Miscellaneous Leather Blogs Category

Leather Belts Made From Which Types Of Leather?

Posted on: November 12th, 2016 by Jamie @ Leathersmith Designs

Genuine Leather Belts?

What types of leather belts are you getting when the store clerk tells you “These are real leather belts”? Are all types of leather belts the same quality when they are imprinted “Genuine Leather”? Not all leathers are the same quality and you will learn that even some leather terminology is misleading. Therefore when you are told an item is made of real leather or genuine leather, that is too vague. You must know the specific type of leather used in order to understand the belt’s quality as not all leather belts are created equal.

Types of Leather For Belts

The cattle hides are very thick and the tannery usually splits the hide thickness into a number of layers.  The top layer of the hide which is closest to the animal’s hair is called “Top Grain Leather”.  The grain is only in this top layer of the hide.  Top grain leather is a general term as it refers to both Full Grain Leather and Corrected Grain Leather. The layers under the top grain are called split leather. All of these layers are genuine leather but are of vastly different qualities, strength and cost. Let me explain the differences between the types of leather.

Splitting leather hides into different layers.

At the tannery, thick leather hides are split into different layers.

Full Grain Leather Belts

Full grain leather is the best quality of genuine leather used by belt makers. The full and untouched grain surface is present. Beautiful unique markings are visible such as grain patterns, hair cells and any natural healed scars on the full grain leather belts. This is the strongest and most valuable layer of the hide. Remember that full grain leather is a specific leather term that falls under the general category of top grain leather.

From the various types of leather, full grain leather is the belt leather for making belts.

This full grain leather belt is one solid thickness. Full grain leather is the highest quality leather from the various types of leather.

Corrected Grain Leather Belts

Corrected Grain Leather is the 2nd best quality of genuine leather used in making belts. Excessive scars and scratches are buffed and sanded from the grain to remove imperfections. Typically, the tannery covers the surface with heavy pigmented finish coats so the original grain is no longer visible. This leather is often embossed with a grain to simulate hair cell patterns. Corrected grain leather is another specific leather term that falls under the general category of top grain leather.

Split Leather Belts

Split Leather is the third best quality of genuine leather that is used to make belts. It is often finished and embossed to simulate a top grain leather. However, split leather is not as high a quality and much less expensive. Splits are often used for suede and are not as durable as top grain leather. The further the split is from the top grain layer, the dramatically weaker it becomes. In other words a flesh split, which is farthest below the grain and next to the meat, is real cheap junk.

Bonded Leather Belts

Be careful because Bonded Leather is not genuine leather. Chewed up leather fibers are pasted together to form a manufactured sheet of man-made material. Bonded leather is also sometimes called reconstituted leather and fiber leather. The percentage of leather particles in bonded leather varies greatly between manufacturers. Buyer beware as bonded leather tears easily. It is often imprinted and finished to imitate a top grain leather. Unfortunately, the vast number of belts in stores are made of bonded leather which is a very cheap quality material. Most bonded leather belts consequently break in a short period of time.

Bonded leather compared to genuine leather would be similar to comparing particle board to solid wood. In wood work, you wouldn’t build your quality dining room furniture from particle board. Nor would a leather artisan be able to build a strong durable belt from bonded leather.

Bonded leather belt tearing apart.

Bonded leather is not genuine leather as you can see in this belt which tore easily.

Leather Terms For Marketing Belts

Marketers often try to impress buyers by misusing and distorting leather terms. Imprinted terms on products sometimes portray what you want to hear and often only refer to one material used to make the product. The imprint on the back of the belt that says “Real Leather” could actually mean that the belt only has a paper thin layer of split leather adhered to cardboard and vinyl.

The following video shows belts that were brought into our leather shop by customers that had purchased them elsewhere. Unfortunately, these belts shown to us had broken, torn or fallen apart. We took these belts apart to see if the imprinted leather term on the back of the belt accurately portrayed the materials used to make a perceived quality leather belt.

Video discussing leather terms imprinted on belts and dissecting the leather belts.

In conclusion, your best guarantee to insure you are getting a solid full grain leather belt is to purchase it from a leather shop that actually makes the belts. Luckily, there are still lots of leather artisans that continue to individually handcraft their belts from quality leather hides.

Holes punched in handmade leather belts by leather artisan.

