Bucranium leather wallet

The Proper Leather Studio is working on another project, a new folding handmade leather wallet with bucranium - tooled decorative motif consisting of a buffalo's skull,a motif of ancient Roman inspiration. The intended special effect is to be achieved through a Leather Sheen (three times over), dying the background by hand in a mix color (very dark violet brown) and then applying over the entire surface orange Gel Antique (saddle tan). This lazure/patina effect on nuances of orange/yellow/brown renders the organic color of the animal skull. Soon on Etsy!


Rose honey

The FOCUS exhibit of August 2016 at the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca deals with one of the basic apothecary products in entire Europe, i.e. rose honey.
Rose honey, MEL. ROSATUM (or Mellis Rosae) was one of the most common and often used products of the medieval and pre-modern pharmacies. For his reason it is also known as Mel rosatum commune, sive foliatum (common rose honey, as there were other variations as well). Apothecary dispensatories mention different way of preparing it. Some pharmacists mixed red roses (Rosa centifolia) in honey and left the mix in the sun; others boiled the petals, not to dry but not too fresh either, in honey, while yet others obtained a juice from the petals and then mixed it with honey.

The product was used as such, due to its emollient and lenitive (calming pain) properties, but was also an ingredient in various composite drugs (especially gargles and creams).
The History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca includes just two jars for rose honey, both dated to the nineteenth century and made of porcelain. The first was used in the Mathias Corvinus pharmacy in Cluj (1815), while the second was once used in Iaşi, in the Engel pharmacy there.

1815 porcelain apothecary jar from Cluj


Transylvania History Days

The latest reenactment festival in the region will be organized in Cluj-Napoca between the 29th and 31st of July 2016. Transylvania History Days is not at its first edition and growing nicely, with the support of the university and several NGOs.The location has changed from the previous editions to the banks of river Somes, by Garibaldi bridge in Grigorescu neighborhood. There will be parades, interactive workshops and shows, with reenactors embodying various characters from Antiquity until the World Wars period.

Here is the general Facebook page: THD 2016
And here is the main event of Virtus Antiqua which recreates the gladiatorial games of ancient Rome, but also, as a novelty this year, an auxiliary Batavian unit.
The promo videos are also fun, with Batavians and furies from Virtvs Antiqva: 

And here is the detailed program for each of the three festival days:



Leather: Etsy treasury and teams

Here is my most recent treasury that focuses on a group of objects close to my interests, i.e. hand tooled leather wallets. I have collected both new and vintage handmade wallets that I like due to the quality of their craftsmanship, the decorative effect, or other surprising elements. I confess, I am a fan of the Sherridan style.

If you sell such items on Etsy, here is a list of teams focused on leather products to which you can apply to promote your shop and items. Unfortunately, these smaller teams are not so active, so you might consider also joining some of the more general ones to compensate. See you there!

Association of Artisans in Leather (AAL) 

hand stitched leather craft 

Hell Bent For Leather 

Leather Crafter 

Leather lover 

Leather lovers all over the world






Mjolnir wallet

Our latest Etsy item is a special product, that we chose to feature on the cover of the Proper Leather Studio shop. It is a bi-fold handmade leather wallet with the Mjolnir, Thor's hammer, as tooled motif (folded measurements: 12 x 9.5 cm / 4.7 x 3.7 inches). This item is made of high quality Veg-tanned leather and completely handmade (no machines were used). The leather is hand dyed and protected with several layers of acrylic finish, with polished and waxed edges.
The decoration is the result of a lengthy process: the pattern was incised on the wet outer side, then incised and tooled. After drying, the relief was blocked with three successive layers of leather sheene. The background was painted with black leather dye and then leather Gel Antique (saddle tan, aka orange) was applied and partially rubbed off the entire surface. The technique allows for special effects that stress the relief and and add depth to any tooled details.


Stories with paintings

This is another of my idealized vistas of Sibiu / Hermanstadt (in Transylvania), made in 2014, with a bit of collage (linocut prints of the old tower and narrow alley) and acrylic on canvas. The photo is rather truthful in its color tones, so it shows the reason why I like it so much. Hope it's owner enjoys it too!

