The Art of the Costume: Leather Masks by Summer Reeves

wanjun wearing seasons studios laser cut leather mask

I first saw Summer Reeves’ leather masks in the TXRX Labs DIY area at a Pop Shop Houston event.

I was walking by, did a double take, and had to go back and look at them for longer! They are so detailed, perfectly crafted, in gorgeous and refined materials. They are fun and whimsical costume pieces and yet they are made out of striking materials with expert techniques.

When I first met Summer in person, I was like holy f*#@^! She is young, kind hearted, and supremely talented with various media. I just had to talk to her about her costumes and her business called Seasons Studios.

summer reeves seasons studios
 

BB: How long have you been working with leather?

SR: I’ve been working with leather for 2 years after taking a class on leatherworking at TXRX Labs. After taking the class in May, I was looking online at leather masquerade masks for a couple parties I would be attending in October and said to myself “I could do that…” and the rest as they say is history. I made some leather masks for myself and a couple friends then opened an Etsy shop and started selling online. From there I was approached by a group about to participate in a fashion show where I would showcase my masks and jewelry line-up. So I kind hit the ground running at full speed. In just a few months I had to develop a full line for the show and cover a lot of Halloween orders that came in through referrals and my Etsy shop.

 

cosplay leather costumes by summer reeves

BB: What techniques do you use to create your pieces (laser cutting, sewing, etc.)?

SR: I usually start off by sketching designs on paper. Once I’m happy with it, I’ll scan the design into Adobe Illustrator and trace out the pattern into a vector design. This allows me create a pattern that is easy to replicate and scale as needed. I normally use a laser cutter to cut out the leather pattern, then depending on what i’m making I’ll use techniques such as wet-forming, tooling, carving, sewing, dying, airbrushing, and hand-painting to create a finished product.

leather clutch by summer reeves

BB: Do you make primarily costumes? Do you ever create more “normal leather goods” like jewelry, wallets, purses, etc.?

I do both actually. I started out making leather masks but I also make leather jewelry such as bracelets, necklaces, earrings, watch bands, and leather clutches. Right now I’m working on a full suit of leather Nightingale armor based on the video game Skyrim for this year’s Comicpalooza.

I like to create jewelry that is a little different than what you’ll find somewhere else. I create statement pieces that you can fall in love with and there’s nothing better than watching someone fall in love with a piece that you’ve made.

SR: What characters have you created pieces for?

Many of my masks are based on animals such as a peacock, raven/crow, wolf, fox, and butterfly but I’ve also done Frank from Donnie Darko and Phantom of the Opera inspired mask. Outside of masks, I’ve done armbands for a Chronicles of Riddick costume and outside of just leather, I’ve done a Winter Solider armband, a Dryad costume, and a Blood-elf costume from World of Warcraft.

laser cut leather cuff by seasons studios

One time I was at an event and I had my leather fox mask on display. A girl walked by my booth then stopped dead, pointed at the fox mask and yelled “What does the fox say!” then proceeded to dance around. She and her boyfriend ended up buying the mask and I had to go educate myself on the fox song.

close up of leather mask cosplay costume

BB: Do you ever integrate your costume pieces into your normal wardrobe?

SR: Haha not as of yet! I would probably scare someone, however I do wear pieces from my jewelry lines.

crow mask halloween leather mask art of the costume

BB: Can you tell us about some of the most elaborate/crazy/interesting costume pieces you have created?

SR: The most elaborate piece from a time perspective is the costume I’m currently working on. I probably have close to 40 hours in on it already and I’m not finished yet. The reason why it’s the most time consuming is because it’s simply so large. Most leather pieces I’ve done in the past are a small single item piece where this will be a full outfit.

From a visually elaborate and crazy perspective my favorite pieces would be a leather headdress that I created and a simple leather “lace” mask.

My favorite non-leather project I did was with another member at TXRX Labs, Zach Schultz, where we created a resin cast Glass Sword replica from the video game Skyrim. This process included, CNC routing the design, creating plaster casts, vacuum forming, resin casting and painting.

butterfly mask by summer reeves

BB: What else do you create other than costume accessories? And what do you work in other than leather?

SR: Above all else, I love to learn new things so I’m always doing something different. I’ve built a gaming/dinning room table, done wood turning, metal jewelry, leather jewelry, costuming with leather and thermoplastics, airbrushing, photography, graphic design, resin, and more

BB: What’s next for your business?

SR: I mainly do what I do because I enjoy it. When I create things that other people enjoy as well, that’s just icing on the cake and more than anything I enjoy teaching others how to do what I do. I plan to continue learning about new materials and new techniques then mixing them together to create new designs.

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