Kentucky Tourism

Guyer, Derek — History in Leather

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etched leather portraits
Derek Guyer grew up in a household that encouraged creativity. He lived in a number of states before coming to Kentucky in 2013 to work in ministry here. It was by accident that his leather art began. He scratched a piece of leather with a knife and began playing with the detail that etching with a knife could produce.

Derek used dyed saddle leather for his early work, but soon found that if he dyed the leather himself, he could create more detailed images. He also experimented with different knives, discovering which worked well for details and which for broader strokes. Derek’s subjects are the result of his great interest in history, especially in the people and places that have changed history.

Each of Derek’s works is etched in leather he has dyed. He uses multiple knives to create lighter and darker spaces. In any given square inch there are usually 1,000 to 2,000 scratches used to create the detail.

Ken Guyer’s work can be found at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, Berea, KY.