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Mankato leatherworker prepares for GSR Fine Art Festival

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 5:04 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2021 at 6:57 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - In a classic area of downtown Mankato, a classic shop practices a classic craft.

Ruth Craig has been a professional leatherworker for almost 35 years. With her dog Maggie in tow, the artisan is the master of a fleeting craft.

Craig owns R. Craig Leatherworks, which she opened in Mankato in 1993. She creates and repairs all sorts of horse equipment, books, jewelry and art.

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Posted by GSR Fine Art Festival on Wednesday, November 17, 2021

But she makes one thing clear: she’s nobody’s cobbler.

“I don’t work on shoes, I want to be really clear about that, I don’t work on shoes,” Craig joked.

Alongside her leatherworks in her shop, Craig also sells wood-turning creations done by her father, who has been woodworking for over 20 years.

Both will be showing off their work at the upcoming GSR Fine Arts Festival at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center on Nov. 27-28.

It’s a tough job balancing commercial work and personal art, and the exhibit is making sure Craig’s plate stays full.

“I’m actually working on a couple of big projects for customers right now too, so it’s kind of trying to balance getting customer stuff done, it’s stuff that I already promised people, as opposed to stuff that I might sell if I get it done for the GSR. So I’m working night and day right now,” explained Craig.

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Posted by GSR Fine Art Festival on Tuesday, November 16, 2021

When it comes to carrying the torch for an increasingly rare skill, it’s the love of the craft that keeps the fire burning.

“I have enjoyed doing this my whole career. It fits in my personality well, you know, work in the shop down here and have the dog for company, and things like that so. It’s something that I have never regretted getting into,” she said.

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