Heirloom Leather is a one man Etsy store I have followed for a year now primarily because of the exquisite usage of vegetable tanned leather and tasteful industrial design stitching. His sense of leather fashion is among the best in the business, in my opinion. And as far as I can tell, quality is a primary focus. I have not had the pleasure of reviewing a product from Heirloom leather but one can tell quite a bit from the photos what a artisan Paul is.
Because leatherworking is such a personal expression I asked Paul about his background and what lead to crafting such beautiful products. Below is Paul’s articulate reply.
After building homes for over 10 years, I came to the conclusion my profession had vanished right before my very eyes.
Trapped in a 59 year old body possessing a 39 year old college degree, my prospects of competing with “young bucks” having newly acquired graduate and post graduate degrees seemed dismal at best (in the professional world). So I began to contemplate how “to reinvent myself”. Thus my journey to find a new occupation; hopefully one I would enjoy and one that could provide a living wage. So the more I contemplated my dilemma, I thought to myself “what if I could make a living doing something I love?”. What skill do I possess that I enjoy? Having developed an interest in working with leather many years ago and I just couldn’t stop thinking about how much I loved that hobby and what if I could produce something that was desirable by the general population. So began my experimentation.
The question was: “Is the craftsman/artisan dead in America today and if so can it be revived? The days of working with one’s hands seems like a faint memory of a history lesson sometime back; which begs the question: “Do people still do that sort of thing?” and “Is a product like this marketable through the internet?” I wondered if the idea of being able to own something that was created or reborn from the hands of a true craftsman had a magnetism that was infectious enough to induce people to buy.
So in July 2011, after much encouragement from my wife and friends, I decided to put a few of my accessories on Etsy, while working a full time job in a totally different industry. Then after several months of one or two orders here and there a surge in sales came in the Christmas season of 2011. My orders started to increased with each passing month. Then after about a year, my once part time hobby, blossomed into a full time career.
The feeling of knowing you were, personally, responsible for a work of art that is wearable and usable is truly rewarding.
I hope I am able to offer something that will not only be a treasure and an heirloom, but something that has usefulness and utility while possibly enhancing your professional image.
“God made leather clothing for Adam and his wife and dressed them”
BL: Tell us about your operation and your purpose in leather working.
I am a one person shop operating in a smoke free environment. I create an artwork that I take pride in. My desire is that it will compel you to want to wear it and enjoy its functionality. I welcome your questions and comments.
The products I create in my shop are called “heirloom” because they should last you a lifetime and most likely will be passed on to other generations. The materials I use are genuine leather. These accessories are made from cowhide, and other fine leathers. Each personalized piece is individually dyed and each stitch is done by hand with a waxed braided cord. Every piece is different in some way; whether its from the grain in the leather or from the way it takes the dye.
The grain on the accessory is, in fact, the grain which occurs naturally. Our leather is not pressed into a mold. Thus, in some sense all other leather grain patterns are artificial. Heirloom Leather is 100% natural and therefore will sport unique and original markings. Even though we choose the best skins, there will be markings on the piece that may represent a brief encounter with a barbed wire fence etc..Please note that this is in a sense proof of its authenticity and uniqueness; not a defect. Thus one aspect of Heirloom Leather accessories that is essentially unique, is its choice of all natural grain leather.
Thank you for putting hard work into your craft, Paul. You are an inspiration to myself and others to be excellent craftsmen.
You can follow the new products that Paul releases on www.heirloomleather.blogspot.com since Etsy does not provide a way to keep up with new products from favorited stores.
Heirloom Leather products
Editors note: Etsy features are highlights of carefully selected stores that illustrate high levels of attention to quality and detail. The aim of these articles is to promote the excellent work of the true artisans on Etsy, as opposed to the mass of cheaply made goods easily available. To submit your store, email firstname.lastname@example.org.