Monday, October 09, 2017

My leather creations in warm colors, inspired by fall

Fall is here

I like fall, but I also dread it because when fall is over, winter is coming. But it IS a very romantic season, full of muted colors, warm days and cold nights.

Ducks in fall

We live in a house that is badly isolated, I should say: not isolated at all; it sounds bad on paper but is is even worse in real life: what the temperature is outside is what you get inside. During the day it is a nice, warm 25°, but inside we only get a 18 à 20° because the pergola prevents the sun from getting inside. The temperature rises a bit if I open the windows; upstairs it is nice and sunny and warm and with the curtains a little bit closed, oh so very inviting for a nap.

In winter we live in another house that has central heating, nice and warm. The heater starts 30 min before we get up and when we go downstairs, it is nice and cosy and the outside doesn't touch me.  My point of telling all this is that not having central heating makes me more aware of what is going on in nature. I live and feel the seasons and I understand how live was let's say a 100 years ago for the poor. They didn't have a nice warm house! probably no wood for the stove

But fall is nice for taking pictures; nature is dressed up in beautiful, warm colors in millions of shades and it inspires me to use warm colors for my leather jewels, the dry leaves make a wonderful background for pictures of my leather products.

I had made a rather large cuff in June and embellished it with some lace. People liked it, but the weather was too hot to wear such a large cuff, they said. Now the weather  has turned a good 10 degrees lower, I made a second one. I like to try out my creations so I made this one for myself. This is just the right season to have something large next to my skin, it warms me like the warm hand of a friend.

Red leather cuff made by LoveLea

It keeps me nice and warm but it looks somewhat too plain so I fumbled for checked paper and a ruler, made a nice geometric pattern and with my tools cut the motif out; it doesn't look cut out yet because I made very fine incisions, at the moment almost invisible. With time and wear the incisions will get wider and the pattern will become more and more visible.

Detail of red leather cuff

Leather tassel earrings as birthday present

This month, on the fifth, is my youngest grand child's birthday. Vicky is 8 now.

Vicky with the family dog Filou

I made her a nice pair of earrings: tiny leather tassels in the new nude color for her little ear lobes. I hope she will like them, I hope she'll wear them. Since we can't be present, I put them on the mail together with a birth day card.

LoveLea's Leather tassel earrings 

And I choose a plush dog that can be warmed in the micro wave and then gives off a smell of lavender; if she isn't feeling well, her mama can warm it so the warmth and the smell will help her go to sleep. She loves her new little friend.

New non-leather project.

 Do you see this bag? Very unsightly but very sturdy; could be a good shopping bag! If I alter this bag, I could use it instead of storing it in a closet. Just wait for my next post and see!

How about you? Do you like to give things a new look? a new destination? Do you like crafting? working wih your hands? I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Leather straps for Furoshiki bags

Leather straps for Furoshiki bags

I ended my last post admiring the Japanese tools; but my admiration goes much farther, they have a big expertise, an innovative spirit without throwing their past overboard, blending in modernization with tradition. An example of this is the furoshiki bag! It is the most simple and sophisticated bag possible: you take a piece of cloth, you make a couple of nods and you have a bag to carry your stuff. Initially it was to take your belongings with you when going to the public bath, you know your towel, your soap, clean clothes I suppose or at least a clean set of underwear. You can't go bathing and returning home in your dirty clothes, can you? Then the use gradually extended to other stuff or other destinations. Wandering merchants must have used them too. Like the Roma people in Turkey used to do. Till about 20 years ago, Roma women went around with a huge cloth on their back in which they wrapped the niceties they were selling: embroidered towels, nice sheets, table clothes, things that weren't readily available in small towns or villages; I haven't seen them in a long time.

You can also use them to carry books, to wrap a gift; hence there are different sizes of furoshiki. I am interested in bags and the usual formats are squares with a side of 45 cm, 95 cm or 105 cm.

