The Artist’s Corner – Meeting High Standards with Benchmark Leatherworks

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?

Benchmark Leatherworks

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

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.

Baring My Writer’s Soul – Part 9

In Page After Page, Heather Sellers recommends using a journal to jump start and sustain a healthy writing life. Honestly, at this stage of my life, a blank journal staring back at me sounds like another obligation that I must keep. This tells me that I need to go back and reread some of the earlier chapters and my own blog posts about freeing myself and my writing from self-imposed restrictions.

I don’t know why I allow myself to become so wrapped up in the “what I should be doing” to the point that I overwhelm myself and actually get nothing done because there is too much to do. The flood we experienced last week and piles of stuff rescued from our basement add to my distress.

if-mommaBut a year from now, when the basement is back in order, will I still be bogging myself down in the usual way or will I have learned my lesson? I say, “When the kiddo returns to school in August, I’ll be free to write again. When his Eagle project is complete, I’ll write. When the Fourth of July picnic is past, I’ll be able to write. When I’ve reciprocated Shabbat dinners to those who invited me, I’ll have free time to write.” The garden that needs weeded, the husband fretting over his job and the insurance claim, my cat who was injured during the flood: it all sucks my joy, and I don’t write. Factor in the condition of our society, self-doubts about ever being published, and the ever-present lack of funds, and I admit there are days when I believe I’m going to lose my mind.

So why would I add a journal to this? Do I need one more thing demanding my attention, waiting to be filled up by what I have to offer? Well, I’ll do it because journaling is for me and me alone. Self-doubt rears its ugly head and says, “That sounds so selfish. You should fold laundry and dust; it’s what good homemakers do.”

That’s true; but I’m tired of living in this jail. I’m going to remind self-doubt that if Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. And right now, Momma ain’t happy.

If for no other reason than to vent, I’m going to write in a journal. My plan is to fill it with things that make me happy: writing, sketches, quotes, pictures, recipes, scripture, lists of blessings, and whatever comes to mind. I won’t try to organize or control it, but I also won’t allow it to control me. The whole point of my journal will be an exercise in freedom: freedom to write, create, invent, express, explore, enjoy, return to life, to live and not just exist.

The purpose of blogging about my experience with writing is to hopefully keep other writers from falling into the same traps I created for myself.  It’s also meant to show writers that he or she is not alone even when we all have a tendency to end up here by our own hand!  Still, I want to encourage you with what I have learned.  Nerdy Girl Supplies offers gorgeous, affordable journals in the Notebooks & Stationery section of the site for you to capture all of your brilliant ideas.  Head on over and treat yourself to a journal or sketchbook; it’s time to go forth and create.

Write Happy!

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