New leash pouch colors for Spring

spring summer 2016 leash pouches

The Road Trip Leash Pouch is a handy little pouch that clips to a leash (or whatever loop you have handy) and dispenses a roll of dog clean-up bags. It’s like a tiny Dopp kit for your dog.

To get ready for warmer weather, and an upcoming arts and crafts festival, I looked to preppy summer classics for color and material inspiration. Think “Cape summers”.

It was a lot of fun expanding my color palette into lighter and brighter materials. This collection includes even more reclaimed materials, carefully selected to be durable and look refined. Some of the items that were upcycled into an accessory for someone’s special dog include:

  • khaki cargo shorts
  • heavy cotton twill pants
  • madras plaid
  • wool pants
  • cotton corduroy
  • button-down shirts

To see all of the newest options, visit the my shop.

Canvas pet toy bins with classic boat-tote styling

Pipsqueak picking out a toy from the canvas bin

I have a love for tote bags. I’d say especially tote bags made with canvas. And I wanted to translate this affection for a utilitarian, elegantly-simple, classic staple into something for pets and the home.

Being a fan of classic design, classic boat-tote styling is a big inspiration to me, and I incorporated this aesthetic into the canvas pet toy bin design. This foldover bin stores several (smaller-scaled) pet toys right on the floor, so pets can reach in and pull them out. The goal is to provide some flexible, pet-friendly organization in a simple, unobtrusive way.

The contrasting base comes up from the bottom enough to add interest, and the exposed corner flaps stitched in place at the sides have a directness and honesty of form that I strive for.

canvas bin with grey canvas and reclaimed houndstooth wool

I initially made a batch of just three bins, to see what people would think. There was enough interest to encourage me to add another small batch to my maker schedule, and that’s what I’m making in the workshop this week.

Each of these new bins is made with sturdy canvas, soft cotton lining, and a fold-down accent made from reclaimed wool. I focus on choosing color groupings that work well in living spaces, as well as those that fit with the Oxford Dogma style.

To take a look at the available bins, visit my Etsy shop.

And if you’d like to be notified by when new pet toy bins are available, just fill in your email address below.

Old-school metal buckle dog collars

dog collars made from upcycled silk ties and clothing

It’s been a lot of fun creating these new dog collars! When I set out to make collars, I knew that a traditional metal buckle would be part of the plan. The typical plastic snap buckles have their place and purpose, but I was getting tired of how much they hurt my fingers to use and how they get caught in Pipsqueak’s flowing mane.

A pink paisley collar made from an upcycled silk tie

The metal buckles are classic and old-school, which I love. They’re also a more classic shape, as opposed to a more contemporary, sharp-cornered buckle.

This collar design features upcycled materials reclaimed from silk ties, heavy cotton trousers, and button-down shirts. It’s a kick to repurpose these materials and give them new life. And they’re sturdy and substantial while being soft and flexible around your dog’s neck.

There are two sizes available:

  • Small: 5/8 inch wide, circumference of 10-11-12 inches
  • Medium: 3/4 inch wide, circumference of 13-14-15 inches

I could also make a 1 inch wide version (for a dog that needs a 16, 17, or 18 inch length) but that is one heavy buckle! So it’s something I’ll do as a special order for now.

Visit my Etsy shop if you’d like to get one for the special little dog in your life.

Dog collars in progress

collars in progress
Long thread tails ready for their clean finishing on this small batch of dog collars made from upcycled ties and trousers

My first small batch of dog collars is just about ready, and I’m really enjoying how crisp and refined they’re looking (and feeling). I made some improvements to my original prototype, including making them thicker and more substantial, and doubling up on my topstitching thread for a more striking accent along the top.

One of the most time-consuming aspects of my design is cleaning up the threads from sewing on the buckle (shown above). Simply clipping off the thread ends looked fine at first, but when I tugged on the flaps the stitches started to come loose. We don’t want that! So instead, I carefully tied the threads off, and buried them into the fabric for a clean and durable finish.

