In a recent article, Keegan Lodder of Gussett Leather was asked to talk about his work:
Describe Gusset Leather in one sentence.
A project intended to create affordable, quality works of creativity in the medium of leather.
What inspired you to start working with leather?
I’ve always felt that working with raw materials is one of the most rewarding experiences to be had. As with all raw materials, leather is a medium that already has a voice, it already possesses a serious sense of integrity. The challenge then is to balance the implicit virtues of your medium with the creativity and practicality of craftsmanship. It is neither an autonomous effort on the part of the leatherworker nor a vacant effort; rather, the beauty of raw leather is in conversation with the leatherworker – the medium is as much responsible for the end result as is the crafter.
What is your favourite part about building things out of leather?
The careful interaction of stitching and hardware on leather hides is the most rewarding part about building things out of leather for me. It is all too possible to do too much by overemphasising hardware and stitching; this does violence to the original beauty of the leather. The best part of leatherwork, then, is when you have manipulated the medium to the point where the leather itself compliments the detailed crafting. This can be as simple as the interval between holes on a buckled strap, or the distance a buckle is set from the gussets of a bag or purse. Each detail changes depending on the type of leather used and I believe it is important to work hard at understanding how details speak within your medium.
Do you road test any of your own designs?
Gusset Leather originally began as a monetary problem in my first year of university; coming off a job as a stonemason I had a terribly bad back and I was convinced it was because of the backpack I was using at the time. As you can imagine, I was also mostly broke, so buying a new bag at retail price was not an attractive option. The obvious conclusion to this predicament was to make my own messenger bag! After three years of using that messenger bag as my primary design I received a lot of interest through school and family community and eventually began replicating the design for others.
Who are some of your favourite designers?
I don’t spend a lot of time looking into the design world – the majority of my own tastes are fulfilled at second hand stores. One exceptional crafter in the industry is Ettinger Leather in London and I constantly look at their designs and try to understand how they accomplish what they accomplish.
What do you do when you’re not crafting beautiful leather pieces?
There are a select few things that you might find me doing: crafting non-beautiful leather pieces, thinking about the next beautiful leather piece that I would like to craft, or visiting my favourite Hamilton leather shop: Tundra Leather. More seriously, I study philosophy, have a deep interest in music, and I am passionate about building relationships and learning to have a positive impact socially.
Where can we buy some of your work?
Check out Gusset Leather on instagram, @gussetleather or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can begin the journey of design. Most of my work is custom built to order, with the exception of some typical patterns for wallets and purses that I stock and use frequently.
What do you love about what you do?
Gusset Leather is an opportunity for me to get paid to give other people gifts. Profit margins are never the first question I ask – the primary focus is giving customers the feeling that they have come away with more than they thought they would. This has been the ‘ethic’ behind leather as a hobby since day one. The beautiful thing about raw leather is that over time the aesthetic value of each piece increases radically – and this is often varies from person to person. Someone who keeps their wallet in a denim pocket, for example, will often have a lot of blue and black pigment on their wallet. Leather is impacted by your experiences, whether you’ve just spilt your morning coffee on your purse or you’ve buried your leather-bound journal under heaps of books in the bottom of your bag. So often these types of experiences are interpreted as problems, ill-effects on an item; with leather these experiences are translated into character and beauty.
What is the hardest part about designing leather goods?
Creating items that are both practical and natural is an extremely difficult task in our modern day. There has been a recent resurgence of interest in raw materials and the natural beauty of different mediums, but the threat of over-practicality and the decrease in aesthetic integrity is still a pervasive hurdle that every handmade artist grapples with.
MAKERS MARKET 2018 . CENTRO GARDEN . BURLINGTON DOWNTOWN