I’m always asked how I got started in leatherworking, and it’s a simple story, with roots in necessity. I needed a belt.
After college I started working at a law firm. I wanted to be a lawyer, or so I thought, and figured I ought to at least try it out before committing to going to law school. Yeah, possibly the best thing I ever did. I got a job as a paralegal in a somewhat traditional law firm that actually had a dress code. It included provisions about the length of your skirt, nylons, and the like. I don’t think they ever measured my skirt length, but I do remember getting a talking to on more than one occasion about not following the dress code.
So if there’s one thing I really hate it’s being told how to dress. I was determined to find a way to push the outer limits of the dress code without being in violation. I was being defiant in a way I couldn’t get in trouble for. I probably still had a bit of youthful rebellion left in me (which only drove me to do creatively rebellious things, like paint flames on my car).
My boyfriends mother had given me a belt from her youth that I loved – it was probably from the 70s or something – but it was falling apart. It was one of those belts that was multiple pieces of leather stitched together with a stiffener in the middle, and it just wasn’t going to get me through daily wear. I looked and looked, but every belt I found was cheaply made and boring. I did a post a while ago on how to choose a leather belt that will last and once you know what to look for, you’re not going to find many belts other than mine that will fit the bill!
In my creative solution finding, I bought a belt strap, some knives, paint, and dye and got to work. My first belt was a simple black belt with roses (the photo is of a collar in the same pattern) and the second was one I called the Kitty belt, with carved dogwood flowers. I guess it sparked, or renewed, a love affair with leather. It’s been ten years and I still have those first belts, and they look just as good as the day I made them.
The last few times I’ve done a show people have asked about belts, so this year, I’ll be sure to have some in stock. Guaranteed to make you smile, and outlast your jeans, think of these belts as heirlooms. You can pass these belts on to your children (or your son’s girlfriend) and they won’t wear out.