Off The Beaten Path – A Medieval Pouch

(Scroll down to the bottom if you would like to skip the text!) I often say that each and every leather craft project is like undertaking a journey.  Even journeys that have been experienced before can present new experiences.  New journeys most definitely provide new experiences.  Such is the same, I find, for my leather projects.  Here is a story about my most recent project.  One that is a departure from my usual type of project.  Ultimately the idea is to provide  beautiful, well made and truly useful leather items to those who appreciate and understand what they are beholding.… Read More »Off The Beaten Path – A Medieval Pouch

Commission – A simple belt pouch

It was a fateful Monday when Eric and Suha visited the Walsall Leather Museum.  The museum is usually closed on Mondays but it was open for a public open day.  I was called in to help with some of the extra activities taking place.  The moment I arrived I was informed that there were a couple of visitors who wanted to meet me about a commission.  They had arrived at the museum on the only Monday in the year that it was open and I was in attendance.  We had a short discussion after which I asked them to make… Read More »Commission – A simple belt pouch

Customer Commission – Sedgwick Leather Darts Case Complete

Note to reader:  if you prefer not reading about the details please skip to the photographs below. Late last year I was contacted by a gentleman named David.  He was looking for a special gift for his son’s 21st Birthday and after some discussion he decided to commission me to make a darts case for his son who is a serious darts player.  During the initial meeting with David and his sons we made some sketches and came up with a design both to fit the darts and to fit the budget.  Fast forward a couple of months and after… Read More »Customer Commission – Sedgwick Leather Darts Case Complete

Traditional Saddlery Training With Barrie Swain – Day 3

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In the previous session Barrie showed me how to attach the webbing to prepare the seat and day three of the training was a continuation of the preparation of the seat. On day three we cut and attached the padding on to the webbing. A fair amount of precision is needed to ensure that the seat doesn’t have and lumps or bumps in places where they could cause discomfort to the rider. So lots of trimming to ensure that the edges of the foam have the right contours and sit in the right place. Traditionally saddles would have been padded… Read More »Traditional Saddlery Training With Barrie Swain – Day 3

A Victorinox Pocket Knife Saved

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Some months ago I made a leather sheath for a two layer Alox Victorinox pocket knife. This pocket knife is attached to a keyring and is carried in a pocket on a daily basis. It is an extremely useful tool and is used often. The owner of the pocket knife was worried that the aluminium scales were getting damaged while being carried and this led to the making of the leather sheath. A few days ago the owner of this Victorinox pocket knife had an unfortunate experience. Not just one fall but two falls in the same day. The first… Read More »A Victorinox Pocket Knife Saved

Traditional Saddlery Training With Barrie Swain – Day 2

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The second day of the training took place a few days ago.  Despite being cut short due to a power failure we did quite a lot.  The main task that was completed was the attachment of the webbing, the base upon which the saddle is built.  We also attached the initial components for the seat. I asked Barrie about the modern foam that we were using for making the seat.  I wanted to know what would have been used in Victorian times.  The reason why he used this modern material is that it is far superior in comparison to what… Read More »Traditional Saddlery Training With Barrie Swain – Day 2

Brook’s England – The Birmingham Bicycle Saddles Factory Tour

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A couple of weeks ago I received an invitation to attend a tour of the Brook’s (bicycle) saddle factory in Smethwick, Birmingham, UK.  The invitation was immediately accepted and a couple of days ago I found myself in the company of a small group of people being taken into the factory premises.  Knowing not what to expect I followed in the line of visitors to the office area.  To get to the office area we had to pass through the factory and immediately the excitement began to well up inside.  First impressions, this place was old and it housed some… Read More »Brook’s England – The Birmingham Bicycle Saddles Factory Tour

The Pursuit of Excellence

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Approximately two years ago I was having conversations with the owners of a couple of well known luxury leather goods manufacturers about brass briefcase locks and brass hardware.  The gist of the conversation was that Italian locks are superior to British ones and that the British ones don’t last.  Around the same time I read an article about Naoyuki Komatsu of Ortus Leather in Japan on Simon Crompton’s website Permanent Style in which it is mentioned that Naoyuki Komatsu resorted to making his own locks and brass hardware.  He mentions that the British brass hardware is the best but he… Read More »The Pursuit of Excellence