In order to reveal some of the technique employed, here are the individual linocut prints that I used in the general composition. In order to better integrate them the prints have been cut closer to the intended contours and partially painted over.


Northern explorers at Camp Virtus

Our reenactment park Camp Virtus, near Cluj, has received the visit of a group of young northern explorers whom we dressed up as Romans and Dacians, checked their arrow shooting skills, and tough them hands-on about the past of Transylvania. Looking forward other organized groups of tourists, as we can explain everything in English as well! Contact us!



TV show at the History of Pharmacy Collection

I am apparently the start of the latest TV documentary show presenting the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj. Though in Romanian, the video does present the museum and some of the most interesting artifacts such as bezoar powder, bottles for aphrodisiac drinks, the laboratory in the basement, the mummy powder, and the medical equipment collection.
The show, produced by the TVR Cluj, branch of the Romanian National television, was aired these past days. It is part of a series entitled Gusta Transilvania ["Taste Transylvania"]. 
Do visit the museum, on appointment, for a guided tour in English! Here are the contact details: http://farmacluj.blogspot.ro/  


Proper Leather Studio Etsy Shop

The Proper Leather Studio, my second, brand-new Etsy Shop, is a family business, with me making the designs, transfers, cutting, and dyeing, and my husband managing the measuring, cutting, and sewing of the products. We like to make thing properly, thus every item has been cut, incised, tooled, dyed, sewed, and finished entirely by hand. We take our time in carefully crafting every single item so that it is both artistically pleasing and durable.
The studio produces fully handmade tooled leather accessories and we started adding listing in the "wallet" category. Bracelets to follow soon, stay in touch! You can use the Facebook Page as well for updates.

ProperLeatherStudio shop cover photo


Ancient sling shots

Ancient slings are rather different from the slingshots we are most familiar with, based on an Y-shaped frame for propulsion. The sling weapon used in the ancient world is just a boat-shaped holder and two long strips of leather or braided straw. The projectiles used for war were made out of lead (Roman ones especially) and there are several depictions of Roman soldiers yielding slings on Trajan's Column.

Join us at the historical reenactment park near Cluj-Napoca, Camp Virtus, for the Dacian party on July 17th and find out how to use the sling, even buy one made of leather to practice later. You can read about the technique and physics of it HERE and HERE.

 There are also various ways to make a hand sling and it is a great leather craft project. See some ideas, guides and templates on the forum of the dedicated website, singing.org HERE.



Dacian party

If on Sunday, July the 17th you are in Cluj and feel like practicing your bow and arrow shooting skills, trying the ancient sling, playing ancient games, or tasting food made according to an ancient Dacian recipe, then you should join the Dacian Party organized at Camp Virtus, near Cluj, in Salicea. We also speak English, so don't worry about than, or about the fact that you (yet) know nothing about the Dacians. Just find a way to get to Salicea, a bit out of town, from midday till six in the evening.
There is also a chance to win artifacts inspired by the Dacian civilization, provided by Atelierul de istorie.



Lino project II

New afternoon at the studio to finish the latest lino project. The task at hand was to cut the lino prints, to glue them onto the canvas, ass the "mixtion" and then apply the gold leaf. I made two variants - a lazy one, with the goal applied directly to the canvas and the proper one, with a background of reddish acrylic. The second variant presents certain advantages, in that the red beneath confers a brighter glow to the gold foil and possible cracks in the foil look better when revealing red not white.

Collage with linocut prints

Waiting for the special glue to dry, in order to apply the gold foil
Applying the gold leaf

Two draco versions

Variant I - contours with red acrylic added subsequently

Variant II - gold foil against red painted background


Roman Reenactment goodies

The reenactment season has started, so I regained my enthusiasm on all things ancient Roman / reenactment / handmade artifacts. I've been looking for such supplies on Etsy and found a trove of lovely things I'd like to have during the next show. The best are reunited in my latest Etsy treasury entitled Ancient Roman Reenactment Goodies. Check out the earrings, coins, mosaics, wax tablets with stilus, finger ring keys, leather sandals (calligae), dice sets, even helmets that one can get in order to relive history at its best!