Katie Russell, Professional WilderbabeTM

Katie's Hide Creations

Unique wearable art, custom clothes... my heart and soul made tangible

     “Katie believes that there is an alchemy in creating works of art from deer skin to buckskin to clothing. The medieval concept of making baser metals into gold is alchemy, and Katie sees that possibility with every deerskin that she handles. Buckskin becomes gold to be fashioned not into rings, bracelets, or earrings, but into wearable art. She sees this not as a craft, but as an art – what is imagined, not what is reproduced.”                                                              - Bill Biddle, Methow Valley News.

I call this the “Jungle Bag.”  The distressed buckskin of the body gives it a rather tribal feel.  It is trimmed with a bit of fox fur to add to the tactile element of this unique handbag.  The handles are braided buckskin that feels good in your hand.  The Jungle Bag is multi-dimensional due to its expanding gusset and will stand upright when full of the things necessary for a day or night out on the town.  The body is roughly 7” tall by 6” wide, not including the handles. A bag like this is sure to be an attention grabber wherever you go!



This bag is a toned down version of the one above.  It is strong and sturdy, ready to take whatever abuse you give it.  The handles are tough braided elk hide that are easy to grab as you run by to the next adventure. The bag also features a multi- dimensional gusset that allows it to stand upright without dumping its cargo!  I considered dressing this handbag up with fur or beads, but I grew to appreciate its no-nonsense functionality and simple appeal. 


    grain-on deerskin and elk skin




These gloves are made of the thinnest buckskin to allow for complete range of movement and sensitivity.  I originally created these to be my horse riding gloves, for which they are perfect! But they have morphed into an all-purpose glove that I wear on a daily basis.  With a thin wool liner they perform well on a cold winter day, and bring a taste of high quality, classic western style to my morning chores that just makes me smile.  These gloves are mine, but I can create a pair just for you.  Simple and elegant like these, or fringed, beaded, and fancy - its up to you!



The photograph below is a close-up of the tiny hand stitches and intricate seams in a pair of buckskin gloves. 


Here is an item that has become one of my most-used favorites! This buckskin camera case is lined with wool and silk to provide padding for my camera as I throw it, drop it, and fall on it in the course of a normal outing!  The braided strap is long enough to hang comfortably around the neck (or it could be outfitted with a belt loop).  This will be custom made to your size specifications. While some camera cases scream “Tourist!” this one sends a different message entirely. 

Here is an example of a felted wool hat I made, trimmed with recycled rabbit fur off an old fur coat.  A felted hat gives the wearer a unique gnome-like aspect, perhaps allowing one to view the world in a slightly different way? If you are interested in becoming a part of the gnome family with your own felt hat, please inquire as to availability. 

    Custom Orders and            


When I begin a sewing project, it is impossible for me to forget that my medium was once a living, breathing, running entity that deserves to be honored in what I create of its skin.  I am blessed with  both the desire and the knowledge to pursue this ancient craft, and I hope to share it with a broader audience. Your purchase supports my intent to create beautiful functional art that encourages those who see it to touch, question, and engage in the world around them.  All my work is done with skin that I, or someone I know, has tanned using  all natural processes.  I hand-sew each piece with a combination of buckskin thong, silk, nylon, and linen thread suited to the project. I use my vivid imagination to envision my projects; I can create anything you can imagine(within limits of Time and Space!) and welcome unique custom orders that reflect the individual. I can also do accurate historical reproductions from Stone Age to Medieval to Mountain Man.                    I sometimes have available raw skins and other deer parts if you are interested.  If you are looking for something that I don’t have, most likely I can find it for you. And if I can’t figure out how to make something you want, chances are I know someone who can. I will also consider selling finished hides depending on availability.  Thank you for visiting wilderbabe.com

Here is the highly anticipated inaugural piece in the WilderbabeTM Lingerie Line!  Buckskin is called mountain velvet for good reason - the tactile sensation rivals the finest materials to be found anywhere. The design is based on a string bikini top for the utmost in adjustability - it ties around the back and around the neck.  This unique piece could be worn as a brassiere, a dancing shirt, under a sweater with the barest hint of fur peeking out... use your imagination!  The fur is luscious chocolate mink recycled from my grandmother’s 1940’s - era mink cape.  I like to think she would approve. 

      I am very interested in expanding my craft in this area, so if you have any thoughts on a custom commission, let’s talk! 


This pair of child-sized moccasins are cute enough to grace a collector’s shelf after the child outgrows them!  Built of sturdy buckskin, these mocs measure 7 inches from heel to toe,           and 2 3/4 inches wide.  They feature a welted side seam and a fringed upper. The drawstring tie tightens around the ankle, and they have a removable shearling insole. This pair is available for purchase, however I urge you to send a  tracing of the foot for a custom fit; price depending on size and decoration.  I can do beadwork, fur, applique - anything you dream up. 


My Ma saw all these pictures of me, and asked, “what exactly are you selling on that website!!!??”  All these pictures of me are partly vanity, partly so you can get to know me a bit, and partly so you can see some of the WilderbabeTM life in action - having fun, buckskin clothes, and, of course, a big smile!!!

The mukluks to the right are crafted of horse leg and walnut-dyed buckskin.  I love horses so much; it is an amazing honor to wear their legs on my legs.  I have since glued rubber Croc footbeds on to make them a bit more all-terrain.

This little medicine bag was custom made for an amazing woman who came to Montana from New Jersey to learn how to work with skins. 

Above is a buckskin applique on a hooded sweatshirt I did for my brother........

.....and to the left are my buffalo fur mittens! 

This coyote vest was made from coyotes I pulled out of dumpsters. Honestly, I can’t wait for some urban animal rights activist to say something about my wearing fur, so I can tell that person exactly how I salvaged these pelts from the waste stream, tanned them with my bare hands, and sewed them into something I’d like to think even Jennifer Lopez would wear proudly.  Wearing something like this vest reminds me that I am a PART of nature, not APART from nature.  And, of course it is yet another great conversation starter...

Here are some buckskin skirt photos, as promised! Above is my “marsupial pouch” skirt, the whole front is a big pocket. Note the way the skirt flares, allowing for extreme freedom of movement, even with the pouch fully loaded!

Below is my short skirt - the beads are falling off but you get the idea!  This is the back of the skirt.  Check out the triangular gusset closure to lace it tight. I put one on each side but really only use the one on the right side.

Here is some of my class from Wintercount 2013 with the buckskin bras we made! Actually a couple of these Wilderbabes weren’t in my class, they just came in for the photo opportunity.

I love this photo because it shows some great examples of unique buckskin brassieres, as well as these awesome ladies! 

The back photo is also interesting, since it took me teaching this class over four different gatherings to figure out a back style that consistently works for pretty much everyone, is comfortable, beautiful, and adjustable.

Now I just have to figure out how to make custom orders that fit perfectly without a plaster cast of the chest!

Contact me to find out when I am scheduled to teach buckskin bra class next, or to set up a buckskin-bra-making bachelorette party with your girlfriends! That’s kind of a joke, but seriously would be a lot of fun! 

I can also do custom orders, but getting the fit perfect is challenging. Sometimes I bring bras for sale to the gatherings and do the final darts in person for a good fit.