If I lived a 100 years ago and I went to the public bath, I would have used a furoshiki cloth   matching my clothes or one contrasting my clothes. It is not surprising that there are shops selling only furoshikis. Anyway, I don't live in Japan, I don't know anybody going to Japan and I don't want to pay taxes when buying one online. So to make my own furoshiki bag, I went through my stash of fabric; last year I went to an antique market in Ayvalik and saw a colorful silk-like cloth heedless dumped in a corner but with magnificent colors. I couldn't resist buying it despite its extreme slipperiness.  Luckily I did buy it, because it is just perfect for my furoshiki bag. The fabric is a bit light and I could or should have lined it, but 1) I didn't find a matching fabric and 2) I couldn't wait to have my own bag. I just hemmed the square and started laying the knots; then, noblesse oblige! I had to have  leather handles and with them my bag will look a lot more dressy.

My first furoshiki bag with leather handle.

I searched for leather with a matching color and a scrap long enough to make the handle; I had 4 D's left, stringed 2 of them at each end and closed the ends with rivets, really easy.

Pink leather strap for my furoshiki bag.

 Here a detail of my bag:

courtesy of Suat Ozonder.

When searching for the handles, I found a piece of long black leather, perfect to make a long handle to use the bag cross-body. I had used my last D's for the pink leather handle and had no time to go to town to buy other ones and I decided to make the D's myself: I cut 3 square (I had a white square  doing nothing)  of 5 x 5 cm and emptied a square of 3 x 3 out of the middle and rounded the corners; then I cut a long strap, stringed the D's unto the strap and closed each end with a snap button.

made by LoveLea: black leather strap long version

To make the handle more useful, I measured out how long the handle had to be to use it for a shoulder bag and put a third snap button in place. Now I have double use for the handle. Just imagine a nice  fabric going well with black, maybe red or cognac brown; 1 strap, 1 piece of cloth, at least 2 different bags!

Black leather strap, short version, made by LoveLea

For my bag, I used a square with a side of 105 cm and it is a big bag; in the picture it holds a light cotton cardigan and a woolen (knitted with my own hands) cardigan. My new bag will look super with denims, black jeans and 'll look right going to town, casual style or to the beach, very "user friendly".

Origami bag

The Japanese have also a popular triangle bag, origami style: one piece of cloth, the length being 3 times the width, you fold it one corner up and one corner down and then diagonally in two, stitch two seams after hemming all around, knot the two ends together and there is your bag; or you make 2 of them, one as lining and one as the outside and sew them together. Here is a tuto with pictures and text: if you want to make one for yourself and I can get you a leather handle to make it a bit more stylish.

I  love the fabric I used for my furoshiki bag so much that I used the same fabric for my origami bag. It is a quite simple but a very rewarding bag and so versatile. And instead of knotting the ends, I slipped a tubular shaped piece of leather over 1 end, sewed the 2  ends together with a couple of stitches, slit the handle in place, covering the 2 ends and then govgo, stuffed with your wallet, cell phone, comb, little make-up bag, whatever you need. I had 2 pieces of fabric left, 60x 20 cm and used them for my bag; but the standard size is 75x 25 cm, which is a better size. I had some colorful small scraps of leather, just big enough to make some handles; the first one I made I glued the ends together, but the hand stitched ones look a lot better! See for yourself.

my origami bag with red leather handle.

Origami bag with LoveLea's leather handles in different colors.

Choice of LoveLea's leather handles for origami bag


The olives are almost ripe; this year our 6 year old trees are doing very well. We have 4 of them in front of the house.

Olive tree loaded with fruit
 We prefer our olives black but since the trees did so well, we decided to pick some of them green; this way we will have less work when they are turning black and the remaining olives will grow bigger. We picked about 2 baskets of the biggest ones, washed the dust away and put them in a large basin with water. We'll change the water every day, for about 1 week and when their bitterness is gone we'll cure them with some salt and slices of lemon. Yummy yummy; most people crush them but they get mushy and soft easily, fall apart after 2 months, thus we leave them whole.

Harvest of green olives

This year the trees have made a lot of little bunches; I was afraid of worms and rot because last year the mandarins came in large bunches and where they touched each other, they were rotten. When I saw this bunches when small, I was afraid the olives would rot, but nothing of the sort happened.

