Several years ago I sat on a tiny stool in a small leather shop in the Marrakesh souq, watching as a craftsman sewed a large leather cushion. As I followed his hands rapidly moving back forth, needles flashing, he happily explained everything he was doing. He kept offering me glasses of tea and I kept watching and listening – utterly fascinated. When, several hours later, I finally looked at the tray full of empty tea glasses, I realized that I was hooked before I even started working with leather.

That began a gradual learning process. Over the next few years as I was wandering around North Africa, Asia and the Middle East, fully a third of my backpack was stuffed with leather scraps, tools and powdered dyes. I continued to seek out local artisans, learning from anyone who was willing to share. I did leather work in all of my spare time, eventually replacing my camera pack with an ever evolving series of leather bags. When I returned home, my travels ended but my passion for leather craft remained.

Little did I know back then, in Marrakesh, sitting on that stool, that today I would be doing leather work full-time, making a living doing what I love.

I currently live in Portland, OR Made in Portland Oregon

~ Jeff Amrhein

For more information about my travels through the Muslim world, visit my photography site at www.photographic-sushi.com.

Jeff in the Wave

Jeff in “The Wave” in Arizona 2010.