Back in the day many moons ago a young woman joined forces with us and became one of our most diverse and wonderfully creative models that we had ever had the privilege of working with and featuring. Her modelling name was Nitr0gene and that is how many of you would know her – as one of our original Devo Girls. However these days she is known as Louise Allcock – founder of the amazing Ogre Leather Crafts. A line of work inspired by her love of all things wasteland, apocalypse, gaming, mad max, rpg and steampunk.
Let’s start with an introduction of your brand Ogre Leather Crafts and tell us when your idea became a reality?
So Ogre Leather Crafts was born from the tiniest of creative sparks. My husband spotted a one pint leather tankard for sale on the internet and contacted the manufacturer, asking if they could make a larger version. For example, a two or three pint leather tankard. The person who owned the company said it couldn’t be done, which then set my husband off on a mission to teach himself how to make leather tankards. Rising to the challenge, he managed to make two pint, three pint, and even bigger tankards! After watching him develop this amazing skill with leather, I decided to try my hand at it, starting off with simple pop-stud cuffs and belts. The rest, they say, is history!
Where does the unique name originate from?
We had spent an age trying to come up with a name for our little business. We wanted something unique, that no one had yet coined. After a long day of carving, measuring, stitching, and sealing tankards, my husband held one in his hand and said “I can imagine an ogre drinking ale out of this!”…and there you have it! As a result we now refer to ourselves as Mr and Mrs Ogre.
Where do you tend to source your leather and materials from?
We spent a lot of time researching companies that supply materials, from hair-on cowhide, to the smallest of stitching needles. If you’ve ever got into a new hobby before, you’ll know how expensive it is to start from scratch with all of the materials and tools. Leather craft isn’t a widely known hobby/skill, but we did manage to find the very few specialist companies to buy our materials from. We source our leather from Metropolitan Leather, and most of our dyes and carving tools come from sellers on eBay or a place called Tandy Leather Company.
What are the pros and cons of working with leather?
Let’s start with the pros – it smells absolutely wonderful, especially when it’s a brand new piece fresh out of the bag. It feels great to the touch, absorbs dye wonderfully, and takes carving and embossing very well. It basically acts as a blank canvas for your imagination to run wild. It’s a wonderful medium. Leather can be very temperamental. When cutting straight lines, it has a tendency to want to flex, bend and warp, which means you have to have a VERY strong grip and a close eye on where you are cutting. The other problem is, like most craft-related hobbies, there is no “undo” button. Once you have made a mistake, you either have to fix it somehow, or start again from scratch!
Have you had to hone your skill and learn on the job so to speak?
Absolutely. I learnt everything I know through watching my husband, who had taught himself anyway, and from the hundreds of YouTube videos and Instructables blogs available. Mostly it was through trial and error, creating tiny little pieces of jewellery using below-grade leather, to making huge pieces of replica armour. In an ideal world, I would give up my day job, become a leather/tannery/saddler apprentice then open my own workshop.
As one of the original Devo Girls you always had a penchant and love for the wasteland / apocalyptic / steampunk style and seemed to be drawn specifically to these styles? When did these genres become a staple part of your wardrobe creativity?
I’ve always found inspiration through music, computer games, movies and books. Although I have never technically done cosplay, I always like to base my ideas on characters and styles that have tapped into my already active imagination. The post-apocalyptic obsession was born out of my love for the Mad Max films, ever since I was a kid, and playing games like Borderlands and the Fallout franchise. My adoration for steampunk culture came about as a result of my fascination with the Victorian era including the wonderful literature, the history of Britain in the 1800s and the amazing style of dress, peppered with a fictional and dystopian twist…not to mention my love of the Bioshock game franchise! I always feel the need to take it one step further and create what I’ve seen!
When Mad Max – Fury Road was released in 2015 what were your initial thoughts? How much did the film inspire you? Creatively and fashionably?
For me it seemed like a VERY risky move for George Miller. The film had a LOT to live up to. The original Mad Max films were a very big part of my childhood, even the first movie, which even these days people find the most difficult to watch. I was very sceptical, especially when Hollywood began the pre-Fury Road hype. I approached it in the cinema with an open mind, which was subsequently blown away! Hollywood has needed a full-on adrenaline-cranked post-apocalyptic action movie for a long time now, and George Martin sure did deliver! It was the small details that inspired and fascinated me…everything from Imperature Furiosa’s bionic arm and the simple dresses of Immortan Joe’s breeders, to the doll-heads on the masks of the pole rats and the multi-layered desert-survival outfits of the Vuvalini. Jenny Beavan definitely deserved her Oscar!
Last year you hosted your first catwalk using models and a lot of pyro at The Alt Collective fashion event – what was your vision for the show and how well did it go on the day?
