I met Jeremiah O’Brien through his lovely wife with whom I worked in our church nursery. I knew he made leather items, so when another friend needed a repair to a favorite bookbag, I asked if he would be able to fix it. Turned out that Jeremiah was the man for the job. He not only replicated the broken latch, but he also matched the color, so the new piece didn’t look out of place on the gently worn bag.
Fast forward to January 2023 when I’m preparing my novel, Realm, for publication and decided that I would like to have something to present at my book launch. I browsed items on Etsy, designed a mockup of what I envisioned, and e-mailed my request to Jeremiah. What he created was so much better, such higher quality, than my original idea.
So, without further ado, allow me to introduce leatherworker Jeremiah O’Brien, a man of few words and abundant talent.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m just a guy who works in his garage basically. Married, seven kids, two dogs, and hopefully here soon, a homestead with chickens and goats and such. I’m honestly terrible at biography type stuff. I prefer to let what I do speak for itself.
What has your experience been?
I have an associate degree in business with a focus in web design, but I don’t really use it. I have worked in restaurants primarily for most of my life, with the past ten years learning and working in leather.
Do you put yourself into your leatherworking??
I’m not quite sure what this means, but I do have a particular artistic style that I tend to put into my work, and it is fairly unique to me.
How did you develop your passion for leatherworking?
A friend of mine introduced me to it as part of a hobby that we were both involved with some years back, and I just worked at it over the years on the side, and then finally took a job in the industry for a couple of years before striking out in my own and running my own business fulltime.
What or who is your inspiration?
There have been lots of people who have inspired me along the way, and pointing to one single thing or person would be tough.
What pieces do you enjoy creating?
I really enjoy helmets, book covers, journals, bags, and pieces that show off a high level of skill.
What is your creation process?
Everything has a different creation process, but generally I’ll start by designing a pattern, then some artwork to go on it, and then cut it out and put it together.
Do you work alone or with a partner?
Largely alone. I do occasionally have people visit, but it’s rare.
Where can someone find you online?
Facebook – Benchmark Leatherworks
Instagram – Benchmark Leatherworks
Do you have a website?
For whom do you create leather goods?
Anyone who asks, but my clients tend to be people who go to Renaissance Faires, but I have also done work for pro wrestlers, hip hop artists, and other entertainment professionals.
How does a client contact you?
Through social media generally, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What is your process when creating for a client?
I work with the client on a design for the item they want built. Sometimes that includes measurements, or it can be a personal design they like, whatever the case may be. Once we have that settled, I go ahead and design patterns, and then build it.
How is what you create for yourself different from what you create for other people?
I rarely craft for myself, and it’s not all that different except that it is personalized to me instead of someone else.
Has your work ever been used for commercial purposes?
My work is currently featured on WWE Smackdown, worn by the Viking Raiders. It also makes appearances at Renaissance Faires and conventions all over the country.
What is your favorite piece that you’ve created?
A corset and skirt combination suit that I did a few months back is my current favorite, but it’s a constantly evolving list.
What’s your dream leather piece to create?
A book cover with intricate detail that currently eludes my time and skill.
What’s your biggest complaint about leatherworking?
It’s time consuming.
Do you work full-time as a leatherworker? If so, how do you see your business growing?
Yes, I am full time, and I’d like to get into making more patterns and sources of passive income rather than relying solely on custom orders.