Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Steampunk Jewelry

Today's post is a feature of some of the new Steampunk jewelry recently added to our store! Bracelets, pendants, earrings, rings and more, all with high quality, non-yellowing resin for a beautiful shine! To see the full selection, check out our store here: etsy.com/shop/squirrelcrkcreations










Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How to Paint a Leather Mask


I'm bringing you a post today about how to paint a leather mask.
It's a fairly simple process, and you can add as much or as little detail as you like.

I use acrylic paints. They're water based and work well on leather. There's a wide variety of colors to choose from, and you can even blend colors for a perfect custom blend!

Clean up is easy too - just use soap and water.

To get started with acrylic paints, you'll need a few simple supplies.

- Water dish
- Plastic wrap or wax paper
- Brushes
- Leather Mask
- Paint
- Paper towel
- Access to a sink

Your water dish can be simple - I use a recycled plastic up, or a small glass ramekin. I typically keep 2 separate dishes. One for clean water, and one for a quick rinse. I avoid using mugs or cups, since I often have drinking water or tea nearby. Paint water doesn't taste good!

I like to cover my work area with plastic wrap or waxed paper to make clean up easier. Also, when I'm blending colors or thinning my paints with water I like to use the plastic wrap as a palate. You can use a plastic lid for a palate, or buy one from a craft store. I spread out a lot when I work, so a big sheet of plastic wrap over the counter works best for me!

Tap water works great to thin your acrylics for easy blending, or you can use special acrylic mediums. I like flow extender too, since it increases the time you have to work with your paint before it drys. This is helpful for a large area or if you have a custom blended color you want to work with later.

You can also cover your paints with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out!

I prefer golden or white taklon brushes. They have very smooth bristles so you don't leave brush streaks, and are inexpensive to buy. You can get a pack of 3 brushes in different widths for a few dollars. I like to have a very wide brush for my basecoat, a medium one for touch ups, and a smaller brush for details. I don't use super fine brushes very often. I used to use a lot more sizes, but I do 90% of my painting with 2 brushes.

Try a few out, and see what works for you!

Leather is a great surface for acrylic paints. It's porous enough that they absorb into the surface, and it's a light enough shade for good coverage. I only paint on vegetable tanned leather. Suede will not look good painted, and treated garment or upholstery leathers with a smooth, glossy surface won't absorb the paint enough for it to stay well.

Do a test spot first if you're not sure how your leather will take the paint.

It's normal for the base coat to get absorbed into the leather a bit. I start with one solid color base coat on all my masks, even if it's going to be multi colored later. This primes the surface and smooths it for painting.

I use the nicer craft acrylics that come in little 2 oz bottles. I use a huge variety of colors, and a little goes a long way. You will be surprised how many masks you can paint with one 2 oz bottle! I buy my basic colors, like black and white, in large bottles since I will use them up faster. By getting a 2 oz bottle, I have a better chance of using it up before it drys out, and then I'm not stuck with a color I don't like.

Each brand has different colors, and a different texture. I prefer the Ceramcoat paints for most of my work, since they have good coverage and a thick texture.

Try a few of a similar color in different brands to see how they compare!

Thicker art acrylics are really nice too, and look beautiful on masks. They are a bit trickier to work with, and more expensive too.

Keep some paper towel nearby to clean up spills and blot your brushes. I use a lot of water when I work, and having the correct dampness to my brush is critical! If you paint is 'skipping' across the surface, try getting a little water on your brush first or mixing some water into your paint. You'll get the feel for it soon, and learn how damp you like your paints.

I do most of my painting near my sink. It's a quick turn to wash out brushes or change water. I also keep a tube of heavy duty hand cream nearby - all the soap and water is very drying for my hands!

After you're done painting, make sure to wash up and clean your brushes. Dried on paint will ruin the bristles, and shorten their lifespan.

As an added step, you can also add a top coat to protect the paint and keep it looking nice. I prefer Liquitex Satin Varnish. It's a high grade polymer acrylic top coat, and has a touch of shine. It's non-yellowing and UV resistant too!

Use a separate brush for your topcoat so it doesn't get tinted, and never use your brush in the bottle. Put some gloss in a tray or dish and work from there.

That's the basics for painting a leather mask!
Hope you enjoyed reading, and feel free to comment or send me a message with specific questions.

Have a Squirrelriffic day!

