BEHIND THE SCENES OF OUR HANDCRAFTED LEATHER
Like many special things, the longer you spend searching for something, the sweeter the rewards! It took YEARS of driving around the rural towns in various locations in Central America before we found our golden charm workshops. We pack up the truck and head off on adventures, venturing deep into mud lane streets in barrios looking for workshops that we heard of through word of mouth. Either from taxi drivers telling us about their cousins workshop, or from driving around in first gear staring in every window until we saw something that looked remotely like a leather taller. Getting Spanish directions like 'so by the old blue building that isn't there anymore, turn left and you keep going until you see Martha, then ask her where her son is then follow the directions to his house by the chickens'. It takes time and patience, however once you find the workshop past the blue building that isn't there anymore by the chickens, you can create absolute magic!
This stunning sunset is a typical view returning home after a long day on the road searching for new workshops. Physically going to these spaces is how your true imagination comes to life. By seeing their previous creations you can truly get an idea of the techniques used and how you can tweak your ideas to suit their specific construction methods. As Nicaragua is so remote, the methods used to create our pieces are very historic and traditional, which gives them their beautiful rustic charm. These workshops often have little to no power, so the techniques used are with traditional tools and methods dating back hundreds of years. We experience first hand the quality craftsmanship from people who have had their craft passed down to them from generations.
All of our leather is bought from local suppliers close to the workshop, often being from acquaintances the family have worked with for well over 20 years. They go in person to hand pick each piece of leather they will use to create our designs. It comes in small quantities, it is not mass produced and the colors vary from piece to piece. This gives our product such a unique, one of a kind vibe.
So how do we make our ideas come to life? I am super old school and I do not create my leather designs using any CAD software. I basically come up with an idea in my head, then I draw the mold on paper to scale. By visualizing it on paper first, I can be sure that it will be the perfect size in real life. I then pass this paper mold to the workshop and they create the original sample. I choose the type of leather from tiny swatches the workshops give me based on what is available in that moment. Once the sample has been approved, an order is placed and the production starts. We only order in tiny batches, keeping everything limited edition, low quantity, ethically made and locally sourced. It is not a fast process and sometimes we can wait up to 6 months for a small order to arrive due to natural events delaying production such as heavy monsoon rainstorms flooding workshops. We have to work around the tropic wonders!
It is amazing to see my drawings come to life, but what makes these pieces special is the craftsmanship of these incredibly resourceful local workshops using techniques passed down from generations. One of our favourite things about our leather, is that we get to explore the stunning landscapes of Nicaragua in the process. I mean just look at this.