Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Reveal: Snake Jacket Art Project Finished, and First Outfit

I know you've all been on tenterhooks waiting for me to finish my Snake Jacket Art Project, so go ahead and scroll down. 

We went from this:
An acceptable tan, leather jacket, somewhat dated (so mid-90s!), in pretty good condition. 
It was only $16.95 due to loose/missing buttons. 

To this!
I cut off the buttons and loops on the sleeves, and bought new Czech glass/gold buttons. 

I used a tutorial for drawing henna-style roses, mixed together a bunch of clip-art snakes and skulls, took a deep breath and went for it. I used alcohol-based pens and paint-pens, plus a tiny bit of a gold pen. 
The buttons and pens cost me more than the jacket! We'll do a deeper dive into the final process. You can revisit my previous work here:

Here we go with my outfit. 
I really wanted the jacket to be the focus, and you know I love my cowgirl-themed looks. 

It was dark and gloomy on the stairs this morning, so I had to make the pic black and white.
I went out for dinner after work with my former Fairweather boss, Tammy. We first met when she chased me down the mall in 1999 after I'd dropped my resume off at my favourite clothing store. 

  • Leather jacket - Q2 Collection, vintage 90s, thrifted and customized by me; purchased here for $16.95
  • Sweater - Yest - first seen here under my metal dress in September
  • Flamenco skirt - no label, consignment; last worn here in January with bronze leather for brunch
  • Cowboy boots - 1883 Lucchese, consignment; last seen here (3rd outfit) in April for Book Club in the park

I kept with black and red to accentuate the "tattoo" vibe of the jacket. 
This flamenco style skirt seems to be handmade - I have always thought that it was actually used for dancing. It's very swooshy! 

You can see that the high-low hem is quite extreme. It's almost above the knee at the front and nearly full-length in the back. 
I showed off the jacket to my colleagues today - Chris, Ngoc and Lada were very impressed.

Masked up and showing my secret roses hiding behind the lapel.
The mask has rose petals on it - a perfect match for the roses on my jacket. 

I have been hot flashing like mad this week. Jacket off. 
I added my gold snake jewelry so that the outfit would still look cohesive if/when I took the jacket off. L offered to loan me his red rattlesnake belt buckle if I wanted a belt - hmmm, next time! 

Outerwear - where? I didn't wear a coat, just added a scarf and gloves. 
It was spitty rain on the way to work - don't worry, the colour doesn't run! I didn't put any kind of spray or protector on it. 

I loved how this scarf looked with the jacket. 

  • Studded leather gloves - Danier
  • Silk scarf - fake Louis (Lewis!) Vuitton, thrifted

I have to take my giant rings off to put the gloves on. 

The stuff: 
I walked to work in my cowboy boots - they are incredibly comfortable, like they were made for my feet. 

Gold bling: 
I love my snake pieces - and so appropriately spooky for October! 

  • Snake necklace - vintage expo
  • Snake coil bracelet - Whiting & Davis, vintage 80s, vintage fair
  • Chain bracelet - thrifted
  • Earrings - thrifted
  • Klimt ring - consignment
  • Bronze Brutalist ring - vintage 70s, vintage mall

Tammy and I had a wonderful dinner at Il Terrazzo, a fabulous Italian place that's been around for decades. She gave me a lovely card for my birthday, and let me pick out a hat from her shop, Catawumpus (best fudge ever!).
The lovely wool cloche-style toque is by Pegabo Black. The funky Hallowe'en shopping bag is from my office building's management company - it was full of decorations for the office. 

And now...

Art Project: Snake Jacket - Finished

Ready for some detail on the final work? 
I started on the lower peplum section. I wanted a big rose on the front with some leaves/vines, so I sort of mirrored them. 

The upper chest and lapels are tricky. I knew I did NOT want big roses on my boobs! 
I put the jacket on and determined where decoration would look best, then did dots (the roses start with a dot in the centre) where I wanted them to go. 

Here, I just did the basic outlines, letting the roses peek out from behind the lapels and collar. 
I did all of the peplum, waist, bust area, lapels and collar all at the same time. I started with the basic outlines so that I could eyeball it and make sure it was looking balanced and not too crowed or sparse. 

It was when I was trailing a vine up the front of the jacket that I had the brain-flash: I need hidden roses!  
There's the dot for it under the lapel! 

Yup, that looks pretty even. 
I've had a few people ask me why I didn't sew the buttons on earlier, and it's because I flipped this jacket around and around and upside down and back again, and I didn't want the glass buttons to hit something and chip or break. 

Ooh, I like those roses on the collar and lapels. 
Very traditional in the "cowboy suit" vein. 

