Jan began working with leather in 1971. She learned basic construction techniques while working with several kits, which eventually led to creating her own designs. She opened a part-time leather business in 1982 and now works in her New Mexico art studio located in the historic Rio Grande Valley, between the Rio Grande River and the beautiful Sandia and Manzano Mountains.
Jan enjoys creating artwork of big cats, wolves, eagles and other wildlife. Her work is inspired by the desert southwest, cowboy life, and Native Americans.
About the Artwork
Jan uses traditional leatherworking tools in creating her artwork and in making her leather products. She also uses special tools such as surgical scalpel, dental tools and special knife blades to create hair and feathers. The leather has to be stretched to achieve a 3-D effect and then is filled with a leather compound to maintain its shape. After the piece is completed, she uses acrylics to color her work and a finish is applied.
Jan's artwork is actually mixed media, combining the sculpting of leather, the use of acrylics, and the addition of beadwork, genuine bone hairpipes and the use of other natural decorations to create the finished piece. Jan dilutes the acrylics so that the natural grain shows through the colors, and she will often leave part of the background the natural color of the leather. This style of artwork is called embossed leather art and is still unknown to many people.
Her products have been purchased by customers from abroad as well as many customers throughout the United States.
About the Leather Products
Jan incorporates different leathers in her products, giving each piece a unique texture, depending on the hide used. This includes cowhide, sheepskin, pigskin, snakeskin, and occasionally, exotic skins. When leather lacing is used, it often is calfskin lacing or kangaroo lacing, which is very durable. Stitching can be done on a machine or by hand, and when Jan hand-stitches leather, it's usually done with two threads coming through each hole from opposite sides. This creates a very strong stitch, so that if a thread breaks, the other thread still holds the stitch intact. Jan strives to produce products that not only look nice but will last a very long time.