You're listening to Lord of The Dance, from the CD of the same name.
If you've got questions about a specific method or project, please feel free to email me with it. I've got over 30 years of experience with leather that I can draw from. Just remember that it may take a few days for me to answer depending on how tough the question is and my schedule. I do answer all emails that I receive.
One question that keeps coming up is how do I make the mugs and chalices? That's the one question I won't answer in any other way than this. It's a little bit alchemy, a little bit magic, and a lot of patience.
I'm going to be adding a considerable amount of links and addresses as time permits, I've sort of broken them up into separate categories, take a look at the Links page.
Leather, materials, supplies, objects of great mystical power? Well, I can help with everything except the last items. I keep all of those for myself.
We are able to get just about any type of leather, even hides that are guaranteed range-mark free, although they're really expensive. If you're having trouble finding what you need, give us a holler and we'll be happy to help. If we can't find it, I'd bet we know someone who can.
With the demise of Tandy Leather's retail stores, we've been getting a lot of calls about materials, supplies and what not. While we're not in the business of being a supplier to the craft industry, we are more than happy to refer you to a source.
Question: Why are your items priced the way they are?
Answer: We hear this from time to time. Mostly from those who have a misconception about our work or are trying to cut a deal, you know, bargain hunters and the like.. Unfortunately, the leather trade has suffered from what I like to call "Hobbyitis". Too many people doing leatherwork in their spare time as a side line or hobby and charging dirt cheap prices for their work. This seems to give the general public the impression that all leatherwork should be cheap. Well, if you want cheap, buy the 3rd World imports or have the kid that took 2 lessons at summer camp make it.
This is the way I make my living & pay my bills. I have over 30 years of experience in the art of leather, (OH MY GHODS I'M OLD!), as well as a considerable investment in specialized tools, fixtures, etc to do what I do. For example, one press that I use cost almost $1000.00, my business takes up almost 1500 square feet of our residence for office & work space, the average amount of hours I put in daily is about 12 to 14, (depending on when Joan makes me quit!). There are other factors such as overhead, material costs, Show fees, GAS, (which is ridiculous!), etc. to deal with. I wouldn't be in business for very long if I didn't charge for these things not to mention getting a fair wage for my time. Some leather workers choose to not consider these costs when setting their prices. Some think that it's unfair to charge for "hobby" work. Well, that's one of the major differences between a "leather worker" and a "leather artisan". This is my profession, not my hobby. I used to have hobbies, I think they went the same way as that fictional "spare time", or the even more mystical, "sleeping in".
Quality work will always cost more than work done as a sideline or hobby. Professional artisans spend considerable amounts of time keeping up on techniques, new processes, etc. Besides, if somebody wants to work for free or a couple of bucks an hour, that's their choice. My time is worth much more than that, as is the case with any professional.
Also, do a comparison of what kind of prices you pay to other professionals. Typical attorney fees are in the hundreds of dollars per hour. Medical profession is outrageous. In mid '99, our insurance paid an orthopedic surgeon I saw, $275. This was for the man to take a look at x-rays of my elbow, confirm it was fractured, (like I didn't already know that!), tell me not to pick up anything over 10 lbs., and to make sure I do full range of motion exercises each day. Total time? Less than 10 minutes. Hell of an hourly rate don't you think? Take a good look at what your local mechanic charges, or the lawn service, plumber, electrician, or any other type of service you can think of. And bottom line, you DO get what you pay for.
One last comment on prices. We see a lot of people at our shows, GenCon for example has a average turnstile attendance, (that's people thru the door), of 25,000 per day. Each of these folks paid anywhere up to $75.00 each, just for a ticket to get in the door!
Our costs, just to be set up and at their beck & call, for the 2001 show were:
Booth Fee: $2030.00 Electric: $85.00 Phone line for credit card swipe machine: $179.52 Parking: $40.00 Tolls: $5.00 Hotel: $586.58 Gas: $100.00
So for the privilege of JUST being there to show my wares and hopefully sell them, I've laid out $3026.10, pretty expensive huh? And that's BEFORE I've sold one single item. Yes, I do have to roll those costs into my prices, it's overhead. All businesses have it. That's not even counting the cost of goods, equipment, materials, etc.
So the next time you see someone giving an artisan a hard time about their prices, remind them that we're underpaid as it is.
Question: Do you wholesale?
Answer: Yes, only on the leather goods at this time with the exception of the tankards, those are exclusive. I also do not do consignment, ever.
Question: Why don't you have a link to . . . ?
