For all you bicycling fiends out there, Obsidian Monarch is taking San Francisco by storm this weekend! Obsidian Monarch is owned & operated by Oakland, CA. artist Billy Sprague. In August of 2014 Sprague received his grandfather’s leather tools as an heirloom. Being around alot of leather work and crafts as a child and wanting to embrace his Mexican heritage and family traditions, Sprague began exploring leather working. Being an artist himself and using inherited tools as inspiration, he began months of dedication learning the skills of leather tooling, pattern & mold making and saddle making. Head down to Fort Mason Center for the perfect present for your beloved bike.
Have you always been passionate about Leatherwork?
Yes! I grew up with useful handmade leather items around my house and at family homes. I’ve always gravitated towards it, they last and are unique and get more so with age, this has always intrigued me…
When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
I wanted a shift from other art mediums i had been exploring and exhibiting for years, it was time to mix it up and do something more with leather than the work i had been seeing as typical (oak leaves, deer etc…)
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
I believe my motif’s and theme’s are very unique and i explore more abstract and surreal ideas more than traditional nature themes.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
When trying to figure out how to mold and set rivets on already tooled leather i made a few mistakes that wasted alot of time. I learned from them and reinvented my process and even made my own tools to be able to go through the bicycle saddle making process more smoothly and with less room for error…
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
I would say finally getting to a fine craftsmanship level that surpassed the level of my teachers (father and grandfather). Both deceased now but i know they are proud of where i have taken the medium.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
I see so many custom bike builders and bicycle riders all over town, they push me to make their ride more comfortable, unique and complimentary to their own creations and personalities.