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Craft The Leather 2016: the feelings of the participants

What kind of experience has been Craft the Leather 2016 for you?

Giulia Andreoli

“Veg-tanned leather was for me a true discovery; before this workshop i didn’t  know much about the product and the manufacturing process.

Thanks to the workshop I understood many things and I appreciate much more the different qualities of veg-tanned leather: the processing of the leather with natural products minimally invasive for the environment, the dying with many colors that lasts, the flexibility, the memory shape, the disposal of materials and many other interesting features. I really think that is a good method to exploit to change all the processes that are done in a harmful way to other things.

I’ve found this workshop very interesting and complete, I had a full training about Veg-tanned leather process and the different techniques to apply on it.

International students with different backgrounds is definitely a positive point to share and learn new things.

I really enjoyed everything about this workshop and it was  truly a precious opportunity to which I had the good fortune to participate.”

Whitney Yu Bai

“Craft the Leather Workshop was a very unique experience for me as a softgoods designer. I got to experience veg tan leather including walking on the wet floors of the tannery, smelling the tannins, and feeling the warmth of freshly plated leather. Learning the details of the process and then be given the opportunity to work with high quality veg tan leather with Master Leather Craftsman really deepened my understanding and appreciation for the material, making an important aspect for my design work.”

Young Bin Kong

“I could look more closely the whole course of Veg-Tanned Leather, for that reason, I had a good opportunity to understand better about leather”

Nasami Kushino

“At the workshop, I learned about the leather thickness, a surface difference, a color in the workshop. and learned the processing method unique to the characteristic of Veg tanned Leather.

And I tried to experiment with leather using a lot of tools for processing. It was an opportunity to widen the possibility of the Veg tanned Leather. I was able to spend my time with students learning various fields of experticec in a beautiful town of San Miniato. Every moment of this workship was a very exciting and unforgettable experience for me.”

Aleksandra Kukula

“Attending to specialist Craft The Leather Workshop in Italy was a fantastic, challenging and educative adventure for me. I have met great people from various of countries and all of us study different pathways and it definitely helped me to look at leather and fashion itself from different perspectives.

Craft The Leather contributed great opportunities to visit Leather Tanneries and see the whole processes and stages of creating Veg Tanned Leather. In addition to those wonderful experiences, I had an opportunity to visit beautiful Tuscany and taste real Italian delights.”

Shannen Gallardo

“Ever since I heard about Craft the Leather, I envisioned myself being a part of the program and representing FIT, and that dream came true this year. Witnessing the passion and precision that takes place in the Italian leather tanneries was inspiring. Acquiring knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation is a gift that no one can ever take from me.

Waking up each day in a convent from the 1300s in San Miniato was a fairy tale turned reality. Enjoying  traditional Italian home cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner with the most creative designers I’ve had the pleasure to meet encouraged my growth as a young artist. I’m very thankful I was able to share this experience with my Professor David Ulan and build lifelong friendships with the other students and faculty from the most prestigious fashion schools in the world. This program created an amazing atmosphere to develop our skills in leather design.

The program’s end results are fascinating because each designer uses the knowledge of veg-tanned leather in different directions creating extraordinary work. Craft the Leather is an opportunity of a lifetime. Being surrounded by other international student designers that share the same enthusiasm for design has enhanced my perspective in preparing for my senior year collection, and has laid the groundwork for my future in accessories design.”

Helga Rán Sigurdardottir

“Taking part in Craft the Leather is very freeing because you get to use great raw material in ways you only dreamed of.   Allowing yourself to create and play with high end, strong and refined leather, that doesn´t have to be commercially available but just focusing on the possibilities, tests and limits of the design process is valuable.

Seeing the full tanning process all the way was my favorite part.

From the raw hide, with its layers of skin tissue, fat, follicle and hair, being turned into gelatin like sponge and then transformed into the shining elegance of veg tanned leather, gave me a more fulfilling understanding of why the material is so unique and stays so strong.

Having guidance from experts that work with the material on daily basis and can advise you in new techniques and treatments is like finding yourself at the end of a rainbow. It opens new ways of working with the leather and improves the design process.

I think the Consortium is doing an important work when inviting students from all over the world.

Offering them to come and see firsthand how the skills of handling veg tanned leather have been preserved over decades and improved in recycling methods by creating their own water refinement, is unique.  It helps students to respect the material and environment and encourages the Consortium to keep up the good work in innovating recycling solutions.

It was stimulating to see how with putting the focus on collaboration instead of competition, the Pelle Conciata Al Vegetale in Toscana has built up a strong network for the tanneries and therefore is able to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly production, setting a good example for other parts of the world.

Last but not least, I have to mention the marvelous settings in San Miniato and the gracious hosting at the convent which was remarkable.  Having this time there to absorb the Tuscan scenery and to sit and discuss with likeminded people about their experience in shoe and other leather making. Sharing ideas and learning something new is something that doesn’t happen often.  It was very valuable to me.  For that and all that I learned I am extremely appreciative. Thank you.”

Kira Anne Goodey

Working with veg tanned leather was a new and deeply rewarding experience for me. Throughout Craft the Leather we gained an intimate understanding of all aspects of the leather– from material properties and manufacture to cultural significance in the Tuscan region and the measures necessary to minimise the environmental impacts. Such a profound insight into a material garners a personal emotional relationship and, with that, a deep respect.

The beauty, tradition and quality of the leather is extremely evocative – it is steeped in the rich customs, landscape and Tuscan way of life. Working with the leather was so much more than merely handling the raw materials, although the unique properties of veg tanned leather – its ability to be sculpted, moulded, coloured, finished, made hard as wood or soft as velvet – allowed the material itself to shape the design process.

It was an honour spending time with the passionate craftsmen and jovial locals of San Minato and surrounding areas and working alongside the talented participants and organisers of Craft the Leather from all corners of the globe. What was most impactful was experiencing the way in which one specific material – veg tanned leather – forged so many strong bonds between people both in the local community and around the world.”

Masahiro Abe

“It was really valuable experience. Visiting tannery, chemical lab, water treatment center, atelier and so on. Lesson about optics was little difficult for Japanese students, but still I could find many useful information. The most precious thing was, having a chance to see students from Europe, US and other countries. We have so many exchange students here in Bunka, but we are in the same class. The time I spent in Florence was greatest opportunity to see how they feel, think and express.”



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