Where did all this begin? Well let me tell ya....

This adventure all started back in late November of 2000 when Shelly (my better half) and I attended the Texas Renaissance Festival in Magnolia, Texas. At the time we were playing an online MMORPG called “EverQuest”, and many of the guild members decided to have a formal meet-and-greet at the festival that year. While there we happened across a leather armorers shop by the name of Lord Entropy (AKA, Joel Aponte, RIP). I ended up purchasing a near full set of Celtic themed armor that was similar to the armor my main character in EverQuest wore. Close, but not exact, and hence my journey into leather craft began.

I researched the various tools needed, and what types of leather were appropriate to further enhance the set of armor I purchased at the festival. Within a few months I’d amassed the needed tools and leather to flesh out and fully realize the “Totemic Armor” my character wore in the game. To the base armor I added a gorget which I attached the cloak that was originally attached to the curaiss, a belt and a fully reticulated brigandine leather plate kilt that ebbed and flowed as I walked. It looked and moved like a fully integrated piece of the original armor. I also made an “alchemy bag” that was used by the in-game character to make various buff potions. The bag was complete with a realistic 3D “Combine” button on the back. That was a hit at the festival in, and of itself.

That same year I also made a full set of EverQuest Rogue armor for my wife. We purchased the base top/skirt of a Xena costume, then I added a belt with integrated dagger frogs, dagger sheaths, bracers, arm bands, head band, poison flask, and poison herb bag. She was formidable looking in that get up, I can assure you.

The goal was to enter the EQ Fest 2001 costume contest. Not only were we a hit at the festival itself, but we won 1st and 2nd place in the contest. That affirmed my ability to create unique pieces using leather and related hardware, which I fully intended to embrace. Alas, life had different plans.

Fast forward to April of 2018 when I ran across my original set of leather crafting tools while spring cleaning. For fun I made my wife a small, round keychain charm with a wolf paw print using a stamp I had in my collection for nearly 2 decades. That small effort reignited the spark of creating something out of nothing. Making something beautiful and special out of something mundane and demure. I was HOOKED!

For the past few months I’ve looked at plain leather with new eyes. Now I see what could be, not what is. What can become something more from something less. The leather speaks to me and shows me where to carve, where to stamp, where to dye, and where to leave its natural beauty and grandeur in tact. Leather is the ultimate artistic medium, as it can take so many unique forms after touched by an artisan.

I’ve been a musician for over 4 decades, but never has an artistic medium inspired me like leather has over the last few months.

That enthusiasm is contagious, as Shelly has now become heavily involved in the craft. She has discovered her “inner designer”, and with a little mentoring, she now has the knowledge of the tools and medium to transfer her visions into something tangible. She has embarked on her own line of designer jewelry and leather goods under the moniker of “Shandari Designs”, named after her beloved Woodelf Druid in EverQuest.

Together we have ventured into the makers space and hope to bring new and innovative designs and creative inspiration to the craft. We believe our visions will invoke and inspire others to venture into their own creative endeavors. We will share our experiences on social media in hopes that others may learn from our mistakes and avoid certain pitfalls while building their own brand and following. This is a journey, and we’ve only taken the first steps. We hope you will come along and enjoy the ride as we discover new adventures and creative outlets along the way.

Thanks for taking the time to get to know a little more about us and our journey. It still continues, and we look forward to each new challenge and adventure along with the new friends we hope to make along the way. Jump on board. I'm sure it'll be a hoot-of-a-time!  


EJ James

Grey Skyye Leather Co.