We recently chatted with Ms. Jamie Maloney a professional Leather Craftsman who owns and operates ‘Leather Maid’:
Describe what you do in a few words:
I handcraft custom leather pieces to order.
How did you first get started in leather work?
My introduction to Leather Work commenced at 13 years of age during an Arts and Crafts Class in Junior High School in the USA. I was not only taught to stamp and emboss leather, but also, to carve and tool leather designs into leather. As I grew more competent in the craft, I commenced making a myriad of leather pieces for my friends, neighbors and immediate family. I continued creating leather pieces in university for classmates and acquaintances to supplement my meagre family allowance.
I travelled to Australia in 1971 and, continued crafting specially commissioned pieces for various customers and organisations while working full time. Some of my handcrafted items have found their way to Canada, Great Britain, Japan, Scotland, the USA, Holland, Iceland, Germany and, of course, myriad pieces have been sent throughout Australia and New Zealand.
How does the leather carving work?
As there are not many leather carver and toolers in Australia, I am considered somewhat of a ‘specialist’ in that area. Basically speaking, what I can do is transfer an artistic design into leather if the design is suitable for carving on to the piece being made.
Why are you passionate about doing the leather work by hand?
Purely and simply….I love crafting leather. It really doesn’t matter what the piece is, whether a sword scabbard, a Bible Cover or a tradesman work belt or tool pouches….I just love the craft of taking a piece of leather hide and creating a handmade leather item out of it…I love the feel of leather, the smell of it…the way it can be made into durable, timeless pieces that can last a lifetime if not longer!
In fact, archaeologists are forever unearthing leather items from thousands of years ago. It thrills me to think that something I might make now would end up at the bottom of an archaeological dig one day! The aspect of leather artistry I enjoy the most is that I am making something that is one of a kind, unique, durable, long lasting and utilitarian. Not only is it pleasing to look at but, it can actually be used for something.
What do you make for cosplayers and reenactors?
Leather features prominently in cosplay and re-enacting and I get regular commissions for sword sheaths, belts, pouches, holsters, gun belts, rapier holders, arm bracers, quivers, bow cases and so on….whatever a ‘costume’ requires in leather to enhance its authenticity and appearance, from archery quivers to scabbards and belts, I strive to create items that are not only beautiful to look at but are fit for purpose.
What inspires your designs?
Being of Irish American extraction, I adore anything Celtic and get tremendous pleasure from carving and tooling Celtic motifs and designs on customer’s pieces. I never tire of carving and tooling Family Crests and Clan Badges on Scrapbook covers and Family Tree Albums.
Who or what influences your work?
The variety and challenges customer pieces provide, influence my work greatly. I thrive on the variety of the work that comes my way and I believe my pieces are so special because everything I do is with an eye for detail, use of the piece and customer requirements. I consider myself a master leather worker and have dedicated myself to making leather goods of exceptional design, quality, and durability.
Who would you like to create a leather product for?
I would really love to do commission works for film, television and the theatre. Perhaps, one day the opportunity may arise.
What are the plans for the future?
In February 2018, I commenced conducting training workshops in Leather Work. So far, the response has been very favorable, so I am intending to augment current Foundation training with specific training on pieces, like belts, wallets, purses, stamping, carving and kids workshops during holiday periods. I am intending to continue my relationship with the Abbey Medieval Festival where I showcase my leather Work and also, demonstrate the Craft of leather.