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Searching for the Perfect Supplier

February 6, 2015 , In: General, Studio
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Hello again, dear readers! It’s my turn again to share all my latest happenings. Today you won’t find me shaping polymer beads, painting, or even making jewelry. Today, I’m testing. Testing to find my new perfect supplier of suede leather…
This journey has been more than 2 months in the making… and I’m so very happy to finally see the end coming into sight!
I never really thought when I first started making my Leather Feathers that my stock of suede leather would run out. But then, I also hadn’t envisioned making hundreds of feathers either… and then wanting to make more feathers and other designs too!
My Leather Feather story actually starts about 40 years ago when my mom purchased several suede hides directly from a tannery in Benicia CA (since closed down), she had planned to make soft luggage. For one reason or another she never did. Growing up, my siblings and I enjoyed using the hides for building tee-pees and dressing up as Indians every Thanksgiving. Years went by and then they were packed into a box for the move to VA. After that, they were mostly forgotten. And finally several years ago they started to make their way into a few of my projects… and at last they became my Leather Feathers! Now I’m down to only a few small suede pieces left.
In my search for a new supplier, I have discovered what I considered to be a “normal” natural-looking brownish color is incredibly rare (at least right now… I suspect that has a lot to do with color trends) and have spent endless hours searching for it.
Little by little the swatches have trickled in…
There’s such excitement when a new swatch packet arrives. I sometimes open it fresh out of the mailbox—a 1/2 mile walk from the house! Beautiful colors of course, but many times the joy is followed by a sigh of disappointment at not receiving the color I need so badly!
More searching, more ordering, more phone calls, more emails written, more snippets of my dwindling stock mailed off for a potential match… And lots of waiting…
There were a few other leathers that caught my eye and I couldn’t resist snatching up a few extra swatches…
New designs can’t help but start to take shape in my mind when I have new textures and colors in front of me!
At last all the swatches are finally in and the testing is nearly complete… 
So many contributing factors—color, thickness, body, texture, length of nap, paintability, burnability—yes, I think I just made that one up! All are essential, but many of the leathers don’t meet all. I’m a perfectionist and will only be satisfied with the very best—I want my next leather to come as close as possible to perfection.
So, this is what my weekend is going to look like. Paint testing is next. And of course there will be a few bead batches getting my attention too. Busy, busy!!
Tell me about you! Have you ever spent countless hours searching for a crafting supply or jewelry component? What was it and did you find it? Did you find something better or maybe discover something entirely new? Do share!
Rebekah Payne

Rebekah Payne

Rebekah Payne is the designer and creator behind Tree Wings Studio. What started out as just a few beads for her own jewelry creations quickly grew into more than a hobby and she now spends every spare moment busy in her studio crafting beads for jewelry designers around the world… and the occasional piece of jewelry for herself. She loves fine details, rustic charm, earthy hues, and all things textural. These days her medium of choice is polymer clay, but she also dabbles in wire-working and uses various fibers and leather.
  1. Reply

    i enjoyed your story about your mom wanting to make luggage and that you using the hides a tee pees. I hope you find just the right leather for your wonderful feathers.

    • Reply

      The story behind it all really does make the feathers and the process of making them special to me, Alice—so many happy memories! Glad you enjoyed it reading it. 🙂

  2. Reply

    Wow, that pile of feathers is amazing! I love that the suede you have been using was handed down from your mother…nothing you find will ever have that special quality, but hope you find just the right thing to use going forward. Those swatches are all very cool. Can't wait to see what you eventually settle on and all the new designs you come up with!

    • Reply

      Thank you Melissa—I sure hope so too! All these new ideas are about to burst out of my head and I really am excited to start with some of the other types of leather… as soon as time allows. 🙂

  3. Reply

    Hi Rebekah, I enjoyed your post. I too have for just the perfect item sometimes unsuccessfully. It sure looks like you did your homework.The swatches are beautiful. Niw I understand why your feathers are so lovely.

    • Reply

      So glad you enjoyed it Becky! It's been such a long search and at times grueling, but in the end I know I will be very happy I went to all this effort. I really have learned a lot and love that all this will enable me to create quality art for years to come.

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