Leather craftsman punching holes in handmade belts.


Viking Outfit – L’Anse aux Meadows

Posted on: February 28th, 2016 by Jamie @ Leathersmith Designs

The Viking outfit worn by each Viking interpreter was very interesting to me when my family visited L’Anse aux Meadows in Northern Newfoundland, Canada a couple years ago. L’Anse aux Meadows is the first known evidence of Europeans in North America. Over 1000 years ago, a Norse expedition sailed from Greenland to Newfoundland and built a small encampment of timber and sod buildings.  The archaeological remains of  this Viking encampment is found in a beautiful coastline location with rugged cliffs and bogs.  This internationally renowned archaeological find was made an United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site in 1978 because it is the first and only authenticated Norse site in North America.

L'Anse aux Meadows Viking encampment in Northern Newfoundland, Canada.

L’Anse aux Meadows Viking encampment in Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula.

When we arrived at the Viking Heritage Site, first we viewed the museum which had many of the Viking artifacts displayed as well as an interesting film to watch.  Next a guide walked us to the Viking ruins which were discovered in 1968 by two Norwegian archaeologists Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad. The stories of adventure, discovery and history told by the guide were fascinating. After that, a short walk took us to the recreated Viking settlement where we could wonder through on our own and enjoy our own discoveries. Historic experts might say a lot of the reenactors leather items worn are not period correct when compared to actual archaeological finds from the period. However being a leather worker, I was still very interested in their Viking outfits which had leather accessories hand made by many of the costumed Viking interpreters.

Outside Viking Long House

As we came to the entrance of the Viking settlement, we could see the long house in the center of the compound.

viking settlement entrance

Entrance to Viking settlement.

Standing outside the door of this recreated sod covered Viking long house, this interpreter is clothed from head to foot in a Viking outfit. In the excavations, items for sewing and knitting were found which suggested there were women in the settlement. The largest dwelling unearthed had several rooms and measured 28.8 by 15.6 m (94 by 51 ft).

viking outfit worn by woman

Reenactor wearing Viking outfit at long house.

Viking Accessories

Her Viking outfit includes a leather pouch hung from a cloth belt.  A small leather case shown just above the comb has significance which I will explain in a moment.

leather viking accessories

Viking leather accessories.

The leather Viking case which was previously mentioned, holds a needle. This Viking woman shows me her needle and asks us “Have you seen another needle around the encampment where you were walking because I have seemed to have lost one needle?” The actors play their parts in time as there was actually a bone needle that was discovered in the archaeological digs.

viking pouch needle

Viking needle pouch.

Viking Outfit

This Viking reenactor wears a long leather belt which threads through a metal piece. The belt is held taught by wrapping the leather end up under, over and through the loop.  It hangs down in front of the tunic. From the belt on his left, hangs a light colored leather pouch and small knife case.

Viking clothing includes leather belt

Leather belt worn over Viking clothing.

On his right side hangs a darker leather pouch and a deer antler handle knife in a case.

viking pouch

Viking pouch & knife case.

Hand sewn leather shoes protect his feet. Wood pieces are scattered over the dirt floor.

viking shoes

Viking shoes were hand sewn.

L’Anse aux Meadows Landscape

While walking back past the archaeology digs to the museum, we saw a couple moose wondering through the bog. Although there are about 150,000 moose on the Island of Newfoundland, they were not there when the Vikings landed. The moose were brought to Newfoundland in the early 1900’s.

Evidence suggest the Vikings would have fished and hunted animals that used to inhabit the area. These food sources would have included bear, marten, caribou, wolf, fox, lynx, birds, fish, seal, whale and walrus.

The encampment was near the coastal waters for transportation. This viking settlement was likely a seasonal camp for obtaining timber and game to be transported back to Greenland.

The Vikings did not remain at L’Anse aux Meadows long. According to sagas, there were clashes between the Norsemen and the indigenous people, who they called Skraelings. The Norse were vastly outnumbered and returned to Greenland after a few years.

This area has harsh winter conditions that cover the area in deep snow and ice.  The harsh conditions results in hibernation of a lot of animals or movement south.  These difficult winters and lack of food sources may have also caused the Norse to stay for only a short period of time.

moose L'Anse aux Meadows

Moose seen at L’Anse aux Meadows.

