Rad and Tag Leatherworks: "Useful, Rugged, Badass"
Started from a knife-sheath now we’re here— that’s the story of Rad & Tagg Leatherworks.
Lindsey, the creator of Rad & Tagg, began her adventure into leatherwork by making leather holders for the tools that she and her partner found useful in the back-country. Now, her craft has expanded to include everything from wallets to bike seats.
Tell us a bit about your work! What do you create and why you do it?
I create useful, rugged, badass items that stand the test of time. The three qualities that drive my design process are that they are uniquely beautiful, functional to the core, and constructed to withstand the apocalypse!
What inspires your designs?
I love where I live! Spending time in the mountains, forests, and oceans of the Pacific North West fuels my fire. My surroundings definitely inspire the designs I choose to carve in the leather. I also love skulls. They remind me that this is all temporary andI shouldn’t take anything too seriously - we will all end up as a pile of bones and all we really have is this moment! Of course my two magical boys, Radec and Taggish are the driving forces behind building this business and cultivating something I am proud of and passionate about. I love that they can see what I’m creating ‘at work’.
How did you get involved in leatherwork? What’s special about it as a medium?
My husband and I gutted and remodelled a 1974 Airstream travel trailer while I was pregnant with our first son. It reignited my passion for creativity and I knew that once that project was complete that I’d need to continue my creative journey. We converted a 20’ shipping container into a workshop where my husband made some bushcraft knives. He came home one day with a chunk of vegetable-tanned leather and a few basic tools and I made my first leather knife sheath. I was hooked.
Leather is a fascinating medium. I only use cowhide vegetable-tanned leather which is a by-product of the meat industry. Vegtan leather uses natural tannins found in bark, leaves, and roots. This type of leather can be carved, wet-moulded, burnished, and even boiled to create different effects. If left untreated it will soften to a buttery feel and darken to a rich caramel colour as the patina develops over time. The hide has already had a life on the rand and I embrace the unique markings that give character to this beautiful medium.
What is your process of creating your pieces?
I use many different techniques for different items. Hand-carving the leather is something I take a lot of pride in and it involves casting the leather by wetting it and letting it return to it’s almost dry state. I then transfer a design I’ve drawn onto the leather using tracing paper and an awl to indent the leather. I then use a swivel knife to carve the leather and I may use various stamps and a hammer to “tool” the leather.
I am very picky about edges and stitching. I hand-stitch all my products using the traditional ‘saddle-stitch’ technique. It takes a long time! I carve the edges of the finished products and burnish them using beeswax and a piece of wood called a burnisher or slicker.
Sometimes I paint the leather before applying the stain and finish to get a desired effect - like the black raven.
Rad & Tagg creates all kinds of products with a huge variety of designs— how do you develop those ideas?
First is the demand. Either I need something or someone asks me to make something. I’ve finally started the, “3 minimum” policy where if someone commissions an item from me I’ll make three of them because there’s a good chance someone else wants one of those.
I design from scratch. I don’t use any templates because I want my products to be UNIQUELY beautiful.
Then it’s a matter of trying it out, redoing it, changing the design, dropping a few f-bombs and coming up with something I’m stoked about.
Do you have a favorite kind of product to make?
I love making unique gifts for people, but I’d have to say that the hand-carved leather bike saddles are the most rewarding.
Tell us about your team! Who is behind Rad & Tagg?
Just me and a whole bunch of people who inspire and support what I’m doing.
What is one thing about Rad & Tagg that people might not already know— it can be about anything: the team, the brand, the products, the process, etc.
I am passionate about the environment and sustainability. I source my materials with care and intention to make sure that the end products are as kind as possible to the people, the planet, and the animals. I hope to give back in a more tangible way as my business grows and hope to collaborate with various conservation efforts. I strive to put out coveted creations that will be cherished for many decades before biodegrading back into the earth.
What at this year’s Wind Festival are you most excited about?
I am soooo excited to check out the live carving by Xwalacktun.
And we are so excited to check out Rad & Tagg’s booth at the Artisan Market! If you want to know more about the incredible vendors that will be at the Festival, check out the Vendor List and look out for more posts like this featuring these incredible artisans. And until then check out the full schedule, RSVP to our event page on Facebook, and stay whimsical!