December 8, 2008

So I was at the shop one day and it was a regular recession retail Friday (aka SLOW WOULD BE AN UNDERSTATEMENT – I’ve taken to bringing a lengthy book to the shop to at least be semi-productive) and in walks this typical looking homey, wearing some fitted jeans and a generic looking flannel.  

“Oooh, a customer, maybe we’ll actually make a little green today”, I naively thought.  
At that precise moment, a bunch of other customers herded into the store and things got a little hectic, as I was the only one manning the shop.  As it turns out, nobody wanted to buy anything and had set out to the shop to just mess up the displays, so I was worked up for nothing.   Inevitably, I would hear a little a bit of the customers making casual conversation and I picked up that the first customer, named Sonny, was a carpenter by trade.  
Wow.  I mean, Jesus was a carpenter, right?  I’d always daydreamed of being a skilled artisan.  Getting apprenticed to a master-craftsmen, rising to the rank of journeyman and then earning the right to be called a master of your craft is just so darn romantic!  Working with your hands, being your own boss, keeping your own schedule.  Seems like the life to be had for every pencil-pushin’ button-masher imprisoned in their own cubicles.  Of course I was almost immediately interested.
We talked it up – chopped it up for a good hour.  He was a good dude.  Very down to earth and humble.  Willing to admit that the “life” just wasn’t all that, that it was largely imagined and idealized.  He was just as chained to his craft as everyone else is chained to their jobs.  He had gone into it blindly, no master-craftsmen for him to latch onto.  In fact, he said he pretty much sucked hard at everything he put his hand to until he got a lot more skilled, and actually found a niche.  Well now he’s one of the world’s foremost carpenters in the field of S&M Dungeon-craft and his workshop is busy year-round.  So you can imagine why I chose not to show any pictures considering the perverse nature of his pieces, but it was interesting to say the least.  And he left the shop without buying anything to boot!
Well this got me thinking.  You can learn most anything online.  So why not try something I’m interested in?  Most denim aficionados become semi-interested in leather by nature of the vice (almost anything that ages beautifully is worth considering as adornment), and anything handcrafted (especially from Japan) has a price tag that is hard to justify except for in a moment of weakness, so why not try myself?  A belt can’t be that hard to make.  So let’s make it happen, cap’n!

Images courtesy of Corter Leather.