 

 

 

Viking Forge

Hanging on the stone wall of this iron smithy building is a leather work apron.  The Viking worker wears a leather knife case and leather Viking footwear. The archaeologists uncovered the ruins of eight buildings, cooking pits and an iron forge.

Some estimate that 75 people, mostly sailors, carpenters, blacksmiths, hired hands and perhaps even serfs or slaves lived at L’Anse aux Meadows. Local bog iron was apparently smelted, purified and made into nails, rivets, and other iron work. The settlement probably was a base camp for repairing Norse ships and for expeditions further south, possibly to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

viking tunic

Viking tunic worn by reenactor at the forge.

The Viking outfit worn by this fellow has an interesting closure on his leather belt pouch.  It looks like a bone, wooden pet or antler tip with a leather lace loop that secures over it to keep the flap closed.

viking garb

Viking garb includes a leather pouch.

A similar type of closure fastens the leather upper of his well worn Viking shoes.

viking footwear

Viking footwear with an interesting closure.

Inside Viking Long House

Hanging in the center near the ceiling are a number of ducks ready for eating.  Other supplies hang in bags on the wall. A rough bed on the left has some woollen blankets for warmth hanging above.

viking house interior

Viking house interior.

Another style of hand made shoe sits beside a hand sewn leather bag on the floor.

viking leather shoes

Another style of handmade Viking leather shoes.

The long house is very large and has lots of interesting objects such as Viking shields, netting and wooden barrels. Some animal pelts are hanging in the center. It looks like they might be fox pelts. Another larger animal pelt lies on top of some supply bags.

viking shields

Viking shields and supplies.

A wooden box holds another small leather pouch and  other needed articles.  This leather pouch appears to have been hand sewn by wrapping the thread in an X pattern around the edge of the leather.  A draw sting pulls the top tight.

viking box

Viking box with hand sewn leather pouch.

Location of L’Anse aux Meadows

Move, enlarge and decrease the map to see where you are located in relation to this historic Viking settlement. See how far they had to travel from other viking settlements in Greenland and Iceland.

Make Viking Pouch

Should you want to make your own leather Viking pouch, you will need some leather craft tools and leather sewing tools.  The leather can be cut with a utility knife or shears. Holes for hand thread can be made with leather punches or an awl.

cutting sewing tools for Viking pouch

Leather craft cutting and sewing tools to make your own Viking pouch.

 


Leather Custom Bookmarks

Posted on: January 24th, 2016 by Jamie @ Leathersmith Designs

Strap Cutting Bookmark Leather

Of the different promotional products we produce, leather custom bookmarks make wonderful gifts for events at schools, universities, libraries and family reunions. The first step in making the bookmarks is to start with quality top grain leather hides. We use vegetable tanned leather which is also referred to as tooling leather.  This type of cowhide is tanned by the tannery using tannins from tree bark.

Since we dye our leather by hand, it is easier to control the color evenness by coloring long narrow strips as opposed to dyeing the whole hide at once.  We use a strap cutting machine to cut multiple strips of leather at a time. Before we owned this machine, we used to use a leather craft tool called a leather strap cutter which is also used for cutting belts.

Strap cutting leather for bookmarks by machine.

Tamsin catches leather straps for bookmarks from the hide being fed though the strap cutting machine by Jamie.

Dyeing Bookmark Leather

We apply about four coats of leather dye to the leather straps with a cloth applicator that is fastened to a wooden block.  When the dye is dry, a leather conditioner is worked into the leather with a sponge applicator.  The leather conditioner we use is neatsfoot oil .  However with neatsfoot oil, it is better to apply several light applications as to one heavy application . Too much oil will darken the leather too much.

Hand dyeing leather & oiling straps to be made into custom bookmarks.

Jamie hand dyes the leather and Alana oils the leather to be made into custom bookmarks.

To give a nice sheen to the leather, two coats of polish are applied to the leather straps and hung to dry between and after each application.

Luke hangs polished leather straps to dry.

Luke hangs leather straps to dry after they were polished.

