I’m not sure I’d call it a “road less travelled.”
But maybe I have stayed on it longer than most. I had plenty of company when I joined the leatherworking community in the summer of 1970. What began as a hobby became a part-time job while I was an Art major at Georgia State University. Before long, I was working full-time at Atlanta’s premier “hippie leather shop”, alongside some of the zaniest and most talented folks I’ve ever known. Our regular customers included some of the best-known musicians in the country at the time, including Ted Nugent, Leslie West (Mountain), The Outlaws, and KISS. It was a great way to learn a lot about the trade, and by the time the shop closed in 1976, I was a highly-skilled artisan.
Next came a long involvement with the apparel industry, as both designer and manufacturer of leather fashion accessories. One season, my best friend and I made over 16,000 belts for Ralph Lauren’s Polo Western collection- in our living room!
Most of the leather-goods manufacturing business has gone offshore, of course, but there’s always a demand for “something special”, a unique piece, hand-built and painstakingly detailed in a way the mass-producers cannot match. That’s the market I’m happy to serve these days. Some of the most memorable projects of my career have involved the fabrication of props for motion pictures, the best-known of which is “Dunbar’s Diary”, the journal prominently featured in the Academy award-winning blockbuster, Dances With Wolves.
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