Candice originally trained as a graphic designer, she left this previous career and acquired her skills as a leather worker by following a love for the art of traditional leather craft.
How would you describe your craft?
My craft is the exploration of contemporary design whilst using centuries old leather working techniques to create the pieces.
What is your favourite part about what you do?
I love the challenge of figuring out how to translate a drawing into a 3 dimensional shape using leather and leather working techniques.
How did you begin your career?
My career as a leather crafts person started at a avery specific moment and since then, it has grown to what I am today. In 2011, my boss from a previous career in design offered to buy me an industrial sewing machine for christmas. At the same time, a colleague gave me a piece of hide he had lying around at home. So I crudely cut into the leather with kitchen scissors and the needle on the machine fumbled through the thick leather in an attempt to make a bag. Finally, I managed to make my first leather bag, badly sewn yet beautifully shaped. From that moment, I decided that I needed to learn the leather crafting skills that will make my work more refined. Since then, I started working with leather. Initially as a hobby but over time, it became my career.
How long have you been doing it?
Did anything in particular inspire you to start your craft?
My desire to work with my hands and work on more 3 dimensional work as oppose to the digital design which I have been doing previous to this was really what propelled me to pursue leatherwork. In the very beginning, it was the only thing that I wanted to do when I got home from work and on the weekends.
What is the hardest part about what you do?
Telling my story and showing my work to the right audience.
What makes your craftsmanship most rewarding?
The curiosity of others to understand your craft. Their appreciation for the time, effort and skills that goes into the work itself.
Where did you learn the skills required for your role?
When I realised I wanted to learn leather crafting skills, I joined a small workshop in Hong Kong to learn saddle stitching, and then pattern making at the College of Fashion. I taught myself through trial and error and practice along the way until I received the scholarship through QEST to study at the Scuola del Cuoio in Florence, Italy to learn from the masters at their craft.
What are the biggest challenges you face in what you do?
For me, the most difficult challenge is finding help in production when a big order comes in. As a small business, it is difficult to hire someone as the amount of work that comes in is not often consistent.
How have you stayed passionate and inspired by your craft?
Learning other crafts and talking to other makers have kept me passionate and inspired by leatherwork. Watching others work at their craft often inspires me to dream about new creative possibilities and how their skills, techniques, and design can be adapted to my own work.
What are the accomplishments within your work in craftsmanship that you are most proud of?
I am most proud of some of the work I produced during my time at the Scuola Del Cuoio in Florence. There were techniques that I learnt there and applied that I never thought I would be able to accomplish.
How does working with Qest support you/your craft?
Whilst my bags are often colourful and contemporary, audience often miss the craft and skills that is involved in making them. Through the events at QEST, we are invited to demonstrate our craft and this allows me to really showcase this aspect of my work and talk about the crafting side of the whole story.
How would you describe John Smedley?
I think John Smedley has stayed true to beautiful classic lines to create knitwear that has longevity and is accessible to a large audience.
Do you have a favourite John Smedley piece, if so what?
I think it is quite rare to find knitted skirts and trousers. Therefore, I do love the Joanie and Moran pieces.
To read more on Candice Lau and her craft click here.