Life is full of the unexpected. Who would know that something we dread doing can turn into a hobby or a career. For TJ, it all started when he was in Basic Military Training. When most of his campmates, including himself, were struggling to get their boots shiny, he noticed that his buddy always had the brightest, shiniest boots without ever seeing him polishing them.
It definitely got him thinking and after much ‘interrogation’, he discovered that his buddy was a leather crafter and he knew just how to get his boots shiny in the quickest and shortest time possible. From there, they exchanged ideas and it was pretty much how his interest in leather crafting started.
His girlfriend also played a part on why he decided to start on leather crafting. As quoted by TJ, “my girlfriend is a fan of leather, always popping into retail shops, picking up leather shoes off the shelves and smelling them (yes, I know that she has a problem)”. Instead of spending a huge amount of money buying leather products, he prefers making them as it allows for freedom, creativity and the ability to conform to any shape or any design that one wants.
First Handmade Leather Product
The first thing that he made was a mobile phone sleeve for his girlfriend. Slowly, he experimented further, making more leather items ranging from name card holders to backpacks.
It is never easy to learn. Even after about 6 years of crafting experience, TJ is still learning each day. Taking it slow as he feels that leather crafting is still like a hobby to him, he is definitely looking into making it a full-time business when the opportunity arises.
While working on project pieces, he makes it a point to be attentive in designing and drawing out templates as leather is something which is not cheap to make a mistake on. It usually takes him about an hour for simpler projects but up to about 3 weeks or more if the projects are complicated ones, such as a backpack.
If you want to learn to be a leather crafter like TJ, or even exchange ideas with him, head over to Maker Faire Singapore 2016 at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) on 25th and 26th June to take a look at his design piece!
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