- Kym

Saturday, March 14, 2015


It's been a warm and beautiful week here in Squirrel Creek land! We're working hard to prepare for Kitsune Kon next weekend (March 20-22, 2015), and we're excited to be debuting some new products! In the meantime however, commissions still need to be created and sent to their new homes. But how does the commission process typically work? Well it varies slightly from person to person, but this is a general step-by-step:
Large Red Dragon Concept
Large Red Dragon Final

a) Trading e-mails, to confirm ideas. You can contact us either through our Etsy Store: etsy.com/shop/squirrelcrkcreations or e-mail squirrel.creek.creations@ gmail.com
b) Agreeing on price. If you have a specific budget, we'll try our best to work within it. Commissions start as low as $30, and average around $65-$85. The more complex, the higher the price.
c) Once payment is sent, we'll send you concept sketches for your project. This is where the fun begins! While some of our sketches are drawn on paper, we also like to utilize drawing tablets and photo editing programs. That way we can make quick and easy changes to the concept designs. Want to see it in blue? No problem. Add polka dots? Can do! Photoshop makes these changes quick and easy so we can make the project you're envisioning.
d) Once the concept is agreed upon, we'll start on the project, sending periodic updates to make sure it's being completed to match your expectations. Depending on time and availability, we'll send progress pictures while working on your project. That way you can watch it come to life!
e) Final confirmation from you.
f) Final touches such as top coating.
g) We'll ship it out.
h) Enjoy your custom order!
Blue Fox Concept
Blue Wolf Final
What can we make for you? We've made tons of various projects in the past that vary from the very simple to a whole costume, mask, pants, armor and all! Some examples of what we've made in the past: Fursona masks, custom animals, pet masks, armor, winged-crowns, lower face masks, ocean scenery masks, capes, non-leather crown, giant squid plushies, custom eyepatches and more! We'll work hard to help make your vision come to life!

Lemur Final

Lemur Concept

What can't we make? Although we'd love to be able to create everything and anything you have in mind, there are a few restrictions on what we can do. For example, we can't make anything copyrighted. If it's an original design, it has to be your creation or you have permission to use it; we don't want to step on anyone's toes! These are the main two no-nos for us.
Those are the basics for the commission process. Contact us anytime and we'll get back to you asap so we can start making your visions come true!
Squirrel Creek Creations, LLC

Unique Blue Fox Concept

Blue Fox Complete

Monday, March 2, 2015

How to Form a Leather Mask

Hello everyone!

I'm back with a continuation of this post on how to wear your mask with spirit gum.

Wide Eyed Super Hero Mask - Ready to Wear!

In the post, the subject of forming a mask to fit your face came up. You want to be comfortable for those long days in costume at a convention. The best way to make sure your mask feels good for hours on end is to form it to your own face!

It's a fairly simple process, and doesn't take long.

Once you've got your formed mask, you can paint it any way you like! I recommend acrylic paints or leather dye. There's lots of ways to decorate it as well, or just leave it nice and simple.

Here's the video link.


You can buy a ready to form mask here, or check out the Squirrel Creek Creations Etsy shop by clicking on the links to the right!

I'll be back in 2 weeks to talk about painting your mask. Thanks for stopping by, have a Squirrelriffic day!

- Kym

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Arrival of Pauldrons

Valkyrie inspired pauldron
Today's post is about some of our newest additions to the Squirrel Creek catalog: pauldrons! Pauldrons are shoulder armor in a variety of shapes and sizes. The two featured here are highly influenced by fantasy elements. The first one is based on Valkyries (with the wings), and Chinese scroll work with the swirling patterns carved into the leather.
The second is based on dragon scales with contrasting blue markings to really make the design pop!
Close-up of the lower strap
Each pauldron is fitted for both left and right shoulders, with the main strap crossing under the opposite arm. A smaller strap is on the bottom-most panel on each pauldron that doesn't have to be tightened, but helps keep the panels from flopping around too much.

 These are just the first two items in a new series of fantasy armor from Squirrel Creek! Other items on the dream list include: helmets, greaves, breastplates, swords, shields and who knows what else might pop up! They can be used for theater productions, cosplaying, Halloween costumes, LARP armor, and more! As always, we take commissions, so if there's a certain piece you have in mind, feel free to contact us over on Etsy anytime, and one of our crafters will be in touch with you asap!
Have a squirrelarific day!
"Dragon Scale" Side-view
Swirling side-panels
Fight in comfort and style!
"Dragon Scale" Pauldron

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Spirit Gum Mask Guide

Ever wonder how cosplayers get their mask to just sit on their face, with no strings or ribbon? They're probably using spirit gum! It creates a skin safe bond that keeps your mask in place and secure, even for a long day in costume. Ready to learn more about how to use spirit gum with your mask? Read on!

