Leatherwork Magazine

Written on 10 Jun 2018

‘Waxing the Thread’ the ins and outs of leatherwork

A UK magazine for leatherworkers… at last! Published here at GDH in West Wales, ‘Waxing the Thread’ is a 36 page A4 print magazine for hobbyists and all who are interested in traditional leatherwork.

With a limited range of books available for the traditional leatherworker – and no UK leatherwork magazine that we know of – we set to and created a magazine for leatherwork hobbyists. Modern yet traditional, ‘Waxing the Thread’ aims to assist hobbyists and introduce newcomers into the craft. Issue 1 starts as you might expect, at the beginning, with Project 1 being the most basic level of entry. This project is achievable for complete novices as well as those who’d like a ‘reminder’ of the order of things. Pop the magazine on your workbench and follow the full step-by-step guide, which will hand-hold you right through the project. We’ve also included an essential step-by-step introduction to pattern making, plus a secondary project which will help readers reinforce their new pattern making and basic leatherwork skills.

Flip through to the Pattern Pages; the beauty of these is that you can work directly from them if you’ve already been leather-working for a while and would prefer not to go back to basics.  The first of the Pattern Pages includes a scaled down pattern which is tremendously easy to recreate now that you have those pattern making skills under your belt! The same step-by-step making guide can be used as for project 1, plus we’ve given you some extra help with fitting the additional pattern piece.

Project 2 will increase your skill level further as you’ll be fitting a gusset and a piece of hardware too.  A bit trickier than Project 1 – we didn’t want you getting bored! Again, the scaled down pattern is there for you and by the end of this project, you’ll be recreating the patterns with confidence. This is another step-by-step guide, so nice and easy and also a bit of a treat for those who like the idea of working from a copied pattern – just making, without the maths!

Building on Project 2 is another of our Pattern Pages: If you’ve worked right through the magazine, this will be the fifth leather item you’ve made increasingly developing your skills along the way. Making this final item will see you planning the order of construction while still making use of the Project 2 making guide. All the Project and Pattern Pages inform you of the materials (and leather thicknesses) that we used, so you’ll be able to plan ahead with ordering in supplies.

Of course, there’s more to leatherwork than just leather, so we’ve paid homage to some of the other workshop materials used and hopefully, in doing so, have enlightened you with regard to those linen thread numbers! There’s also information about beeswax, an article to help with design, and How-To pages to assist with tasks such as tool sharpening and additional pattern making techniques.

You’ll also find out who we interviewed, which leatherwork book was selected for review and why we took a trip to St Fagans National Museum of History.  Then there are the ‘Readers Pages’ which we hope you’ll get involved with for future issues and finally, the ‘Just For Fun’ page… there’s a competition here!

Overall, we like to think we’ve created a leatherwork magazine with ‘something for everyone’. We hope you’ll like it as much as we enjoyed creating it!

Buy  Issue 1 of ‘Waxing the Thread’, leatherwork magazine.

Inspiration for Leatherworkers

Written on 10 Jun 2018

Inspiration for leatherworkers

The Leather Museum in Walsall

Leatherwork and Inspiration

What is inspiration exactly? It’s something that can fire you up to get started on a new design or technique. It is often related to creativity and without it, you might find yourself tiring of creating the same thing over again. So where does inspiration come from? It isn’t something you can nip out and pick up from the corner shop… or is it? Well, not exactly but there are plenty of places where inspiration for leatherworkers is in abundance.

Museums: An afternoon spent at your local museum can be very inspirational. It’s not necessary to do anything other than look around, read the information and soak up the history. Your interest while you’re there needn’t be restricted to leather items specifically; look at fasteners, buttons, buckles, or study seams or stitches. Inspiration may not be triggered immediately but give it a day or so….

Pinterest and Instagram: Great places to learn and be inspired. I once saw a post where someone had used a different colour linen thread at the back of their work, than they had at the front. It aroused my curiosity and inspired me to work out how they’d done it using a single thread. This led to hours of experimenting with dyes and threads in the workshop, not to mention the time spent perfecting thread tension so that I got a good result myself.

Library: Leatherwork books are an obvious choice when looking for inspiration, but look also at books relating to other crafts and skills – these are often just what you need to inspire a return to the workshop. The passion of the author(s) combined with the different tools and methods can trigger an interesting combination of possibilities. For example, could you apply an embroidery stitch, or use a woodworkers’ tool on a leatherwork project? I once emailed a student asking how he had skived the leather for his project; to my surprise he send me a photo of no less than 13 different knives and tools… most of them not intended for leather working.

Take a walk: You might be surprised at what inspiration can arise from a stroll around your local town or village: Stuck for a new and convincing leather ‘man-bag’ design, a plaque depicting the invasion of the French, down at a nearby harbour provided all the inspiration I needed to get this design ‘spot on!’

YouTube: There are plenty of YouTube videos available offering help and advice relating to leatherwork (video makers; we applaud you!) These videos will inevitably introduce you to new tools, tips and techniques – hopefully encouraging that flash of inspiration!

Antique shops: Similar to museums, although with the opportunity to have a more *tactile experience, antique shops rarely fail to inspire. Usually stocked with a vast range of textiles, furniture, objects, art and literature. Often too, you’ll find both hand and machine stitched leather items dating from WWII.

People: The accomplishments of other people can be truly inspirational. I personally have always been inspired by the moulded and laminated work of Garry Greenwood – in particular, his amazing leather musical instruments. People can also be used as inspiration in other ways. For example, I worked with a student who’s inspiration for her leather project was based on her perceptions of politicians’ failings. Others have used individuals, historical figures or celebrities as inspiration for new designs.

Nature: For shape, pattern and colour, nature offers a great source of inspiration. In my view, the colours in nature don’t clash – by that, I mean to suggest that any sudden colour changes in the hedgerows, no matter how bright, are never ‘garish’. Shapes and pattern are in abundance here which offers endless sources of inspiration for leather moulding, carving or other forms of leather art.

The inspiration for leatherworkers is always there; the challenge is merely to find its source!

*See pages 31 & 32 of issue 1 of ‘Waxing the Thread’ leatherwork magazine, if you’re seeking a tactile experience at the museum.

Leather Bag Construction – 6 quick pic’ tips

Written on 15 Apr 2017

Leather Bag Construction shown in 6 quick steps. Easy to follow step-by-step guide to success.


1. Sketch out your design and measurements.

Don’t forget to include your centre lines and other details.

Quick Bag Sketch in preparation for leather bag construction








How to Shape a Leather Billet Tip

Written on 06 Oct 2016

Shaping a leather billet tip:

How to shape a leather billet tipShaping a leather billet tip isn’t as difficult as you might think. Just take some stiff card, a ruler or square and a compass, then follow these instructions…

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