For Cathy Lapinel of Lapinel Arts Leatherwork, all it took was one inspiring Christmas gift from her husband and she was hooked. Cathy is a leather crafter and has been for six years, and one fateful year her husband gifted her enough leather to make two belts. She created the patterns and tooled in the designs, and instantly she was hooked. She has been self-taught since then.
As part of her arsenal she found vintage tools and accessories that belonged to a saddle maker in the 1920’s, and according to Cathy, “nothing beats the quality.”
For her process she starts out with a full hide of leather, and then she proceeds to create an original pattern that she’ll use. On the vegetable tanned leather tooling and carving are done using a rawhide mallet and a single specific tool used to make each cut. The leather has to be hand dipped into dye and finished. As far as hardware and bling, she tries to use local goods whenever possible. To top it all off, Cathy has a leather specific cobra sewing machine to put it all together!
Cathy’s favorite types of leather to use are high quality vegetable tanned leather. She is amazed by how you can “design, tool and dye this leather into wonderful creations.” Her vegetable tanned leathers are mostly found Hermann Oak Company which has been specializing in leather since 1881. Her chrome tanned leather comes from Portland leather companies, and she also uses Italian leathers as well as bison and moose hides when she can find them.
When Cathy’s not tooling amazing designs she’s dreaming about traveling around the USA with her husband, three dogs, and cat. It would be her ultimate road trip!
In the meantime, you can find her through her website, on Twitter, Instagram, and through her Facebook page. She also sells at the Boise Art Museum, at Art in the Park, and is a regular Saturday vendor at the market. She loves the market and the opportunity to meet people, so be sure and stop by to see her amazing designs.