I am the inventor and owner of Obscure Belts. I started the company in 2005 after receiving my MFA in Sculpture from UW-Milwaukee. I like to reimagine ordinary objects (like belt buckles) as extraordinary mechanical marvels. At first belt-making was just a hobby for me. I started off rigging up a simple buckle out of scrap materials in my workshop, then made a few more for friends who liked my design. From there, the designs got more elaborate and a business was born.
Today, Obscure Belts is a company of two - me and my girlfriend Cristina. Together we travel the US selling our cool belts at art, music, and entertainment festival. Check out our Event page to see if we're coming to a festival near you.
We currently make belts in standard smooth finishes of black and brown leather, as well as ultra distressed grey and brown Rough Rider leather.
Our belts are one solid, thick piece of full-grain leather meant to stand up to years of use. We work with a specialty tannery the heart of Milwaukee, Wisconsin to make all our leather hides. We visit them often to learn from their over seventy years of experience and put a lot of care into developing the color, texture, thickness, and feel of each hide. Each leather strap is hand-cut to order and custom-sized to fit our customers’ specifications. These aren't off-the-shelf leather belts. These are custom-fit, small-batch, artisan belts made with American leather and the coolest buckles around.
I started designing my buckles when I realized that traditional belt buckles haven’t changed very much in the last few centuries. A “normal” belt buckle has a square frame and center post that you have to weave your leather through. The design is boring and damages the belt over time by bending the leather in half every time you undo your belt. My design uses a mechanical action to attach to an adjustable sizing stud, not to the leather. To change your size you simply unscrew and move the stud to a different hole. Together, the buckle and stud act like a lock and offer cool ways to unlatch your belt.
Each buckle design takes me months to develop - I carve all of the original models out of wood and sculpt each piece until it feels right. I use a combination of steel, magnets, and puzzle-like precision to open and close the buckles. The design process merges engineering, sculpture, and art to create a completely new type of belt (seriously, completely new and unique. I patented it and everything).
We are honored to have exhibited at some of the top fine art and craft festivals in the United States. Below is a selection of the events and honors we are the proudest of.
United States Patent No. 8171605
United States Patent No. 8813315
Smithsonian Craft Show
Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show
Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival
Cherry Creek Arts Festival
Utah Arts Festival (Award of Merit)
Plaza Art Fair (Juror’s Choice Award)
Brookside Art Annual (Best in Category)
Madison Art Fair on the Square (Invitational Award)
Uptown Art Fair
Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival
One of a Kind Chicago
St. James Court Art Show
Saint Louis Art Fair
Des Moines Arts Festival
Featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art Design Store in Chicago
Featured at the Modern Art Museum Design Store in Fort Worth, TX
Three successful Kickstarter campaigns for the Skeleton, the Fractal and Series 6 Dial
International Mr. Leather
New York Comic Con
Denver Comic Con
Salt Lake City Comic Con
Deep Ellum Arts Festival
Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival
Bayou City Art Festival
Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts (Invitational Award)
American Craft Expo
Wells Street Art Fair
Port Clinton Art Festival
Long’s Park Art and Craft Festival
Ann Arbor State Street Art Fair
Mount Mary Starving Artist Show