Lovely bunch of olives
Swimming in October: today the weather was sunny and no wind, perfect for a little swim. I love snorkeling and I was witness of a special thing. I came to an area with a lot of different fish, followed 2 seabass around and then saw the kind of fish that cleans the bottom of the sea (I don't know their name); they have vertical stripes and before my eyes, one of the fishes, about 10 à 12 cm big, spit out or threw up a half of an empty shell, a delicate, triangular shell about 2 cm long en 0.5 cm high, followed by some pieces of dried seaweed! This just made my day! But I didn't get my post ready in time, sorry!

P. S.: if you feel like writing something in English, Dutch, French or Turkish, please go ahead; I would love to hear from you and have some interaction; at the bottom of the post, just below the date, you can leave your comment. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Back to LoveLea!

Our trip to Lesbos was so refreshing and beneficial that I couldn't withhold my readers from my experience. So I spent 3 posts almost fully to our trip. By doing this I neglected to tell you about my leather work and it really occupies a big chunk of my world. This posts is almost fully dedicated to my leather activities.

For almost 3 weeks I didn't touch any leather. To get the hang of it again,  I started with some easy stuff, but easy doesn't mean ugly or unsightly or boring. Turkish people are very found of beads warding of the evil eye. Since I am in Turkey at the moment what more natural than creating such wards. I didn't created anything  against the evil eye before, because I couldn't find nice beads: I don't want to use plastic or acrylic beads. A couple weeks ago we went to Ayvalik and when we visit Ayvalik we always try to pay a visit to a marvelous store, Anatolian Arts ( The have beautiful ceramics, glassware, jewelry, too bad their website isn't up to the shop. There I found some glass evil eye ward off beads. They are rather big and showy and really need a simple necklace as to not distract from the bead. I made 3 simple ones, 2 with a slide knot and 1 with a closure. When I was a girl scout we learned how to tie this knot to secure our hat. My God, I loved that hat, I was so proud of my hat.

LoveLea leather necklace with blue evil eye bead and slide knot

Lovelea: leather necklace with orange evil eye bead and slide knot

Lovelea leather necklace with dark red bead

Remember my first post? I told you about my sister Lieve who got everything started. She mailed me a couple days ago for some cable holders. I made already some for her and now she needs bigger ones to hold her cell phone cable. The big one has a diameter of 19 cm, the smaller one 15. She is like me and likes things simple, pared down but with bright colors.

LoveLea: 2 leather cable holders. 

She is a faithful reader of my posts and my LoveLea facebookpage; she fell in love with a bracelet I posted there: nice yellow leather with a dashing white metal clasp favoring 2 serpent heads holding a closing circle within their mouths; I do the stitching by hand with good linen thread and it turns out just superb. The one I posted on my LoveLea facebookpage measures 22 cm and is too big. Now she has one custom made.

LoveLea: yellow leather bracelet with metal serpent head clasp

LoveLea: yellow leather bracelet with metal serpent head clasp, detail.
Pinterest (very dangerous website; impossible to just have a look) mailed me some pins yesterday, mostly about furoshiki bags. I had done some research about them a while ago and seeing all this colorful bags (I am a bag freak, all kinds of bags), they got my interest again. Furoshiki bags are just genius, simple but genius. Everything Japanese IS genius! I admire what they do so much! On my search for leather working tools, I came across some Japanese tools and they look fantastic and sophisticated; at the moment I don't want to spent a lot on tools, but when my business will rock the sky, definitely I will treat myself on some Japanese tools. In the coming week I want to learn more about furoshiki and will tell you all about it.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Molyvos (or should I say Mithymna) and Filia

Molyvos or Mithymna

The city of Molyvos, near the sea, has two names: Molyvos and Mithymna. Molyvos is the name used during the Middle Ages or according to an other source: the name used during the Ottoman period. Nowadays you see mostly Mithymna but because I keep forgetting the modern name, I prefer using Molyvos.

Molyvos with its towering castle looks very inviting; you park your car just outside the city from where you have a magnificent view of the city.

Molyvos castle, Lesbos.

From there you take a small, narrow winding street up to the castle. (There is a car route directly to the castle and then you go down to visit the city, but this way is much more fun.)

