Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 35

When Leslie accepted a new position with Missouri
State University, the couple shifted course and returned
to the Midwest after four years abroad. With his wife's
support, John set out into leatherworking. A quick internet
search yielded that Springfi eld was none other than a hub
of American leather. " Up pops Tandy Leather and Springfi
eld Leather Company and I think to myself, 'Are you
kidding me?' It truly felt like I was going down the correct
road because it was so easy. "
Things quickly gained momentum as he took a workshop
at Tandy Leather. John set up his own shop with
striking full grain hides, sewing machines and all the tools
of the trade including hole cutters, scrolls and punches.
Having drawn renderings for his father's architecture fi rm,
John now intricately sketches handbags, travel bags and
clutches. Drafting courses he took in college helped him
envision 3D designs. Being a fourth-generation polo player
fed his knowledge of how durable leather goods could serve
the consumer. " It all clicked in my mind and became very
easy, " says John.
He continued to follow the fl ow of leatherworking. As
a self-taught craftsman, the hardest part was learning
the sequence of construction. It was vital that each step
be completed in proper order to fi t liners, hide screws,
sew clasps, edge coat components, stitch handles and fi t
buckles together seamlessly, hiding the engineering while
showcasing handiwork and design. Each leather creation
is one-of-a-kind and can take 60 to 80 hours of production.
John says, " When a bag is going together with all
the elements and the math and the dimensions line up,
it's like poetry. " However, if an error is made late in the
assembly stages, all of that effort can only be valued as a
learning experience.
John uses premium leather, hand-stitches 90% of his
pieces and rarely duplicates the use of a single piece of
leather. He's perfected a six- to eight-step edge coating process
and his designs are intentionally timeless and meant
to transcend mass-produced fashion trends. The leather
he uses slowly softens with wear, adding character and
uniqueness. With prices ranging from $800 to $1,200 for a
handbag, he creates pieces of lasting value. No corners are
cut in making such products. John says they are comparable
to the Hermes brand since his too are made by hand.
He holds dear stories of his ancestors who survived the
photo courtesy Waterwheel Leather Co.
Dust Bowl, and his creations hearken back to a pre-industrial
time when goods were made by hand and built to last
a lifetime.
As a member of www.buymissouri.net, John is proud
to produce top quality leather goods made in the Show-Me
State. In addition to handbags, totes and clutches, he also
creates backpacks, journals and occasionally custom pieces
that have included furniture and a gun case. While new
product ideas continue to spark in his mind, his customer
base grows through word of mouth.
John encourages people to listen to their intuition
and pursue feasible life course changes. " Life could not
be better; I could not be happier, " he says. The best part
about his work is the peace that comes upon him when
he's working the leather. The process calms him and puts
him in a happy place. In turn, his pieces bring joy to his
customers and the waterwheel continues to turn.
For more information, visit www.waterwheelleather.com.
Joplin is a freelance writer from Loose Creek.
Previous page: John Seawright followed his muse one stitch at a
time to start Waterwheel Leather Co. in Ozark. Top: The hinging clasp
of a sturdy weekender bag begins to take shape on John's workbench.
Below: From large duffels to backpacks to expanding briefcases to
doctor bags, John has never repeated a project - making his creations
truly one-of-a-kind.
http://www.buymissouri.net http://www.waterwheelleather.com

Rural Missouri - October 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2021

Contents
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - Contents
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 4
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 5
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 6
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 7
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 8
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 9
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 10
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Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 33
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 34
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 35
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 36
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 37
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 38
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Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 40
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Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 42
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 43
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Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 45
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 46
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 47
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Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 49
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - 50
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Rural Missouri - October 2021 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - October 2021 - Cover4
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