The Coffee Table

by Jill Peters

I have been using an old coffee table as a work table for cutting the leather I use to make my Sweet Butter Leather totes and purses.  I sit on a wooden stepstool with a pillow for a cushion and lean over the table to make my cuts.  When I have a new blade on my rotary cutter, it cuts through easily.  But with the new blade, and only 9 fingernails to start with, I worry about veering off track and cutting myself, especially when I’m leaning way over the table.  And then there’s my back.  By the end of the day, I’m feeling pretty stiff and sore.  I miss the days when I could ski all day or play soccer for hours on end and not feel a thing.  But I digress.

This coffee table has been used as a coffee table, but also a lunch table, a slime-making station, a nail salon table, a paint studio, a stage for numerous action figure battles, a puzzle table and a fort construction element.  It has served our family well. But now it’s in my workspace and it’s not working.  My husband has watched me work at this table over the last few months.  He has seen me sketch, cut and layout leather bags here.  He hears me get up from the stepstool and say, “oh, my back” and watches as I struggle down the hall to get the heating pad and some Advil. 

My wonderful husband is a fixer.  This weekend, after watching a couple of basketball games, our Saturday night date was a trip to Lowe’s to buy supplies to make my work table taller.  It made me realize that we don’t have nearly enough date nights, because even a trip to Lowe’s was fun.  So, we had a plan, the tools and the materials and we couldn’t wait to get started.  And that’s how we spent our Sunday; cutting the 8-foot 4 x 4 posts into 33” legs.  And then figuring out how to set the table saw blade and cut the angled corners.  And then figuring out how to put the inserts into the holes we drilled for the bolts to go into.  Whenever something didn’t work, we’d think for a while and then one of us would say, “What about if we…”, and we would try the proposed solution and most times it worked.  The work table turned out great.  It’s tall and sturdy and when I’m standing there working on something, I think about how my husband and I worked this out together and made it into something useful (and pain-free).

That’s kind of how my bags have come together.  I haven’t taken sewing classes, unless you count Home Ec in middle school. And I don’t have a background in design.  But I know what I like, I know how to figure things out and if I can’t, I can ask for help.  There are times when I have had to watch YouTube videos on some of the things necessary to make my bags.  Or I’ll ask the local shoe cobbler.  Or my dad.  Or the girl at the leather store.  Or my husband.  People are very willing to help figure stuff out, and I don’t mind asking for help.  It’s way more fun to work together, encourage others and be encouraged by others than to get frustrated and give up.  It is yet another life lesson I have learned at the bottom of a leather tote bag.

Enjoy your day.