Cutting Leather Custom Bookmarks

The leather straps are finally ready to be cut to the final bookmark shape.  Our customer requested a certain shape and size so we had a die shop custom make a cutting die from the pattern we drafted.  We use a hydraulic cutting press called a clicker to cut the leather shapes.  The cutting die is placed on the leather and the machine head is swung above it.  When dual buttons are pressed, many tons of pressure push the cutter through the leather.  When the pressure is released, sponge rubber ejects the leather bookmark from the cutter. Using the die reminds me of using a cookie cutter for cutting the shapes.

Die cutting leather custom bookmarks on clicker press.

Leather custom bookmarks are cut out on a clicker press with a metal cutting die that was specially made for this order.

Imprinted Leather Bookmarks

We use a pneumatic hot press to imprint the leather custom bookmark. The press descends with numerous tons of pressure to a set height.  Therefore our leather purchased has to have a very consistent thickness throughout the hide or the press will push the imprint too deep or not deep enough.  After our hides come from the tannery, they are sent to a custom finishing shop to have some of the flesh side removed that is too thick which leaves the top grain leather with a very consistent thickness throughout the hide.

Consistent dwell time which mean how long the metal imprint is pushed into the leather as well as consistent controlled temperature are key to a quality imprint.  We send the graphics to a metal shop to custom make a metal imprint plate for us. This imprint plate must have a deep engraving in the metal.

Logo is imprinted on the leather custom bookmarks with gold foil.

Gold foil imprinting the customer’s logo into the leather custom bookmarks with a pneumatic hot press.

Before our leather custom bookmarks are shipped, they are checked for quality.  Imprint quality and dye evenness are checked. Leather quality is also checked to avoid cuts or marks. Any bookmarks that don’t meet the high standard required are rejected and new bookmarks are made to replace them.

Quality control check of custom leather bookmarks before shipping.

Tamsin checks the custom leather bookmarks for consistency in quality before being shipped.

Normally we make our imprinted leather bookmarks with a rounded top and fringes on the bottom.  We find gold and silver imprints show the best and look the richest on black, brown or burgundy leather although we imprint with other colors as well.


Organ Repair With Leather & Piano Repair

Posted on: August 10th, 2015 by Jamie @ Leathersmith Designs

Professional Organ Repair & Piano Repair

Dwight Mallory makes a living by doing professional organ repair, piano repair and piano tuning throughout Nova Scotia, Canada. Dwight is a customer of mine from Cole Harbour, NS that has dropped into my leather shop over many years.

Dwight Mallory picking up leather strips for valve covers on bellows from Leathersmith Designs to use in an organ repair.

Dwight Mallory picking up leather strips from Leathersmith Designs for valve covers on organ repair to bellows.

Leather Used In Organ Repair On Bellows

Selling leather craft supplies is interesting when customers show you the unique projects they create. Dwight sometimes requires leather pieces to be used in some of his piano / organ repairs and refinishing.  On pianos, the leather is sometimes used as an insert in the music rack.  In the organ, the leather is a key part in the operation of the organ bellow. Leather is also sometimes used on pallets which act like an air valves.

Video showing Recovering Organ Bellows With Leather

 

Fixed organ bellows with leather valve covers in place in bottom of organ.

Organ repair to bellows with new leather valve covers in place near bottom of organ.

Organ Refinishing & Piano Refinishing

I knew about Dwight’s piano tuning expertise as he has tuned pianos for my family members over many years.  He has also tuned pianos for famous music artists such as the Rankins, Roger Whittaker and Rita MacNeil.  His customers include large music chains, school boards and the Halifax Conservatory of Music.

However I did not know about the intricate finishing and organ repair work he did.  I discovered it when I started quizzing him in detail during his last visit to our leather shop.  I was wondering how he used the leather supplies he purchased from us in his work.  I was amazed at the detail and degree of organ repair and piano repair work he did.  He explained it to me and shared some videos shown below. He must be knowledgeable when working with such high string tension pressures.  A medium sized piano contains 230 strings.  Each string has about 165 pound of pressure for a combined pull of about 18 – 19 tons. The working part of the piano called the action has about 7500 parts.  He can take the piano or organ totally apart and reassemble them.  He can do everything from restringing pianos to refinishing the woodwork.

Video showing Refinishing piano style reed organ that is over 100 years old.

