Leather. It’s hard, it’s soft. You can stitch it, stain it, stamp it, burn it, mold it, braid it. It’s organic, it’s “green”, it’s biodegradable, it’s historical. Personally I find it a pretty darn interesting medium. But to Indiana Artisan and leather craftsman extraordinaire Wayne Troup, leather is more than just an interesting medium or a hobby…it’s a way of life.
Wayne is the owner, operator, and master craftsman of Vintage Leather Shop in Bloomington, IN, where he’s been creating beautiful leather pieces for over 35 years. And this guy does it all. Not only does he research patterns and design his own pieces, but he keeps his shop going on a daily basis, cleans the floors, re-panels the walls, keeps a fire going. He even carved the sign out front!
All of Wayne’s work is hand-crafted and he specializes in custom-designed leather products and traditional pre-Civil War era pieces, as well as offering repairs and reconditioning services. He also makes more modern and traditional items such as leather bags, belts, wallets, clothing and decorative items. If you are looking for quality leather work and products, this is a shop you simply can’t pass up.
Wayne started renovating his shop in July, so the place was in a bit of organized chaos when I arrived in October, but it was easy for me to picture how impressive the place would soon look as he described his renovation plans to me. Wayne proudly described how he’d spent the past few months getting everything in shape, from putting in carpet, trimming the windows, and refurbishing some beautiful wooden display cases. He says the place will look like a working museum by the time he’s done hanging everything back on the walls. Things have been hectic around the shop because Wayne has been on the road almost constantly, participating in various re-enactment events and festivals throughout the Midwest, such as the Spirit of Vincennes in Vincennes, IN and the Lore of the Laughery in Friendship, IN. Check here for a complete list of where you can catch Wayne’s work next.
After he’s finished with his shows, he plans on devoting his time to fixing up his shop so that he can get closer to achieving his long-term goal: teaching classes. He said he’d love for people to pull up to his shop and imagine they hear Geppetto’s hammer inside. “People will walk in and it’s warm and cozy, my cat’s sleeping on the floor. Next thing you know I’m walking everyone through projects and giving them knowledge!” Wayne was big on stressing that knowledge is power, and after all, he has A LOT of knowledge to offer after being in the business for over three decades. It’d be hard for someone to even come close to the skill level and craftsmanship this man possesses.
To get an idea of what Wayne’s products look like, he has sample pictures on his website, but keep in mind that every piece he designs is unique. Isn’t that a beautiful thing? If you’re looking for quality leather work or repairs check out the site and give him a call (which he will answer on his antique rotary dial phone). And if you’re in the Bloomington area, don’t forget to be on the look-out for his class advertisements, which he hopes to offer by early 2012.