Jan 26, 2016

How I Got Into Leather Working . . .

My First Leather Bag, Handmade | at Limberti Leather School, Seoul

I was going through a career transition from teaching EFL students in Seoul, and moving into a fashion, image, and psychology based practice in 2015. I was invited by my Mom to take some courses that summer in Art Therapy and also a highly recommended meditation workshop series led by Mr Song SH. He was affiliated with the Buddhist learning center, and the workshop was centered around "Meeting Your Own Inner Mentor" and "Creating Your Own Inner Paradise." I missed out on the first class, but was able to attend the one where I met my "Inner Mentor."

I was trying to finalize a few decisions around having my own startup business then, so I asked my Inner Mentor on what advice he could give me regarding my career. My Inner Mentor was a Middle Eastern guy (yeah, much to my surprise!) and we were sitting in a vineyard. He totally had the vibe of an INTJ (in MBTI types...) and he didn't speak much, just listened well. And the "answer" came, and it was just so "random" but basically, it was that I should look up "leather working" or "leather studio" (in Korean).

So I did.

And I found one reliable place that seemed like a good fit for me. And went to check it out. And by October, I was enrolled and began the course. I had to take a two week leave to Dubai to get trained in Image Consulting by Michelle Sterling (Sterling Style Academy of NYC), so it was really odd and interesting how the whole "Middle Eastern" influence touched my life in this period. Up until this point, I really had little exposure to most things Middle Eastern. The only thing that I had a "fascination" for was Omar Borkan al Gala...

The first bag I was taught was a Birkin 35. I can't share too much details on what they're teaching me because we sign a contract when we enroll. I understand their position on this, so I'm going to carefully select what I CAN and can't share on my blog. 

The second bag I'm working on, right now, is a Boston bag. It was cool because I could design my own pattern this time. :) 

Of all the designer bags I've owned (probably like ten of them?) Dior saddle bag was the only one that I really loved. It was a little bit small for my daily use, but it remained my favorite. My friend is into the Chanel Boy Bag (Would you believe how surprised I was that the lady who designed it is one of our teachers here? LOL), and mine is the Dior Granville bag. I think a few years ago, we were at the Lotte duty free department store in Myungdong and we left he shop bowing to our supremely priced Dior & Chanel bags, saying "Sorry, we can't afford you right now!" and we just laughed and joked about it. :) Heheheh~~

So, I think after consulting with my teacher, I will make a Dior Granville for my third bag.

I'm starting this blog today, because my machine arrived today. I got a leather sewing machine & a leather splitter(skiver). I've had to move them from my living room into my study because my cat might chew on the chords and the thread. 

Anyway... Leather working has been this incredible, sacred journey for me. It's unlike any other experience I've had on Earth... It still blows my mind how it crept into my life... I remember the first week I got into leather working (we made a mystery bracelet and some small cases) and I came home to research some images and history of the craft. I couldn't find the right "book" on it yet. I want something like a classic text and information on this industry and craft. Will have to do more digging on this on Amazon soon. I did find a few images I liked that depicted old leather craft studios. Some engraved ones, others more like manuscript illustrations. 

All I can say is, for now, how healing and engaging the leather bag designing process is. So far, every step of the way has really been a fun challenge for me. I love how physically active and assertive you can be with leather, I LOVE LOVE LOVE working with the leather cutting knife (we are being taught to use the Japanese style knife), I've really enjoyed exploring the leather market and their offerings, and I've loved all the little finishes and techniques involved in creating and completing a bag.

OK. It's getting late in Seoul and I have to get some homework done.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great fabulous day~~




  1. Very interesting how you got into leather working and enjoyed that much. I will keep my fingers crossed for your enjoyment and success!

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