Leather, Leather Everywhere….

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Hey there Thursday readers!

For those of you who have dreamed of having a custom made leather something, well, your dreams can be made into a reality! I’d like to introduce The Leather Lair.  This company, based out of Pennsylvania, USA, specializes in custom leather work made by Suzanne.   She makes original designs that have an American Indian style with a Medieval-Fantasy twist.

Even though there are a number of off the rack pieces, each of those pieces are their own unique item. Each item is hand crafted.  I cannot stress how important this is. Hand crafted means that there’s an innate uniqueness that you can’t find in factory produced merchandise and it gives life and character to the garment.  She prides herself on this uniqueness letting her garments choose their owners, rather than the other way around.

Her pieces have a huge range from jackets (seen above in Batman on these dashing bekilted men) of the nerdy variety to those that are reminiscent of a lab coats and steam She also makes many beautiful bodices and tops for ladies where her inspiration can range from the woodland pixies to a badass steampunk fighter.  Whatever piece catches your eye, you will easily be able to see the care that goes into the workmanship and design.

Make sure to check out the facebook page here for a lot of pictures to peruse and enjoy. Not only does The Leather Lair do clothing for pixies and pirates alike, but they do so much more.

Whether you’re in the market for a new vest, some boots, some cuffs or something else that you never thought you’d be able to find, The Leather Lair fully welcomes custom work so don’t be shy about sending an email to ask about that thing you’ve been dreaming about for years.

Some leather wings, perfect to accent… well… anything.

Make sure you keep an eye on their event’s page for conventions and other events that they will be vevnding at, though you can order online through their website.  From someone who makes a lot of custom work, don’t be afraid to send a personal email if you don’t see a picture of something you would like.  Artisans like this can often do so much more than they’re able to showcase on their website and can often work with your imagination to make something you will love.  Just make sure to share any time constraints as custom work does tend to take a little longer.

It may take a little extra time…. but just look at the jaw dropping results.







Armor thy self

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As some of you may know, cosplay/costuming can be serious business to those who are passionate about it. One of the hardest areas to create stuff for? Armor. I’ve had friends and co goers a like all confess to how difficult it can be. Apparently, this person didn’t get that memo.

Kjerulf’s Armor

This leather and metal armor piece is the work of Ryan Bolduc of Steam Viking. He creates beautiful hand made custom armor pieces for all for cosplay/fantasy needs. Even just smaller finishing pieces like this super fancy leather eye patch.

There isn’t much to see up in his shop since the majority of his work is custom made, but based on his glowing reviews he’s also made boots, weapon holders, and even custom hair barrettes. Truly a skilled artisan that is worth bookmarking for that next piece of custom leather/metal work for your costume.


Things with pointy ends!

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Well hello again.

Strength, discipline and…. pointy bits?  That’s right. Weaponry. You’ve come to the best place on the web right now to read about one of the only people I know who forges and creates weapons from lumps of steel.  Read on and enjoy!

I have known Matthew personally for probably about 5 years or so, and he is really one of my vendor friends who I always look forward to seeing. He was at the first convention I ever vended at and I see him yearly at Anime North (which is coming up later this month on the 22-24th, so don’t forget to check him out!)and he’s pretty easy to find as his booth design is entirely unique. He builds up a wooden structure that looks like mini traning house, so look for his structure in the hordes of vendors. It makes him pretty easy to spot. He is the owner of Nine Directions (You can find his facebook page here) which is a company that produces hand made weapons and sometimes, if you ask really nicely, dogus (he also teaches martial arts and really does embrace the lifestyle of his art). I know that we often focus on jewelary and clothing when we’re looking at hand made. Here’s where we get into some really interesting stuff – weapons.


This is Matthew wearing one of the dogus that he has made himself.


