It’s a rare thing to find someone who can make something out of nothing without the aid of technology or machinery, but Leon Schoots is that type of maker. He can make you a wallet entirely by hand. No machinery is used during any stage of Leon’s production process, he simply relies on his set of trusty hand tools, and, admittedly, a zen-like patience.
Leon started his leather accessories business Whisky & Wolf as a hobby in 2012, while he was studying to be a photographer. ‘It was an excuse to learn a new skill and do something with my hands,’ he explains. In his final year of study he worked for respected Melbourne interiors photographer Sharyn Cairns as her assistant, who mentored Leon through his folio coursework. It was through working with Sharyn on shoots that Leon was introduced to many bespoke makers specialising in traditional crafts, who in turn encouraged him to pick up the tools and start making stuff. ‘This was when I rediscovered my love for tradition and the artisan trades of our past. My journey began with some basic tools, leather and an idea to make an axe cover!’ Leon says.
As with so many creative businesses, Leon’s intention was never really to start a business, it just unfolded that way. He made some leather accessories for friends, then a friend convinced him to have a stall at a design market, and things naturally progressed.
Leon takes utmost pride in his work, and upholding the tradition of his craft. Simplicity is king in the Whisky & Wolf studio. Leon’s approach to making is similar to how a belt, wallet or bag would have been made 100 years ago. Watching him working away in his Bendigo studio with only handtools and a distinct absence of modern day machinery, it feels a little like being transported back in time.
‘I don’t use any machinery at all. I cut, colour, stitch and finish each product entirely by hand.’ – Leon Schoots
The most important part of the process is the stitching, and Leon does this by hand too. ‘Stitching by hand literally means I mark and punch each and every hole, before using two needles and a woven thread to stitch the product together.’ It’s a lengthy process, but Leon is never in a hurry. He’s in the business of making products built to last.
Whisky & Wolf products are available from online here, and Leon also offers bespoke products and leather repair services.