If sugar, spice and everything nice is what makes up the Powerpuff Girls, then leather scraps, bike tubes and everything reused is what makes up Manda Maples’ second hand crafts.
Displaying one of her own creations, a neck warmer made out of an old sweater, Maples was at the Davis Flea Market this past Sunday to sell her wares. She is a local Davis artist who has found a way to upcycle almost anything, from scraps of leather that she gets from leather stores to popped bike tires from bike repair shops.
“I don’t buy new materials,” Maples said. “My whole philosophy is that everything here is reused.”
The handicrafts she had to offer were all wearable objects with their own unique sense of style. There were embellished and twisted leather bracelets, collars made out of sweater sleeves and shirts patched over by gas-station style bears and foxes, à la the classic “Three Wolf Moon” T-shirt.
The ties alone contributed to multiple products: necklaces, bracelets, eyeglass cases, and more.
“This one’s a coffee cozy,” she said, popping one open to illustrate the use. It wasn’t intended — the tie it came from was just bigger and thicker than others. “I let the shape and size of the material kind of guide me,” Maples said.
Maples herself was guided in leatherworking by a friend of hers and has been following that passion for five years. She taught herself to sew on an old sewing machine, and worked her way up from the basics.
Right now she splits her time between Davis and Oregon, where she sells at an artist’s collective called “The Workhouse,” and also recently curated an art exhibit based on her anthropological work with African art.
Business is profitable no matter the location: According to Maples, she pulls in about $200 to $300 per month at The Workhouse, and $100 to $200 per month at the Flea. She doesn’t make a cent online, however, because she prefers to interact with her customers in the flesh.
“I like people, I like communication,” Maples said. “I had an Etsy a long time ago but I deleted it; it’s too time consuming, and I like face-to-face better.”
If you want to see what Maples has to sell, she’ll be at the next Flea Market at Central Park on March 31, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TANYA AZARI can be reached at email@example.com.