I absolutely love making leather bracelets!! I don't know what it is about it, but something about combining metal and leather really gets my creative juices flowing. In fact, I could fill my shop and sell nothing but leather bracelets and be completely happy. But, people do fancy things other than leather bracelets, so I do branch out from my "playtime" to create other lil' tidbits too:.)
I buy most of my leather as "scrap leather" from vendors who make leather coats, shoes and handbags. For my uses, I only need small pieces so their scraps work out perfectly for me. Currently, I have 5 shoe box size plastic tubs of leather pieces and scraps, but I'm always on Etsy looking at new colors and patterns (with my mouth watering).
A few weeks ago, my hubby and I took a little overnight trip to Nicaragua and on the way back decided to go through a little town named Rivas -- the next "city" across the border from Costa Rica. It's a very small town consisting of a typical Central American outdoor market selling everything from fruits and vegetables to women's underthings. Lots of pedestrians, taxis, pick-up trucks and bike taxis.
Nicaragua is much less expensive than Costa Rica so we hopped on a bike taxi to take a lil' tour of the town to see what we might be able to pick up before heading back. Noticing that there were lots of handmade leather sandals and bags being sold at the stands, I asked our taxi "pedaler" if there was someplace in Rivas to buy leather. And what luck! He pedaled up and around a dirt and stone road to the back side of town, dodging chickens and oxes crossing the road, and stopped in front of a little hole in the wall vendor stall. (I wanted to take a photo, but the place looked like it might be a bit dodgy to break out my expensive "looking" inexpensive camera.)
It was a supply place that sold shoelaces, metal grommets, shoe soles and belt buckles. Also, they had stacks and stacks of leather pieces. YIPPEE!! As with all things in Nicaragua, the price couldn't be beat. Unfortunately I didn't have a ton of cash on me and they definitely didn't accept plastic, so I wasn't able to get everything that caught my eye, but I did get some large pieces of lush leather.
I love to find vendors like this, little mom 'n' pop holes in the wall. The couple who owned the place were extremely interested to know what I planned to use all the leather for. I had on one of my cuffs and showed it to them as an example. They ohhhh'ed and awwww'd. Cute. I'll probably head back to Nicaragua again in the next few months and will definitely go back by, cash in hand.