A talented University of Northampton fashion student was chosen to travel to the heart of Tuscany’s leather district to take part in an immersive week-long training workshop.
Aleksandra (Ola) Kukula is in the second year of the BA (Hons) Fashion for Textiles course and was selected to take part in the Craft the Leather project due to the work she has been doing with UK-based manufacturer, Pittards. She was accompanied by senior lecturer, Jane Schaffer, and the pair benefited from attending workshops led by a variety of highly specialised professionals and tannery visits.
The main aim of the workshop is to enhance knowledge of vegetable-tanned leather, which is an artisan tradition used in Tuscan tanneries and is a process based on the use of natural tannins extracted from trees and vegetables.
After spending the week learning the intricacies of the craft, Ola and eight other students hand-picked from around the world were able to select materials from the tanneries to be used to produce their own mini-collection of accessories, which will then be shown and judged at Lineapelle – the most important leather fair in Italy
Aleksandra said: “I was delighted to have been selected for the Craft the Leather workshop as I felt that my hard work has paid off. In Italy, we had the opportunity to visit tanneries and I was very surprised how many processes were involved before the product is ready for sale. I found the trips to the vegetable tan shops selling bags and shoes fascinating and we were shown how they were made, polished and packaged ready for the customers.
“It was also great to meet people from all over the world and of course sample such tasty Italian food. This is an experience I will never forget.”