I added my initials to the back. 
And did some flowers on the back of the peplum. 

To go with the secret roses under the lapels, I put one at the back of the collar. 
My hair covers the collar when it lays down, so no point in decorating that. I was also mindful that skin oil can darken leather over time, and didn't want any drawing there to smudge or blur. 

Showing off the secret roses! 
They are maybe my favourite part of this. 
I stopped for a bit at this point. I like to "rest" on any project so that I can come back to it with fresh eyes. 

I took the jacket over to Chris and Ali's for Thanksgiving dinner, and worked on adding all the black detail: adding the tattoo-style shading by thickening up some of the lines, doing "line" shading, adding veins and the spiky outer edges to the leaves, and thorns to the vines.
All that extra black makes a huge difference. 
It takes it from plain to wow. 

I added little vines and leaves on either side of my monogram. I did the same on the front waistband.
At this point, I was ready for colour, which is the fastest part. 

I spent most of Sunday colouring it while watching football. 
The alcohol-based pens leave a bit of a shiny finish, so in places where it looks blue, that's the light. 

Wow, I can't believe I actually did all this. 
I'd had thoughts of going over the jacket with my gold pen (the big skull has one gold tooth). 

But I decided to leave it alone. Know when it's time to stop. 
The last step was sewing on the buttons. The existing holes in the leather were still there, so I securely stitched the new buttons on.

Ooh, pretty....
I wanted the texture of them to echo the snake's scales - that was the plan when I first bought them. I actually stopped in at the Button Boutique on the way to meet Tammy and showed the proprietor my handiwork - he took a bunch of pictures, very impressed. 

I feel like I got the right balance of density and "white" space. 
I'm really pleased with how this turned out. 

I did add a gold outline to my initials. 
And I signed and dated it inside.
A Sheila original! 

I probably spent close to 40 hours working on this from late August until last weekend, so around 6 weeks, working here and there when I had time and the inclination. Not bad for a $16.95 jacket! 

Tammy raved over it, and I've asked her to check her closet to see if there's something I can customize for her, as she has a birthday coming up. Mom, have you got a leather jacket that needs "Badass" on the back?

I hope you've enjoyed my artwork - doing this has given me immense satisfaction and pride in my ability to actually DO something. It's also been a delight to discover this is like meditation to me - and so now (after I rest from finishing this) I'll be moving onto the next Art Project: my Gold Wings Dress. 


  1. Good morning Sheila, WOW!!! You will be stopped in the street and people will ask where you got your amazing jacket then you can take great satisfaction in saying you customized it yourself! So talented. I love the softness and swooshiness lol of the skirt against the badass jacket. Have a great day Shazxx

    1. Hi, Shaz! Aw, thanks, honey! I am excited for a few more people to see it so I'll be wearing it again soon. Thank you!

  2. Wow! Absolutely Stunning for how it turned out and the creative juices you poured into it. If there is an outfit to be made with this and your customized Fluevogs…

    Mmm, those 40 hours of being in the zone…due to a creative endeavor of your choosing…I can imagine your brain flooding with endorphins throughout the entire process and am tickled for you to be exercising your creative muscles again!

    Looking forward to seeing the jacket appear in more outfits!

    1. Thank you, Laurie - I think that might be a bit much, but when has that ever stopped me? :)

      Yes, it's been SO good for my brain - everything just flows away. I sleep better too!

      Me too! I have all kinds of ideas...

  3. It turned out so great! Wonderful first outfit to show it off.

  4. You have created a gorgeous piece of wearable art! As an artist myself, I am quite impressed, and I totally get the joy you got in working on this piece for the past 6 weeks.

    You are an artist every day, of course. Years ago, I realized that my joy in creative dressing made me an “ensemble artist”. Putting colors, form and textures together with intention and creativity, that brings joy to you and to everyone who sees you, is an artistic endeavor, that elevates daily life.

    Our daily outfits are particularly elevated when we wear something creative that we made or embellished ourselves. In my case, that is garments that I’ve knit, especially when I designed them rather than using someone else’s pattern; or denim that I’ve used as a canvas for “thread-painting.” I especially love embroidering roses. I know you get that from your experience doing your jacket!

    1. Aw, Linda, that means so much, thank you! YES, getting dressed is its own art, absolutely. You've expressed this so very well - it does elevate my daily life.

      I'm getting that - wearing this makes me stand up taller, and gives me such satisfaction, and YES, I am addicted to doing roses!

      Thank you for this amazing comment.

