Saturday, February 28, 2015

Looking for a hobby? Lacking a burst of creativity in your life? Leathercrafting could be just the thing you’re looking for! Join me in my studio for personalized workshops and classes that teach the ins and outs of the art form I’m most passionate about. I will be offering a few different leathercrafting courses in March, and can also teach private lessons for those looking for specific or more specialized instruction. These classes are a wonderful opportunity to learn a new skill, experience a real studio at work, and to make new friends!

Email me at to sign up for a class or to set up a private session. My March workshops are as follows:

March 11: Small project workshop / 5pm-9pm / $175
Do you have a leather item in mind you’d like to make, but don’t quite know where to get started? This is the perfect workshop for you! In this class, participants will have the chance to make their own item by hand and bring home the finished piece. Choose to craft a leather watch, cuff, smartphone case, flask, belt, or wallet. All tools and materials are included in the workshop price. You’ll be amazed at what you can make in just four hours!

March 14-15: Handbag workshop / 9am- 4pm each day / $750
The most intensive of my March classes, this two full-day workshop will allow you to dive into the art of leathercrafting and leave with valuable skills to apply to your own work. Participants will design and create their own vegetable-tanned leather handbag that they get to bring home! I encourage students to bring their own ideas and sketches to jumpstart the process and end up with a product you love. I will teach the pattern-making process and fundamental skills necessary to make this happen, including the basics of leathercraft design.

March 21: Small project workshop / 1pm-5pm /  $175
[See March 11th workshop description] If you already took the March 11th workshop and didn’t get a chance to make all the things you wanted to, join me again for round two!

March 28: Intro to Leathercraft / 9am- 5pm / $350

Immerse yourself in the art of leathercraft at this full-day workshop. This in-depth course will teach participants about the tools and materials used, making patterns, hand sewing, pyrography (branding the leather), carving, dyeing, finishing, and adding basic hardware to your piece. You’ll get to choose your own project, with options including several different small bag/clutches from Moxie & Oliver original patterns. Take your masterpiece home to show off!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The History of Leathercraft - PART TWO

Picking up after the first partof this history of leathercraft from last week, after the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of chromium tanning for leather, the vegetable tanning method almost disappeared.

For a brief time, William Morris and John Ruskin’s 1860s Arts & Crafts Movement revived the craft industry in England and the rest of Europe, and this revival included a few leathercrafters as well. This movement spread a couple of decades later to the United States, but sadly died out after the start of the Great War (World War I).

Leather was in short supply during the war, but afterward it became introduced in therapeutic leatherwork programs in military hospitals, recreation centers, and rehabilitation centers. Because of its unique ability to be tooled, carved, branded, painted and dyed, vegetable tanned leather could offer veterans a healing way to work with their hands and create a beautiful and useful leather item such as a wallet – with minimal tools or training. 

A Texas entrepreneur named Charles David Tandy helped to revive non-therapeutic leathercraft by putting it in the hands of home hobbyists. While in the service, Charles Tandy saw the therapeutic leathercraft programs in Hawai’i and thought that introducing leathercraft tools and kits to the consumer could help revive his father’s dwindling leather business (he had started in shoe findings). Nog long after, Tandy began making home-hobby leather kits, quickly evolving into the Tandy Leather that we are familiar with today.

From that first kit offering, Tandy steadily grew their catalog. The kits were inexpensive, easy to complete, and offered the opportunity for anyone to create their own “handicraft.” They introduced many people to leathercraft who would not have had the opportunity otherwise. Tandy Leather kits were where I got my start in leathercraft, since formal learning is very limited in this field.

Most leather items today are chromium tanned, made overseas in India or China and imported.  Many chrome tanned pieces contain lead or other toxic materials.  Vegetable tanning, however, remains the gold-standard in tanning.  It produces superior leather that is safer and frankly, more interesting, than the chrome tanned counterparts.

Vegetable tanned leather, however, isn’t the best for mass manufacture.  Only the small crafters, people like you and me, still use vegetable tanned leather. But I don’t want to end on such a sad note, more a call and a hope:  there’s a beauty, wonder and history in this material.  Let’s share our knowledge, our experience, and our art.  I am – and I hope you will, too.