Monday, November 10, 2014

Leather Monsters my Lisa Lee

The name of Lisa's shop "Leather Monsters" pretty much sums up what her creations are all about; they are made of leather, and they are monsters.  She does however make some bears and other animals too.  I was immediately drawn to her creations the minute I saw them on Facebook.  I am drawn to the simple lines and shapes as well as the interesting backgrounds in her photos.  Of course I was also hooked when I saw the sloth.  I adore sloths!

Attis the Sloth

"Found at the foot of an almond tree, 9.5 inches tall. He was raised by a he-goat. He has an interest in drafting, hopes to design the perfect inside space for goats, sloths and almond trees. He is rugged, safety nose and press set eyes, he provides safe and interesting company for all ages. He is made from all new leather, and stuffed firmly with new polyfil stuffing. He has a gracious attitude."

It is time to do another artist feature and I thought it would be fun to do one with an artist that is a bit different than my normal features.  Turns out Lisa is super interesting to talk to as well.  I especially adore any artist who takes the time to write stories about their dolls, like the one above about Attis.  I have thought about writing stories for my dolls in the past but I don't ever seem to get around to it.  This might be on my to-do list in the near future since I know how much I love reading the stories of other artists.

I asked Lisa the same questions I normally ask in these features and I had a lot of fun reading her answers.  I hope you will too.

Daedalus the Curious

1.  When did you begin making your leather creations?

I began making Leather Monsters in 2012 after I began dating a Leathersmith who worked with only veggie tanned leather at the time.  Imagine the hard leathers of a belt or saddle, that is his expertise. 

2.  Have you always worked in leather or have you made other types of dolls?

I wanted to bring my sock monsters to the studio to work on, and this was met with some resistance as “this is a leather studio”.   I said “fine I will get some soft leather and make them out of that”.  He scoffed, explaining to me that leather was very expensive per square foot so it was not a viable option.  He learned a few things about me quickly,  -I am determined, resourceful, and strong willed.  Within days I had contacted leather distributers and had sourced high-end new scraps and sample swatches for free and close to free. 

Scar Bear

3.  How did you learn to sew and make dolls?

I had made sock monsters in the past, sewn since I was a child, and was frustrated by the rigidity of the upholstery leather I had sourced.  The simple shapes of the Leather Monsters I created showed my inability to bend it to my will.  They were all incredibly well received and many of the first 50 I made were difficult for me to part with.   I then moved to glove leathers imagining this would closer resemble my experience with fabric sewing.  The work was abysmal, when filled they were lumpy, and bulged in some areas, while resisting in others.  I then found garment leathers used in making motorcycle jackets and chaps.  This was a fit, and Leather Monsters had found their medium. 

I have made close to 300 now and would say I am self taught, drafting my own patterns through tweaking has taught me a lot about doll making.

4.  Do you have any advice for new doll makers?

-If you are new to making, keep making.  I once read that if you don't like what your making that’s okay, it means you have taste.  Keep making, you will get better, make more.  

-Listen smilingly to all the “advice” non makers give you, then do what you want.  Listen to all the advice other makers give you, write it down, reflect upon it,  and see if you can apply any of it to what you are doing.  

-Make maker friends, have them over.  Keep making.  

-Aspire beyond your skill level, constantly.  Push your own boundaries in what you are capable of as fast as you master an area you previously wished to improve.  Take all the things you know are great into a doll you are making and try to improve one feature.  

-Have fun, keep enjoying your creations.  

-Share them on Facebook, instagram, pinterest and make a website for your makings. 

5.  Does anyone help you with your creations?

I get help form my partner Colin who is the Leathersmith.  He has been invaluable for tweaking, designs and even making monsters with me.  He also keeps informed about what customs I have on deck and keeps me on task.  He attended art school and is an exceptional illustrator and designer. Without his creative mind many monsters would not even exist.

6.  Is making dolls just a hobby for your or a serious business?

Making sock monsters was a hobby, making Leather Monsters is a business.  It’s counterintuitive to make a one off, stuffed doll out of an expensive material for children with a historically short attention span that will last 40+ years.  Just unique and odd enough to work.

7.  Do you belong to any doll clubs/groups/forums?

I have only recently joined Facebook groups to meet with other handmade one of a kind makers of dolls.  I have joined every one I could find (over a dozen).  I do not have a favorite I contribute regularly to yet, but I will continue to participate where ever I can.  Some of the groups have collectors who snap up dolls as fast as I post them.  They are a good resource for not only making, but selling too.

8.  Where do you sell your dolls?  Where can people buy them?

I sell through my website Leather Monsters.  More people see my work and ask “where can I buy this!!” on Instagram than anywhere else.  Leather Monsters are one of a kind.

9.  Do you collect dolls yourself?

I do not collect dolls.  According to my partner Colin, when I repeated this question, he said I collect nothing.  We live in what could only be described in vancouver as a gigantic “micro suite”.  It does not lend itself well to numerous possessions of any variety.  Earlier today I looked at my 9 sweaters accusingly due to their bulk.  I currently have, as prized possessions; 10 animal skulls, a jackalope, an 18 inch porcelain penguin, 2 immortal houseplants, and Francis my electronic espresso machine.

10.  Who are your favorite doll artists?

I have so many favorite doll artists.  I follow everything from super new makers to idols in the one of a kind maker field.  Here is a smattering of both for you to check out; Nicole WattJackie AshleySteve Ferrera, and Inga Lena.  The above are just who I follow that have posted in the last 8 hours on Instagram.  I follow 100’s of artists in many mediums, and it has been wonderful.  I have found the community on Instagram to be supportive and interactive so much more than I could have even imagined.

11.  Anything else you want to share about your work?

When someone buys a monster, and I get the address for where it is going to be shipped, I bring the monster home from the studio and set it on my table.  I take one of the photos on my iPad and reduce it to black line work.  I drop it into a photoshop file, write his name at the top, and then I write his story.  I tell of his past, his current hobbies and loves, and his or her aspirations for the future.  Put some heart into all you make and it will be seen.  Thank you for giving me this chance to share a bit of my story of my monsters.

I hope you enjoyed meeting Lisa and her creations!  As always if you are interested in being featured on my blog please contact me at  Until next time!

1 comment:

  1. Hi!!!! Thank You!!!!! I really love these too!!!!! Oh!!!! That little bear is so sweet!!!!! I think these would also be great gifts for boys or men too!!!!!! I know a couple little girl monster lovers too!!!!! Very fun interview!!!!