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Behind The Scenes

In The Studio With Annie Costello Brown

Come on in… Most people use their garages for storage—you know, old bikes, barbecue grills and, er, vehicles. But not Annie Costello Brown, the quirky-chic designer behind ACB, the cultish line of brass-flecked belts and turquoise-and-shell necklaces. Her studio: a converted two-car garage with skylights that was renovated by its painter landlord awhile back. Below, Annie takes us inside the space and gives us a look at what goes down there. —alisha prakash “This is Amy, Kate, and I working at the assembling table. This is where we put together the jewelry and belts. We do the polishing and leather grinding outside.” “Some sketches, patterns, and leather samples hang on the wall along with our studio mirror. That’s Kate working on assembly. ACB jewelry is made by hand here in Los Angeles. We usually have two to four people working assembly throughout the year.” “This is part of a bookshelf in the nearby sunroom. The text taped to the shelf is an excerpt from an article on ornamentation from an old nineties issue of Flash Art. The collage above the text is something my son and I ‘collaborated’ on.” “This is the leather processing bench and metals polishing bench. This is where we grind the edges of the leather so it can stay raw and have a softer edge. It’s also where we polish some of our finished jewelry pieces. It’s nice to work amidst the trees with views of downtown L.A.” “Some of the tools we use in the studio…” “I think I’ve checked out every craft book from the Los Angeles Public Library.” “Amy Jo grinding some belt leather.” “Here’s a page from one of my sketchbooks. 99.9% of my ideas never get made, but I’m always looking through my notebooks to steal from myself. I do a lot of sketching. If I have an idea while I’m doing something else, I have to sketch it quickly so I remember it. I have baskets and boxes of half-baked ideas.” Annie’s edition hits tomorrow! Get on our email list so you don’t miss is.
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ACB Crafts Her Of a Kind Cuff

“I’m process-oriented—not very conceptual. I like to play around with things and see what happens,” says Annie Costello Brown of the chill-but-sophisticated accessories line ACB. “I don’t do sketches and send them to a factory—we do everything here.” What is everything exactly? Take a look at the processes involved in creating her leather-on-leather (and radder-than-rad) Of a Kind cuff. —alisha prakash Feeling it? Well, you can score Annie’s bracelet right here, right now. Just 35 of them! “We use vegetable-tanned leather for our tan belts and bracelets. We often do the stripping ourselves, and we used a hand-held wood leather stripper set at 3/8 an inch for this cuff.” “We pick the best, most compact leather from the strips to use in the cuffs. Leather is really amazing to work with because it’s so pliable. It also ages in a cool way. It forms to the body, so it automatically starts to retain the history of its wearer.” “I then take the strips downtown to my die-maker’s studio and use his clicker press to punch out the tips of the cuff. Back at the studio, we grind the new ends to soften the edges and then treat the leather with beeswax oil so it doesn’t get dried out.” “Then, we hand-cut strips of yellow leather to weave onto the cuff. Most leather jewelry is rocker, hippie, or equestrian, and what I’m trying to do is take all of those ideas and do something new with them. Some of the things I do with leather are tailored and minimal, but other things are complex—braided and woven with a lot of texture. I try to make it look fresh.” “I tumble the solid brass buckles to remove their original coating so that I can redo the finish myself, usually by darkening and then lightening and tumbling again for a matte shine.” “Then, we wrap the strips onto the cuff. I try and use one shape in as many different ways as I can. With this shape, by adding another strip of leather and weaving it like as basket, it gives it a collage-y feeling. It’s just a process of playing around with things until I think it looks good.” “And voila! I just want everything I create to be my own original thing.”
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