When I turned 30... I mean, 25... A couple of my friends gave me a custom made wallet. So this is 30... Anyway, the wallet came from their friend Wayne Lambert-Thomas Peterson, 29, who owns L.T. Leather Co. in Long Beach CA. I was out that way a few weeks ago and I had a chance to swing by his garage workshop he's made for himself, snap some photos and ask him some questions about himself and his work.
How old were you when you got interested in leather tooling?
I was young when I was first exposed to it, early teens. I grew up in Seattle but my parents shipped me and my sister off to South Dakota to work on our relatives farms every summer. We rode from Seattle to Chamberlin SD in the cab of our family friends sleeper semi truck as he did deliveries. Took three days and say a lot of shit. I was exposed to so much amazing leather work but was too punk for it all at the time. I didn't find out I wanted to do it myself until a few years ago.
What sparked your interest in leather tooling?
It kind of came out of nowhere. I toured 10 months a year for 5 years playing drums everyday. Once that stopped and I fell into a normal life I was lacking a creative outlet. I just wanted a long trucker style wallet one day but wasn't able to swing the cost of it. I went to a local leather store and got a few basic tools and some scrap leather and started trying to make myself the wallet I wanted, that's where it really started, with making that first wallet for myself. Once it was good enough, I showed a few people and had some good friends ask me to make them wallets and belts right out of the gate and haven't stopped since. I'm really grateful for those early friends and all the continued support.
What influences your work?
Leather work is amazing because you can task ten different leather makers with the same project and get ten wildly different results. Everything in my life contributes to what I make. I find huge influence in american traditional tattoos, old comics, Mexican culture, Native American heritage, Vietnam War trench art, punk and hardcore music, it's kind of all over the place. I'm stoked because I make what I feel, and what I want to make and what I think is rad. Sometimes it doesn't sell but when it does, it feels great because someone found value in something I made with my own hands from a sincere place of my own mind and that's incredible to me.
How many hours a week on average do you spend on your craft?
It goes up in down, both with custom orders fluctuating as well as creative energy coming and going. Some days I'll get up and ready and get to the garage and sit there and stare at my desk for two or three hours, sometimes linger, drained of inspiration and motivation and it will take me a few hours, sometimes days to get back in the groove. I have found that when I try and squeeze out a piece in that down time, it generally blows and I wind up giving it away after scratching my logo off haha! I try not to do that anymore. All in all though, I spend a lot of god damn time in my garage.
How would you say your hobbies (motorcycles, music, etc) effect and influence your work?
I love to ride motorcycles and my favorite part is taking off everything I can, and changing everything that's left. It's another creative outlet, it's adult Legos and it's fucking awesome! Outlaw bikers of the 60s and 70s have a huge influence on my wallets and belts. They were bad dudes who looked the part. It was sincere back then. They all chopped their bikes and each one was unique. I try and maintain that vibe with my work by making each piece one of a kind, unique, and as rad as I can. There's something I always found real important, even as a kid, to mark everything and tweek everything I had just a bit, so everyone knew it wasn't their's, that It was mine.
Growing up in Seattle and now living in Long Beach, which do you prefer more, and which is more beneficial for your work?
Growing up in Seattle I was trapped by the rain. Always having to skate in parking garages and hang under bridges and shit like that. So living here now, I am taking full advantage of the weather. I don't skate as much anymore but the fact I get to ride my motorcycle every single day is an absolute gift and am so stoked to rip around all the time. The Northwest is so unbelievably beautiful though and the summers are second to none. Realistically I see myself moving back one day, but for now I'll stick with the sun.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully still making wallets and leather goods! I also having a growing interest in welding and fabrication so you may see me taking some vocational courses at the local community college too!
In your opinion what has been the raddest shit you have made so far?
I'm just finishing up a completely hand tooled king and queen seat for bike which is turning out rad as hell. It's all natural veg tanned leather and has a natural kangaroo leather braided edge. It's not fully finished yet so don't worry there's still time for me to totally blow it. Other then that, I made the women's clutch and totally freehanded the entire template and all the inside pockets. It's probably the best thing I've made so far that's finished.
What’s the toughest project you have worked on?
This fucking seat.
If you could make anything for anyone, what would it be and for who?
I'd love to make a cross-harness horizontal dual pistol shoulder holster for Liam Neeson. Huge Taken fan.