LITTLETON, NH * MARCH 2014 * SONY NEX-7 * LIGHTROOM 5
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Her studio in the Littleton Tannery Marketplace overlooks a river that slows almost to a halt in the winter but gushes during the warmer seasons. In summer, she opens the windows and the river song is so loud you'd think it flows right through her studio.
Linny Kenney is a leather worker. Stepping into her workshop, the feeling is like sitting in front of a fireplace on a snow day while wrapped up in the softest blanket and eating a plate of warm pie...surrounded by people you love. Over the top? Perhaps. But I don't know how else to convey the feeling of warmth, intimacy, attention, comfort, and love of this space.
Every corner of the studio reveals heartfelt intention: plants thriving in the dead of New Hampshire winter, vintage belt buckles Linny's found on her travels, a black-and-white photo installation with portraits of loved ones, a painting by one of her favorite artist-friends, correspondence, childrens' drawings, thrift-store furniture.
The work table is littered with pieces she's working on and the tools of her craft: leather scraps and hides, paint and paintbrushes, a mallet, scissors, buckles and snaps, the heavy duty thread she uses to hand stitch bags and wallets, and half-empty coffee cups.
She learned the craft from her stepfather and has been building her business since 2009. Every piece is custom-made from start to finish.
She starts with the hide and the customer's vision. After a few hours, a day, or a week, she'll have the finished product: a wrist cuff, wallet, belt, guitar strap, horse tack, dog leash, a bag. Or perhaps her most recently popular creation - a chef’s knife roll.
I've been ordering custom pieces from Linny since her business started, and we've been friends for as long. (I suppose I should say I was her customer before I was her friend, but really the two happened at the same time - a story I will share in Linny Kenney Leather Part II.) Every aspect of her work is of the highest quality. The craftsmanship, leather, buckles, hardware, and paint. Her designs are detailed and exquisite. Most importantly, she has a remarkable ability to listen. She captures exactly the spirit and soul of what customers want.