I am overjoyed to share this inspirational new homemaking series with you. It’s called Hand & Made and it celebrates makers and the things craft with their hands. I have been wanting to feature passionate artisans and their goods in this space for some time and I feel blessed to do so this season. I receive many questions about the things we love an use in our home, and without question, these items tend to fall into a beautiful blending of the following categories of timelessness, quality, beauty, practicality, and most always, purpose. When you buy something with that criteria in mind, chances are it’s going to live a long life with you and your money will have been well spent.
The things we choose to buy and use in our homes are reflective of who we are and what we value. By supporting small businesses who have chosen to walk the thoughtful, deliberate and sometimes challenging path of making things by hand, you are supporting their creativity and hard work, while adding a quality-made, one of a kind item to your collection of things at home.
Each month I will share a new maker with you, along with a chance to get to know their story. The items I’ve chosen to share in this series are things we actually use in our home and things we genuinely love. I hand picked each of these makers for this series, and if you’d like to discuss upcoming features if you a maker yourself, please email me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Introducing: Pike Leather + Caryn & Chris
Tell us a little bit about you & your business. Where are you located and when did you start Pike Leather?
- My name is Caryn Carson and my husband Chris and I live in the East End of Pittsburgh, PA. Pike Leather began with my favorite sort of idea – the kind that takes root, makes your eyes light up, and your heart beat a little faster every time you think about it. I wanted a simple, quality, handmade leather tote and couldn’t quite find what I was looking for, so I researched, found a gorgeous hide of vegetable tanned leather, amassed a small mountain of leatherworking tools, and began the experiment. The tote turned out just the way I wanted it to, so after a few days of happy dancing, and with the encouragement of my family and friends, I tried to make something else, then another thing after that, and so on.
How did your passion for crafting by hand come about? Do you have any fun stories to share about the process?
- I’ve always loved to learn how to do new things. I’m a bit of serial hobbyist actually and have taken classes on everything from polo to watercolors. I’ve found that I really enjoy learning the mechanics of each craft or hobby and it’s been interesting to see which ones stick after I understand the basics. Leatherworking was absolutely one that stuck.
What three words would you use to describe your products?
- Minimal – I gravitate towards simple, uncomplicated design.
- Useful – I love to know that my pieces are being used daily and may even enrich the life of their users in some small way.
- Ethical – It’s important to me that the hides I buy are sourced in the US since I know there are guidelines for the treatment of animals and the acquisition of their hides.
How does working with your hands impact the quality of your work?
- I love knowing that when a piece is finished, each stitch was made by hand and each edge was finished using traditional hand tools. Using these methods, I end up spending a lot of time with each piece, and when I pass it along to it’s new owner, I’m proud of the time and energy that went into it’s creation.
What are three of your favorite handmade items in your home?
- Our friend Sarah spent months knitting a soft grey blanket as a wedding gift for Chris and I. Most mornings, you can find us reading by the fire cuddled up under that blanket.
- Another friend, Mary, knew I was looking for a specific kind of plant stand. I looked for that stand everywhere and couldn’t ever find the right one. A friend of hers was about the throw away an old broken plant stand, so Mary saved it, fixed it up, painted it the perfect shade of dark grey, and gave it to me for my birthday last year. It was one of the most thoughtful and appreciated gifts I’ve ever received.
- My grandma used to buy each of her granddaughters a quilt for their high school graduation. I was about 15 when she took me to get mine a bit early. I, however, ungratefully scoffed at the idea of a quilt and picked out a horrible mustard yellow fleece blanket instead. I could tell she was disappointed, but I stuck to it. She passed away years later, and I have kicked myself countless times for choosing the fleece (which is shamefully stuffed in the bottom of a closet somewhere) over a quilt I would probably love to this day for it’s beauty and connection to my grandma. My sister, who has used and loved her own quilt for years and years, knew that story and how bad I felt about it, so with no quilting experience whatsoever, she spend months teaching herself the craft and made me an absolutely gorgeous grey and white quilt. I love it dearly and get emotional every time I think about what she did for me.
Why is handmade beautiful to you?
- Inspiration is a mysterious thing, and I believe it divinely flows through each creator if we’re open to receiving it. If that’s true, then perhaps there is a bit of that inspiration, and therefore the divine, that lingers in each creation. What an interesting concept! I also love that, especially with leather, each piece is unique and bares not only the impressions of the handmade process, but also the marks of it’s former life, and will continue to absorb and beautifully display the life and travels of it’s caretaker.
Handmade From Pike Leather:
- Diaper Bag | When it comes to things you I everyday that gets a lot of wear and tear, it’s important to me that chose something well made. I have gone through several diaper bags and cannot recommend this sturdy leather bag enough. It comes with an interior organizational piece that compartmentalizes odds and ends and makes searching an easy process. What I appreciate most about this piece, is that this bag will hang on my shoulder far longer than I will be using diapers – it’s classic and goes with everything I own. Mamas, it’s worth it to buy something that will outlast the early years of motherhood.
- Hanging Planter | This is the most beautiful handmade hanging planter I have ever seen! I am not really into macrame, so I love this one for it’s simple design and natural materials. The ceramic base + worn leather straps make for a timeless paring, don’t you think? Adding a hanging planter to a room is simple way to add a lot of charm to a space, and this one makes me smile every time I see it. This planter would be a really great gift for a loved one, say for Mother’s Day coming up.
- Makeup Bag | This small clutch is the perfect size for a makeup bag or dopp kit. It’s heavy-duty zip and lining make it ideal for storing small things, like mascara, toner, and eyeliner. This fits perfectly in our medicine cabinet in the bathroom, and I know it will only get more pretty and buttery with age.
Thank you Caryn and Chris. It was a delight to have you here to share your beautiful leather goods with us. If our family ever gets a dog, I know where I am buying the leash!
With Care, Amanda