I can still remember my dad pulling out his leather tools to do some work on a wallet pattern at the kitchen table. I was maybe 4 or 5 years old, and excited to see what he was about to do. That night, he created a memory that would last a lifetime as he introduced me to leather work, patiently helping me as I clinched the swivel knife with my entire hand, trying to stay on the line.
As years passed, we would both pull the tools out of the closet to dabble here and there, only to stash them away once more. A few years after being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, despite having never smoked, he dug the tools out of the closet in search of escape. It was then that I finally fell in love with the craft. Leather work created a new opportunity to bond with my dad, which I had been longing for since his treatment ruled out baseball and cycling. My dad helped me complete a wallet that year--the first functional leather piece I’d ever made.
In 2016, I decided to delve into the creative possibilities that leather work offers. I started with a journal, then a bible cover and guitar strap. Requests began to roll in, and I sold my first piece. I had already exhausted my dad’s knowledge of the craft, but every new project I started I would at some point carry to him for approval.
On June 25th of 2016, my dad’s six-year battle with cancer came to an end, but I determined to carry on with the leather work. After selling numerous pieces to friends and family, I decided to officially launch my own business, Homage Leatherworks. I remember my dad telling me he was offered the chance to sell belts at his local leather shop when he was younger, but turned down the opportunity. When faced with the same decision, I chose to set up shop for the both of us.
With each custom piece I create, there comes a time when I think about showing him what I’ve made. Although it is a painful reminder that it’s no longer an option, it also serves to remind me that a piece of my father lives on through me. I not only want to create beautiful leather goods, but pieces as meaningful to the buyer as they are to me. If you’ll trust me with your needs, I’ll strive to provide something you’ll cherish forever.
This is my homage.
In memory of Chris Edward Haga.
To read more about Chris and his experiences with cancer, visit: www.canceron2wheels.blogspot.com