MEET THE ARTISANS
Vasileandpavel.com is a leather artisan workshop created by Vasile, the father and his son, Pavel, that produces handcrafted goods and patterns since 1988.
They make custom bags, satchels, totes, steampunk, post apocalyptic, plague doctor masks & cosplay props.
Vasile is a pioneer of Romanian leather design with 32 years of experience. He invented several techniques in handmade leather. He is an accomplished designer, with more than 500 different bag designs. His range covers everything leather from from backpacks to duffel bags, from saddlebags to traditional belts, from sandals to backpacks and totes, from photo bags to music instrument covers or church props.
Pavel is an artisan that creates masks and all kind of leather props and accessories for movies, music industry or for end clients: steampunk, post-apocalyptic, industrial, atomic punk, dieselpunk. He has 12 years experience in leather crafting.
The Story of Vasile and Pavel
1. When you first thought of picking up this craft?
In 1988, when I was a student (during Communist era), I was drawn to work with leather so I made a pair of greek sandals. They had a huge success, so I started to make more, which I sold in no time. During those times there was a shortage in any types of fashionable sandals.
Please consider that during those times the leather suppliers didn't exist, so I had to be creative. I usually used pigskin leather welding aprons purchased from constructing sites.
When I discovered the steampunk costumes and masks.
2. Why did you choose this craft?
I understood early on that I love leather, that I can improve my designs and that I like doing them.
Once I bought a fairly large batch of good quality leather and, after I finished the orders from that leather, I remained with enough leather to play a little bit. I managed to do some really nice objects, so I was hooked.
Firstly, I started to work with my father out of curiosity. I didn't like it in particular to make bags. My passion was ignited by the steampunk subculture, particularly masks and cosplay costumes.
3. When and how did you actually start?
In 1988. My first object was a pair of greek sandals made from a welding pigskin leather apron bought from a construction site.
In 2007. For a few years I learned the leather craft techniqoues from my father. Only after I discovered steampunk movement and their crafting communities I became passionate about leathercrafting.
4. When did you open your own workshop?
I started my workshop in my student camp in 1988. Since 2007 I share my workshop with Pavel, my son.
6. What was the first object you made?
A pair of greek sandals
A plague doctor mask
7. Do you train apprentices?
I always had apprentices, in general hobbyists. Some of them took that for a living and became successful.
We grow a community of passionate people that come to ask for advice, or a piece of leather, even to work in our workshop.
Now we share our techniques and knowledge also on our Youtube channel. We make PDF tutorials for our patterns. We also share Tips & Tricks on our Facebook Group, so we have a lot of virtual apprentices.
8. Do you master any specific techniques?
I excel in object construction and design. I know all techniques that I need so I can employ them to create what design I want.
The techniques are only the means to achieve the design I want, they help me to transpose my ideas into leather objects.
I understand the leather, the texture, the consistency and I know what to use it to make the most of it. I buy a lot of leather and let it sit and at one moment, I discover what to use it for. The leather gives me ideas, the leather talks to me :)
I master several techniques: cutting, stitching, pattern making, creating patterns.
I am round punch master (I made 10 millions of punches).
I excel in design, molding leather techniques and stitching.
9. What are your sources of inspiration?
In the first 10 years I get the inspirations from studying leather designs made by others.
Now my brain is an infinite database that contains almost all that human made from leather and not only. Sometimes I think I saw all the bags ever designed.
Nowadays I can get inspired by origami, by the shape of a leaf, by the texture of of wood, etc.
I dye the leather to suit my own designs.
Historical events, like I was inspired by the WWI aviator helmet and made a version of it.
Masks from different cultures, African, Asian
Movies, music, pop culture
My own ideas
The human skull shape dictates most of the designs and the fact it has to be functional.
10. What is the process of creating your designs?
We combine old techniques with modern materials & modern knowledge.
Ou work is 100% handmade, old school. At the same time, our patterns are made in AUTOCAD.
We use all technological advancements that are available to us and take advantage of the endless possibilities and access to information through internet.
We use software to develop our patterns and molds.
We make our own promotional materials, from photos to videoclips, website etc.
We have access to global promotion and access to information and communication with other fellow artists.
When I started the workshop in 1988, these were unheard of. The landscape changed radically.
We are happy to work in these times. I make the pattern in cardboard, as 30 years ago and then Pavel, who is passionate about technology, takes it and transpose in AUTOCAD, with great precision.
We make 100% handmade while using technology at it heights.
11. What do you love most about your profession?
The fact that I do what I like most and people appreciate it enough to buy them :)
I do not take a down payment because I want to have the freedom to create what I like and the client should have the freedom to buy it only if he/she likes it.
Our type of work attract people we have affinities with.
The fact that I made guitar straps for big bands and get to stay with them backstage or to see my props in a Hollywood movie.
At the end of the day I like this is a physical object that I create, not something abstract.
I like the fact that it is a meditative, calm atmosphere, without stress.
I like that I don't depend on anybody and the fact that I take all the credits for my work and also all the pitfalls :) I am 100% responsible for either my achievements and my pitfalls and I am my own man.
If you do the right thing, everybody is happy, if you fail, nobody knows.
The contact with clients that turn out to be special human beings.
It opens doors and you can always expect a nice surprise.
The working hours are flexible, and I can choose where to work.
The surprise in clients eyes when you nailed it, their feedback.
12. One thing about your work that people don’t normally know?
One in 20 objects is experimental: I have a room filled with projects I don't even try to sell. I love to experiment and not all my experiments turn out as usable object.
I believe that we learn by experimenting, trial and error.
The amount of hours we put in developing a new mask or a new pattern.
The amount of leather we use to come up with the perfect object.
13. What does well done mean to you?
When I see an object created by me 20 years ago, weared by somebody, that still looks good enough to be weared. I have a friend who has sandals, belts, backpacks and bags that I made for her 20-30 years ago that she still wears.
Esthetics, functionality, durability
A showstopper object
14. Can you tell us a memorable moment in your professional life?
I created the props for a variety of movies: one was with Demi Moore, another won the Grand Prix at Cannes etc.
I made friends with one of my clients, a wonderful person.
I worked movie props.
15. What do you suggest to a young who want to do your same job?
Don't make compromises. Fight for your ideas and designs.
Brace yourself for a lot of work. Success don't come easy. If you do it only for money, it will not work.
16. Could your craft be considered in danger?
No way. There is an increasing number of impressive leather hobby-ists that carry on the craft.
Also, there is a shift in clients preferences: more and more they appreciate tailored, unique products that are handmade, durable and premium quality.
17. What is the most difficult aspect of your craft?
To choose what to do next. There is only so much you can do in 24/7 :)
To choose the suitable leather for each project.
To have access to best leather and equipment (the equipment can be expensive).
Vasile and Pavel always welcomed guests and clients in our workshop. We had a number of apprentices during the years. Some of them became quite successful. We always give tips to our leather craft artisans fellows.
You are welcome on your Facebook Group specially designed to share techiques, good practice, good designs with our fellows artisans:
To increase our coverage and connection with other artisans, we created a YouTube channel where we publish patterns and detailed tutorials:
You can shop our patterns and goods here:
Instagram: @vasileandpavel, @pavelcraftleather
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