I like to get a little background on the artisan I’m featuring if I know them personally, as this really can make an impact on what they are creating, how they create it and what the finished product looks like. He started with martial arts in 2002 and by 2007 was invited to live as a uchideshi for a year (which is basically intensive training to observe instructors closely – a traditional Japanese training method) during which he studied a different facet of the art every month. When it comes to the fashioning of his weapons and clothing, he hasn’t been formally trained. It is something that came naturally to him though with some trial an error as is what comes natrually with anyone who is self taught. He takes all the information that he can from books and videos and other forgers to create his own unique style. He has now been forging for over a decade and so you can imagine the things that are produced from his forge are quite amazing. I’ve seen a lot of them first hand and I can tell you that they are.

I have always had a fondness for weaponry. I used to collect swords and daggers myself, though I have to say, most of what you find these days is decorative, machine made and to be honest, not quite that durable. So what makes weaponry excellent? Well there’s a number of things and it does depend on what you’re looking for. Matthew uses a charcoal forge, as opposed to a coke forge (which is what most forgers use to craft their weapons). If you’re like me, and you don’t really know the difference, here it is: coke is the coal equivalent of charcoal. Basically coke is the result when coal gets burned down. Charcoal (not the briquettes that you use for a bbq, but the ones that still look like wood) burns cleaner, hotter and more consistently than coal. If you’re interested in learning more, you can go here. For those of you who aren’t familiar with forging, think of movies like Robin Hood or Game of Thrones when you see blacksmiths making weapons.

A big difference between Nine Directions and other forgers is that Matthew does most of his work by hand without using power tools or having assistants help him with bigger tools. He uses the power of his own muscles to shape every piece so there’s a lot of postivie energy and strength that is going into each one. What he does do to keep his strength,accuracy and quality up is he has become an ambidexterous forger switching his hammering arm when he pulls a new item from the forge. This helps him to make a more consistent and more interesting product while improving himself as a tool. When you pick up one of the items that Matthew has crafted you can really feel the quality and the individuality of each. They are heavy and solid and there’s none of this business of separate pieces that shift and move when you hold them as you might find with decorative weapons. These are solid, but this shouldn’t be a surprise with hand made, and they are hand made with such care and committment.

toothed kunai

sai and sky 1600

Hand forged sais. Beautiful, yet deadly!

Not only does he make weapons but I did mention clothing.  Matthew makes traditional dogus (see the photo above) that are fantastically sewn and made out of high quality fabrics.  They also look extremely comfortable as he wears them through an entire con.  Now I know that this is normally something that you’ll need to request, but let me tell you it’s completely worth it.

I do also love to get into business philosophy and with any business owner as I find that people who are driven enough to make their own way have a strong sense of why they’re doing this business – other than being fantastic at it. Matthew prides himself on being as traditional as he can be with the items that he creates and with those he teaches. That he keeps an old art very alive with the things that he makes and in those that he teaches. He noted to me that we live in a peaceful society now, but that this isn’t a reason not to make ourselves stronger and look to better ourselves and our minds and this is something that you can tell has been poured into his work and his personality.


Ninja hand claw (16)


If you’re at Anime North in about a week, please take the time and go and see and talk to Matthew of Nine Directions. There is no question that you will find something to appreciate and maybe buy and adopt at his booth. Just remember, any weapons you buy, if you’re staying in the convention, will have to be registered after you buy it, though I know he will tell you the same thing.I will also be at Anime North and if you’re looking for Matthew’s booth and can’t find it, I can direct you to it. Handmade is always so beautiful and it’s so nice to see an art like this available to the mainstream.

Please take a visit to his facebook page to see videos, current projects and lots of different photos!

Suit Up

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I know I’ve mentioned before how much I’d love to give cosplay a go, but how I need to find a character first. A friend of mine already has his character picked out (Dart from Legend of Dragoon), but is unsure how to make the armor. I may have found someone who can help him out…

Carapace Bracers by swanboy

Swanboy is a leather workers, and his work is just gorgeous. It’s all authentic pieces (no foam core or light substitutes) so you’ll have to wear the weight with it, but the look is worth it I’d say. Most of his pieces seem to be original designs, but he also does some amazing cosplay stuff as well.

NCR Ranger Armor by swanboy

He’s been a member of DA for 9 years now, but you can also find his work on his etsy shop should you be in the need for some quality leather armor. ^_^