Interviewed and written by Chelsea Tanis
Muskegon, Michigan; Leather Craftsman
Joseph Miller is a Muskegon based leatherworker who’s emphasis is on functional items with artistic flair. Drawn to quality goods made from sustainable materials, Miller began by repurposing old belts and leather items some 10 years ago. Since then, he’s invested in tools that allow for greater command of the material and enhance the overall durability of his products.
“The right tools are key for this medium. If I’m making a holster, that’s a very important personal item. It needs to fit. The stitching I use is based on what saddlers use, and is traditionally the strongest way to stitch leather. It gives you a lot of control. A lot of the techniques I use have been around for hundreds of years, and still work the same.”
As Miller continues to hone his craft, his motivation remains the same: create beautiful items that stand the test of time.
“We all have experience with things our grandparents passed down that have endured. The more work that goes into a product, the longer it lasts, and the more it means to us. It’s in direct contrast with our consumer society.”
For Miller, who is on the Autism spectrum, leatherwork is also a way to connect:
“I’m an individual with an autism spectrum disorder. It’s a huge handicap as far as interacting with people, but my methodical structure and focus means that I can do exceptional work–work that can speak for me.”
To those interested in trying out a new craft or art form, Miller’s advice is this: