For several generations “Western” American saddle makers and leather carvers have influenced leatherwork in Japan. Japanese craftsmen, in the leather trade, have adopted carving styles, tools and processes familiar to American leatherworkers and fused them with their own cultural sensibilities. Master leather carvers from Japan and other nations in the Far Eastern Pacific Rim are now, in turn, influencing carving in North America. The Brinton Museum exhibition will focus on the qualities and characteristics that define the work of leather artisans from two distinctly different cultures separated by the Pacific Ocean. It will explore the design, layout, carving, tooling and some construction methods used in the leather trade.
By gathering fine examples of hand-tooled leatherwork from a select group of Master Leather Artisans, we hope to give the public a greater understanding of the approach both cultures use in the creation of fine leather items. In the comparison of floral tooling patterns, carving techniques, design and tool preferences, we can get a sense of the artist’s influences, as well as his or her creative contribution to each design. The beautifully crafted panels and leather items executed by these Master Carvers will inspire those who view the work, and give insight into this reciprocity and exchange of ideas and methods.
The Brinton invited twenty-five (25) Master Leather Artisans (15 from Japan and 10 from North America) to participate in this exhibition. Each artist was asked to provide a carved and finished leather panel that represents a prime example of the artisan’s current work and abilities. Along with these panels the artisans will provide one to two leather items of their making for the exhibit. The museum will produce an illustrated exhibition catalogue with the artists’ biographical information as well as photographs of their work in English and Japanese.
The exhibition will be held in the museum’s Jacomien Mars Reception Gallery located on the third floor of its new Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Building from May through early September of 2021.