Monday, October 19, 2009

Custom Order – Muskrat Love

One of my co-workers at Hamilton Food Share ( found a coat that belonged to her grandmother; a gorgeous chocolate brown muskrat coat that no one in her family was ever going to wear. I brought a sample muff to the office to give her an idea of what I could do with the coat if she was interested in keepsakes for herself and her daughters, and she requested four muffs. I was delighted with the opportunity to create four different designs for the same customer, because a big part of what excites me about handcrafting is that every piece is by its very nature different from the last – I couldn’t replicate one of my pieces if I tried. There will always be a unique pattern to the fur or leather, darker or lighter thread and different lines of stitching, leather seams facing out or facing in, not the mention the basics of size, shape and function.

As much as I want my bags and accessories to be beautiful, I want them to be practical. The Victorians had the right idea – if you want your hands to be warm, keep them together. And when you need a hand free, the muff hangs from a wrist strap so you don’t have to worry about putting it down or tucking it under your arm.
The rumour about Canadian winters is true – it gets damn cold here. I carry a muff when I walk my dog Charlie; I just grab a few baggies and loop the leash around my wrist. When he’s running around the park with his buddies and I’m just standing there with the humans, I guarantee my hands are warmer than anyone else’s!

Next on the list is a little grey rabbit muff for a two-year-old who has one of those classic long red wool coats with the black buttons. When I’m working a craft show or market, the most frequent comment I hear is “Oh, I had one of those when I was a little girl!”

I know, it takes a certain kind of woman with a bit of panache to carry a fur muff. And occasionally you hear the indignant “Is that real fur? That’s disgusting!” I have no problem with educating the public about the merits of recycling fur, and I’ve never had anyone continue to protest after I tell them it’s salvaged. It’s a great way to make use of resources that would otherwise go to waste, and fur is a natural product that will in time disintegrate and not take up space in a landfill (unlike faux fur).

My co-worker is very happy with the four muffs, of course I gave her a discount for having provided the materials, and I have some lovely fur left over that will become quilt squares and another muff.

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