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Live, Love, Leather

By Emmaly Widmer

If there is one thing that everyone is wearing no matter the season, it’s a cute purse or clutch.

Not only does a custom purse have to be pretty, it also has to be functional and durable, because let’s face it - they go everywhere with us. A custom purse is a great way to stand out from the crowd, but they can be pretty expensive and take a while to get ordered.

This week I got in touch with a friend of mine who has made his living in the leather industry and made my personal staple piece that I pack around every day on campus. Joe Meling is based out of Pendleton, Oregon and has been a leather maker for over 15 years. He’s one of my favorite cowhide beauticians and is a great artist. I wanted to ask him some questions to help girls get a feel for why custom leather is so expensive, why the wait is generally pretty long, and how to ensure you’re getting a quality product.

Western leather tooled purse

Leather work has been around for centuries, because of that there are many different styles and techniques. But as with everything else, you get what you pay for. Quality leather takes quality materials and time, with that comes a price. As Joe said, “what sets them [quality makers] apart is pride in their work and makers that focus on the quality instead of the quantity.”

Though Joe doesn’t take custom orders on anything but belts anymore, the products he made in the past might give you some inspiration for some future designs. The road from fresh hide to a fancy purse is a long and labor intensive process that is widely appreciated by many of us.

So next time you’re in the market for something fancy tooled, be sure to appreciate all the hard work and artistry that went into your wearable masterpiece.


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