It is interesting to watch the transformation in the musical instrument. A worn out of tune instrument becomes a beautiful finished and wonderful sounding organ or piano. In the following video, Dwight Mallory starts his repair with an organ that is so worn and neglected that it even has a mouse nest. The organ repairs involves first disassembling the organ so wooden parts can be stripped and scraped of old finishes. The wood is sanded before applying numerous coats of stains and finishes. Old yellowing keys are cleaned and made bright white. Worn metal metal pedals are chromed. Brass pieces are polished. Other worn buttons and parts are replaced. The last part of the organ repair is to reassemble all the pieces which looks like a gigantic puzzle. What a beautiful finished product. The piano style organ looks brand new after numerous hours of skilled hand repair work by Dwight Mallory Piano Service.

Video showing Refinishing piano style reed organ that is over 100 years old.


Ox Bell Straps – Ross Farm to Chester Basin

Posted on: November 8th, 2014 by Jamie @ Leathersmith Designs

Nostalgic Ox Bell Straps

Earlier this year, I (Jamie Hartling) had the enjoyment of doing some custom leather work for Mr. Lenethen’s daughter.  It consisted of making a couple ox bell straps to display some of his metal work owned by his daughter, Valerie. These stainless steel ornaments are quite a keep sake.

She told me some interesting stories about her Dad .  In Mr. Lenethen’s youth, teenagers had a lot more responsibilities than today.  What chore could you give a 16 year child that would be dramatically more time consuming than emptying the dish washer or vacuuming a room? Imagine today if you had to ask your 16 year old son or daughter to take the responsibility to get a couple oxen ready for a trip.  The task will involve delivering grain to a mill since it was ready to be made into flour. It will take two days to get there because of the distance and condition of the old dirt roads so you must be prepared to sleep on the wagon for the night. That’s exactly the task that P.O. Lenethen had to do years ago at age 16 when requested by the farmer he was working for at the time. The trip involved taking the two oxen and wagon from the Mill Village, Nova Scotia area to the mill in the Camperdown, NS area.

Mr. Lenethen grew up in East Port Medway, Queens County, Nova Scotia, Canada as a youngster. Although as an adult, he worked at totally different employment than on a farm, he always had an interest in oxen. He would have seen lots of oxen in his day on the South Shore. Because of his love for oxen, he enjoyed making ox bells and decorations from stainless steel in his spare time for souvenirs. He proudly made quite a number of ox bells in the 1980’s.  At the age of 94, in 2012, Mr. Lenethen passed away.

Custom leather ox bell straps crafted for ox bells.

Custom leather ox bell straps crafted by Leathersmith Designs for nostalgic ox bells and hearts made by P.O. Lenethen.

Oxen Transport Goods From Ross Farm to Chester Basin

In 2010 for the 250th anniversary of Chester Basin, I enjoyed viewing a re-enactment of oxen transporting goods from New Ross, NS to Chester Basin on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. This event was organized by Ross Farm Museum and the Chester Basin 250th Anniversary Society.  It involved eight teams of oxen.

New Ross and Chester Basin have been interdependent communities for hundreds of years. The farms of New Ross produced items such as food, lumber and wool-crafted products for local use and export to coastal communities. Imported goods required, such as stoves, books and farming tools, arrived at Chester Basin by sea.  The transportation of the goods between the coastal communities and inland communities in old days was done by ox and wagon.  For the re-enactment, one of the wagons was unloaded onto the Tancook Whaler, which is part of the historic vessel collection of the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg, NS.

This historic transportation re-enactment journey with the oxen also took them two days to reach Chester Basin. I watched the oxen come down the road with their custom leather head pieces beautifully decorated in metal ornaments. Among the hoofs clip clopping, I heard the oxen bells making their unique clanging sound hanging from the ox bell straps as Mr. Lenethen would have enjoyed years ago.

There were a lot of responsibilities, chores and daily work for youth and adults from times gone by.  What kind of chores or responsibilities did you, your parents or grandparents have growing up that are different from today?  Are the responsibilities and chores of today’s youth less, more or just different than the youth of the past?  What’s your opinion?

decorative-studded-leather-oxen

Brass ox bell hang from the beautifully decorated studded custom leather work on this oxen team.

 

oxen-chester-basin

Goods being transported by oxen teams from New Ross to Chester Basin for the 250th Anniversary of Chester Basin.

 

oxen-pulling-wagon

Goods arrive in Chester Basin, NS from New Ross, Nova Scotia by ox and wagon.

