Behind the Scenes - Making Leather Flowers with Artist Lisa Ramos

Posted by Lisa Ramos on

Video 1 - How I Make Leather Flowers

It is that time of year for working on the MONOLISA Handbag Collection. I am Lisa Ramos, a handbag designer in Clayton, California. This year from January through April I am working on my new handbag collection. My design to development process for the MONOLISA handbag collection is a big task - I do myself. It takes a lot of thought-out planning throughout the year and patience. Over the years being an independent artist has taught me to trust the process and to practice the art of patience. So, that is what I continue doing on my creative journey. This month I am taking readers through some of the details of my handbag production process. Readers get a sneak peak into how I cut large leather hides before making the bags and will see the details that go into making leather flower elements for the collection. So, lets get started...

"I fell in love with the creative process because of the unlimited possibilities."

Video 2 - How I Make a Leather Metallic Crossbody Bag

What Style Handbags Do I Make for The Collection?

When it comes to designing handbags I love creating my two favorite styles, a crossbody bag and tote handbag. A crossbody bag is perfect for someone on the go - work, travel and shopping. A tote bag is a timeless style you will wear for years to come. This year the MONOLISA crossbody bag collection includes designs in classic black Italian leather and eye-catching metallic purple leather. Each one of a kind crossbody bag design will have an elegantly painted leather flower. Some of the unique leather flower designs include styles in shimmering gold, pearlized white, metallic gray, ocean blue, purple sparkle, ombre effects and unicorn. The colorful leather tote collection will feature irresistible colors in beautiful lavender, bright pink and a shiny croc embossed black. The tote designs will have one of a kind leather flowers on the closure elements. I can't wait for you to see the handbag designs - video 2 shows how I make the metallic purple crossbody bags.

How Do I Cut Long Leather Hides?

How I cut leather hides is an interesting process. Before I can start making the handbags I need to first cut the leather hides I purchased for the collection. When I purchase leather hides the sizes range from 25-55 square feet. This means that I need to find a large cutting space to properly fit the enormous leather hides. This can be a bit tricky if you don't have a specific leather cutting table. In previous years I used my studio tables to cut the leather hides but found my cutting spaces not large enough to do the job. This year I decided to take a different approach. Taking my husband’s advice, I used our big ping pong table paired with self healing cutting mats. It worked like a charm. I couldn't be more thrilled with the results. 

Video 3 - How I Cut Large Leather Hides 

In video 3 I give viewers a quick snapshot of how I cut the large leather hides on a ping pong table in my garage. The leather cutting process includes precise measuring and establishing the best areas to cut on the leather. It sounds simple, but it is not. There are some challenges when cutting leather. First, leather likes to move when you cut it - resulting the risk of uneven cut leather pieces. Second, deciding on how much leather to cut and where on the hide to cut is tricky. Let's just say there is no room for mistakes. Lastly, cleaning up the leather can be messy. When cutting certain types of leather hides small fibers and debris is released. The fibers and debris tend to fly everywhere creating a bit of a mess. Therefore, cutting large pieces of leather outside of my studio this year made my clean up process a lot easier.  

 Video 4 - How I Paint Leather Flowers

How Do I Make Leather Flowers?

I have been thinking about making leather flowers since I started designing ten years ago. Although it took me many years to get started making leather flowers, it finally happened. You may be wondering why it took me so long to make them. Let me explain. Sometimes during my design thought process I come up with ideas and then think in detail about them for a long time. Since I can't execute every design idea, I need to really think about the process for a while. Creating new design ideas doesn't happen overnight. New design projects requires learning new skill sets which takes time and patience. Researching and purchasing new tools is another component of the process - money and time. Next, making the final design and testing various ways to create it. The last stage is creating patterns and detailed instructions about the design process for future use. Once all of that is completed I can then enjoy creating the new leather flower collection.

Now back to how I make leather flowers. There are many steps in my process for creating leather flowers. First, I have to make each flower before I can start the painting process. In video 1 I show viewers the steps I do to create each leather flower. The steps include treating the leather belly-side, tracing multiple petal sizes, hand cutting the flower petals, carefully ironing each flower petal and assembling the flower. When I make leather flowers I like to make several at time, which allows me to work more efficiently. 

After I complete making various leather flowers then I can start the painting process - did I mention this is my favorite part? In video 4 I show viewers how I paint the flower petals. These steps include cleaning the leather, mixing the paints, painting the petals and then adding an acrylic finish at the end. In video 4 I also share some of the beautiful colors I use to create each one of a kind leather flower. Through my creative journey I discovered that I really enjoy making leather flowers. I especially love the painting process because of the unlimited design possibilities and freedom to do what I want with color. Another bonus, I have always loved flowers and appreciated their natural beauty. This handbag season I am excited to explore all of the possibilities painting leather flowers and styling them with the MONOLISA handbags.  You will have to wait and see what I come up with. I better get back to painting...

"Thank you for taking the time to read my blog." 
California Handbag and Jewelry Designer Lisa Ramos
This blog post is written by California Designer, Lisa Ramos.


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