This batch is primarily made from reclaimed silk ties and cotton trousers. If you’d like to get an email when they’re available in my shop, just fill out the form below and I’ll be in touch.

Dog collar design development

pink paisley reclaimed silk tie collar | oxforddogma.com

Often times when people see my handmade dog accessories they ask if I make collars. So my latest product in development is… a collar!

Since I’m a fan of classic design, I wanted my collar to have classic metal tongue-style buckles, with metal grommet size holes. And for the strap fabric, I’m testing out a sturdy canvas or twill accented with reclaimed silk ties.

After Pipsqueak has worn it for awhile I’ll get started making a variety of sizes and colors.

If you’d like to get an email when they’re available in my shop, just fill out the form below and I’ll be in touch.

The Pocket Critter Interactive Dog Toy

grouping of Pocket Critter dog toys | oxforddogma.com
Just a few of the fun and cuddly interactive dog toys from the Pocket Critter collection

The best thing about making the Pocket Critter is how delightful it is to watch dogs play with it and work to get the treats out of the pocket. It’s not just the dog that’s having fun — we humans get to have fun, too!

With this soft, interactive dog toy, I wanted to put the Ivy League Classics twist on a toy. Many dog toys are focused on being bright or eye-catching (or noisy). But this toy is more subtle and understated. It’s classic and huggable.

And it’s not industrial-strength. Being soft and cuddly, and filled with stuffing, it’s designed for gentler dogs, who nose around and play rather than approach toys as something to be destroyed and left in pieces. If your dog has a tame appetite for eating toys but would enjoy hunting for treats or kibble, this would be a fun solution for you.

Pipsqueak has a pointy nose, and I’ve watched her poke around the pocket for goodies, but I wondered if a dog with a flat nose would enjoy the toy. I was happy to learn that one customer’s Shih Tsu had lots of fun playing with it and was able to get the treats out as well. It’s great to hear about these success stories!

Stories of Pocket Critter fun

I love hearing stories of dogs enjoying the things I make. Here’s what some recent customers have said about the Pocket Critter toy:

“Fiona playing with her new @oxforddogma mouse. She’s definitely a fan of hunting for buried treats!” — from Niki, with her dog Fiona
You can view this hilarious video of a tiny Pomeranian going bananas with the toy on Instagram

“Harley loves her new toy — she snuggles with it all the time, and I’ve been having fun putting food in the pouch for her to find. I feel like it gives her a deeper activity than just chewing on something.” — from Larissa, with her dog Harley

Harley getting rid of all treat evidence in the Pocket Critter
Harley gets rid of all treat evidence in the Pocket Critter
Harley snuggling with her new toy
“Harley took some nice long naps today with her new friend.” awwwww :)

“Thank you @oxforddogma for the new toy! The pocket of treats is driving me crazy. If there’s ever a time I wish I had opposable thumbs its now…” — from Amy, with her dog Leia

Leia has fun with her new toy
Leia looks tuckered out after playing with her new toy

Where to buy this interactive toy

The Pocket Critter was first available at my 2015 Method + Madness Pop-up Shop. Of the nine I brought with me, eight of them sold. Some people wanted to buy one, but knew their dog would instantly tear it apart. One woman’s solution to this was to buy one anyway — as a tooth fairy pillow for her grandson!

If you’d like to check out this cute and cuddly dog toy, there are some available in my shop, with more on the way.

Sign up below to get an email update when more of the lovable Pocket Critters are available for purchase:

Why timeless design: a love letter to classic style

Why timeless design - a love letter to classic stile | oxforddogma.com

The faster life moves, the more I crave connections to the past — something with roots to ground me as today’s way of life whips me between shiny objects. To me, when things are designed with timeless style it helps provide that connection. I don’t care for trends that come and go, creating piles of low-quality, discarded possessions in their wake because we’re sick of them.

