I recently spent of couple of weeks staying at Cherrywood helping out a little and enjoying the free time in the woods to get on with making a few things. It was really nice to have all the materials you need just a short walk away in the coppice after being in the city where as you can guess it’s not so easy! While I was there Rob Exton ran a bespoke intro the leatherwork course for a really keen lady called Sam, he offered me a place on the course to get me up to speed ready for assisting next year : )

Rob Exton teaching in the cherrywood kitchen

Rob Exton teaching in the cherrywood kitchen

For me this was really useful, even though i’ve already made quite a few things most of my learning has been through internet tutorials and copying pictures :p  Rob is an experienced and thorough teacher and we managed to cram in all the essential techniques plus more into one day especially considering the short days this time of year.  The first thing that everybody who attends these courses makes is a simple purse from through dyed leather, this teaches you the basic techniques of using the awl, stitching, finishing the edges and fitting poppers.

Simple leather purse made on the intro to leather course

Simple leather purse made on the intro to leather course

We then went on to cover wet forming (shaping the leather when wet so it keeps the shape later), pattern making, cutting and dying as well as talking about all the tools you need and the cheapest place to aquire them. Sam went away with a purse, knife sheath and a few other projects to get on with including Rob’s own version of a leather covered notepad. While we were doing the course I immediately fell in love with using the ‘stitching pony’ or saddlers clamp, this is a simple device used to hold the work piece in place whilst your stitching (up until now I was using my knees!) making the process a whole lot faster.A take on the saddler's clamp used to hold your leatherwork whilst stitching. Made from a curved cleft ash branch.

So as soon as I had time I went out and found a suitable branch of ash with the right bend in it and made one for myself. The branch is split in half then each half is thinned down a little and given the right profile. All that’s left to do then is put some leather on the top and bolt it together, it’s quite simple but still took me a few hours! If anyone would like one of these then contact me and i’ll see what I can do : ) I’ll be posting the pictures of some other bits I got on with while I was staying there, many of them need a little finishing when I have time. I spent some of my time there getting on with finishing the new shower building, this is important to me seeing as it will be my shower next year! So for now I will leave you with a picture of that and some others from around cherrywood . . .

The latest cherrywood project we've been working on. All the timber is from the woods, including the oak roof shingles every one split by hand!

The latest cherrywood project we’ve been working on. All the timber is from the woods, including the oak roof shingles every one split by hand!

View looking out over the coppice down St Catherine valley

View looking out over the coppice down St Catherine valley

A cosy turf-roofed log cabin at Cherrywood

A cosy turf-roofed log cabin at Cherrywood. Warmer than my room at home!

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