A long long…long time ago, on a windswept plain in the center of the rugged state of Colorado, a cowboy sat on a rock perched within the prairie grasses – listening to the thunderous boom of a far off rainstorm. The contemplation of life and its meaning comes often to a man of the West, and for this cowboy it had reached its final crux. You see, growing up in a land wrought by the influence of computers, a land taken over by our screens and their digital influence – was not a land this cowboy could endure. Used to the Rocky Mountains, the open plains and the expansive deserts of the Southwest, his heart cried out for more. Something a bit more gratifying, something that could be seen as progress at the end of a hard day’s work.
At once, as if bitten by a rattler, Mr. Lentz rose to the idea of creating pieces with his own hands, physical pieces that would live on and serve a purpose in the lives of friends, family and those that chose to support his fine craft. Day and night were spent in the arts of learning how to build fine leather goods built to last a lifetime. Days and nights he toiled over the workshop bench.Mistakes were made and mistakes were rethought … into solutions. After several years of trial and error Mr. Lentz built up a very small product line of minimal and durable leather wallets, bags, belts and more.
He built them how’d he want them to be built. Created for the user to use and abuse for a long long…long time without disappointment. Mr. Lentz chose the finest materials – solid brass hardware, full-grain vegetable tanned leather, hand-made leather conditioners with all-natural materials. He built his own products from the ground up, designing, cutting, dyeing, oiling, waxing, assembling, branding, stamping, riveting, and buffing until each one was just the way it ought to be. In fact – this is still the case today as each piece is made to order for that specific person. You see, a craft built on passion is a craft sure to succeed.
Mr. Lentz has since moved to the dusty and arid lands of the Desert Southwest where he continues to build his fine and rugged leather goods piece by piece.
Hello! I create and design functional items out of the highest-grade U.S. full grain leather. I have always been a creator – influenced largely by not wanting to fall into the black hole of uncreativity that is the majority of the working world in this country. My aim has always been to find beauty and share it with others. I enjoy evenings in the deserts of the Southwest where I sit in my workshop, making leather wallets, bags, cases and anything else my mind does fancy, all while blasting 90’s electronic dance music… followed by a good country song or two.
Mr. Lentz in the Media
Mr. Lentz is featured and interviewed about his workshop and general philosophy in Cake & Whiskey.
Mr. Lentz’s line of wood and grass jewelry gets listed as an editor favorite pick in Cloth Magazine.
Mr. Lentz’s wood and moss engagement ring featured in the Dutch issue of Home and Garden.
To give even more insight into the man with the cowboy hat pictured above, I have posted below a few interview questions conducted by the wonderful ladies at Cake & Whiskey.
Walk us through a typical work day~
Rolling out of bed when the sun’s just about rising is not typically my thing, but I’ll do it if the work requires me to. Every now and then I will heat up a pot of cowboy coffee, just some grinds, boiling water and my cup to pour it into. Off to the workshop, I fire up the lights and start sortin’ out the days orders. My first step is usually custom branding people’s leather goods with their names. I then go through a full process of cutting, dyeing, oiling, waxing, assembling, and hammering everything into shape. I tend to work long days as I am a bit of a perfectionist and love creating good looking products for my customers. During busy times I get a lending hand from an assistant or two whom may become part of the workshop for some time. It’s great to have extra help when you need it.
What does your craft mean to you?
Leatherwork to me means hard work. It means a good solid day’s work where you tire yourself out by the end but feel fulfilled by the entire process.
Your profession as leatherworker/woodworker takes a lot of precision—how do you keep things fresh and what goals do you set for yourself to stay motivated on a daily basis?
Well, once you start making a style that people like…you find yourself making a whole lot of that design. In the process you tend to make things over and over again. I take a lot of pleasure in getting things right. Leather work is tricky business since the material you are working with was at one point alive. Each piece is different and reacts differently to cutting, dyeing, branding, and oiling. I have not yet had a day where I am not amused at how something very different and strange is happening with one of my processes – and I tend to constantly modify my approach because of it. Other than that – I have a lot of sticky notes in a lot of places! Goals galore!
Give us a walking-word-tour of your work space. Do you think it resembles that of a craftsman a century ago?
In your line of work, where do you feel you have the most purpose? What are you most passionate about creating?
You know – I particularly enjoy creating tutorials for my blog and fellow readers. I love teaching the art of leather craft and my particular angle on it. It is an immense field full of a lifetime of learning. I feel like those new to leather are just so stunned at all the knowledge to be gained that they don’t know where to start. So – I make very simple and practical tutorials to get people up and running with very detailed photos of each process. If I had more time I would create 1 a week. I also love designing new goods for the shop. It is a long and fun creative process that can really be a good mind bender when trying to figure out the practicality of putting an idea onto paper and making it work in real life.
Do you snack while you work? What’s currently stashed in your desk for mid-day munching?
Nope. No snacking in the workshop. The last thing you want to attract in a leather workshop are those little furry creatures. They tend to like to chew on raw leather as well. I take great care in keeping the workshop free of food and crumbs. During the day though, on a break, I might eat a salad with some chicken, a sandwich, maybe some chips too.
Did you always know what your “style” was or did you have an a-ha moment where it seemed to suddenly make sense?
This definitely took years. I think I noticed that over time as a designer I started to pay more and more attention to why I liked certain types of artwork, or photographs, or architecture, etc… It is when you actually stop to take a look at things and realize why you appreciate them, that you start to learn more about your own style. I love clean lines, very simple textures, high contrasts, and unbalanced weights.
What are your favorite medias to work with?
Leather and metal, hands down. You just can’t beat that mixture.
What’s most important to you about Mr. Lentz?
Well, I would like my leather goods to make an impact on people and restructure how they carry their life. My goods are designed and meant to be minimalistic, thus allowing people to think about what they actually need to carry versus what they currently stuff into their wallets or bags. I enjoy the minimal ethic to a large degree, I think we could all benefit from pairing down our lives into simpler living and lifestyles. I think this is especially important as our society grows more complex and busy. Also – I would love for my blog to help inspire more people to make things with their hands. I can’t imagine how many incredible artists are out there just waiting to discover themselves, if only they would put down that smartphone or tablet and make something useful with their own bare hands.
What is something unique about you as a designer/seller/creator/human being?
This is a hard one, but I think what I am trying to do with my work is ignore what I think the masses want to see, and instead create from my heart. I aim to make things that I think look good or work well.