About Helen McLean – Leather Goods & Stationery

Helen McLean is a creator based in Melbourne Australia, hand crafting leather journal covers and notebooks.


Working with leather brings back memories of taking school story books into my parent’s workshop, reading out aloud for mum to hear. While she was busy sewing, I hoped she wouldn’t notice the pages I skipped here and there. I was always more interested in creating things…

I remember the smell of leather in my parent’s workshop and climbing over piles of off-cuts accumulating around dad’s cutting table. Mum’s industrial sewing machine skills never really dawned on me until, as a teenager, I tried using it to make Barbie & Cabbage Patch Kids clothes. I eventually moved onto making human sized clothes for myself, while forever experimenting with arts & crafts well into adulthood.

A year before becoming a mother, I attended a bookbinding workshop, which to this day I remember so well. Warm sunshine and a light breeze came through the class windows, and there was a peaceful quiet throughout the room while all students concentrated on their Coptic bookbinding techniques. I was transported to another time, a time where this traditional art was more common.

The smell of leather now surrounds me in my own workshop, a place where I can take my time and create to my heart’s content. And the only story books I need to read now, are those my teenage son highly recommends I do. Which I admit, are far more interesting than those of my childhood, and I haven’t skipped any pages yet…