Kristy and Karla catch up with Isaac from IE Francis about the process for the Loop Pendant. Check out what this one very cool dude has to say.
How has your background in boot-making shaped your style of leather goods?
I think it has given me a great respect for leather itself. As it is a material that comes with an animal cost, it’s so important that the product is good enough to justify its use. This really puts emphasis on the need for each product to have been carefully designed, well crafted, and able to be enjoyed for many years.
Aside from leather, what other material do you enjoy working with and why?
Wood is an incredible material to work with. I make a lot of furniture in my free time, there is something really special about the grain of a nice piece of wood. Also because I have worked for so many years with leather, I get so much enjoyment from a solid material as it contrasts with the softness of leather. I guess it’s a ‘grass is greener’ scenario.
I hope to release some products in other materials in the future, when I finally find some time!
How does living in Melbourne influence your creative process? What inspires you as a maker?
It is amazing being surrounded by so many creative people. I work in a shared warehouse which is full of furniture makers, artists and photographers so there is always some interesting projects going on that I can look at if I need a rest from my own work.
As a maker I am mainly inspired by materials. Any material can have some really beautiful aesthetic properties when it’s manipulated or viewed in a particular way. This can happen while manufacturing one of my products, the act of making can inspire the design or idea for another product.
You source your materials from all over the world including Brazil, Italy, New Zealand and the USA. How important is it to you to use such specific material?
It is so important to choose suitable leathers for a project - it can make or break a product. I have gone through almost thirty different options searching for the current stock that I use for my Loop Pendant. It has to meet some very specific requirements to ensure it will deal with the forming process.
I have now finally found some beautiful Australian leather that works really well with my products, so I’m really excited to use more local suppliers and tanneries.
Your leather goods are made with vegetable-tanned leather. Tell us a little bit why you use this and does the technique come with sustainability in mind?
I use vegetable tanned leather for my Loop Pendants as it softens much better when soaked in water. As the shape of the pendants is a pretty difficult form for the leather to stretch into, it has to first be softened first with water. The process of vegetable-tanning is also much less reliant on harsh chemicals - which I think is always a good thing.
All of your products are made by hand to order in your workshop in Brunswick East. What piece do you find most enjoyable to make and why is this?
The Loop Pendant is definitely my favourite product to make. There is something about cutting a flat piece of leather, and without having to stitch it or glue it I can create that shape which I find really satisfying! The process of wet-forming is amazing, I have so many products planned which use the same technique.