A MAKER SERIES / 02

10/24/2013

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frank clegg is the blood, sweat and tears behind frank clegg leather works. he has been creating true works of art out of leather, with his own two hands in his fall rivers, massachusetts work shop for over 40 years. we are proud owners of two of his pieces and can say that the quality and craftsmanship is like no other. i am a firm believer that "you get what you pay for" and these bags will definitly be passed down to my children and grand children one day. they are timeless and built to last. you can see and feel the hard work and passion that goes into his craft. i admire this man so much. here is a look into his day as a maker…

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how did you get into leather work?
my girl friend (now my wife) gave me some leather working tools for christmas one year. i started working with leather at that time and have not stopped.

what is it about your craft that appeals to you?
i have always loved making and restoring things. i guess i could have received wood working or metal working tools and that might have given me a different direction. the thing that is the most important to me is designing, and it does not mean only leather goods. my mind never stops, and everything i look at i am always trying to think of a way it might be improved, whether it is a car, house, guitar, or vacuum cleaner. i quickly realized that i could design and make whatever i tried to make and this gave me the satisfaction that keeps the fire going.

how would you describe your line?
the collection on my website is only part of what i do in leather. i have more than one look. but, this line is frank clegg at the purest state. many items in  the current collection i have been making since my start and i am proud that our customers appreciate them as much now as they did 40 years ago. my goal is to craft products that offer the customer the finest workmanship, the finest materials i can find, and use the knowledge that i have acquired over 40 years in this business to present to them a lasting value.  i use hardware at a minimum, and my designs are kept as simple as possible. when i design a piece, my goal is to have a product that is functional, long lasting, and when viewed, represents a quality product to the untrained eye. i like to think that the collection represent american design, american craftsmanship, and the desire to always be the best by being different. my goal now as it has always been is no compromise.

what does a typical day look like for you?
i am at the shop between 5:30 and 6:00 am. my fellow worker arrive at 7:00, so i have time to get all the ME items complete. my day is a mixture of business and craft. i am involved with the products along with the entire crew. i feel it is important to be involved so the quest to perfect is ongoing. because we are dealing with a natural product, there are always issues that need to be addressed. now that my son andrew has graduated from college, he has joined the company full time. he brings to the company another view that we will explore. production, customer service, and shipping consume the day, and before I realize the time it is 5:00. i guess i am having fun.

tell us about your background, before the business?
since i was young, i always made things. whether from wood, or metal scrap. i enjoyed taking apart motorcycles, painting them and bringing them back to life. i started making leather goods in college, and after graduate school i focused on doing my craft. both my parents worked with me for over thirty years. my parents and i have over 100 years in this business. they helped me to understand what integrity meant and what it takes to achieve the qualities needed to be successful.

what do you do outside of leather work?
besides working with leather, i enjoy making guitars when i have the time. i also collect and restore fountain pens. when time permits, my wife and i enjoy going out for a bike ride on our tandem, or taking out the kayaks. getting together with friends is always special. nothing is better than being with the kids. as they get older it is not like watching a soccer game, but it is more like hanging with adults (well almost). my work is more a lifestyle than a job, they are both tied together. i have enjoyed the many vacations my wife and i have had with my two boys. both andrew and ian have made me realize that above everything else family what makes everything complete.

visit frankcleggleatherworks.com
photos by frank clegg leather works for bleubird.
watch this inspiring and beautiful video of frank clegg designing and creating a bag from scratch.

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