Let me start out by saying that I feel blessed to be able to live here in Mexico. I love all that this place has to offer… the food, the culture, the music and most of all the wonderful people I get to interact with each and every day. I also feel fortunate that I am able to share experiences like the one I had today with you via this website.
Since 2006, I have organized a small group order of Equipale furniture for friends and neighbors. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Equipale (pronounced eh-kee-pah-ley) is crafted from tanned pigskin and Mexican cedar strips. Sergio, my manufacturer, is from the village of Zacoalco de Torres, Jalisco, 50 minutes past Guadalajara along the highway to Ciudad Guzmán. There, over three hundred families earn their livelihood from producing this rustic cane and leather furniture.
Today, Sergio and crew arrived just past noon with a truckload of 46 newly-crafted custom-made chairs, tables, benches and other pieces. They unloaded the truck as friends and neighbors anxiously awaited for their orders. Sergio inspected each piece to make sure there were no scratches or dents, and then one by one, each order was loaded up and driven to its new home.
Due to the recent rains, one of the benches had a few large water spots that the touch-up paint couldn’t cover. We decided that it would be best to replace the leather. In all my years dealing with Sergio and even the time we went to visit his studio in Zacoalco, I have never witnessed the actual manufacturing process… until today. Yes, this is when I ran upstairs to get my camera!
While Sergio soaked the new piece of leather in a bucket of water, Jesus cut the damaged piece off the bench. He proceeded to fit the wet leather into place…
… and nail it, albeit temporarily, to the frame.
He then trimmed off the excess leather.
Jesus pulled a thin piece of leather out of his tool belt and cut it using this nifty handmade tool.
He poked small holes into the leather in what seemed like a random pattern and then sewed the leather onto the frame using a heavy-duty 6-inch long needle.
Amazingly, it took Jesus less than 45 minutes to replace the new piece of leather.
Here is a photo of the finished product. After the leather fully dries, I need to apply 3-4 coats of stain before delivering it to my neighbor.
If you would like more information about Equipale furniture, please visit the Deseo Galeria webpage.
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