Van Der Spek Day: First stages of my custom binders

I am not one to dither over designs or leathers. I tend to know what I want as soon as I see it, so I looked at the leathers, leaning very much towards pink or teal ostrich. Then I drooled over the black buffalo. But I am not really a person who uses black or colours much – not even in shoes or handbags or binders. THEN I spotted this leather hiding away on a shelf. Thick, heavily marked rich caramel saddle leather. It was very thick and had range marks and spots all over it. But I wanted it. Petra was amazed I chose it with so many range marks because most people don’t like them, but I just knew I wanted it.

Here are some pictures of the leather. I loved it on sight. Petra has said that she can get this leather again and without the spots on it. So if you like it but would like leather that is less battered and loved looking, you can ask her.

I chose the leather and JP, the brilliant cutter, let me choose which parts I wanted, cut them for me and placed them in the shape of the binder, like a puzzle. JP was so friendly and had me in stitches telling me about his life. I am sure he won’t mind me telling you that he is 77 and has been working with leather all his life. There are fewer and fewer master craftsmen like that around today. I watched him do three binders – one was a white ostrich, one was yellow and grey ostrich and the third one was mine.

The thick saddle leather I wanted for my book
The thick saddle leather I wanted for my book
Thick and full of range marks and spots. Petra can get more of this without the spots if anyone is keen!
Smelled divine
Almost exploding with excitement
Petra drawing my design
The sketch
Mr Van Der Spek and JP discussing my binder. Both of them have been working with leather since their teens.
I approved each design step and was allowed to choose which leather I wanted where
All the cutting is done from cardboard templates
Look how exact this is!
JP is wonderfully funny and dressed so stylishly. This man has a great sense of colour.
Laying out the pieces like a puzzle
He had me in absolute stitches – what a sense of humour!
All cut and ready for the next step. I watched him cut leather for four binders


How can you not love a binder cut by someone like this?

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Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

10 thoughts

  1. Fully read it today! What a touching story about this craftsmanship and the treasurable artisan himself!

  2. Thank you for sharing this, Janet. I could be tempted to buy one of their binders to support & appreciate the workmanship that goes into one. Amazing 🙂

  3. how wonderful to read.. I hope you are sharing the rest of the stages! 🙂 Can’t wait to see how it turns out.
    Makes me want a Van Der Spek too but I don’t think I can afford one.. 🙂

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