Tooling Workshop June 1st

Canoe Workshop June 2013 Join us in our Austin studio to experience an introduction to leatherworking, using your new skills to tool a personalized leather key chain. You will learn the basics of leatherwork: selecting the right leather weight for different design projects, using tools to stamp leather, how to case leather, and basic construction with rivets. I'll share my experience as a member of the Longhorn Trail Leather Guild and guide you with resources to continue exploring leathercraft. Leave the workshop with a custom leather keychain, just in time for Father's Day.

Workshop will take place in our East Austin studio on Saturday, June 1st from 2-5pm. All tools will be provided and no experience necessary. We have limited spots available, so reserve your spot today.

Open Studio on May 12th

Canoe Open Studio May 12 2013 We're opening our studio on Sunday, May 12th from 11-5pm and hope you can make it out for a visit! Our studio is located in east Austin, part of the Canopy studio spaces at 916 Springdale Rd, building 1, studio 104. The entire building will be open for visitors, so come check out all the beautiful work happening at Canopy. There will be food, drinks, and music, along with the Art of the Pot show happening in Keith Kreeger's studio space.

Reaching Goals

Canoe studio space at Canopy This week I made an important goal of mine a reality--I signed on a glorious 300 square foot studio space. Starting in February, I will be running Canoe in east Austin at Canopy, a new creative space with artist studios and galleries. Canopy is run by Big Medium, a gallery and non-profit organization in Austin that also runs the EAST and WEST studio tours.

This is the first time since graduate school that I will have a studio space separate from my living space. Might not sound like much, but that separation will change my day-to-day life in more ways than I can anticipate. In good ways, and probably some not-so-good ways, too, but it's long overdue. Canoe has outgrown the space I currently have and it's taken a while to find just the right studio. I am a bit picky about my work environment (shocker).

I'm working on the layout of the space now and trying to figure out the most efficient way to use my wealth of square footage and take advantage of my lone window. Researching creative spaces is a pretty fun way to kill time on the internet; check out this great post by Chloe for some ideas. How do you lay out your space? What do you wish you had room for in your studio? Any advice on maximizing a single window?

Studio Visit: Barrett Alley

Barrett Alley Barrett Alley is a designer and leather craftsman working in Dallas, Texas. He focuses on hand sewn leather goods, using traditional saddle stitching to create durable and beautiful products. We sat down with Barrett to chat about his process and get a peak inside his studio.

Barrett Alley

Natalie Davis: What are your prized tools, i.e. objects that carry emotional significance in the studio or prove to be the most useful in your work?

Barrett Alley: I have more attachment to the materials than the tools. The most important tools in handcrafting a wallet are sewing needles and a knife (I just use razor blades) - which I go through rather quickly. I have all these beautiful materials that I acquired years ago though. I'm still trying to talk myself into cutting them up for products!

Barrett Alley

ND: How did you get started working in leather?

BA: I've always been in the design industry - mainly corporate branding and marketing. In my free time I would experiment with different types of materials and media to create art. I liked leather because of its rigidity and predictability, unlike cloth, which I always found harder to sew. So after a few years of self-study I launched the Barrett Alley line of handmade leather accessories in 2010.

ND: How do you get started/approach the early stages of an idea or problem?

BA: Usually there is an idea at first. I suppose that step is both the important part and the easy part. The hard part is research and development - converting that idea into something beautiful that works (and sells!). That is where you have to stop being an artist and become an engineer.

Barrett Alley all studio photography by Ben Briggs

ND: What advice would you give your younger self?

BA: Advice to my younger self: failure is a statistical necessity for success.

ND: Who do you look to for inspiration?

BA: The entire universe is inspiring in itself. I hold that a truly original concept most likely wasn't inspired by another artist's work. I do admire a lot of designers. The people at Kapital and Henry Cuir are some of the best right now.

Many thanks to Barrett for taking some time to chat with us! Also, check out his latest collaboration with Levi's Made Here, a limited edition run of striking antique textile bracelets. Made with veg-tanned leather and over 100-yrs old deadstock fabric, the bracelets close with an unique antique bone button.

LEVIS bracelet: Barrett Alley