Timeless design is something to be counted because it endures through the years, comforting us with stability and permanence.

I haven’t always felt this way, or at least I haven’t always understood that I felt this way. Growing up, I’d decorate my room all kinds of different ways, and my personal style was based on magazine trends translated into mall trends. I guess this is just a way of exploring what I liked and didn’t like. But it resulted in many, many never-worn mall purchases that eventually ended up in the Goodwill pile.

Several years ago, I read the book I Love Your Style: How to Define and Refine Your Personal Style by Amanda Brooks. It was a revelation. It hadn’t occurred to me before that I could choose a style and stick with it, despite the fashion trends changing every season. That transience is so embedded in our culture that I never questioned it. Until I did. And then I started noticing how we cycle through trends constantly. Since the United States is a relatively young country, that’s just part of our progression as a society. We’re all doing what I did as a kid — exploring what we like and rotating in new styles all the time. (And the rise of Pinterest only contributes to this behavior.)

Brooks’ book is split into six basic style approaches and after reading the sections I identified most with Classic style. But I definitely saw how I had dabbled in the other styles throughout the years. There was my “Sex and the City I want a Fendi bag High Fashion” phase, my “college art department move to a ceramics colony blue corduroy overalls Bohemian” phase. And my experimentation usually left me slightly unsure whether it really worked for me. Once I understood that my style preference is Classic, I was able to enthusiastically clear out my closet and introduce a few key basics that have lasted (and will continue to last) for years, providing me with more ease and confidence. From basic black pants to ballet slippers to my beloved trench coat, I know I can count on these timeless designs to meet my daily clothing needs.

To me, classic and timeless are virtually interchangeable as terms. I define timeless design as something with long term relevance, created mindfully and with integrity of materials.

Timeless design is:

  • thoughtful and nuanced rather than exciting, typically with minimal ornament
  • a building block that is restrained, not loud or attention-grabbing, leaving room for the “you-ness” that your life will add to the design when your own experiences and personal style are layered on
  • integrity of materials, such as using natural fibers like wool and cotton, gold and silver, wood, and other high-quality, long-lasting materials
  • not stuck in a particular year or trend
  • balanced, perhaps symmetrical, with a rhythm or consistent pattern

So why do these qualities appeal to me? Together they result in a thing that we want to keep around for a long time, want to keep in our lives for many years. When we can depend on something for that long, it nestles into our lives and makes us feel comforted and connected. By using something for many years, it becomes part of our rituals, tradition, and heritage — which helps us enjoy experiences more. Because it’s high quality, we’re actually able to depend on it for a long time. And because the design isn’t trendy, we won’t tire of it quickly, resulting in less waste.

Timeless design shows up in all kinds of places, and one that I find particularly delightful and inspiring is the work of Wes Anderson. When watching his films, you can see yourself in them no matter when you were born. They don’t feel of-the-moment, but rather of some unspecified era when people connected to each other in person not on smartphones or social media. They’re richly layered with wardrobes (the charming clothes in Moonrise Kingdom!), props (that luggage in The Darjeeling Limited!), and sets (that house in The Royal Tenenbaums!) that suggest they’ve been in the lives of the characters for…forever. He also appears to share my nostalgic tendencies.

The charming wardrobe of Moonrise Kingdom
The charming wardrobe in “Moonrise Kingdom”
The Darjeeling Limited luggage
The fantastic luggage in “The Darjeeling Limited”
The house in The Royal Tenenbaums
A room in the richly layered house in “The Royal Tenenbaums”

My goal with the things I design and make is to create something that gets used, is loved, and just fits into people’s lives. It’s not to be provocative, flashy, or cutting-edge. As I learned in college, sometimes blue corduroy overalls (and burgundy hair coloring) have their moment, but eventually you want something that sticks.

To see my (timeless) designs available for sale, check out my shop.