Saturday, May 23, 2015

Behind the Scenes in Leather Feather Land

Hello again dear bead loving friends! Welcome to Leather Feather Land… er… I mean my little corner of the world: Tree Wings Studio!

Today you find me buried under a heap of hundreds of leather feathers in progress! Yeah, I'm that crazy… I can't stop making them!

I can't remember if I've said it before now, but last year I finally stepped into the realm of wholesaling and these particular feathers are a result of that. Funny how just a couple years ago, I was pretty sure I'd never do wholesale and now here I am! I know wholesaling is not for everyone and there are some who wonder why I'm taking this path. It can be such a hard strain on an artisan to do so much of the same thing over and over and over and over… and over. Not to mention the potential cut in pay. For me, there was a lot of planning involved, numbers crunched again and again, long chats with friends and family, and of course, input from the lovely ladies of AJE. And now, I have to say I'm really happy I made the decision to go for it—it's hard work, yes, but it's all part of getting me closer to my dream job: making what I love full time.

One day I promise to share a bit more about how and why I decided wholesale was right for me, but for today, I'm giving myself a little break from thinking and am giving you a tour of my studio mess instead… I hope you enjoy it!

For these big orders, I pull out my biggest table to keep this mess separated from my regular mess so I'm not over crowded when I go to work on the regular stuff. It's actually half a Ping-Pong table… it would be the whole Ping-Pong table if it would fit!

I love making tools and whatnot to make my job easier! Each of my feather designs has a series of stencils I made to ensure patterns are consistent.

Each feather starts with a stenciled layout and then every single detail is "drawn" on carefully by hand with my wood burner.

I always have a few design inspirations nearby and while my hands are busily working away, my mind muses on new ideas. During coffee breaks, I'll sometimes do a little experimenting too. That's actually one thing I really love about large orders—the work becomes very methodical when you've got hundreds of the same thing to make and there's so much time to think!

I like to break things up a bit, to keep it from getting too dull—especially when I'm working extra long hours. I'll divide my work into smaller batches and rotate between them throughout the day so I'm only doing the same thing for a couple hours max. Nothing worse than a bored artist! It also helps prevent hand cramps.

And blisters—wow yeah! Even the most calloused, over worked, outdoor loving (oops, I forgot my gloves!), horse petting, bead making hands can get blisters if you don't take a break! And then there was the time I got poison ivy… okay, I'll stop with all the details!

It's many hours of work before I can begin painting the feathers, but it's always a happy moment when I start mixing and applying layers of color!

Painting remains my very favorite part of whatever I make! There's something so magical in the way that color brings life to a creation.

Still lots more feathers to go—and now, it's time for me to get back to work! I hope you had fun joining me in my studio today!

Wishing you all a wonderfully creative weekend!

Rebekah Payne
Tree Wings Studio


  1. Great post I love seeing the in progress shots!

  2. Fascinating post Rebekah - love your leather work and look forward to seeing this progress.

  3. Loving the progression shots. This looks like such tedious work and would not suit everyone. I think I would go berserkers! LOL But it is interesting to see. I love the feathers, their beauty. The fact that they are "mass produced" cannot take away from their individual beauty and perfection. Thanks for this post. I'd be interested to know what made you decide to go this route. You seem to have taken the appropriate steps to break up the monotony.

  4. Loved your details of making multiples and they are so neat. I've been crafting for years and it is still sometimes easier for me to make several than just one depending what it is.

  5. I really enjoyed this post. I often wonder about artists' processes - especially when they make a lot of an item. This was some great insight into what is involved.


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