Saturday, June 1, 2013

Garden Warrior!

When we bought our house a few years ago, I was terrified -- not just because of the decades of payments ahead, but because there were thirteen rose bushes on the property. See, I have what is colloquially known as a "brown thumb": every plant I touch wilts and dies.  Happily enough, since then I've discovered that my brown thumb only applies to indoor plants. The ones outside seem to do reasonably well. In fact, the roses are thriving.

Not only are we surrounded by thriving roses, but we also live in the Pacific Northwest, so the unrelenting blackberry bushes constantly creep in and around everything. The roses are pretty thorny, but those blackberries have claws on them like tigers -- some thorns are almost an inch long, and they will tear meat out of you if you aren't careful.

Gardening gloves are a joke. I have a pair of heavy leather work gloves I wear when I'm pruning back. The only way I had to protect my arms was long sleeves, and I'm sorry, but when I garden it's at least 75 degrees and long sleeves are the last thing I want in the sunshine and heat.  I'd get scratched and bloody and bug-bitten, and then I'd itch and complain and gardening became a chore instead of the delightful green getaway I wanted it to be.

What I needed was armor.

So I got out my heavy, quarter inch thick leather and started work on these.

It was simple enough: I measured my wrist and then how long I wanted them to extend up my arm. Then I measured my arm there, and made my pattern. 

This was my first time ever using my new leather stamping tools, and it took me a while to figure out which direction it was easiest for me to see where I was going. I was smart enough to begin in the middle and work the pattern out to the edges, but there are some wonky areas where things just got all higgledy-piggledy. Still and all, not bad for a first time. And I don't think the roses will notice. 

No one will ever mistake them for professional work, but I think it lends a certain rustic charm. It's not like I can go back and erase -- leather isn't very forgiving that way. 

Once the leather dye dries, the color evens out a bit, but there will always be a little inconsistency, just because that's the way hide is -- some areas are more porous and take dye better than others. I hear you can buy stuff to treat the leather first to help even it out. Have to see if I can pick some up sometime. I'm happy with the way they look anyhow; kind of aged.  There's a leather thong that laces the tops together and is tied in a tight knot, and a buckled strap is glued and then riveted to the cuff and so I can loosen the bracer to slide it off. It's an easy design, and works well.

I can't take a picture myself of both of them on me, and Dave is out for the evening. But I assure you they're a lovely set. And I feel pretty invincible in them!

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