Meet the Crafters: Marc Comeau
Today we’re excited to introduce you to another of our ‘Fresh Catch’ Crafters, Marc Comeau of Old Birch Workshop. Marc makes functional leather items that are simple, classic, and would make good gifts for hard to buy for relatives on your list, like your little brother or Uncle Ted. Be sure to stop by his table at the Winter Market and say hello!
What do you make?
I work with leather and I make whatever I can out of it! My staple product is the belt, but I also make camera straps, dog & cat collars, and leashes. A lot of my projects have stemmed from thinking of something I could personally use. I am always looking for new projects to attempt. I’ve made a shoulder strap for my duffle bag, a folding camp stool, a knife sheath, a slim wallet, pedal straps for my bike and a belt-mounted bike lock holster. I like creating things that make life easier and look good at the same time.
What is your process?
Starting with a full hide of leather, I cut strips or other shapes, trim them to the appropriate size, bevel edges, and skive to taper leather where needed. Then I apply dye, apply a finish and finally, stitch the leather or secure it with rivets or snaps, and attach any hardware. I am also able to stamp various designs into the leather, including letters or numbers, so I’m able to personalize items with a monogram or stamp your pets name on a collar.
How long have you been a crafter?
I have been crafting for a little over a year now. I feel like I’m just getting started and there’s a lot I know I can learn and improve on.
What is your background/how did you get started?
Based on my background, you might be surprised to learn that I’m artistically inclined. Math was my favorite subject through school and I went on to dabble in engineering and business studies, though most of my time has been spent behind a coffee shop counter, which provides fleeting moments of artistic expression. I got started in leather crafting after perusing various blogs of artists who make similar creations and being inspired by their efforts.
Why do you do what you do?
After seeing the neat things other people were putting out there, I found myself yearning to own a lot of it and got to wondering if I had it in me to create it for myself. After discovering I did, I got to thinking ‘hey, other people might be interested in this stuff, people in this city, who might not otherwise be exposed to it’. In this day and age of out-sourced, mass-produced garbage, I have an appreciation for things that are made with care, made with pride, made by hand, and made to last. I want to support that sort of craftsmanship and encourage people to think about the long term when they are buying something – buy what will last or be self-sufficient and make it yourself!
When you’re not selling at Crafters markets, where can I find your work?
In the not-too-distant future, I intend to develop my online presence via a blog and an Etsy shop. In the meantime, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in my work. Got an idea? Send it along! I welcome commissions and I am all too happy to take on new projects. I can also possibly do repairs, depending on the job.
What makes Halifax Crafters different from other shows?
I have been to the last two Halifax Crafters shows and they do well to create a fun and inviting atmosphere. Between the décor, the music, the sense of community and the wonderful array of talent by all the vendors, it is easy to find a reason to go. The Winter Market is perfectly timed with Christmas and could very well be a one-stop Christmas shopping excursion for a lot of wise folks. Get out there and get your mom a locally made piece of art!
What are you excited about seeing at the Winter Market?
I’m excited to see what my ever-so-talented friend, Ellen of Mule Mother Books has been busy creating. She makes really beautiful notebooks, sketch books, and DIY bookmaking kits that incorporate recycled, one-of-a-kind images/resources and really, really nice paper. I’m also looking forward to checking out the works of crafters I discovered last year. And of course I am also eager to see the works of other new vendors like myself. I should start setting aside cash now, because I’ll undoubtedly see lot of things that will tempt me to pull out my wallet!
Where do you do your work?
I’m gradually piecing together a small workshop in my basement. I feel really fortunate to have this space and I’m making improvements on it all the time.
What kind of music do you listen to while you work?
I really enjoy easing into my day with Julie Nesrallah on “Tempo”. When I find myself down in my workshop in the evening, I let Laurie Brown of “The Signal” on CBC Radio 2 choose my soundtrack. I find repetitive, instrumentals quite help me concentrate on my work. Things like The Field, Braids, Broken Social Scene, Flying Lotus, Atlas Sound. Though lately I have been listening to at lot of Kurt Vile and Cousins.
A place you love?
My home. The people in it make it awfully nice to come back to and awfully hard to leave, especially as we transition from summer to fall/winter and I enter into hibernation mode.
An artwork or artist you love?
I may be biased, but my sister, Krista Comeau is a skilled artist and NSCAD graduate whose many talents go far beyond her dominant interest in photography. Whether it’s a paintbrush or pencil or camera lens, she excels with any medium and has a definite knack for creating something beautiful. She took all of my product photographs, as well as the photos of me in my studio.
Favourite time of the year?
You might hear me cursing the winter for its cold, wet weather, but I do appreciate it. I love when the snow falls thick, blanketing everything while I stare at it from the cozy side of the window with a hot cup of something. Fall is beautiful too, with its rich colors and refreshing, crisp air that encourages you to dig out your cozy toque and scarf. All that being said- I live for the summer. It’s short-lived here but I make the most of it. Bike rides, beaches, beer, birthdays, bon fires, buds.
Three things you need in order to create?
A positive mindset, a full stomach, and all my tools & supplies.
What’s your favourite way to procrastinate?
A bowl of popcorn, Apple TV, hanging out with my girlfriend- and not in that order!