Real Handmade Leather
Where I live we call industrial leather “killing the animal twice” – with good reason. But behind the arguments for organic, healthy, non-toxic, hand-made, non-industrial and all the rest – true and important to be sure – lie richer and deeper questions surrounding human-animal relations, kinship, ancestry, history and place. This is realm of ancient wonderment, for there are old and abiding covenants in the world between humans and our animal kin, neither singular nor universal, to which we are heirs. Any farmer, hunter, butcher or hide-tanner worth their salt knows this and lives it out.
One could say that the hide-tanner is a kind of middle-man between the animal and the clothed. Unlike most middle-men arrangements which thrive on the source and the customer never meeting, the tanners job well and honourably done has the person and the animal know each other better by the end of it. Further, the manner of the hide-tanner’s labour, how they go about and speak of their work, has the power to ennoble both parties and uphold and keep alive old and precious things in this world. This is some of the alchemy of hide-tanning and some of why I call these leathers traditional.
I work primarily with Deer, Sheep, Moose and Goat skins which I turn into both smoke and fat-tan and bark-tan leathers. All of these powerful and graceful animals live where I do and their skins come my way from local hunters and farmers. None of these animals or their skins ever see the inside of a factory or feel the sting of any harsh chemicals you yourself would not want to touch. They are handled by humans in human fashion - that is, by hand - and are treated and tanned with deep regard and the finest, well gathered materials mostly from right where I, and they, live.