What exactly does handmade mean? Working on a new product involves many, many steps. First you have to come up with a design. Then go through a long process of making the pattern and tracing mattes in preparation to begin cutting the leather. Then artistic patterns are hand drawn and later transferred onto the leather cover of the bag. After this the leather then must be carved, tooled, and painted where necessary. Each piece is then carefully stitched together by hand using an ancient technique called, "saddle stitching." That's right! Saddle stitching is the strongest stitch in the world as the thread is waxed and thicker that normal threads. Each stitch is individually locked, which means that even it somehow a stitch were to come loose it wouldn't unravel like it usually does on a shirt or jacket. Also, depending on the products color and style I prefer to hand dye my leather for a more beautiful and authentic look. From start to finish no machines are used to aid in the creation of what I've made.
So how much time does it take to go from the idea to the finished product? Honestly, it seems like forever, but it also depends on the difficulty of whatever it is I'm making. The sample I'm using for this blog entry is smaller and easier to produce, but larger bags or purses will of course require more effort. But I would say that I spent just as much time preparing the art and design as I did on the construction of the bag itself.
Why are handmade leather goods so much more expensive that mass produced products of similar function? Given how long it takes and the skill required to produce each piece I often find it difficult to put a price on a finished product. Honestly, a price that would fairly compensate me would most likely be so high that no one would want to buy my work. But of course whenever someone is purchasing something that is handmade and made of leather they are usually looking for something very unique and artistic in its form and design. Something made with superior quality, yet without looking manufactured.
Why would someone want to get involved with making handmade leather goods? There is no one answer to this question, but for myself I just really enjoy the creative process and challenge that comes with building each item I make. When I started experimenting with leather I had no intentions of starting a business. But as time went by and my skill increased opportunities to share my work with other began to present themselves to me. Now I'm in the process of building my own business.
Why Taiwan? I moved to Taiwan in 1995 and married my Taiwanese wife in 1997. I came to Taiwan with the simple desire to serve the people of Taiwan and share my faith in Christ with them. Over the past 20 years Taiwan has blessed me with many wonderful friends and experiences. I have been very fortunate and blessed to call Taiwan my home for the past 20 years and hope I can bring a piece of Taiwan to everyone who enjoys my work!