Home sweet home, in Blowing Rock, NC.
As of 2017, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of my work will be going to support wildlife conservation. More to come on this! But for now here are links to some organizations that I will be donating to!
International Federation of Fly Fishers
RMEF (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)
National Wildlife Federation
I want the choices I make in my business to reflect my deep love and respect for our beautiful planet and all it's inhabitants. As my daughter put it "It's where we live, Mama. We gotta take care of it."
I specialize in what I call "pro-impact" leathers. These are leathers that have environmentally and/or socially responsible attributes that in one way or another serve to point us back in the direction of harmony and balance with the planet that sustains us all. These leathers include, low and no chemical leathers, free-range leathers and repurposed leathers. Please read below for more info on the particual benefits and sources of these pro-impact leathers.
Low and NO chemical Leathers
In my work, I seek to provide alternatives to many of the modern chemical laden leathers. Traditional tanning methods (in other words, turning a raw animal skin, or "rawhide" into leather) were out and out HARD WORK!...yanking and pulling and beating and stretching...and then some! Natural dying processes were labor intensive as well. In modern times, most of those labor intensive practices have been replaced with chemicals that speed up the process and make it "easier" but at a high cost to our planet.
The methods used to create the low and no chemical leathers I use range from techniques that are ancient- 1000's of years old and 100% natural- to techniques that are simply lighter on the earth and more in alignment with the health of our planet. Leathers in this catagory include:
English Bridle Leather - some of the best saddle leather in the world
Primitive tanned deer and fish hides - tanned by some of the best primitive tanners in the country
Brain tanned Leathers - the leather of traditional Native American clothing
Alum Tanned Buffalo - uses less harsh chemicals than the more common chrome tanning
The free-range leathers I use come from legally hunted game animals that are used for their meat. The free-range leathers I use include deer, elk, moose and fish. There are many benefits to these leathers. These hides are sourced from animals that are living a quality life that is very much in harmony with our planet. They are not only a valuable renewable resource but also a source for organic meat. These leathers are a by-product of hunting, and though there are sometimes conflicts between hunters and conservationists, hunters and hunting have played and continue to play a vital role in land conservation in this country! I sincerely believe that supporting hunting is a key factor in supporting world wide conservation efforts and that these conflicts we sometimes witness also hold the potential for limitless cooperation and the health and well being of our planet and everything on it.
The deer, elk and moose I use are gathered during hunting season when hunters take their kill to the butcher to be processed for the meat. They are then commercially vat tanned and dyed. This yields a consistent quality leather that is readily available and affordable. I offer these throughout my work. The primitive tanned leathers I use (read down a bit more) are also free-range.
Re-purposed and Upcycled Leathers
In alignment with the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle principle, using these leathers helps to close the loop in the waste stream. In other words, the less waste we create, the less we are putting in the landfills and the more efficiently we are using our planet's resources as a whole. The re-purposed leathers I use have various sources. One of the main sources is Carroll Leather Goods, a local clearinghouse for leather scrap. They purchase leather scraps from companies in the furniture, glove, boot, and leather accessories industry - or any company that has leather scrap as a by-product of the manufacture of leather goods. They sort it all by size and color, bundle and resell. I spend hours sifting through and hand selecting quality leathers to make my goods...And i gotta say, it's like being a kid in a candy store!
Other sources include purchases from thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets and the like. I frequently get leather passed on from friends and friends of friends who know I do leather work and I also use the scraps from my own larger projects as efficiently as possible.
Primitive Tanned Leathers
These are NO chemical leathers.
There are a few folks, mostly living back in the woods or at least very close to nature, who devote much of their precious time and energy to rediscovering and keeping the ancient tanning methods alive.
These leathers are labor intensive to produce and only marginally available so their costs will reflect that. If you would like something made from these leathers, please contact me directly and we can discuss current options and pricing.
Tanning and Using Your Own Hide!
If you have a hide of your own that you would like bark or brain tanned, please contact me for details and pricing. I would be glad to make work using the hides from your own hunting or fishing.
Primitive Bark Tanning
Bark is gathered from trees and ground up. After being scraped by hand, the hides are soaked in a series of bark water solutions over weeks or months. The hides are then worked by hand- and I mean worked! to break down the fibers and create a functional piece of leather. Various barks yield various qualities and colors in the finished leathers. I am currently working with folks in NC, Montanna and Washington to offer both bark tanned deer and fish leathers.
Primitive Brain Tanning
This is the traditional leather of Native Americans and it is what you picture when you see traditional dress or hear "buckskins." These deer hides are scraped and then soaked in a tanning solution before being worked for hours and then smoked. Though many tanners these days opt to use other natural tanning agents that yield the same high quality leather, the hides were traditionally tanned with the brains of the animal.