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My Mohinders: Animal Handmade

by Cameron Archer |

This collaboration is two years in the making! As admirers of Animal Handmade for years, we’re incredibly proud to showcase her talent on our leather slides. 

Each leather upper is embossed by Ava in her Denver, CO studio and turned into completed Slides in Athani, India—home of Mohinders.  

Read more about the talent behind Animal Handmade, her process, and the commitment to her craft below. See more of Animal Handmade’s unique and beautiful creations on her site or instagram.

How did you stumble into the art of embossing leather? Have you always worked with leather? Can you please share a bit about how Animal Handmade came to be?

I made up my technique because I wanted to take my love for illustration and turn it into a functional object. I’ve always been drawn to both graphic and industrial design but was never satisfied with just one or the other.  So I did a bunch of experimenting to find a way to smoosh them together.

Has your artistic process evolved over the course of the pandemic? 

It became more playful and personal, and less about business.  I learned how to enjoy the making again.

If you could see one of your leather pieces in ANYONE’S wardrobe, who would that be? 

Maya Rudolph.

Do you have any self care rituals that have become part of your artistic and/or personal practice? 

Big chunks of time when I’m allowed to lose my sense of time. 

What did the early years of Animal Handmade look like? How have your designs and/or materials evolved? 

Early on, Animal was my hobby on top of two other jobs.  I was trying to dye my own leather, hand-cutting every piece out of a little shoebox studio in my apartment.  Now, my patterns and silhouettes have come more into alignment. They are starting to play off of each other, rather than sitting on top of each other.  I know better when to outsource, when to use a machine to cut or sew, and I trust that there's a place for my weirdest ideas.

Can you explain your personal style in three words or less? 

Dresses with sneakers.

What is the aesthetic of your home? 

Pattern on pattern, art from my life and friends, and simple enough to leave room for my phases.

What is the most important thing you have learned about representing yourself as a female artist? 

I don’t consider gender when making work or representing myself. I pull ideas from my life, which I know are affected by being a female, but I’m interested in the more universal experiences we share as humans.  Art making for me is more about getting out of the way than waving my own flag. Most artists accept that representation is a necessary evil, but it’s rarely what we want to focus on.  We want to make our work and have it represent itself. 

What does Denver look like right now? We don’t spend too much time in the Rockies—can you help paint a picture of summertime in the mile high city?  Sun-filled, evolving, hot and busy. My experience of Denver revolves around my community more than the place itself. I have the privilege of having lived here long enough to know some really lovely people, and they open doors to parts of the city I couldn't have seen without them.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration? 

It's more of a compulsion than anything. If I don't make stuff, I'll explode. It’s a valve-release for the process of living.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Denver?  

Potager because it’s a block away from my house and they’ve been open so long it feels like a family in there.

Best day trip in the Denver area?  

Lunch at Leven Deli, a trip to the Kirkland Museum, and a cocktail at ESP.