 

 

 


Making Knives By A Teenage Craftsman

Posted on: October 2nd, 2014 by Jamie @ Leathersmith Designs

 

Keon Maskell Making Knives Since Age 13

Over the years I have met different people with unique talents that have walked into my custom leather shop.  Last summer, I had the pleasure of meeting Keon Maskell who enjoys making knives from his home workshop in Westphal, Nova Scotia, Canada.  He wanted to order a custom knife case to fit one of his latest creations.  He showed me a beautifully made knife that he had just finished.  What is really interesting is that Keon is a young man of age 16 in grade 11 high school that taught himself how to make his own unique knives.

In elementary school he had an interest in swords and knives.  At age 13 he wanted to own a good quality knife but did not have the money to buy one.  He was totally self motivated and decided to teach himself the craft so he could have an unique knife.  At that young age he started  to forge his own knives all by himself.  He researched the internet for articles, watched instructional youtube videos, read books and experimented.   By age 15, Keon started to get requests for his work and has shipped his custom knives to places as far away as Sweden, Ohio, Pennsylvania in addition to doing local orders.

Process in Making Knives

When he found out that I was interested in the process he used to make his knives, Keon shared the following video showing his knife making steps using a forge and machine tools.  To my surprise, he even included the custom knife case I had made for one of his knives in the video.  It is very interesting watching the process of  making knives which he starts with a plain piece of spring steel and transforms it into a beautifully finished knife with a real deer antler handle.

Video showing the steps to making a knife.

Keon starts making his knives from a piece of 5160 spring steel leaf spring for the blade.  He explains that this type of steel is a good balance between being too brittle and too soft.  After the spring is separated, it still has a curve in it.  To flatten the curve and to flatten the bevels that will later be ground, the steel is first heated red hot to soften it.  Then it is pounded to shape on an anvil with a heavy hammer and then cooled in a bucket of cold water.

flattening knife blade

Keon pounding flat a red hot blade that just came out of the fire.

With a hand grinder, Keon shapes the blade.  Sparks continue to fly from the grinder until he gets the desired bevel into the blade.

Grinding Bevel In Knife

Sparks fly as the bevel is ground in the knife blade.

Quenching which transforms the property of the metal is the next step in making knives.  It involves heating the metal to a high temperature and then cooling it extremely quickly.   The extremely high temperature is obtained by dipping the hot metal in a quenching oil.  This makes the steel very hard but brittle.  To take the brittleness out, the steel is then tempered by adding a constant heat.

Quenching step in making knives.

Quenching is an important step in making knives.

Real deer antlers are used to make the handle.  Keon obtains antlers from family members that hunt.  First the antler is cut to size.  The antler is then boiled to soften the marrow.  This allows the tang to be more easily inserted in the handle after the hole is drilled.  The handle is pinned and the ricasso (unsharpened part of the blade) is wrapped in brass wire.  Both the wire and handle are then epoxied.  Engraving of initial in the antler is done with a Dremel tool.  Danish Oil is applied to the handle to give a beautiful polish as well as for sealing and conditioning.

Engrave knife handle

Engraving knife handle with Dremel tool.

To sharpen the knife blade, Keon hand hones it on a coarse stone.  For the final touch, a fine stone is used.  People interested in contacting Keon about his knives or for custom knife requests can do so by clicking on the youtube button on the above video and leaving him  a comment.

Custom Leather Knife Case

I was pleased to be able to craft a custom leather knife case for one of Keon’s original knives.  A thick leather blade guard was sewn around the inside of the leather knife case.  The perimeter of the hunting knife case was sewn with two rows of thick thread on our harness stitching machine.  It was very interesting to make a personalized knife case having met the actual knife maker.  Thank you Keon for sharing your talent in the process of making knives.

Custom knife case

Custom knife case by Leathersmith Designs for handmade knife by Keon Maskell.


Guided To Leather Craft Shop

Posted on: July 9th, 2014 by Jamie @ Leathersmith Designs

Tourists Discover Leather Craft Shop

Margaret MacKenzie, a tourist from Glasgow, Scotland, arrived at our leather craft shop near the beginning of her trip to order a custom guitar strap.  When she returned to Halifax a week later, she picked it up.    She has been enjoying spending her vacation in many of the quaint towns throughout Nova Scotia, Canada.

