Like any other material, to work with leather is to understand leather. To know what constitutes this material, how it has come to be what it is, how it interacts or reacts through the process of creation and the effect it would have through its use.
Leather as a material is almost as old as civilization itself. It is a story that started a long time ago. From its earliest use as clothing, it has been processed in different ways to be used as shields and armour in times of war to pouches for carrying water and the cover of resonating chambers in musical instruments. It has been converted into parchments for writing and as canvases for painting.
A Shield made from Elephant hide (Nagaland, India)
The reason leather has been such around for so long is because of its durability and versatility of use. With proper care, well-made leather objects can last more than a lifetime. It ages elegantly with use and in time, the patina on its surface tells a story about the owner and the object. It can become a part of the user's personality and sometimes, it becomes a part of their memory. Transcending from being a lifeless object to representing someone's life and their memory.
Artists Leather Pouch from 1970's (DAG exhibition at Currency Building, Calcutta 19th March 2021)
Crafting leather like other material craft requires patience, perseverance and dedication. It demands a lot from the craftsman who works to create objects that would outlive him. Who desires to create finely crafted leather goods that survives the test of time and to this, there is no end. There are no mountain tops to be conquered, no prize to be won and no perfect outcome. There is just the process, the technique and the desire to do better. And leather as a material gives us this opportunity. It is a material that reflects the skill of the craftsman with utmost clarity.
Leather as a material allows us to explore the limits of our craftsmanship. It allows us to create objects that would exist beyond our life. It allows us to create objects that whisper our story.