Molyvos, winding street going up to the castle; courtesy of Suat Özönder

The winding and shaded streets remind me of Agiasos, a small town on the slope of Mount Olympos, at 475 m height, known for its pottery and woodwork. Molyvos too sells ceramics, among other things. I bought an oven dish some years ago and I love using it because of the colors, the shape and.... because it washes so easily, the food doesn't stick to it. Along the main winding street are restaurants with fabulous views, pastry shops, ceramics shops, postcard shops, the usual souvenir shops and the more refined ones,

Molyvos, Lesbos: view from a restaurant.

Molyvos, Lesbos: shaded streets selling souvenirs; courtesy of Suat Özönder

 and I left my heart at "Istos", an unpretentious shop from the outside, in the A. Kyriakos square. A young couple, both framers, run this shop selling all kinds of pictures and images, mostly of Lesbos, a lot of them impeccably  framed by the couple; I was so focused on the pictures, it was so terribly hot and the lack of time makes that I only remember clothes and some  mugs as other articles in the shop; their business cards says: hand-made Greek objects, but I couldn't tell you what else they had besides clothes and some mugs. You definitely should visit this shop when you are in Molyvos! and the square it is on is very picturesque and inviting. Molyvos has great and sophisticated shops!

A. Kyriakos Square at Molyvos, Lesbos
Mansion at A. Kyriakos square, Molyvos, Lesbos.

Do you love cutwork embroidery? I do! It is simple, yet sophisticated, it has a quiet but strong presence and is always elegant. Greeks like it also: their curtains are in it, their table cloths, even restaurants like "Kalderimi" in Mytilini, the capital of Lesbos, use them.

Molyvos: cutwork embroidery

How about this one: a curtain in a restaurant we went to in November 2013 in Parga, Greece; a very very picturesque small city with a castle, a small monastery on a tiny island in the bay and many more.


We decided to take an other route back to the hotel and good for us, we found the small town of Filia on our road. At a small distance from the city, we got out of the car to take pictures of 2 very special houses along the road. They are a good example of the style of the houses in this town: natural stone and bricks are used and mixed together.

When we got out of the car and looked around, we saw that the city had a mosque; that meant that the city had a long history; we decided to pay Filia a visit. Entering from the side where the minaret stood, there was a nice surprise: we saw a small, lovely 3-arched bridge in true Ottoman style, obviously not in use any more even the riverbed was only faintly visible.  On our way back to the car, we crossed the senior in the picture; he just said: "Turk"! We were much intrigued by his spontaneous remark: was he a Turk, still living among Greeks? was he referring to the mosque? what did he mean? We tried to start a conversation, but obviously he only spoke Greek and we didn't get any more information out of him.

Filia: 3-arched Ottoman bridge; courtesy of Suat Özönder.

We parked the car and went for the minaret. It is mostly intact, the mosque too but is used as a warehouse. It was surrounded by a fence so we couldn't take good pictures or have a good view.

Filia: view of the mosque; courtesy of Suat Özönder.

On leaving the city, we saw that there was much more to see and decided to come back to visit Filia some other time in the future. 

Momardica charantina

 Momardica charantina or bitter melon, bitter gourd.

Have you ever seen this plant? Do you know this plant? It is the momardica charantina or the bitter melon or the bitter gourd. According to an ancient  Greek theory, the plant itself  tells us what you can use it for, what it benefits are. What does it looks like to you? Doesn't it resemble the inside of a stomach? Yes: if you cut the fruit in pieces, clean it from the powerful colored red and sticky seeds and let it steep in olive oil for some weeks, if you then take a table spoon of the mixture on an empty stomach, it'll heal your stomach problems; it is also good for the skin and contains antibiotics. This decorative fruit is ripe in this season and if you don't have them in your garden, maybe your neighbor has some to spare! I made a collage with the clear green leaves and a tiny yellow flower, that becomes a hard to discover green, unripe fruit; when it turns bright orange in September, it is ripe; dry the seeds, store them well to plant next year!

