the (nearly-lost) ancient art of vegetable-tanned leather

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In May 2018, I spent nearly a month in Tuscany, immersed in a region renown for olive oil, wine, truffles and leather. Inspired by a culture so connected to the land in a mindful way, I relished this rare opportunity to explore an ancient tradition working with vegetable-tanned leather.

I am a material driven-designer, with longevity and timelessness being paramount to my aesthetic: any object of value has to tell a story.  Working with this pliable material in its natural state enabled me to combine my skills in textiles and woodworking in the most exhilarating way.⁣

Upon my return, I was commissioned to create 3 original pieces to be included in an International Exhibit at the Linea Pelle show. My goal was to create functional modern bags, showcasing centuries-old traditional techniques. I wet-sculpted, carved and stained the leathers with water color pigments: staying close to the natural state, to allow for the naturally luxurious patina that will develop over time.⁣


Here's a peek behind the scenes of creating the collection.

vegetable tanned leather metier tote

hand-cut leather leaves vegetable tanned

sunflower bag made from vegetable-tanned leather

I am thrilled to (finally) be able to show my collection, as my work is currently being displayed in Milan, and then will move to London, and New York, before becoming part of the Consorzio's permanent collection.

linea pelle milan craft the leather 2018 exhibition crystalyn kae vegetable tanned leather

vegetable tanned leather bags by crystalyn kae


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About Crystalyn Kae

Crystalyn Kae Brennan Crystalyn is a handbag designer in Seattle, WA. Her sustainable luxury handbags are made in USA with ethically-sourced leather and unique vintage fabrics. Read more »

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