With Master Leather Artisan, Béatrice Amblard
Fabricating with Reishi™
“I’ve worked with many different types of skin—alligator, ostrich, stingray, sturgeon…” says leather artisan Béatrice Amblard, “And now I can add mycelium to my list.”
It’s fair to say that Béatrice knows leather. For over 30 years, she has perfected her craft—first while designing leather accessories for a luxury fashion house in Paris, and today as head of her own line, April in Paris.
Our partnership with Béatrice was based upon a shared language of quality and a deep respect for craftsmanship.
She was among the first designers to test Reishi™, exploring and understanding the possibility that this new category of material holds, while providing essential knowledge that helped us strengthen and improve. The result was a deeper understanding of our material, which we used to refine it for our brand partners. Here, she shares her experience fabricating with Reishi™.
“When Mycoworks approached me for the first time and showed me what they were doing, I was intrigued,” says Beatrice, “I wasn’t sure if it would be possible to make a product using mycelium, but combining our old trade with their new material was fascinating to me.”
The relationship between these two fundamental elements—tradition and innovation—emerged naturally as a focus of our collaboration. We wanted to preserve endangered leatherworking techniques, while creating something entirely new together: the first showcase of fine leather craft with mycelium.
“I liked that it was matte, not glossy. It had a natural appeal to it,” says Béatrice of her first encounter with Reishi, which immediately invited an inquisitive touch, ”The material felt soft, yet stiff and stable.”
Béatrice tested Reishi™ with traditional leather-working techniques including skiving, pricking, hand-stitching and edge painting, using the same traditional French hand tools that she uses with leather. With minimal adaptation, she was able to achieve a pristine finish:
“The edging and finishing that we do is a very classic edge finish, achieved through a seven step process,” explains Béatrice, “To work with a new material like this and not have any problems with these techniques was a big surprise.”
“Overall, the material reacted really well to heat, glue, dye and the beeswax finish that we use.”
In preparation for hand-stitching, a pricking iron is used to mark the desired thread spacing.
In 2012, Béatrice founded the Amblard Leather Atelier, a leather-working school where the secrets of flawless finishes and centuries-old stitching techniques are passed on to the next generation of artisans. She teaches a traditional hand-stitching technique known as “saddle stitch,” used to craft leather goods that last longer, wear better and hold a unique beauty that stands against the stringent uniformity of machine-stitching. Once she had tested her techniques with Reishi™, Béatrice designed a series of objects, finished with a traditional saddle stitch: “This was the really impressive part for me,” she says,
“Stitching is the true test and we had no problems—it was very, very similar to stitching leather.”
Since 2016, when we first shared Reishi™ with our brand partners, we have been working closely with world-class artisans like Béatrice. These collaborations allow us to tap into their wealth of expertise and evolve our material alongside them.
Reishi™ hasn’t been created in silo. It’s artisan-driven, improved and adapted by workshops and ateliers over the world, each one a testament to the high standards of quality we uphold.
We recently visited Béatrice with our latest sheets of fine mycelium to reflect on the progress we have made together. “We’ve been working with animal leather since the beginning of time, so it’s been perfected,” she says, “But in just one year, Reishi™ has made amazing progress. I definitely see a future here.”
Photography by Jesse Green