Hello everybody, let me introduce myself. My name is Jakub Gráf, but you may find me as @zahorizont and @grafworks_leathergoods on Instagram. My main focus is portrait photography, but for the last two years, I am also trying to improve my leathercraft skill.
It has all began with the switch to the Fuji X system. I was looking for a strap for my X-Pro2, which wouldn’t belittle its simple design. It was clear, that my strap must be made from leather and survive difficult conditions during photoshoots. A few days later I found out, that these tailor-made straps are really hard to find for a reasonable price.
Then I had two options:
1. mainstream leather strap, which wouldn’t last for long,
2. nice tailor-made leather strap, but over my budget.
So I made up my mind and decided to make one by myself. Without any previous experience with crafting from leather, it was a nightmare at the beginning. Nevertheless, I overcame the first difficulties, when I couldn’t cut the leather straight at all and I made the strap on my own. In these beginnings, it was tough, but I actually improved my skills with each attempt.
Leftovers from making the first strap I utilized to learn cutting and sewing. The second one turned out better and I still have it on my Fuji X-Pro2 – as you can see on the picture below. Since then I made more than 50 straps and I decided to extend my portfolio. I began with making even leather belts, collars, wallets, cases for tablets, notebooks, laptops and last but not least even pouches for batteries and memory cards.
Some time ago I got a pre-owned X-Pro1, for having the second body as a backup to my X-Pro2. This camera fits me well with its button layout and size, so this was a perfect match for me. On the X-Pro1 from 2013, the grip and leatherette were worn out on the front side. There was a hard decision to make – to buy the brand new grips or to face the next challenge and make them on my own.
As for material, it was clear from the start – leather. I wanted leather because it grows old, it gains patina. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a proper leather grip to buy, therefore it was decided. I ordered the thinnest piece of leather which I could find and I began to make the template. I used the original leatherettes and I overlined them. Then I redraw the shape of it on the leather.
The first problem occurred when I found out that the leather is too thick to have the viewfinder lever on its place. I unscrewed the lever and with little washer, I screwed it upside down. The next issue came with the rubber grip for the right hand. In the beginning, I wanted to coat the grip with leather, but I realized that the camera looked better without it.
It didn’t end with carving the shape of the grip out of the leather. In the bends, the leather had to be thinned. The first two attempts failed because I carved the leather too tightly and the second time I, unfortunately, thinned it too much and the screw holes under the grip on the camera body began to pop out. The third attempt has already worked out according to my ideas.
I prayed that the glue would stick and that the grip would not peel off in the foreseeable future, just like the original ones. I treated the leather with a homemade balsam to better withstand sweat and weather conditions. My goal was to protect the leather and darken it a little bit.
Now, after half a year later, the grip is still holding properly on the camera and because it grows old beautifully, it makes me happy. To the X-Pro1 I added a simple leather strap.
For the future I’m planning to rebuild the back of the camera, where are still the original leatherette. I’m thinking about the same customization on the X-Pro2, but I want to have some time for finding out if this custom piece stands the test of time and works well. I’m worried, that if I wanted to switch the X-Pro2 for the X-Pro3, it will be impossible to sell because of the custom modification. I think that the X-Pro 3 is a logical successor. The Duratec Black or Silver X-Pro3 would be beautiful with a leather grip!
What do you think about it? Does such a camera have its own charm, or do you consider it devalued thanks to the leather grip? If you have any questions, or if you would like something made of leather, please contact me on Instagram @zahorizont and @grafworks_leathergoods or via email – firstname.lastname@example.org
I wish you a beautiful light! 🙂
“My name is Jakub Gráf, but you may know me as Zahorizont (Instagram). Most often you will meet me in the forests of the Jizera Mountains, where I will probably be in some crazy position on the ground, tree or rock and there will be some of the forest fairies (models) near me. My photography is specific for several reasons: I shoot with manual lenses, I use wide-angle for portraits, and the places where I take photos are often very difficult to access. And that’s why I enjoy it all so much!”