Illusion and Realism Work Hand in Hand
|That's Leather! TM|
Artist & Leather Crafter Victoria Elledge
I will be forever grateful for the generosity of the late Paul Burnett who taught me this wonderful and unique art form that he created. I have been making the leather feathers since the fall of 1995.
We will always remember Paul.
More About Victoria aka Feather
was raised in a family that was creative—each in their own
right. I always perceived my maternal Grandfather being able to
take nothing and make something out of it. During the
depression, the government paid people to move from Colorado to Northern
Idaho where my Grandparents owned a farm. During World War 11 they
couldn't produce enough on the farm to meet government quota so they had
to go to Los Angeles, California to work in the airplane
factories. My Mother was 18 and went with them. I was born in
California while they were there. My Mother worked at home making
beautiful custom baby apparel. My creativity my first exploration into
creativity started with buttons and pins which were readily
available. Whenever my Mother wanted a button, she had to retrieve
it from the sofa for I had pinned them to the designs on the sofa.
After the war we all moved back to Northern Idaho -- approximately 30
miles from both the Canadian and Montana border. When
I was 6 years old my Grandparents built a motel. They did
everything themselves including sawing the logs into lumber, the
plumbing, electrical, and carpentry. My Grandmother did the
finishing works and accessorized the rooms. This was an incredible
experience for me to see what people can do. Their home was always a
special place for all the Grandchildren.
my childhood, my Mother had worked with my creativity. My Mother
and I made valentines from old wallpaper catalogs. We created
Easter baskets from the 2-quart milk cartons. She made certain I
had the opportunity to participate in 4-H. I went through 5 years
of perfection sewing after which I had to learn there were times I
didn't have to do that quality of sewing. During my life I did a
number so of interesting jobs that utilized this training like making
custom jackets for hot air ballooning crews. I took a Rock Hound 4-H project one year
enhancing my love for stones. My Mother saw my art ability.
Even though financially it was a sacrifice, she paid for art lessons for
We didn't have a lot of money growing up.
I believe that taught me so many things I wouldn't have learned through
a more affluent lifestyle growing up. It has also made me
appreciate whatever I am blessed with.
I had the wonderful opportunity to take art lessons from a hometown realistic portrait artist. What she taught us not only applied to portraiture but all subject matter. Her husband told her she had to charge for the classes. She charged $5.00 for 5 two hour lessons. One summer when I was in my early 20s, as a tribute to this wonderful artist I taught a 4-H art project. I was terrified the first couple of meetings. After that I was so excited about what these children were accomplishing I forgot to be self-conscious. I had 7 early and mid teenage children in my 4-H group. At the fair, two were red ribbon winners and 5 received blue ribbons. All their work was very high quality. I could not have done this, and what I do now, without the techniques I had so freely and lovingly been taught.
Life had taken me to the East Coast of the United States. Then I receive other blessings. First in the fall of 1995 I was given the given the opportunity to learn the process of making leather feathers from the leather crafter who created this process. He hand tooled the original feather and after many trials and errors finally figured out how to make a working plate to stamp each style of feather in his line. With a 5000 lb press he is able to stamp out leather impressions. I purchase these from him making this an affordable wearable art form. My teacher passed away February 2012. His wife is carrying on the business, Painting Cow. At this time only she and I are making the leather feathers from his impressions. Fortunately, he taught me how to tool the original to make the impression plate from. I get my die cut maple leaves, aspen impressions, fairy wing impressions and butterfly impressions from Painting Cow.
learning the original painting technique which consists of layers upon
layers of paint of varying consistencies. This understanding
has facilitated my being able to look at a feather and determine what
was needed to create an illusion of it on leather. This has lead
to many other birds being represented in my leather feather line.
A whole new dimension was added to my product as over the years I have modified my work, tooling the backs, adding extra shaping, and making my own Sterling Silver findings for my earrings, necklaces. I found by reshaping my high quality, Nickel Silver pin backs to have a slight curve, I could maintain the beautiful shaping of my pins. I later enhanced the quality of my barrettes when I found a source of one piece, Nickel Silver French made, French barrettes backs.
I am making leather flowers including Dogwood, Calla Lily, and Pansy leather flower jewelry which I hand sculpture.
I discovered I could laminate leather, carve and paint it to look like a deer antler prong which I use for my 10" feather smudge fan.
My latest undertaking is making leather masks. The first mask, a custom piece had a base, creating the neck, of Eastern Red Cedar. Then I was taught how to make a boiled leather background to mount my masks on. This is an intriguing process because you never know what the outcome will be.