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Leather Baby

by Sarah Lee 11 months ago in diy

i can't stop thinking about you

Why do I do this? Why do I spend the very miniscule income I have and dump it all on LEATHER as fast as possible? Leaving me eating crackers for the rest of the week. Obsession? Possibly, I can be obsessive about a lot of things and lose my steam soon after. This feels sooooo good though. It feels soooooo RIGHHHTTT. You’re on the top of a mountain at the literal apex except this is a symbolic apex of where almost everything I enjoy comes together in a brain stew (maybe even a brain jail)! LEATHER. It’s cowhide, that’s pretty intense because it’s *gasp* skin—but that’s why it ages. It ages like all natural materials do. They gain patina over time, folds, creases, and wrinkles just like we do. Character! I just thought, “Maybe I’ll try to make a bag; my grandma designed leather goods; I can figure it out…” At the start I had a bundle of low-grade aka DULL assortment of leather working tools and brown leather stripped from my partners old sofa. I had a general pattern but had to adjust to the size I wanted, easy enough, etc. BUT the HOLES…punching those holes for me to stitch were painstaking. My mallet was chipped away at from all the pressure laid down on these dull pricking irons. I sincerely thought, “this is my life now; I will grow one giant bicep and be the Queen of aggressive hammering.” All that scrupulous work was worth it though because I made that bag and then I made another bag for my mom. **Venmo notification: Morgan has sent you $200 “Pursue your leather crafting dreams!** The moment when everything changed for me; I had jokingly posted on Instagram asking for sponsorship to purchase high quality pricking irons and I got what I asked for. I was in shock that my friend would send me money simply to support my interests. ME! Someone who couldn’t be trusted with money because of years of substance abuse but moreover someone who was depressed and passionless for years. This ignited me, and SAVED me from all that laborious hammering! I made more bags, I made my first wallet, and I started receiving commissions from people wanting to support me. “I’m not an artist, I’m just creative.” – Me, anytime someone says I’m an artist For years I tried to figure out my medium. I studied music, art history, worked freelance fabrication, learned photography, calligraphy, did random styling but nothing felt Goldilocks ‘just right’. So I get a MSW and think feelings are my medium—this notion quickly devolved as someone with emotional regulation issues. Luckily, the combination of a year spent inside depressed, mostly isolated, living through a global pandemic (no big deal), some stimulus money, no job, lots of time, and nothing to lose this Leather Baby found her home and “NOBODY PUTS BABY IN THE CORNER!” Working with my hands; learning about tools; sourcing raw material; designing/pattern making has lead me to achieve my lifelong dream of creating. It feels limitless and freeing. I want to have fun with design. It lets me use parts of my brain that don’t get utilized in my chosen profession. I get to be an architect and draft designs and create patterns using skills of construction, and even geometry. My social work skills get employed as well when communicating with clients to help them create their visions and open them up to more possibilities. I often start with an online image search of vintage handbags and haute couture. I consume these messages as if they are nourishing me. I dote over geometric shapes and get stirred to imagine subverting vintage designs by using bold prints and colors. I wormhole into the ‘history of handbags’ and learn the evolution of the Hermes ‘Kelly’ bag. Fun fact it was renamed the ‘Kelly’ as it became synonymous with the actress Grace Kelly following a widely circulated photo of her using the bag to shield and cover her pregnancy from paparazzi. Or learning that Louis Vuitton started as a box maker who then created bespoke travel trunks, which are now a LV staple. I want to learn as much as I can from multiple angles. Inspiration for me can best be described as an interdisciplinary practice. Generational Leather is the name I use for my goods. One of my intentions when I embarked on leatherworking was to replicate a calfskin leather tote bag that my Grandmother had designed and produced 50 years earlier. This bag travelled to America from Seoul with my Mother. Having few possessions this ‘luxury’ item was functionally used as my diaper bag. As an adult, I inherited the bag and it conjures up sentimentality and I value it as precious. Now, I get to follow in a family tradition. Now, I get to feel connected to my Gran who raised me. Now, I get to be a legacy. Now, I get to share it with others. Now, I’m closer to figuring out how to be happy.


About the author

Sarah Lee

Novice Leatherworker

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