Chera Hammons: Poet and Writer

"…a slow shutter on ambulation…"

Learning my Main Character’s Skill: Leatherworking

monarchs

Monarchs of the Northeast Kingdom, final cover

Monarchs was set to release in May, but because of the disruption caused by the pandemic, it got pushed back to August 18th (which is really soon now! <happy tears>). In mid-March, I was also told by the new provost that my position was not considered necessary to the university and was in danger. I’m still waiting to find out if my contract will be renewed, but I also can’t afford to wait. I’ve come up with a backup plan, albeit a pretty imperfect one. Limited by my illness, weary of the political maneuvering inherent in academia, and with the knowledge that my job security in that position had never actually depended upon my performance, I figured I had better start learning to make something with my hands, something where I could control the schedule and expectations, and where I could perhaps make enough money to get by if my job does vanish.  I hope to get some income doing manuscript consultations and private tutoring, but I also do not expect that to be enough.

I’ll admit it was with a bit of desperation that I, like my protagonist, began to learn leatherworking. I spent every last dime of my personal savings on the supplies, and once I had gathered them, I began to learn how to use them.

workshop

My leather shop! Still in progress.

Though I have thus far only made a collar with a very fancy bridle buckle for my cat, some coasters, and a mouse pad, in the past month I have been able to get comfortable with a maul and chisels and stamps and an arbor press and all sorts of new things. I love my swivel knife. It already feels like an old friend. I can now stamp leather, cut it, and tool it (though my tooling is very basic so far). I can end-punch and saddle-stitch and dye and burnish and finish leather. I can install buckles and rivets and conchos and snaps. If all goes well, I will soon be offering for sale anything from bridles, to dog collars, to mohair cinches and breast collars, to leather purses and bags with mohair straps, to leather journals.

chisel

Sewing chisel and mallet. Cutting a stitch line for part of a purse.

I have always been interested in leatherworking, which is why I wanted to write a book about it (though Anna’s skill goes far beyond that to saddle making). Now, many things lack of resources dictated I learn by watching YouTube videos before, my own hands have done, and that is a good feeling, even if it is only an effort to try to ensure my survival.

Monarchs is still available for pre-order! I very much appreciate the kind readers it has had so far, and I’m grateful for the readers I hope will enjoy it soon.

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