- PHOTO BY LAINE RILEY
- STICHIN AND BITCHIN : Jon Wilson makes leather goods meant to last.
Peering out over his panoramic view of the Seven Sisters, leather artisan Jon Wilson spends his days dyeing and sewing leather goods from his porch. No, he doesn’t live on a farm, and yes, this is the year 2011.
As a man born in the ’80s, however, he dreams of an age he never saw, days when materials weren’t so disposable, where stuff was made to last a lifetime.
Wilson designs and creates JAW Leather Goods.
“Leather is one of the oldest durable materials,” Wilson began. “It should last you forever.”
Wilson makes custom-designed and hand-stitched leather wallets, messenger bags, purses, bike panniers, bike tool bags, pedal stirrups, and knife-rolls for chefs.
“In our day, there isn’t respect for leather, Wilson ranted. “People spend $300 on a Louis Vuitton purse, and it falls apart in two years.”
Instead, he seeks to create products that are simple, hip, aesthetically timeless, and hardy.
Wilson sources his leather from Siegel of California, a Central Coast leather merchant in Buellton, and makes everything with only high-end U.S. leather. He’s aware that many people find leather ethically problematic.
“I was a vegetarian for eight years, so it’s kind of funny,” he said.
“All U.S. leather is from U.S. livestock, from animals killed for food,” Wilson explained, defending his source material. “It’s a by-product of people eating anyway.
“Their skins are then taken and treated,” Wilson continued. “And high-quality leather comes from animals that were treated well. … Not using it seems wasteful.”
Wilson has always been happiest when creating, and he’s been sewing since high school.
Wilson began making leather goods a little more than two years ago. He recalled that while walking the streets of San Francisco, he saw a beautiful handmade leather wallet and thought, “I want one of those, but I think I can make it.
“So I bought a bit of leather and made a crappy wallet,” he said.
Two years later, he’s come a long way.
Wilson began selling his leather bike accessories locally this past February at San Luis Rides, a bike shop in downtown SLO at 1033 Chorro St.
All of his goods are available through his blog and Etsy account. You can keep track of Wilson’s work and find his Etsy shop though his blog at .
With a fresh career path before him, Wilson is most excited about creating new and original pieces and working with people on custom projects.
“I like doing custom work because it gives me the chance to experience and try new things,” he said. “I find stuff I like making, and it helps me develop a line of products.”
However, “If you want chaps, don’t call me,” Wilson confessed. “Or gun holsters.”
But if you are looking for anything like a set of custom leather panniers or a sturdy man-purse, contact Jon Wilson through his e-mail, .
Want those kiddos to eat their broccoli? The San Luis Botanical Garden invites the whole family to its Fresh from the Garden Cooking Class on March 12 from 1 to 3 p.m. The day will be spent harvesting veggies and cooking a garden-fresh meal in the garden’s top-notch kitchen-classroom. The event will be held at 3450 Dairy Creek Road in El Chorro Regional Park. The class costs $20 for one child and guardian, and $5 for each additional family member. Make a reservation by contacting Lindsay Collinsworth at or 541-1400, ext 304.
The San Luis Museum of Art is holding its second annual educational community clothing swap, Swap-O-Rama-Rama, on March 12 from 1 to 6 p.m. Various local artists will teach workshops on how to revitalize used and unwanted clothing. The museum will hold a mountain of clothes, and every participant is required to donate to the pile by bringing a bag of clean goods. Proceeds benefit the museum’s children’s arts programs. Tickets bought in advance at the Museum of Art cost $5; they’re $10 at the door. ∆
Intern Lauren Cook compiled this week’s Strokes and Plugs. Send ideas for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org.