Traditional Saddlery Training With Barrie Swain – Day 1

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Today was a fairly momentous day.  It was day one of my saddlery training with Barrie Swain.  The training is being held at the Walsall Leather Museum in the West Midlands, UK.  Walsall being one of the world capitals for saddlery and luxury light leather goods.  A video record is being made of the training to capture the skills of one of the worlds last remaining experts in traditional Victorian saddlery. The time lapse video below shows several hours compressed into 30 seconds.  It gives a sneak peak from behind the cameras of the first day of training.  I intend… Read More »Traditional Saddlery Training With Barrie Swain – Day 1

Oak Bark Tanned Tote Bag

A recent project completed for a customer in Switzerland.  This is a large tote bag made with oak bar tanned leather from JF & J Baker on Devon.  Please see the photographs below. The purpose of this hand made tote bag is to carry essential items for the city worker or for a weekend break.  It will carrying shopping or baby items equally well.  It is a versatile, simple and large bag that will fit into any setting.  The customer will be using it to carry his office items such as his laptop, books, files, and umbrella and a bottle… Read More »Oak Bark Tanned Tote Bag

A New Bag Design

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A family trip on an unusually warm autumn day recently took us to Bakewell in Derbyshire.  In Bakewell we came across a clothing store named Sea Salt where I met a lovely sales woman who informed me that their mini cross body bags were selling like hotcakes (potential pun since the original Bakewell Tart shop is located directly opposite to the Sea Salt store).  She strongly suggested that I come up with a completely handmade version.  I have come across several people at the Walsall Leather Museum who have also expressed an interest in such a bag.  This is what… Read More »A New Bag Design

Repaired and Restored – A Mulberry Bag

Occasionally visitors come to the Walsall Leather Museum, where I and a demonstrator on Tuesdays, with leather possessions that require some kind of repair or restoration.  The projects have been very varied and perhaps I should write a blog about all of the interesting repairs and restorations I have done. A few months ago a lady named Irene from Birmingham, visited the Museum seeking help with a Mulberry bag she bought about 12 years ago.  Unfortunately she visited on a day other than Tuesday and she left with my telephone number.  After a telephone conversation I agreed to carry out… Read More »Repaired and Restored – A Mulberry Bag

Rolex Meets Sailors – The Prototype Strap

Some weeks ago I offered to make a bespoke watch strap for a Rolex.  I had never made a strap like this before and I decided to make a prototype for testing.  This is a brief narrative about the journey of the prototype Rolex watch strap and some hiccups along the way. The original was a crocodile skin strap that the owner wanted to replace due to the original showing signs of wear.  It was not the usual Rolex watch I was used to seeing and so the strap needed a different approach. The owner found me through the Walsall… Read More »Rolex Meets Sailors – The Prototype Strap

Tool Bag – This One’s For Me!

So this one’s for me.  Here’s how it happened. I wanted to make myself a small tool bag inspired by the saddlery trainer at the Walsall Saddlery Training Centre.  Christer (the trainer and a friend) had made himself a tool case when he was studying saddlery some years ago and I really liked the design.  I had been thinking about it but as often is the case I didn’t really have any serious plans to make the tool case any time soon.  Too much else to do.  However I was invited to use some of the Walsall Leather Museum workspace… Read More »Tool Bag – This One’s For Me!

Scraps to Straps – Making of A New Watch Strap

This is my 30 year old Casio diver watch, gifted to me on my birthday.  Since I started leather craft it has been dressed with a number of hand stitched watch straps.  This is the latest.  Made with scraps of the replica Russia leather from Baker tannery, pure linen thread and natural russet leather lining.  The edges are creased giving deep grooves between the stitch line and the edge of the straps.  The edges are also burnished lightly and then sealed and finished with beeswax.  I didn’t want to go for glossy side with this one.  The major difference with… Read More »Scraps to Straps – Making of A New Watch Strap