Bag Designers and Local Artists Trying to Save Last Leather Shop

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9/21/15

Kickstarter to Save Frank O’Donnell’s Leather Shop Has One Week Left

As first reported in the Item, Pat Gorham of Savorii and greenlifesavor has launched an effort to save a shop in Lynn’s J.B. Blood Building that is the sole survivor of the region’s once thriving leather industry. That shop belongs to Lynner and long-time leather-maker Frank O’Donnell.

O’Donnell’s shop has helped local artists and Pat Gorham’s companies create bags and other goods with “upcycled” leather remnants, boat sail canvasses and more. Frank O’Donnell is a critical supplier of materials and craftmanship. Pat Gorham and her companies are trying help keep him in business.

For Gorham, it’s about the “…exciting, rewarding, challenging business of ‘Locally Made'” and ensuring local artists have access to materials and manufacturing expertise.

Link to the kickstarter page

Frank O’Donnell has been far more than a supplier or place of manufacturing. When Pat Gorham first discovered Frank O’Donnell, he offered to train apprentices in the art of leather making.

Frank O'Donnell with Savorii's apprentices in his Lynn shop

Frank O’Donnell training local apprentices in his Lynn shop

Bob at the workshop

Bob at the workshop

 

Also, through her company Greenlifesavor, Gorham set up a workshop at St. Francis House Homeless Shelter to teach apprentices how to sew and paint canvas bags.

“Unfortunately, there are several obstacles to making and, especially to selling, locally made products. Due to the time and expense of hand-made creations, the prices are in a different category than machine-made products which are made overseas,” laments Gorham.

After three years, the shop in St. Frances Homeless shelter closed last spring.

“Even more alarming, we recently learned that Frank O’Donnell may be closing his doors on November 1st. The art of leather making in Lynn may soon be lost.” Gorham continues, “If locally made products are to succeed, we must spread the word that they are more than just a product. Each is an experience. Each is a connection to our neighbor – a beautiful, vibrant reflection of our community.”

“In an effort to preserve Frank O’Donnell’s workshop and also to promote beautiful pieces created by other local artists, Savorii and greenlifesavor have banded together to launch a Kickstarter Fundraising Campaign. Pledges begin at $1.00. Please, let’s make this go viral and show our pride in Lynn history and locally made creations.”

Bag by Jacqui Denesha

Bag by Jacqui Denesha

 

Jacqui Denesha, an artist from Boston, hand-painted many of the greenlifesavor bags using discarded objects she found on the streets of Boston, including nail polish, hair spray, and bing markers!

Here are some products from Pat Gorham’s company, Savorii, made with upcycled materials in Frank O’Donnell’s shop:

 

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Pat Gorham with a few of her bags

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Design by featured artist and art therapist Claire Donnelly

The rocks on the end of the bags are called “gratitude rocks” and are assembled by Bass River of Salem, a vocational workshops for adults with disabilities.

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This boat canvas bag was also made at Frank O’Donnell’s leather shop.

Editor’s note: An attempt to follow up with Frank O’Donnell, himself, will be made. He doesn’t email, and I don’t have opportunities to use the phone at my day job (or much reception there, for that matter).


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