Spring break trips, music festival season, and summer adventures—they’re all fast approaching and capturing every moment on camera is practically mandatory. But nothing ruins a good outfit faster than that bulky nylon camera strap your kit came with. Celebrate National Craft Month by make a camera strap that meshes a little more seamlessly with the season with the help of Leah Duncan, the Austin-based textile designer who makes some of our favorite hand-drawn designs inspired by the southwest (and all places sunny and warm). Photos by Braunwyn Glaser.
Meet The Maker: Leah Duncan
When did you first discover your passion for your art?
I was always creative growing up but it never occurred to me that I could actually make a living as an artist. I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science, but was lucky to get a job as a graphic designer working for an advertising firm and later a screen printer. It was then that I fell in love with design, pattern, and textiles. When we moved to Austin in 2008 I was looking for a fresh start so I started drawing and put my work on Etsy. This whole thing has grown into something I never planned, but I couldn’t be happier to be here making a living doing what I love.
Can you remember your first project?
I loved my toy potter’s wheel growing up. I would spend hours with it; I think I mostly enjoyed how it gave me an excuse to get really messy. A budding artist needs that sort of thing every once in a while!
Did you study your art or are you self-taught?
I am completely self-taught and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s given me a lot of freedom to explore things in my own way without rules or a right way of doing things to get in my way.
What are you most inspired by? How is that reflected in your work?
Nature is my biggest inspiration along with the southwest and my neighborhood in east Austin. All of the shapes, colors, and themes in my work reflect how I’m constantly absorbing these little pieces and influences to create something that is my own.
Does your profession ever influence what you wear?
As a textile designer I love pattern, so I often find myself attracted to garments with some sort of texture, color, or pattern as opposed to not. On a regular studio workday I’m a jeans girl. Comfort is the key to productivity!
DIY Braided Fabric Camera Strap
-2 yards of 1/8-inch leather lace
-2 metal swivel clasps
-All-purpose needle and thread
-2 rubber bands
-Scissors or rotary cutter
-Half yard of knit or jersey fabric (Duncan used knit fabric from her latest collection, Morning Walk. You can find similar fabric at your local craft store.)
-Heavy duty fabric glue
-Cutting mat (optional)
1. Spread the fabric out on a flat cutting surface. Cut the fabric into five 2-inch by 48-inch strips. Be sure to cut along the lengthwise grain of the fabric (with the length of the selvage). This will encourage the fabric to curl when you make your strands.
2. Pull each end of the fabric strips lengthwise to encourage the fabric to curl and make a strand for our braid. Do so several times along the length of the strand for a tighter curl.
3. Bundle one end of the fabric strands together and tie them with a rubber band. Tape your bundle of strands onto a flat, clean surface and separate the strands with the rolled side facing down.
4. Begin braiding your strap by separating the strands into groups of two and three. Take the strand closest to the outside of the group of three and move it over to the inside of the group of two. Now the group of two has three, so you will move the strand closest to the outside to the middle of the group of two. Repeat this process until you get to the bottom of the fabric and clasp the ends together. Your braid should measure roughly three feet depending on the tension of your braid. Feel free to use other braiding techniques and research five- strand braiding if you need more help with this style of braid.
5. Turn your braid face down and feed one end through the swivel clasp so that approximately one inch of the braid is through. Squeeze a big drop of glue onto the end of the braid and press it onto itself so that the clasp is enclosed. Pin the braid together and cut the remaining fabric off.
6. With your needle and thread sew a basic stitch across the braid to reinforce the glue.
7. Take one yard of the leather lace and wrap the braid with the smooth side of the leather on the front of the braid and tie it together on the back of the braid. With a toothpick dipped in glue, apply small amounts of glue underneath the tie. Repeat the tying and gluing process until the raw fabric is covered to your liking. When finished, tie the leather in a knot and cut off the remaining leather. Allow the glue to set for at least 2 hours (or according to your glue’s directions) before attaching a camera to your strap.
8. Repeat steps 4 – 6 with the opposite side of your braid.
For more springtime do-it-yourself projects, follow us on Pinterest!