Earth + Hide
"You really have to be intentional on following your calling, and open to hear what that calling is."Chuck, Earth + Hide
What’s the story behind your shop’s name?
A nod to my two most recent creative ventures; pottery and leather. Earth and Hide was chosen as a less specific name that is versatile enough to be relevant to my evolving artisan work.
What’s the most favourite thing you’ve made and why?
I have a couple favourites with each type of craft that I work with. I often say that each new product is my new favourite and it's really true. Just like each of my 4 kids are my favourite! As leather goes, my favourite piece is my first leather satchel. I put a lot of thought and research into that design. It is extremely successful as a first attempt and something I carry to this day. It's still the basis for my signature pattern!
What was your most memorable experience with a customer?
I have so many great customers. I sincerely look forward to meeting new customers. There are a couple occasions where I had an instant connection with people that I've interacted with on social media. I had a pair of gentlemen come see me at a craft sale. They didn't even buy anything but we had a great conversation talking about leather and life. Another instance is fellow maker Cathy Wiebe who ordered a few items as gifts for family members. When she came to pick them up, my wife and I ended up talking for at least 15 minutes and could have easily talked for hours!
What’s the most difficult part about what you make?
The most difficult part has got to be the time it takes. I don't yet use a sewing machine and as you can imagine, hand stitching takes a looooong time. It's quite hard on the fingers too.
What advice would you give a maker who’s just starting out?
Don't force it. If you make something, make it for yourself first. If you can be successful in making products you love, chances are someone else will love it too. Allow your stuff to be discovered by others, and listen to feedback. You may have to shift gears or move onto something else completely. I've tried to force success and it's hard to do. You really have to be intentional on following your calling, and open to hear what that calling is.
In two sentences or less, describe what it is that you do if you met someone interested in what you make?
I am a mixed media craftsman specializing in quality handmade leather goods. I design my products to have a timeless rugged simplicity.
What sparked your decision and motivated you to start becoming a maker?
It's in my blood. I can't not be a maker. It's as simple as that.
What do you love most about what you make and being a maker?
I love the quality of a nice, well made product. I love the feel, I love the smell, I love the rugged durability, I love the look, I love the process of making it, I love the gratification of being productive and making something that others love so much. And, as I mentioned before, I love my customers. Ultimately, my favourite thing is when my customers just GUSH about the products they've received.
How does your product connect with your customer/community?
My product is connected with its owner through the things it carries, and the way it's carried. Every customer has a unique story and their product will become an integral part of that story especially through consistent use. Imagine what you put in your bag and the importance these items have; the contacts in your phone, the things that are written with the pen, the e-mails exchanged on the laptop, the drawings held within the sketchbook. My hope is that my work will be an integral part of the amazing things my customers do.
What are some of the most asked questions that you get at a market and what are your typical answers?
Q:Where do you get your leather?
A: There are a few leather suppliers in Winnipeg including Tandy Leather (an international corporate franchise) and Warkov Safeer. There's even a Hutterite colony in Miami, Manitoba that has a tannery. Of course you can find whatever you need online as well.
Q: You hand stitch all that?!?
A: YES! And it takes forever. I use a tool to score a line where I want the seam, then I take a six pronged chisel to make the holes consistent along the line. I put the first prong in the last hole and go down the line. Practice makes perfect with consistency.
Q: How long have you been doing this?
A: I started working with leather in April of 2016.
Q: How did you get into it?
A: I was doing pottery and experimenting in adding mixed media pieces to my selection. I came up with a paracord wrapped mug with a woven handle. When I showed a friend the paracord piece, he said "You should do that with leather!" and I never looked back. I made a leather version of that mug (which is shown in the banner picture of the Earth and Hide Facebook page) as well as a slim front pocket wallet that I had been wanting, and a messenger bag that I could never afford to buy. Eventually leather took over pottery, but I do hope to put the earth back in Earth and Hide.