First of all, lets
be clear on the difference between "Hand Made"
and "Hand Crafted".
of Hand Made - machine stamped parts that are riveted together
with a hammer, or a belt that was run through a roller stamp press that
is operated by a hand crank. Though these may be "technically"
hand made to some degree, don't let it fool you into thinking that it's
better because of it. These items still fall into the "mass
produced so I can get your buck" category.
of Hand Crafted - Items that are fully made truly by hand. Cut
out with hand shears, edged, finished, stained, painted, stitched,
tooled, embossed, stamped; all by hand, like our medieval counterparts
had done. None of my stuff is massed produced.
doesn't hand crafting make stuff more expensive?" Generally
yes. But you need to understand that many of these other leather vendors
actually raise their prices far too much. To them, it's a carnival or
flea market, and they will keep their prices as high as people will
spend. I by contrast, put a value on my time, note the cost of the materials, and use a spreadsheet to figure out what
I should be asking my pieces. Generally I hear "Wow, that's a great price! I would
have expected it to be more!". My prices fall in line with others,
and are often even better. Why? Because I don't raise mine 400-600% as
is common in my industry. Believe it or not, that's what happens.
of my products are HAND-CRAFTED! I fell in love with
Renaissance Faires and Medieval Recreationism! Being a student medieval
history and after venturing to several faires, I soon discovered that my
skills were at least comparable to other craftsman, and my ambition
greater than most. What got my attention is that very few of them were
interested in the art, being only interested in only making a quick
buck. No one was making many items that I considered to be truly
fascinating to someone wanting to see history, or necessary to a true
recreationist, be them factual or fantasy, and so Leather Lore was born!
I take the trouble to research and
make true items from history, some near museum quality! And I delve
greatly into fantasy as well, taking on the projects that others shy
away from. But it's not just the product that interests me, it's also
the process. One crafter was boasting that in order to keep up
with demand, he now has a warehouse full of machines that automatically
stamp out and cut his pieces for him saving much time, then he assembles
them. He says that they are still hand made products because he operates
the buttons and levers by hand. I disagree.
Some people will say that their
stuff is hand made. So they take machine stamped parts and rivet it
together by hand.
Many crafters sell items like
boots and journals. The boots are very well made, with modern soles, and
by modern machines. Don't get me wrong, they are good quality, but
they're not hand made. And the journals have wonderful images of
dragons, castles, wizards, Celtic knot work, and so forth. But they're
all stamped on by a single large stamp! Where's the craft in that? For
some people that's fine.
Another crafter makes fine belts,
with cool looking art along the entire length. He uses a roller machine
to imprint the art. It takes him seconds. Sure, the machine is hand
operated, but that doesn't make the item hand made in my opinion. I
hand stamp every little bit, can take me an hour or more for one belt!
One crafter, believe it or not,
even made his product from pre-packaged kits. *Shudder*
I was even told by one crafter to
not take custom orders, just do the basic items, otherwise I'll get
swamped with too much work. Well, so what. I do take custom work, there
are some really interesting needs out there. Sure, I have to limit
myself, but I do it. And to a small degree, we'll even do custom work
right in the field!
And while many of my fellow
crafters do make their products by hand, they do it as cheaply as
possible, by which I mean that they just throw them together. They don't
even bother to finish the edges, stain the back sides, and so on. One
crafter had roman shoes. Sloppily cut from pre finished skin, there were
even scissor marks. Obviously done in a hurry, and asking way too much
money. Another crafter hires "floaters" every year and just
teaches them to cut and rivet mass produced product.
- I bother to research authentic
designs and techniques.
- I bother to make my own
designs, I don't use kits.
- I bother to listen to you, and
see if I can make what you are looking for.
- I bother to hand tool every
little pattern. It can be a pain! And sure I use some modern hand
tools, but not hand machines and other techniques that allow me to
- I bother to hand stitch and
sew items. I admit, modern halter tops and the like that I make I do
use a sewing machine. But that is a modern product. Medieval
bottells, books, and boots were hand sewn, and so are mine.
- I bother to finish the edges,
and stain the back sides.
- I bother to teach my
apprentices not only my technique, but my philosophy as well.
They'll tell you that I can be very demanding at times!
As a true craftsman from the
period would have done, I put in the extra touches, the details, and the
things that makes each piece special. I am proud of my work, and of my
craft, and I am proud of every single piece that I make, and I think
that it shows.
Even my booth is
hand made, and is decorated like a medieval shop! I built the frame and
stitched my own canopy! My helpers and I do our best to recreate the
"life" of our medieval ancestors, right down to the talk,
mannerisms, clothes, foods, and decorations. We do demonstrations, and
even put on little "shows" of our own! We even camp out in the
booth, cook our own meals, the whole shot! (No, we don't hunt on the
grounds, our usual hunting grounds are the local A&P store, and
sometimes a local pizza parlor! Hey we love the life, but come on!)
Even though my stuff is all hand made with the best materials and care that personal
craftsmen can provide, I keep my prices reasonable in order to compete
with all the machine stamped stuff you will find elsewhere! In fact,
being on the inside, I can tell you for certain than many leather
vendors mark up their product way too much! Some as much as 500%! Shop
around, search the internet, search the faires, take a look around, and tell
me what you think! I check my email daily, so please ask
questions! Want to see me in person? Check out my show