I am not sure what inspires most people to take up leatherworking, but my inspiration was my dad. My dad enjoyed scouting and my brothers were active with the Boy Scouts of America. My dad was a Scout Commissioner and was always looking for ways to help the Boy Scouts learn new skills. One day, he went to Tandy Leather and purchased their Starter kit along with some remnant leather. He began making items such as Pouches, knife sheaths, hatchet covers for scouting, then later wallets and other useful items. He would also receive deerskin from our neighbors who went deer hunting and made moccasins. I still remember how comfortable those moccasins were.
One day back in the late 1980s, after looking for just the right fishing tackle box, I got a wild notion and decided to design my own. I borrowed some of my dad's finished remnant leather and, having been educated as an engineer, sat down and designed that tackle box. Without any previous experience cutting and stitching leather, I created what I called my "Tackle Buddy". I wanted a water bottle attached and I used Velcro to hold the cover closed. I found that the stiffness of the finished leather would automatically close the cover and keep the contents from spilling out if it fell over while I was fishing. I put belt loops on the back that I eventually used to hold my filet knife. I used an old boot lace to carry my Tackle Buddy over my shoulder, freeing up my hands to carry my rods and a cooler. It was just what I wanted and I loved it.
As my dad got on in years and arthritis gnarled his hands and fingers, he passed his leather kit on to me along with the additional tools, items and leather that he had purchased. Thus began my leatherworking hobby and all of the tools and leather that I would eventually purchase and accumulate. The products that I made early on were purses, briefcases, belts and such. An occasional braided bracelet or cuff were about the only wearable items, similar to jewelry, that I made and were mostly for family and friends.
As the years went on, I did not do much leatherwork and everything eventually ended up in boxes in our garage for about 15 years or so. As disability provided me with more time on my hands, my wife, Karen, convinced me to take up my leather hobby again. So, we set up a table in a spare room and brought up all of my tools, leather and everything. I took some time to organize everything and some friends told me about this jewelry made from leather that has become so popular. I did some Google research and they were right. So, with my wife's inspiration, I sat down and started making hair accessories, earrings and my signature Rose and other leather jewelry pieces. I made so much jewelry for her that she decided to start selling it. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think that I would be making such small items out of leather. But I found out that leather lends itself nicely to making, what I call, "smalls". We came up with a name for her "smalls" business, opened an Etsy shop and eventually redesigned this online store to include the many items that I have made and that I am still making.
Until next time, All the Best,
Frank, the Leather Guy