With snow in the mountains and a chill in the air, it's the perfect time of year for a roaring fire. A peaceful escape. But there's one thing that's not relaxing -- schlepping all the wood inside.
That's where Ken Amann's sturdy log carrier comes in. "The canvas is strong, but these straps carry the full stress from the handle all the way around the logs," Amann said.
Amann has spent 45 years designing and working with leather. "I grew up with tools not toys," he said.
It's a craft he learned from his brother. "I picked it up in California in the 60's -- no surprise -- and I brought it east," he said.
His business, Amann Fine Leather, in Fayston is known for items like pocket books, wallets and belts. But this time of year he's busy making canvas log carriers -- with leather straps of course.
"The handles are extra big, so you can put a gloved hand in there," he said.
The carrier also has a doubled side seam to stop the mess from ending up on the floor. Amann gets leather from tanneries all over the world. Different places have different characteristics. For example, he said Italian leather makes the best purses because its supple and comes in many colors. Pennsylvania leather is sturdier and makes better belts.
Reporter Gina Bullard: What is the difference between one of your wallets and a wallet you'd buy in a big store?
Ken Amann: A huge difference.
The difference is the quality of the leather. Amann uses top grain versus genuine leather which you often see in stores. "Genuine leather can be almost anything, included bonded leather. Cheap $10 belts are made from scraps ground up and glue pressed out in sheets," he said.
Amann said he's one of a few leather workers left in the state. The trade is dying as leather gets more expensive and cheaper options dominate the market. "There's no reason a belt or wallet shouldn't last you a life time," he said.
Amann said he stays in business because he prices products competitively. For example, a handmade belt is $30 dollars. Almost half of the cost is for his materials. Amann is also a one man show. "Vermonters are practical -- I feel like I'm home. These were my parents -- everything is practical and sensible and not garish," he said.
And Amann stands behind his craftsmanship -- each item comes with a lifetime guarantee.