See you, Lesbos! 😢😢😢

Lesbos, as seen from Turkey at a wonderful sunset.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The austere Limonos Monastery near Kalloni

Go visit the Limonos Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos

The Limonos Monastery, with its square, straight, masculine, rigorous  and unimaginative layout  is the opposite of the feminine, intimate, exuberant and straight forward  monastery of Mysionitissas. But the vegetation, the older buildings and the chapels in the environment give it a lot of charm.

Limonos Monastery complex, near Kalloni, Lesbos

The new building, a huge 2 floored square with the church in the middle of it and the well right next to it has integrated the old quarters, dating from the 16 century; you can visit the cell of it's founder, St Ignatios who started the monastery in 1526. Unfortunately at the moment most of the complex is uninhabited, only 3 monks live in this big monastery. It used to be a center of professional education.

The cell of St Ignatios, founder of the Limonos Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos

Limonos Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos: upper floor of the old part  

The Limonos monastery has a very valuable museum with Byzantine and post Byzantine manuscripts, icons, documents, Ottoman ferman's, sacred vestments, liturgical vessels, holy relics and folkloric exhibits, manuscripts of the founder St Ignatios. It is forbidden to take pictures and they don't have a catalogue, which is a shame; I can't give any example of the beauty of the museum.

The  main church and the courtyard were forbidden for women, but this year, when we visited, they didn't seem to care and the writing, forbidding the women to enter, wasn't there any more. Thus I could visit the courtyard, but the church was closed to the public. Inside the church are images of animals and plants, so they say.This images are reflected in a wood carving: the church has a gallery on 2 sides and one of the wooden pillars supporting the gallery has a beautiful, sensual wood carving, showing a bee among leaves.
Limonos Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos: wood carving in the church's gallery 

Outside the square are older quarters and courtyards where peacocks stroll around and their plaintive and shy cries for attention fill the air.  But they are very timide and I didn't get a picture of them.
Limonos Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos: older part of the monastery outside the square

The monastery is constructed upon a very big plot and it is sewn with small chapels constructed by individuals who want to be near the monastery, spend their day in meditation, a small opportunity to live as a hermit. A chapel under construction proofs that this phenomenon, urge, need still exists.

Limonos Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos: one of the may chapels outside the enclosure

The golf of Gera

Lesbos has 2 big bays, actually they are more like inner seas. The big one is the Kalloni Bay and the small one is the Gera Bay. Both of the bays flow into the Aegean Sea. The Gera Golf is more picturesque with its summer houses on one side and woods, forests and some villages on the opposite side. Especially the point where the golf goes over into the sea is very lively and colorful, with a lot of traffic going on.

Confluence of the Gulf of Gera and the Aegean Sea
Sitting on a cliff and looking down at the different types of vessels is peaceful, soothing and interesting; seagulls follow the fishing boat, crying for food  and cormorants like to rest on a big rock before diving down to catch  their supper. We once counted how long a cormorant can stay under water and it was a little bit more than a minute. While atching, you have to be very attentive to discover where they come above water.

Golf of Gera, Lesbos: cormorants sitting on a rock

Turkey is just a couple of miles away and on a clear day you can see buildings, the sun reflecting in windows being opened, wind mills, etc. In fact, the distance between the island and Turkey is so small  even cell phones operate under their proper operator!

The Golf of Gera, Lesbos, flowing into the Aegean Sea with colorful, rusty fishing boat and Turkey in the background

I didn't intend to spent more than 1 week on telling about our trip to Lesbos, but there is so much to tell and to show about this fabulous island. Next week will be the last post about Lesbos: I have two more places to tell you about: Molyvos and Filia.


Now that we are back home, the neighbors visited, shopping and laundry done, the house cleaned, the garden tended, I found time to add some items to the shop of my fbpage: Lovelea. I made a collage out of leather bi-colored, minimalist but chic bracelets and a set of black leather choker and cuff in Western style, but you can  get them separated.The link to my fbpage LoveLea and my shop is on the left side of this post.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Still in Lesbos: mansions and monasteries

Mansions at Polychnitos

I'am a house freak, not every house, but old houses; whenever I see an old house, my blood rushes through my veins, my hart beats faster; their stones, wood, their energy makes me feel alive, makes me feel part of something bigger, that I am not alone. It makes me wonder about the people that lived there. And Lesbos is full of old, nice, small, stately or picturesque houses. Greek people love their houses, care for them. If you are like me, go visit the city of Polychnitos! The city is a collection of magnificent and more humbler mansions!