I wanted it to be as epic as possible…in a nutshell! I chose the most badass song from the Fury Road soundtrack, I had a rough idea of what I wanted it to look like in my mind, and I put everything down onto paper. The models looked incredible and they really got into character with minimal supervision. I chose Raven specifically for her angle grinding skills, and Crimson Raine for her pyro techniques. Together along with the incredible makeup by Alice Bizarre, my idea came to life! It was a real buzz and a lot of hard work leading up to it, but I’d definitely do it again! As a Devo girl and former alt model I have done a few catwalk shows, but it was great to be on the other side for a change.
You have teamed up with the amazing Scott Chalmers and Bernard Galewski who have so far produced some incredible shots for the brand – do you always have a clear vision for each shoot and how you would like the brand portrayed? And is there a mission statement you tend to promote?
I think it really depends on what I’m shooting. When we did our first set with Ruby True as a model, we had set the theme around my viking-style armour and accessories. Ruby, Scott and Alice were real troopers when it came to getting into the style of the shoot, and it had a fantastic result. When I did our Wasteland Warrior clothing range shoot with Bernard, we chose some much more chaotic-style lighting and smoke to set the scene. I like to think that Ogre Leather Craft can be a hugely interchangeable brand, showing our diversity and flexibility as a business.
As well as upcycling and designing and reconstructing clothing you also have a whole accessories and products that range that include tankards, wallets, arm guards, armor and gauntlets etc. – is there a huge market for these and who would you class as your main captive audience?
It’s quite interesting how our product range has developed over the few years that we’ve been active. A lot of our customers are cosplayers and LARPers, but then I’ve had just the “Regular Joe” request custom-built gauntlets, just for fun or for a Halloween costume! I wasn’t 100% sure who to target my products to initially, so I think I would prefer to throw my tasty bait out into the ether and see who bites back!
Will you release items as they are designed or will you tend to work towards an official collection or specific set at each time of release?
I started releasing items as and when they were designed and built initially, but then my collections started growing with particular themes attached to them. I think it all depends on my day-job and martial arts training schedule. That’s the main problem with running a part-time business from home, is that boring adult-life-stuff gets in the way from holing myself up in my living room with retro movies and a pile of leather! I have a collection that I’ll be working on which will be entitled “Forest Elf”…I’ll just leave that on the table for you!
Could you tell us about your custom and commission options? How does one go about ordering a piece from yourself?
Email me! We’re also on Etsy, Facebook and Instagram. I’ve a few ridiculously complex requests over the years which I’ve had to turn down, simply because leather doesn’t work the way people envisage. As long as you have some sketches and images, I’ll definitely draw up a plan and a price. I’m currently building a Hellboy utility belt for a cosplayer who will be meeting Ron Perlman at the London comic con in the summer. It’s a big job, but it’s coming along beautifully.
You are an avid gamer and music enthusiast– tell us about a few of your current favourite pastimes?
You hit the nail on the head; gaming and music! I’m blessed with a curious mind which has resulted in a variety of hobbies and interests, from collecting vintage bottles and taxidermy, to slobbing it out in front of a PC game and Martin Scorsese movie marathons. I also do cross-stitch, have been training in Muay Thai for 18 months, and do a lot of cross-country walking and reading. I have so many hobbies I can barely keep up with myself!
What is your current view on the alternative word of fashion or style?
The alternative world of fashion has reached an interesting time in its life. I really like the “witch” style that’s hit brands like Killstar and Disturbia, bringing films like The Craft to life. It’s very demure and the style of dresses tend to be flowing and fit beautifully. I’m not 100% keen on the very bright cartoon-style of print twinned with 90’s style crop-top and cut-out style that’s exploded everywhere, but I’m sure it has its place. I’m very excited about the new collection that’s being released by Nina Kate teaming up with Iron Fist.
If you could create an outfit for anyone in the world – alive or dead who would it be and why?
I would absolutely love to create a post-apocalyptic wasteland outfit for Maria Brinks from In This Moment to wear on stage. She has an amazing eye for style and theatre, so she would pull off an incredible “wasteland queen” costume. I’d make a huge animal skull headdress complete with feathers and war paint, a bra made of leather with spikes and horns, and complete her look with a set of leather gun holsters and a modded American football shoulder piece. We’ll fit some flames in there somewhere!
If you had to enforce one rule in your survival camp during an apocalypse what would it be and why?
Teamwork! Even if you absolutely detest your fellow survivor for whatever reason, sweep it under the carpet and learn to team up and look out for one another. The one thing I see from survival series like The Walking Dead is that humans can’t seem to work together when it comes to the crunch, and that frustrates me. Feelings always seem to get in the way and people can’t seem to see the bigger picture. Diplomacy is key and teamwork, along with strength and willpower will ensure survival.
Any final words?
Like what you see? Give us a tinkle via e-mail and see if we can bring your vision to life! Also, life’s too short to not get creative, so do it and follow your dreams!