She said she wanted a personalized hand made craft from Nova Scotia to give as a gift to a musician in her family living in Europe. She arrived at our studio with “The Guide To Craft & Art In Nova Scotia” in her hand which enabled her to find our custom leather craft shop.  The free Guide to Craft & Art made her aware of the many talented craftspeople throughout the province. I agreed that the “The Guide” is a great resource for finding unique shops and gifts from the area as well as for meeting the craftspeople that create these original products.

When I asked what were the highlights of her stay in Nova Scotia, she responded “My, there are too many highlights to narrow it down to just a few”.  However she did mention enjoying visiting the following communities such as Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, Pictou and Truro. She said the people were very friendly and would go out of their way to be helpful.  Aboriginal Day events were most interesting.  Jazz music was enjoyed at the Public Gardens in Halifax as well as visits and participation in many of the churches.  Most of her touring was done on the public transportation system.

After she made her purchase, my family had to go to Halifax.  We offered her a drive as opposed to waiting for the bus.  Ms. MacKenzie graciously accepted.  While on the way, we pointed out the sights before letting her off on Spring Garden Road to continue her touring.   I mentioned the ferry, Citadel Hill and the MacDonald Bridge make great spots for taking photos of the city and Halifax Harbour. It is enjoyable meeting tourists at our leather craft shop.  Over the years we have met some very interesting people from various parts of the world.

Margaret Mackenzie - Tourist from Scotland visits our leather craft shop.

Margaret MacKenzie enjoyed her vacation touring Nova Scotia. We were pleased she discovered our leather craft shop through “The Guide To Craft & Art” when she visited Halifax. In the other hand she is holding a custom guitar strap we made for her.

Meet Talented Crafts People Throughout Nova Scotia

You don’t have to be a tourist to check out the quaint studios tucked away in interesting communities throughout Nova Scotia. Let the beautiful full coloured free booklet called “The Guide To Craft & Art In Nova Scotia” guide you to the many interesting studios run by individual crafts people and artisans. See where the pottery, jewellery, paintings, glass work, woodwork, weaving, blacksmithing, folk art, leather crafts, stone work, textile creations, basketry, photography and other fine artwork are created and designed.  It is available at most tourist outlets and other tourist destinations throughout Nova Scotia.

What is great about the “The Guide To Craft & Art In Nova Scotia” are the several versions that are available.  The printed version is an easy carry size and very interesting with all the full colour images throughout the booklet. The web version is great to do some research in advance on your computer or laptop.  For convenience when travelling, all the same info is also available in a mobile version as well for viewing on your iPhone etc.  Google maps shows the location for each studio beside each artisan listing.   You can easily search by region, type of craft, business name or for demonstrations.

The Guide To Craft & Art - Web Version

Web version of “The Guide To Craft & Art”. It is also viewable in a mobile version.

Great Info In “The Guide To Craft & Art”

What makes The Guide so useful is it’s geographical divisions of Nova Scotia for easy travel.   Each geographic section has short descriptions about the studios and artisans so you can do some checking to see which interests you the most.

As many shops are small family businesses, I would advise checking to confirm business hours in case they are closed due to participation in craft shows or away for some personal reason.  Contact info is provided with each listing along with the normal business hours or a recommendation to call first before visiting.  Although our leather craft shop has normal business hours, we still advise a call first in case we have to step out of the shop for a business errand.

The Craft Guide has tons of useful information.  The artisan’s social media links are provided with their listings.  Many studios are designated in “The Guide” that do demonstrations.   Tour the workshops to see the crafts being created.  At our leather craft shop, we will walk you through, explaining the equipment and tools used in our trade.  In addition to the craft studio listings, other useful info included are listings of the craft shows, craft organizations, art shows, shops and galleries  throughout Nova Scotia.

With so much repetitive mass produced products in malls, it is a breath of fresh air to be able to be guided to crafts people throughout Nova Scotia making quality original unique products and gifts.  How many places can you actually claim that you met the makers and designers of the products and gifts you just purchased?  We hope you can visit our leather craft shop in Dartmouth as well as the many other interesting artisan studios throughout the province.

Guide To Craft & Art In Nova Scotia

“The Guide To Craft & Art” booklet is a great resource for discovering the unique artisan studios throughout the province of N.S., Canada.


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