Mansion at Polychnitos

But this one is my favorite:have you ever seen a more striking front? I haven't. So simple and yet so impressive ànd humble; it says: here I am but in a very casual way, self-confident. Look at the color of the walls: pale cream that matches the pink stone, the cream of the walls blends with the green of the shutters! And the green of the shutters connects with the darker green of the pine tree.

Favorite house! 
Look at the pink color of the stones.

Birds at the Wetlands of Kalloni

The inner sea of Kalloni leaves land wet in the bay of Kalloni; this wet lands attract lots of birds, the salt pans in the bay provide food for flamingos and other birds;  we saw grey herons and white herons and some others birds, name unknown to me, We couldn't stop the car to take pictures of the herons but I was able to get some cute pictures of flamingos from the sturdy bird watching post.

Flamingos at the salt pans of Kallonis

2 Flamingos at the salt pans of Kalloni
Near the salt pans, there is a place where sheep graze; because of the heat, they huddle together in the shade. Can you imagine having wool in your stash from these sheep???? wouldn't it be great to knit a sweater with this different shades of black and brown and some white? This white sheep are really white, not cream, snow white!

Black, brown and white sheep at Lesbos

The Myrsiniotissas Monastery and Limonos Monastery near Kalloni, Lesbos

On the 5th day of our stay we visited 2 monasteries. The Myrsiniotissas Monastery is well hidden from the road. It is a nunnery with only 3 nuns left, so I was told ; we only saw one, an experience in itself! This monastery is very special to me because of its layout; it has 3 portals/gates each corresponding to different stages, each stage closer to the main church, closer to God. Outside of the monastery is a fountain and a small chapel; by a brown wooden door you enter the first courtyard, really only a paved court with its own chapel, a bit bigger than the chapel outside. Then comes another portal with a resting place before you enter the second courtyard and after you enter with flowers in containers.

Portals at the  Myrsionitissas Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos
and then the last gate where an piece of paper asks to be dressed decently. (It says: it is up to the visitors conscience what decent means! pretty democratic!). And this part is like paradise: on the left, the sunny side, are the most beautiful flowers in containers (what an awful job to water them!), on the right are rooms/cells  and in the middle the big church, the church for the nuns.

Most inner garden at Myrsionitissas Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos

The right side of this third part of the convent consist of 2 long row of rooms above each other; the rooms have windows looking towards the sea and only doors on the inner side. The open corridors are lined with chairs and sofas.

2 floors of cells at Myrsionitissas Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos

On the mountain side are much older rooms and small cell's, a space enclosed on 3 sides  with  an oven fed with wood and room for doing the laundry. When I descended the steps, leaving the oven behind me, I came eye to eye with a nun. I looked at her, surprised to see her because she was hidden by a wall. I looked at her and she looked at me, with inscrutable eyes and big glasses, then I moved my hand inviting her to go ahead and she went her way. I looked for a seat and sat down on a bench, next to my husband. I felt I had let go of a chance, I chance to get answers on all the questions in my head. I said: I should have spoken to her. He answered: why didn't you. I left and went up the same stairs my woman in black went, found the only room with an open door, shoes left outside on the door mat. I knocked on her open door, nothing, knocked again, no reaction, knocked a third time and then somewhere a phone rang and she came to her door. When she saw me, she stopped abrupt, looked at me; after 3 rings, the phone stopped, I think it was a code, you'll understand why I say this. Without thinking I used my hands instead of my voice, my index finger went between her and me; she kind of looked annoyed, didn't speak and then I moved 2 of my fingers over my mouth from left to right, meaning your mouth is closed? and she nodded her head and then I left. I had no right to bother her, I was in her home after all.

We left to visit the Limonos monastery, also very interesting but in another way. We had visited the place before, but wanted to visit it again. I want to take my time telling you about it, I ll leave this story for next week.

My leather creations in warm colors, inspired by fall

Fall is here I like fall, but I also dread it because when fall is over, winter is coming. But it IS a very romantic season, full of muted...