The leather academy Where we train fine leather craftsmen Where does leather come from Leathercraft is an art of love......but before you can become a master crafter you will have to learn patience, respect for and an in-depth understanding of the properties of leather. You have to know your medium and the crafting techniques. We trust this introduction will give you the insight, the love, the understanding and the skills to recreate the classic beauty of yesteryear and create your own style for your tomorrows. This ancient craft was kept alive by a few stalwart hobbyists who followed the traditional rules of Leathercraft and the willingness to share that hard earned information. It is these few who have made this presentation possible. What is written in this course was tried and tested and made available by the grace of the Leather crafters who for years collected all the information in the same precise way they practice their hobby. The job After determining the product that will be made, sometimes after consultation with a client who wants a customized bag, several decisions have to be made. What type of leather will be used? What style design method will be followed? What should the color be? What color stitching and style of putting the product together? • Will it be saddle stitched, laced or buck stitched? • Will the leather have to be decorated? • What type of fittings, buckles, rings, etc will be used? • When discussing the design, the starting point is usually to determine what the product has to achieve. • The size must be determined, the method of access and closure. • The customer should know beforehand what the product would feel like. Choices in leather crafting A leather crafter has two main choices; he could follow the North American style - originally influenced by the Spanish and later the Mexicans and American Indians who crafted well, but also decorated their leather with colour and 2 dimensional leather carving, this style is alive and well in South Africa, specifically as the result of the many writings of the British and American crafters Valerie Michael, Al and Anne Stohlman, Buck etc. Opposite to this style is the more stark and functional style of the British cordwainers and Europeans who made practical items of use out of leather. But what does a leathercrafter do? He makes articles out of leather or repairs leather articles of classical value. This can be done because of his in-depth knowledge of the crafting techniques that dates back to the fourteenth century. This is what the training program of the SA Leather Academy teaches you. Tools of the trade The tools of the leathercrafter have remained virtually unchanged during the past 100 years…..so much so that handcrafters are normally willing to pay a premium for these old tools as opposed to the new ones made in the USA and Republic of China. These days South African creative crafters are manufacturing sets of hand made tools to ensure quality, keen edges and long term use. Leather craft tools Stitching and the how Stitching Edge bevelling and creasing The credo The work starts. The design is made into a pattern that is transferred to the leather for cutting out. The decorations should be done, if any and then the process of putting the whole object together starts. This is a time consuming task as leather is extremely unforgiving and mistakes are expensive. Every square ten centimeters of leather (decimeter) damaged becomes a loss. The advantage of handcrafted items is the quality control that the puritan crafters put into their work. They follow the age-old traditions and are proud of the fact that they can still produce the fine work quality of the ancient craftsmen. Modern cost saving techniques, like cheaper stitching thread, coloring dyes, maintenance oils and soft cast fittings are ignored like the plague. "This is still the real thing" is the credo of the craftsman. The result • I received the bag this evening. The bag you created from my scant description is absolutely incredible---and easily exceeds my best expectations. • I have been searching far and wide for this bag, and my search covered four countries: South Africa, Austria, Holland, and Norway. The bag I received this evening is of a better quality than the best bag I found on my search. You truly are a master craftsman. I am honored to be an owner of your handiwork. Thank you.