Written by Gjenae Rosekelly
Today I learnt two things:
- If you have patience you will be able to make yourself a quality leather wallet in two hours
- I was born into the wrong time period because wooden mallets are marvellous, so I need a time machine right now to take me back to an Ancient Roman civilization
For the sake of this blog not being a barbarian throwback, I will focus on the first point.
Patience can be a pain in the ass- I understand this more than anyone. I’ve never seen calmness as a necessity, and I’ve got a short fuse that causes a for-sure fracas. You can imagine how thrilling I am to play Monopoly with.
Keeping patience in mind, the workshop commences. Today we had Harry Joseph Stenmark Peppitt (incredible name, I know) from Viking Leather teaching us how to make the leather wallets.
Harry has supplied us with two colours of kangaroo leather to choose from, one lighter and one darker brown. The class was full, and everyone was thrilled that we had real leather to work with. We got given our weapons (mallet: check) and were ready to turn skippy into fashion.
Class commences with cutting out our sides that will be then be stitched together. I’d never used a Stanley knife before, and I have to say it’s incredibly satisfying to cut through kangaroo leather. I pretend like this is a total breeze, no big deal, I’m really chill, when inside I’m thinking I need some sort of badass trophy over here because I’m never getting any cooler than this.
Gluing the two sides together.
After we’ve cut out our pieces, we glue the smaller one over the larger one to form a pocket. THEN, it’s mallet time.
We’ve got to smash small holes into our leather before we begin the stitching. I hope you didn’t quickly gaze over the word ‘smash’ just then. There are seriously 25 people aggressively whacking their mallets, with many moving to the ground as it enabled a more stable smashing motion. For almost 10 minutes all you heard was this constant loud knocking.
Our neighbours must hate us.
Next, the stitching. I found out quickly that I would be a terrible barbarian, because my holes were not straight, and therefore neither was my stitching. Lesson learnt: focus more on the job at hand then just playing with the utensils.
Who likes straight lines anyway?
Harry guided us through the polishing stages post stitching, where we cleaned up the sides and made a desirable shape. Everyone’s wallets had really come together beautifully, with Harry commenting how professional many looked.
Then he saw mine. Please note, this image is the ‘good’ side and my finger may or may not be strategically placed.
I’ve named mine The Frankenstein Wallet, and it’s absolutely perfect. Being able to make your own wallet was a terrific experience, and I realised even though mine has quite a few faults, I can still proudly boast that I made it myself.
Harry’s next Leather Wallet making Workshops are on: 2nd November and 16th November.
I had a little chat to Harry, here’s the inside scoop:
How long have you been leather making?
Harry: 2 years now
So this is a hobby of yours?
Harry: Yes. So I was living in China, and I was coming back to the real world and I wanted to do something with my hands. I needed a wallet, so I picked it up.
So, that was it? You needed a wallet, so you thought you would make it yourself?
Harry: Yes. I looked online at suppliers and tutorials and just went from there.
How was your technique when you started?
Harry: I started in my bedroom with a nail and a hammer and some thread. I was really shit. A lot of people here tonight did a lot better than I did.
I did not…
Harry: (laughs nervously, he goddam knows it’s true) Well, my cards didn’t even fit in my first wallet..
Where’d it go from there?
Harry: So I would start making my own wallets, and then people would ask me for belts. Made a wallet for my sister and then her friends started asking me. Made belts and then people started asking. It was word of mouth. It actually got too much and I had to stop for a little while… because I actual have a full time job.
Would this ever become a full time job, or will you just keep it on the side as workshops?
Harry: Not full time, it’s too labor intensive! I’m really happy teaching people. I do it a lot myself, and everyone always asks me to do stuff, and they’re always really interested in it, but I thought if I could actually be teaching other people then it would be really valuable. And everyone always seems to enjoy it.
Testimonials from the class:
“I really enjoyed it. It was really cool, really interesting. Learnt some new skills. I’ve been inspired to make more things. More wallets, maybe some jewellery.”
– Eliza Collier, 29
“It was awesome. Completely exceeded my expectations. I found it really easy, there’s nothing I could say that could make it better!”
– Spanky Hodgins, 40