Carey Chaney Sewell’s family has been turning leather since the 1850s. Recently, Sewell began using the techniques she learned while helping her father with his saddle making business into handbags and jewelry.
Sewell will be showcasing her leather work and handcrafted designs at the September event at Butterfield Stage in Gainesville. Tanner Fenolgio will be playing guitar and singing covers and original tunes from his first album while Sewell will be presenting her leather work women’s accessories.
The showcase will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and will include complimentary food and beverages.
She answered a few questions about how she used her knowledge of saddles to start making women’s accessories.
Q. When did you start turning leather?
A. I have always been interested in leather work. I just began making my own bags and accessories though. I started making new designs in February of 2016, but leather work runs really deep in my family. We have had some type of leather-working business since the 1800s. So, I have learned throughout my life how to work leather. A lot of things just come second nature to me.
Q. What are some of your favorite pieces that you make?
A. I love my laced clutches. They are probably the easiest item women have to just put the essentials in and go. I really make pieces that I would like to wear myself. I have kind of a chic style and so a lot of my pieces fit into that style.
Q. Tell me about leather trends. What kinds of leather pieces are people really into right now?
A. A lot of my designs are classic like with the clutches or handbags. My new jewelry line is taking some of those concepts and putting them on jewelry. I have handmade leather earrings, fringe clutches, and heritage handbags. My work can be kind of like a boho western style.
Q. How has leatherworking helped you to express yourself?
A. There are so many ways to use leather to express yourself. I like to make things that I am thinking about. My designs are really what come to me at the time that I am looking to create something.
Q. Are all of your pieces one-of-a-kind?
A. The heritage handbags are alike, but the other pieces are not alike. That’s very fun for the customer so they get one-of-a-kind pieces. I hope they are inspired by what I am making. I do this because I love it and it naturally comes out in my pieces.
Q. What is your creative process like? What do you do first when you want to make a piece?
A. Before I start creating, I think about functionality first. That is the most important part. You want the piece to do what it is supposed to do. I start with construction and the technical aspect of making the piece. Then I add flair to that.
Q. What do you want people to know about you and your art?
A. Before I started creating, I was a stay at home mom. After dealing with that and learning how to problem solve in that world, I used what I learned to start my business. Back in 2016 when I started with my designs, I showed my friend who has a shop here in Gainesville. She loved the pieces and wanted to put them in her shop immediately. With her encouragement, I have moved forward. With the encouragement of the people around me, I have gained the confidence to really put myself into leatherworking and my pieces.