About the Artists

Lawrence Knapp

Larry was born in Florida and raised in New Mexico. As a young man, he studied Chemistry and Physics at Oberlin College in Ohio. In 1969, he left the country to go to the Spanish island of Ibiza, a mecca for artisans and craftspeople. Here he discovered leather, and with the encouragement of his first partner he started making leather bags. During the 15 years he spent on the island, Larry acquired the skills of tooling, lace making, and braiding. The vibrant leather scene on Ibiza soon inspired him to create his own designs. However, to implement his creative vision he found that he needed specialized tools. Undaunted, Larry invented his own line of leather tools. These helped him produce his signature style of leather work. Larry's knowledge of chemistry also motivated him to create a special leather lather that made for easier production. In 1980 he met his wife Jaya on Ibiza, and in 1984 they moved with their children back to New Mexico. It was here in his home studio on the Mesa that Larry fine-tuned his specialized skills for lace making and developed the silver buckle sets for the creation of his unique snake belt. Over the years he has developed several popular multiple strand belts, which include his famous 1” wide, 12 strand snake belt and regular belts, the 1 1/4” wide 14 strand belt, and the 1 1/2” wide 16 strand belt. These strong, supple and beautiful belts are Larry's own braided designs, and they are popular with customers worldwide.

Jaya Knapp

Jaya was born and raised in Germany. She completed her formal education at the University in West Berlin with a Masters Degree in Teaching, specializing in Arts & Crafts and Geography. In 1978 she moved to Ibiza, Spain to join the thriving Arts and Crafts community. Here she fashioned a line of women's clothing. When she met Larry on the island in 1980, it was a meeting of two creative minds and hearts. Eventually, they married and moved with their three children to New Mexico. Here Jaya designed her own line of leather jewelry to complement Larry's belts. She produced tightly braided round cords, playing with different sizes and color combinations to make necklaces and her famous bolo cord ties. Jaya's passion for designing grew with each piece she created. Her classic, sophisticated jewelry line is based on round leather braiding, incorporating special silver designs and unique beautiful stones that compliment her work. For Jaya, braiding is like a meditation and she creates each piece with love.

About the Team

The Cordon y Cuero team is an essential part of the business. Lupe, who has been braiding at Cordon y Cuero since 2004. Larry and Jaya's two daughters have recently joined the family business. When Anyma and Joana were growing up, leather was an ever-present medium in their home, and artistic inspiration was abundant through the influence of their parents. The leather studio was an integral part of the house, and they began playing with leather scraps at an early age. Both daughters had their first jobs working in the family's leather business. This long history has inspired them to return to their roots in Taos to add fresh creativity to the family business. In 2013, Anyma moved home to Taos from San Diego, where she had been working after completing her University degrees at UCSD. She is now producing her own leather braided earring designs, which beautifully compliment her mother's jewelry. Anyma's work has clean lines, urban sophistication and a playful sense of fun. The newest addition to the team is their son Braden. The Knapp's younger daughter Joana has recently moved to Taos from Germany and she brings her business knowledge and creative passion with special style to more leather jewelry designs. Last but not least, Lucky the dog, the stores Mascot has been doing tricks for treats for over 10 years.

About Cordon y Cuero

Jaya and Larry Knapp met in Spain on the romantic and creative island of Ibiza in 1980. It was there that the seeds began to sprout for their future business, Cordon Y Cuero, which means "Lace and Leather." In 1984 Larry brought the family to the United States, and back to his roots in New Mexico. Jaya is originally from Germany, and she fell in love with the light drenched “Land of Enchantment.” They chose to settle in Taos, where they would be continually inspired by the beautiful land, the dramatic skies and the vibrant art culture. They had a connection with a local leather worker, Joel Wood, who owned the business Leatherwerks at the time. Through this connection, they were able to immediately start selling their work and networking in the leather community. During the first few years in Taos, they worked on developing the tools and the unique designs of their signature braiding. Larry worked primarily on the engineering aspects of the business and Jaya brought her expertise in creative design. In the early years, they perfected the lace cord and the snake belt, working from a simple home studio. Their work was represented at various arts & crafts shows, as well as at Leatherwerks in Taos. In 1990 they opened their current production and retail space, The Leather Studio, on the Guadalupe Plaza. In 2014, with the return of their daughters Anyma and Joana, the business is now expanding. The current retail space will become double in size and a new workshop is opening across the street. Larry and Jaya are grateful and excited to see their creative business expanding as it continues into the next generation.

Behind the Scenes

*Photos by Orion Paulden
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