Today, we are visiting Sussex, New Brunswick, where we meet Cheyenne Williams of East Coast Leather Craft.
A graduate of the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, Cheyenne found her love for and developed her skill of leather-crafting independently. A variety of hand-sewn, hand-carved, hand-dyed leather goods is available for sale on etsy, and custom orders are welcome. Her designs pull from traditional motifs and the natural world.
Could you please start by giving us a brief bio about yourself and a short intro to your shop.
East Coast Leather Craft offers high quality handcrafted leather goods ranging from journals to wallets, purses to belts, bracelets to guitar straps, and much more. Custom designing available upon request.
Inspired by tradition, nature, and history, each leather item is carefully handcrafted from vegetable tan leather, tooled, carved, shaped, dyed and finished by hand using professional grade products to ensure quality and durability while producing an item both functional and visually engaging.
I am a self taught leather crafter based outside of Sussex, New Brunswick, where my partner and I grow food and raise livestock. It is also soon to be the site of a leather studio open to the public.
You are a graduate of the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, but are self-taught in leather-craft. How did you venture down this path?
It was by chance that I had come across the idea of leather smithing, I had come across a leather supply store and immediately was drawn to it, and promptly purchased a small kit with very basic items for tooling, carving and dying. Being in my graduating year, and having been studying something predominately technology based, it was an immediate obsession, so much so in fact I had just barely graduated.
Looking back, it seems as though both photography and leather craft couldn’t have entered my life at a more perfect time, as having the ability to represent your own work through photography is an invaluable skill.
You are our first leather crafter to be featured. Can you tell us about your process from start to finish? And, can you tell us what differences there are between types of leather, and whether you have a certain type that you prefer?
I generally begin with a full-grain cowhide of vegetable tanned leather, predominately North American in origin, preferably Canadian when possible. Vegetable Tan Leather is tanned using tannins from differing vegetable matter such as tree bark, leaves, wood, fruits, and roots. Vegetable tan leather is a very light shade of beige naturally. It is the only form of leather suitable for carving or stamping, being unstable in water and un-dyed which makes a perfect medium to carve, tool, dye and apply finish as desired. Vegetable tanning is a lengthy and demanding process I do not do myself but would someday like to supply my own. You can find images of the process on my website.
I occasionally use buckskin deer-hide and rabbit hides that I tan by hand.
Being a hand-maker, do you have any treasured hand-made items that are particular important to you?
I think every piece is important to me while it’s being created, but I’ve never been attached beyond the work bench. I always thought it was kind of comical that most of the items I create, such as an elaborately carved purse, are things that I would personally never wear being someone who doesn’t wear decorative items.
Can we find your work anywhere off etsy?
The Buckland Merrifield Gallery located at 36 Canterbury Street in Saint John, N.B
Earth Fine Craft Gift Shop located at 10 York Street in Sackville, N.B
East Coast Leather Craft is a juried member of the New Brunswick Crafts Council and is occasionally vending at their fine craft shows, for more information on upcoming shows please visit here.
You can view Cheyenne’s work on Etsy by clicking here, or by clicking on any of the photos above to view those particular listings. Also, be sure to check out Cheyenne’s Facebook page for further information about her craft and processes.