LEATHER crafts focus on the making and repairing of objects from cured animal skins or hides. Leatherwork is often "tooled" or engraved, or combined with other materials, for example, metal fittings or needlepoint (as in the belts pictured above)...
In 1937 Allen Eaton noted the existence of "the tanning and working of leather" as a "pioneer industry" of the Southern Highlands, yet he also pointed out that tanning was in decline at the time of his research for Handicrafts of the Southern Highlands. Although Kentucky and other parts of the "Southern Highlands" are still rich in trees that produce tannic acid -- key to the tanning of skins and the production of leather — very few Kentucky-based craftsmen are involved in handwork tanning. Contemporary leatherworkers today fabricate and repair all sorts of products, but typically purchase tanned skins/hides from national or regional suppliers.
In Kentucky today, the raw materials can be purchased from companies like:
A leatherworker who does tan skins and who also creates finished leather objects is:
Certain leather products are particularly associated with the horse industry, e.g., tack, harness, halters, neckstraps, and saddles, and some dealers specialize in equine-oriented objects:
Contemporary leather craftspersons in Kentucky also create ladies' handbags or purses, unisex carry-on bags, briefcases, pillows, belts, guitar straps, wallets, wrist bands, motorcycle accessories, slippers, shoes, boots, jackets, vests, and many other objects for sale. A few of them specialize in creating early (pre-19th century) bags for hunters, as well.
Kentucky-based leather crafts sites or stores include: