March 15, 2012, Updated December 14, 2014

I’ve been wondering about The Guild Tel Aviv for the last few years. Pegged as Israel’s school for shoemaking and accessory design, there have been quite a few shoemakers, bag designers and other accessory makers who have graduated from there in recent years — I’ve written about Guild graduate and shoemaker Kobi Levi several times in this spot — and many of the local designers, shoemakers and accessory designers teach there, helping develop this still-burgeoning industry.

Anyway, I’d been thinking about a four-week hat course for some time, but wasn’t sure I could really commit to four Sundays of making my way to Tel Aviv at the end of the day. (My ulterior motive was that I’ve been waffling over whether to continue wearing hat-like objects to synagogue each Sabbath, since it’s not feeling as exciting as it once did. I figured that new hats, made by me, in the style that I always seek in stores, would extend my hat-wearing, but it also didn’t make sense to base my shul hat gear on a Guild class.)

In any case, when my friend and I heard about a one-shot belt-making class, we knew it was for us. One Wednesday night, for just three hours, and with a NIS 99 price tag to boot, thanks to a special Guild deal being offered on Groupon. We gathered a group of friends who were also interested, including one serious vegan who verified that she could make a pleather belt, and reserved our spaces.

When the evening finally arrived last night, it was down to just the two of us again, after various family events and issues caused our friends to cancel. No matter. We got there within minutes of the start of class, and were immediately fitted out with our leather strips and hardware.
The teacher, a handbag designer, was warm and friendly, but could’ve offered a bit more instruction and direction. I experienced those familiar art class moments of, “Why am I here, I have no idea what to do with this strip of leather.” But after checking out what the three art teachers were doing across the table from me, I gathered my courage and started making holes. There was an incredibly satisfying feeling in pounding silver tools into the leather, creating my own stamped design along the belt’s length and figuring out where to place holes and loops.

Two hours later, with some rushing to finish things off at the end, I had a new belt, made by moi. I liked the fact that you walk out of just one class with a finished product, and at a price that’s a lot cheaper than buying one in the store.

I would try The Guild again, and maybe even consider trying my hand at millinery. And just so you know, most of the teachers speak English, if necessary.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director