Sunday, April 14, 2019

Leatherwork and your Perception

Have you ever finished a project and thought to yourself :  "This is not too well done - shoot!     So many mistakes...."? 

Don't beat yourself up! Your work is beautiful! Even if you are a beginner!

It is just a fact that before you start a project, you have an idea and image in your mind as to how it will turn out, a VERY idealistic idea.   

Then you see the finished project and it differs from that image in your mind - your mind turns that into mistakes / short-falls.

YES, there is ALWAYS room to learn and improve - after 42 years I still learn to do things better / different / in new ways.   

Don't be phased by criticism by leatherworking veterans - they are probably only trying to help.   

More important is that you do not get phased by your own criticism!

Almost all leatherwork looks good to non-leatherworkers.  Keep that in mind.

Many years ago, when I was still a beginner, I made my cousin a handbag  -  I thought the work was mediocre.  

After about four years I saw the bag again for the first time, and my words were:  "Wow!  who made that for you - it is beautiful!"

She looked at me funny and said "You did!"   Then I realized, your work is better than you think.

While you work on your project, you notice every small little imperfection in your work.   In your mind these grow very big, because you are busy with the project close-up.

Teach yourself to put the project down at the end of the day and clear your brain.  Then the next morning, look at it as if someone else did it.   You will slowly develop the ability to look at your work more subjectively.

I hope that helps!

[Updated October 2020]


  1. Thank you Johan.i am a VERY hard and unforgiving critic of my work. More than once I was about ready to throw my most recent work in the trash, but set it aside, got some sleep and looked at again in the morning and realized "hey, that's not bad!". I printed out the last couple paragraphs of your post here and taped it up in my shop. Excellent reminder, thank you

  2. Thank you. I truly think this is the most important and best leather working (creative work in general) advice that can be given. I needed to read this today. This should be at the start of every leather crafting book, video, class, or tutorial.