Interview: Jennifer Buffie, Leatherworker and a Founder of Parkers and Quinn

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parkersParkers and Quinn is the delightful leather-working shop imagined by Jennifer Buffie and Benjamin Quinn Parker. With elaborate designs, gorgeous hand-work and delightful nerd-related items, Jennifer Buffie has worked to create an amazing store. She took time out with FangirlNation to tell us about her creative process and designs.
FGN: Where did the name Parkers and Quinn come from?

Jennifer Buffie:  When I started up this Company in 2009, our main focus was reaching out to the local Steam-punk community in Austin, TX. I wanted something that sounded a bit old fashioned, something right at home in the late 1880’s. My long time S.O (and Business partner!) has a pretty interesting name, Benjamin Quinn Parker. It certainly sounded more formal then my last name (a certain teen-aged vampire slayer, which I caught a lot of flack for growing up!)  And so Parkers and Quinn was born. People often ask me why is Parker pluralized?  I give them a wink and say well eventually we will both be Parkers, Hah! In the Steam community, Ben went by the persona Mr. Parker and I, became Quinn. Worked out Well if you ask me!

FGN: What got you started in leather-working and how long have you been crafting with it?

Jennifer Buffie: The short answer? The Minnesota Renaissance Festival! I started attending our local Renfest at about 14 or so,  after seeing some of the beautiful creations the vendors were offering I was hooked! That following year I started saving up for small amounts of leather and worked hard to re-purpose leather into gear I could wear and use. I made my first boiled set of full leather armor around age 20. I’ve belonged to groups with other leather-workers and have taught (and in turn, learned) from many. Although I had a bit of a Hiatus from leather-working during college, I still did it as a hobby where and when I could, and finally was able to pick it back up again around 25. All in all, I’ve been doing this for about 17 years or so, and I still manage to learn new techniques and new ways to do things nearly every day.
FGN: What is your creative process like in designing a new piece?
Jennifer Buffie: Most of the time, someone will come to me and ask for something custom, they usually have some idea of what they want and I work within those parameters to help make what the envision become a reality. That sounds all fancy, but really it’s just a lot of convos back and forth, and hashing out the details with ’em. Every once in a while, if I am given a bit of free time, or in a lull, I just make something I would like. One day it might be something whimsical and over the top like an Orc mask, or a Huge mixed media headpiece with feathers, dreadlocks and horns, then the next week it might be something practical like a purse or backpack.
FGN: What sort of tools and materials do you use when you create your masks?
Image Courtesy of Parkers and Quinn

Image Courtesy of Parkers and Quinn

Jennifer Buffie: All of our masks are made from vegetable tanned leather. because of the way the cowhide is tanned, it is malleable when wet, and then will dry and keep shape with a fairly simple process

everything is shaped just using my hands. sometimes I will tool the leather and use stamping for details, but most of the time its just some leather and my hands.

FGN: Do you have a preferred material that you work with?

Image Courtesy of Parkers and Quinn

Image Courtesy of Parkers and Quinn

Jennifer Buffie: Of all the leather I’ve ever used to make anything, I have to say, Deerskin is a dream, it is so so so very soft, and makes some of the most comfortable skirts, tops and other stretchable wearable gear your have ever touched. I prefer it over Lambskin even.

FGN: What has been your favorite piece to create?

unnamed (3)Jennifer Buffie: I’d have to say the orc masks. They are just soo cool, and each one is so different. I decided to try it after seeing a fellow leatherworker make his leather Orc mask, with all the beautiful detailing and Hair! I must say it was one of the most Frustrating and also most Triumphant of my creations. Once it was done I was thrilled, I was so very proud, I wanted to try again, and made a companion for her. I have had them for some time now,  bringing them to shows just waiting for them to find the right new home. In the meantime, they sure my my workshop look cool!

FGN: Which was the most challenging?
Jennifer Buffie: Hands down, My Scorpius (Farscape) Cosplay. It’s Kinda rare that I spend so much time (and material) on something for myself, but I just had to make this thing! Farscape is my favorite show of ALL time, and Scorpius is, in my opinion the best villain/reluctant hero ever. Besides making a ton of leather armor, I had to go outside of my comfort zone and learn and make all sorts of sculpts and molds for all the rubber detailing parts that are all over his costume. Also It was my first attempt at a wearable mask (in silicone) It looks pretty close to scorpy’s face, but is rather thick- so a bit tricky to talk in! Live. Do. Learn.I’ve learned from this experience, and I’m now doing a thinner re-cast of the mask and tweaking it a little so it will be comfortable to wear for extended periods and talk/breathe in.  Can’t wait for Scorpy/Harvey 2.0 in Feb ’15 !
Image Courtesy of Parkers and Quinn

Image Courtesy of Parkers and Quinn

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FGN: What is your most popular item?

Jennifer Buffie: Oh that’s easy. Cthulhu masks!!! A steady seller, and people love em. since I draft my own patterns, and ours is pretty unique, you know is one of ours when you see em’.
I mean come on, who’s face DOESN’T need more Tentacles?!
unnamed (7)

FGN: You also have another Etsy store called, Love and War Leather. It includes some times such as handmade jewelry and both a Doctor Who and Game of Thrones themed belts. Do you plan to create more items for other fandoms?
Image Courtesy of Parkers and Quinn

Image Courtesy of Parkers and Quinn

Jennifer Buffie: Oh absolutely! I Opened Love and War leather because Parkers and Quinn was known for certain things, such as the Masks and Steampunk type stuff, and I wanted to make something a bit more Chic and Design some festival clothing and Jewelry ​stuff. Having a TA.R.D.I.S. or a Shield emblem on a wide belt not only Looks awesome, It’s a bit more subtle then showing up to the office wearing an Ironman Mask, a bit more “socially acceptable” if you will. We all Love something that could be considered Nerdy or Geeky, and it’s becoming more and more normal to share it with the world at large. I wanted to be a part of that and Help bridge the gap between functional and fun! Love and war leather takes custom requests and commissions just like P&Q.

 
Image Courtesy of Parkers and Quinn

Image Courtesy of Parkers and Quinn

 FGN: Do you take custom orders?
Jennifer Buffie: Totally, We offer the ability to customize any current listing in either of our stores, and the ability to remake (within reason) past items that have sold along the way.The hat in the photo is an example of a 100% custom piece.  If you want something totally custom,  About 30% of the stuff I currently make has no shop listing. It just starts with a simple email or Etsy/Facebook conversation, and goes from there!


​FGN: Where will you be displaying your items next?

Jennifer Buffie: Come Look for us at Dallas Comicon (Dallas Texas) in May 2015! or as unnamed (10)always we have our shops up and open 24/7 over on Etsy and Store Envy
or
FGN: Where can our readers follow you and your latest wares?
Jennifer Buffie: We are most active on our Facebook page here:(https://www.facebook.com/parkersandquinn)  with updates near daily. Somewhat less so on our Tumblr blog page (monthly posts), BUT this is where you can view tutorials that I write up from time to time on how to make things, like wool dreadlocks and how to make headpieces! Follow our Tumbler here: (https://www.tumblr.com/blog/steampunkpnq) We have Twitter as well, but mostly just to post when new items go up in the shop! Come visit us on Facebook and check out all the cool new things we have in the works, we even run give-aways for our Facebook fans from time to time!
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