Answer: Well, send us the URL or the info and as time permits, we'll be more than happy to check it out and if it's something we think will be of interest or help, then we'll definitely add it in. We've decided to keep this site as a PG-13 sort of rating, so links to sites of an adult nature won't be included.
Question: Why don't we make things other than Medieval/Renaissance type of items?
Answer: Everyone has to choose their path, we've chosen that one. We don't make bomber jackets, leather pants, reversible belts, that type of stuff. You can find them at most leather clothing retailers at a much cheaper price than we can make them.
We do recommend you watch what you buy that's imported. Seems there's been a rash of items lately that are made from urine tanned hides, mostly from India & Pakistan. When they get wet, guess what they smell like.
We use only US tanned leather, of the best quality. All of our items are made by hand, no mass production machinery. Each rivet is hand set, each item cut out by hand. It's the way I've always done it and it's the way I've chosen to continue. Anyone who doesn't believe that's how I do it, is welcome to check the calluses on my hands, or ask my poor little therapist who has to work the knots out of my arms.
Each and every item gets the same attention to detail that our most intricate project does, from a keyfob all the way up to my leather pictures. We do specialize in custom projects and prototype jobs. If there's something you're looking for and can't find it, ask. If it's something we don't make, we'll be happy to refer you to someone who does.
Question: Why don't you do the traditional type of tooling?
Answer: I do, just not that often. I created my own style and pretty much stick to that. My method is more of a sculpting or molding rather than the traditional pounding. Lots quieter and easier on my hands. ;>
I do teach the 'Stolhman' type of leatherworking and will do it on request.
Question: Why do you use line art from other artists?
Answer: Because usually I like their work. Jane Irwin is a favorite of mine, she's done a lot of drawings that I then take and transfer via one method or another to leather, tool, decorate, etc.
Nancy Janda, Amy Finkbeiner, Todd Cameron Hamilton, and now Calvin J. Vice are other artists who's work I currently use. All of them have been given the options of receiving goods, monies, etc for their work. Don't worry, nothing is being plagiarized or stolen. I'd hate it if somebody did that to me and won't tolerate it myself. I do either own the copyrights or have the permission to use any images used in my work.
I also have my own line art that I use, lots of it. But when I see a design, or in the case of Jane, an artist that really understands what I'm trying to achieve, why not use the work. For the purchaser, collaborative pieces are like getting a double whammy. I also credit the artist where applicable and in the case of some of the limited edition items, they're even signed by both artists involved, myself and the line artist. Artisans need to support one another too.
The nut responsible for all this useless drivel? Me of course! ;> Again, if there's somebody or something you'd like to see added in here, let me know.
The best way to get that special shine or that certain effect? Just ask away and we'll do our best to answer.
Question: The deal with all the dragons and stuff all over your website?
Answer: That's an easy one, I like dragons. They're mystical incredible beings. Humans have killed off too much magic in this world. I believe in putting some back when ever possible. I'm also a huge fan of Anne McCaffrey's Pern series, which has to do with telepathic dragons, there's more info on this on our 'About Us' page. Also, I read alot, always have and always will. I believe in reading as an excellent method of expanding not only your mind, but the rest of your being as well. And yes, reading in the bathroom qualifies as multitasking. Eventually, I plan to have a suggested list of books and authors up somewhere around here. Until then, if you're curious about some good books, drop me a line and I'll be more than happy to suggest some. Another favorite author of mine is Robert Jordan, Wheel of Time series, if you like Tolkien, you'll like Jordan. Nice guy too.
Question: What's the image in the background of all the pages?
Answer: That's Edwin W. Troglodyte. He's my logo. And yes, he's copyrighted too. There's a pretty good history of old Edwin, ask me about him sometime.
Information on our events can be found on the Schedule pages. For other types of things check out the Links. Being as I'm primarily interested in Renaissance, Pern, & Science Fiction, that will be the majority of the things you'll find here. But again, if there's something you'd like to see, let us know.
Your graphics or images. The short answer: No!
Longer answer, possibly, but only with my written permission. Copyright laws are getting more in favor of the artisan/artist. But only if we vigorously defend them. When an image, graphic or any other work of art is created, the copyright comes into existence immediately. I own or have permission to use all copyrights on this site and will defend them to the fullest extent. I have and will again shut down sites or illegal users. I don't do this to be mean or anything other than to defend my copyrights. It's how I make my living, so don't steal them.
If there's something you wish to use, ASK, it's highly possible that I'd let you use it, especially if you ask nicely and have chocolate. ;>
Copyright: Austin Leather Works ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 1991 - 2007