that particular problem go away. The second thing I learnt is that I'm a twit. Truly. I did thing that required time and effort, and it was very wrong. Well, not very, but it wasn't right.
Here's a picture of the finished thing, and I'll let you guess what I did incorrectly:
I'lll let you guess something other than the fact that the stitching isn't straight. I'll pretend that's an intentional 'rustic' look. It does have to do with the stitching, though.
It's the location of the stitching on the short edge. I stitched the inside edge, instead of the outside edge, Which is what I meant to do to create a neat little border around the jacket.
It's a silly error I'm kicking myself over, but it's not the end of the world. The jacket functions.
I tested it on a borrowed copy of Blood of Elves, I've loaned from a friend. The book is the basic Trade Paperback size, so it was a good candidate to test my pattern. I'll also be working on A-Format and B-Format patterns, but for now, I'm just refining the Trade Paperback size.
It's a little taller than I need, and only just long enough for a book of 434 pages, so there is still some tweaking of the pattern to do, but I've basically got it, I think.
I hope that my second attempt works much better. I will find out this afternoon.
As I'm not particularly thrilled with this attempt, it will not be for sale. It's not up to standard. That's not a total loss, however, as now I have a removable book jacket to protect my books when I'm out and about.
Hopefully soon I'll be able to offer at least a couple for sale in case anyone wants one for themselves.
I'm back from my trip to cottage country with my father and his lovely girlfriend. I spent four odd days by the water, watching the rain come and go, attempting to canoe when it was far too windy, being stung by wasps as I attempted and failed to retrieve a kayak from beneath the cottage, and drawing.
Mostly I was working on designs for the leather working I intend to do, but I also worked a painting concept that has been floating around my head for a while. While I think the concept is solid, the drawing itself is not terrific. I'm not especially happy with it. For that reason, I'm unsure whether or not I'll be offering this as art prints. We'll see.
It did, however teach me a great deal about myself, my skills and my needs. First, here is the piece:
First, it is painfully clear that drawing people is most definitely not my strong suit. The proportions are all wrong. Also, the eyes are not correct. In fact, if we're just looking at the composition, the whole woman looks like a child drew her. I'm not happy with that at all.
That said, there's a lot that went right here, and a few lessons I've learnt about myself that I can bring forward into my creative life from here on out.
Firstly, I thing the shading went well. I think I managed to create a fairly convincing sense of depth from the shading. I think I could have done a better job with the fall of fabric, but otherwise, I'm not upset at my effort in that regard. I'm feeling much more confident about creating depth and definition when it comes to painting in colour, so I'm not so worried about translating this onto canvas.
One point of pride of this piece is the spearhead.
I had wanted it to look like knapped stone, and I think I achieved that well enough. I'm also particularly proud that I drew it pretty much as I imagined it, rather than with a reference image. Not that I think that there's anything wrong with using references, as I'll discuss in a bit, I also want to be the kind of artist that can imagine an image and then draw it from my mind's eye.
In any case, it's my favourite thing about this piece.
I think the wolf shadow also turned out relatively well. It would have been better if I had charcoal on hand, but the darkest I had on hand was a 6B pencil. Still, I think it looks like a wolf. The thing is, of course, is that I had tried for ages to draw the wolf without a reference (as I did the less than stellar wolf pelt hooded cloak). It wasn't working.
I finally relented and grabbed a reference image of a wolf and drew it from that. It went much smoother and went much faster than when I struggled without. Granted, as it was a shadow, I didn't have to fuss much with the details, but the reference really helped.
It seems that I have an alright eye for copying references, but not so much when drawing independent of them.
Looking now at the woman I attempted to draw, it's clear that I could use a reference in order to get the proportions right. I'm thinking that it might be worth my while to invest in a couple of posable artist models. I could pose them and use that to draw from.
So, my next purchases for my painting and drawing endeavours will be those posable models. Something very posable like these figures.
Until then, I will continue to practice drawing figures, particularly in profile, and in the meantime I'll buy the canvas I want to paint the final thing on. Probably something of a medium height and relatively long.