  5. That finished jacket is an absolute masterpiece, Sheila! I am so in awe of your incredible talent. Apart from the obvious lack of talent from my side, I wouldn't have had the faintest idea where to start, so I'm admiring your creative process too. The hidden roses are a wonderful touch. I'm sure you'll be stopped in the street all the time whenever you are wearing this jacket, and only rightly so! Just wow! xxx

    1. Thank you, Ann! I have really enjoyed this project - to be able to create something like this really is satisfying. I knew you'd like the hidden roses. I will be wearing it again soon - I want to show it off!

  6. Wow! Jacket is fabulous. It is a show stopper. You can be so proud of this. Congrats on a gallery-worthy piece.

  7. It is a true piece of art, but I think you can style it even better. Put more focus on the jacket as that skirt is pretty attention drawing as well. (Sorry if I am critical here darling, but I want allll focus on that gorgeous jacket.)

    1. I agree, Greetje - I didn't wear the jacket for most of the day, so I needed the "other" outfit to be able to stand on its own too. No, I totally get it. I have lots of plans for this that I think you will like.

  8. I love seeing the finished jacket and you wore such a great outfit for it's debut! I really enjoy finding a hobby that gives you that "flow" where you can just focus and work uninterrupted. It's tricky for me to have that with kids but I'm glad I have my blogging and Youtube videos (even though it's simple editing I do I get in the zone and enjoy feeling productive when I get a video done!). can't wait to see what you do nice, you are so talented and creative - such a good idea to sign it too!

    1. Thank you, Mica! Yes, I can see that you would get that flow/zone from doing the editing - it's the repetition and calm, isn't it? I'm excited to start the next project.

  9. So beautiful Sheila - what a transformation. Your design is lovely and your execution of the design is perfect. It inspires me to take a look at pieces in my own wardrobe to add some embellishments.

    1. Thank you so much, Connie! I would never have bought this jacket normally as it was so boring, but now I love it. I hope you try something! Go for it!

  10. Holy cadoodles! Beautiful! You have talent lady!

  11. OMG Superamazing design darlñing
    Great style

  12. Staggering!
    At risk of showing my age we used to embellish our leather bike jackets (punks) with white model/enamel paints.
    It took me ages to paint RAMONES on the back of mine and it still looked like the work of a very earnest five year old;)


    1. Thank you, Paul. Lol, I remember seeing punks with jackets like that - I certainly have better options for art supplies now. Do you still have your jacket??

    2. I'm afraid I don't Sheila. I bought it at a sale in the cult Lewis Leathers Ltd shop in central London, the business is still going strong today. Out of idle curiousity I just had a quick look at the website, the very same Bronx jacket is still available, a mere snip at £900!
      I nearly spilt my morning coffee all over myself!!

  13. What a fantastic result. Prepare for lots of compliments. It has the WOW factor for sure!
    I love how you have styled the outfit; great skirt with movement too.
    Love those boots. x

    1. Thank you so much, Phyl! I can't wait to show it to my friends!

      I actually wore this without the jacket for most of the day, doing a lot of physical work, so I wanted the underneath ensemble to stand on its own. I love the boots too.

  14. Wow! I'm speechless. You are so talented, that jacket is an absolute triumph! I love the whole outfit, too - super cool cowgirl chic!
    I loved Phil's comment - Jon found a Universal Racer jacket by Lewis Leather's in a charity shop a couple of years ago for £2 - the model Steve McQueen wore. We sold it on ebay for £900! xxx

    1. Aw, thank you so much, Vix! I enjoyed the outfit, but I'm glad I styled this again on the weekend.

      Isn't that amazing!! Wow! Good for you!

  15. My jaw isn't just on the floor, it went clear to the centre of the earth. You are a profoundly gifted artist and fashion revamper, dear Sheila. I hope that you feel rightfully proud of this phenomenal leather jacket makeover.

    Autumn Zenith 🎃 Witchcrafted Life

    1. Ha ha, you are so sweet, Autumn, thanks so much! I am very proud of it.

  16. Sheila, your talent is amazing! Great work on that jacket!

  17. Wow, what an amazing job you've done here Sheila! I would never had believed that this wasn't from some high class boutique. Totally impressive work. You're a true artist, well done!

    1. Thank you, Anna! I am really proud of all my work on this.

  18. woww, this is Amazing and totally love this work of art and fabulousness. I'm openmouthedly admiring it, enthusiastically loving it!
    Love the tattoo vibe, the beautiful design, the perfect amount of roses and skulls and leaves and colour. Also a huge fan of your hidden roses (ah, those details make my heart sing!) and the skull's shiny tooth!

    1. Thank you, Monica! I am really proud that I did all of it - it's a little boggling when I look at it.

      The hidden roses are my favourite part!

  19. Happy Belated Birthday! The jacket is really wonderful - congratulations on a beautiful creative effort completed. You created the perfect outfit around it to show it off.


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