Posts tagged “Handmade”

Graham Richards, A 53 year road trip... 
My active journey into leather working started ten years ago, although the kernel for it was planted about 53 years back! I’ve always been a huge westerns fan and it was when I was learning to ride western style in 1970 in Hainault Forest, Chigwell, I met Bill, a leather craftsman. As a result, I’ve wanted to learn it, ever since. 
Jump to 2012. I’m on a solo road trip from Phoenix AZ to Colorado Springs CO to do a course with my work as a children’s and youth work adviser. I stopped overnight in Durango CO. It was a Sunday in early October. Everything was closed, apart from a western store. I thought I’d died and gone to cowboy heaven! The trouble was, I couldn’t afford anything. It was all hand crafted leather. However, the lad in the shop gave me a web address of a leatherwork supplier. Some months later I looked them up and they had a couple of UK outlets. A few weeks later I was driving home to Harrogate from Matlock, with £200 of tools and hide, but not a clue what to do with them! 
I scoured the internet and discovered a x2 day course in a wood outside Bath: “Learn 30 basic leatherwork skills in two days!” I went. I did. 
Then followed ten years of honing my craft. I was fine doing the basics, but I wanted to do more. The odd course here and there gave me new skills. I began carving and tooling leather. I tried making different things, to see what people might buy. Commissions started coming in. I was finally getting somewhere. 
In June 2019 I retired. After 25 years in North Yorkshire, I felt I needed to come home to Essex in London, where my family are. I ended up in Tollesbury, overlooking the salt marshes and North Sea, because it was affordable! I looked for possible markets and joined a monthly farmers’ market in Wivenhoe. I used it to hone my presentation skills; test products and build a rapport. Then came Covid… 
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