Hello everyone, I'm here today with Darkreilia Cosplay to talk about how to wear your mask with spirit gum! She's purchased a few of my masks in the past, and has even formed her own mask to wear with spirit gum. I designed and cut the blank for her from leather, and she followed my simple instructions on how to get a perfect fit.

Let's get started with some basic questions!

1.    How well does it stay on?

"A mask with spirit gum can stay on for several hours. For example,
I just recently went to a convention where I was wearing my mask from 10am to6pm. The funny thing was that we thought it wouldn't be staying on for longthat day because we were running out of spirit gum. But, to our surprise itlasted quite a long time, with minimal spirit gum placed on it."

2. How long can you wear it?

"As stated above, it can stay on for as long as you are comfortable
with it. If you want to wear it for only a few hours though it gets tricky. The
shortest amount of time I would suggest would be around 4 hours. If the spirit
gum does not start wearing off as it would if you wore it longer, it hurts a bit to get off."

3.   Can you do cosplay makeup with the mask?

"I always, always wear makeup when I am in cosplay. I apply my lotion, foundation, concealer, finishing powder, and eye shadow before I apply the mask. Given that the mask doesn't cover my eyes, it still applies very easily with makeup on. Once you apply the spirit gum to the mask though, you have to wait for it to become tacky, then hold it to your face for around 7-10

4.   Makeup before or after mask is on?

"I would say to do the makeup before you put your mask on because one, the mask limits your field of vision, and two, you don’t want to get makeup all over your mask."
5.   Removal

"The removal process is always the best part (sarcasm intended).Its not always the best feeling peeling something from your face but it has to be done. After you have worn the mask for 4+ hours (the longer the better), begin by making strange and outrageous faces. The more you move your face and muscles, the looser the mask becomes. 

DO NOT peel it straight from your face! If you do, this can cause you to rip off several layers of skin and that hurts a lot. Just keep wiggling your face around until you can slowly wedge it a bit with your fingers. Then, using spirit gum remover or rubbing alchohol, wipe off
any excess spirit gum from your face. Once you have fully cleaned your face it
is very important to apply facial lotion or aloe gel to your face to help reduce the redness from where you were just wiping and put moisture back into your skin."

6.   Cleaning - any residue on mask?

"There will be some dry spirit gum on the mask but it will not be an issue. If you feel you need to remove it use a tiny dab of spirit gum remover and wipe the back of the mask only. Do not use rubbing alcohol because it will start eating away at the mask."

7.   Is it comfortable? Can people with sensitive skin use Spirit Gum?

"At first it will feel awkward with something foreign stuck to your face, but you do get use to it right away. I have sensitive skin and I can wear the mask all day long. I just make sure I apply a good amount of lotion to my
face after the mask and the spirit gum is off."


8.   Any other advice?

"The best advice I can offer is to form the mask to your face for a better fit. If you are spirit gumming something to your face that doesn't quite fit right, it will be uncomfortable and you will have to leave it on for several hours. Also, DO NOT RIP IT OFF!!! I cannot stress this enough. Wait until you really want to change out of your costume before taking the mask off."

Sounds like some great tips! Make sure to stop by www.facebook.com/darkreiliacosplay to see her wonderful cosplay photos and give her a like!

Thanks for reading about wearing your mask with spirit gum. As always, be safe when trying a new product on your skin! Test for an allergic reaction, and follow instructions that come with your spirit gum or liquid latex.

If you would like to order a mask blank to form to your face, check out the listing in the Lucy Loves Leather etsy shop : https://www.etsy.com/listing/224737668/cosplay-mask-diy-leather-mask-superhero?ref=shop_home_feat_1

Be sure to check back in 2 weeks for a tutorial video on how to form a mask to fit your face!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Glasses Modification Tutorial - Wear glasses with your mask!

Do you wear glasses?
Do you like masks?
Do you like to see with your mask on?

Then you're in the right place!

Hi everyone, this is Kym and I have a quick tutorial for you today on how to modify a mask to be worn with glasses. This works on many leather masks that we make, and we offer it for free when we're at shows. Since each mask, glasses, and face combo is unique, it's hard for us to do without you and your glasses!

If you have some simple supplies and about 30 minutes, you can do it yourself at home!

A few things before we start:

1. If you're not a responsible adult, find one before using sharp things!
2. Know where your blade is going when it slips. "But I won't slip, Kym! I'm steady as a rock!" It will slip, trust me. I've got the scars. Watch where you're cutting.
3. Cut on a safe, well lit surface.
4. Use a sharp blade.
5. Plan before you cut.
6. For the love of squirrels, don't cut anything while it's near your face!

Okay? Okay!

First you'll need a few things, as shown in my picture. I'll cover optional supplies at the end of the post, and some caveats.

Find a safe cutting surface, like a self healing mat. You'll also need a permanent marker in a color similar to your mask. If you can't find one that's close, a black marker or paint will work. Get your glasses and mask ready too. I suggest removing the ribbon or cord so you don't accidentally cut it.

Once you have everything ready, it's time to start!
Place the glasses, with arms closed, on the nose of your mask.

Check out how they line up with the eyes and the nose. You want them to be at a similar place to how you would wear them normally. Keep in mind, they will be a bit further away from your eyes than normal, so things will look slightly different.

Now it's time to use your imagination! Pretend the arm of your glasses is there, and look for where it would touch your mask. Make a small box, just a bit bigger than the arm of your glasses.

If you want to use a color close to your mask, go ahead! I used the permanent marker for visibility. I've done enough of these mods that I normally don't make a mark anymore, but I really recommend it for your first few.

Carefully cut out the box. You might need to press your mask flat for this. Be gentle, and test it's flexibility first.

Now do the other side to match. Try to keep them aligned with each other and the eyes. Start smaller, and you can make the holes bigger later.

Put your glasses in the holes, then put the mask on your face. You'll use the ribbon last to secure it in place. Check the fit, and see if the glasses are in a comfortable spot. Adjust the holes if you need to, a little bit at a time. You can always trim away more!

Side view. See how they fit over the ears and sit on the nose? Perfect!

Now grab that marker, and touch up the inside of the cut. This step isn't nessecary, but looks nicer. Especially if your mask is a significantly different tone than the natural leather! You can use a bit of sealer or paint if you want too. If you bought your mask from Squirrel Creek, just message us for the color details of the paint on your mask.

That's about it!

See how easy that is?

A few notes before I turn you loose. Not all masks are suitable for this modification. Some are very rigid, depending on how hard set it is. Sometimes decorations are in the way, and it would be hard to cut around them.

On a happier note, many smaller masks don't need this process! The domino masks I make are small enough to fit under your glasses, as are some of the masquerade masks.

It's best to leave your mask intact if it's possible, but seeing is important. Can you imagine the zombie panic at a convention from too many people shambling around because they can't see?

Hope this is helpful! Please message me or leave a comment if you want some more help on this.


- Kym

Monday, January 19, 2015

Custom work Showcase - Coyote leather armor with Fire and Gold Swirls

Here's a few pictures of a custom order that was recently completed! 

The set includes mask, collar, arm bands, bracers, pants, ankle cuffs, and a chest piece. It took a lot of work and leather to do this project. I wanted each piece to look distinct and have it's own design, but have the full set share a theme. I think I accomplished this pretty well! I learned a lot working on this set. That's the beauty of custom orders; they expand my horizons!

Each piece is made from 8 oz veg tanned leather (about 1/8 inch or 3.15 mm thick). I like how well it takes carving, yet is still light and flexible enough to be comfortable. Dyed, painted, buffed, and sealed.


Front of Collar
 Back of Collar, straps are done by hand! I set the rivets with a mallet.

 Back of Bracers

Front of Chest Piece - Side straps aren't shown, but are similar to the buckle and straps on the collar. Each side has a strap and buckle to adjust.
 Back of Chest Piece

Ankle Cuffs with Bells
And flames that stick out!

All the leather pieces. Pants not shown. It was hard to get a good picture of them.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Ride of the Valkyrie....crowns

Hello everyone!
Today's blog is about a newer line of products in our store: Valkyrie winged crowns! While winged crowns have been popping up in our store here and there for the past couple years, it hasn't been until recently that they really got their Valkyrie inspired flair. Each crown has a unique pattern or coloration (unless a duplicate is requested) and are among our most elaborate product yet. There are a variety of colors and patterns available currently available in the store, so check em' out! www.etsy.com/shop/squirrelcrkcreations