Nova Scotia Posts

Leather Shop Metamorphosis

Posted on: June 29th, 2015 by Jamie @ Leathersmith Designs

Basement Leather Workshop

At age 12, my first leather workbench was a cement block sitting on the floor of my parent’s basement in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. In 1975, my father helped me build a number of proper heavy duty wooden workbenches and shelving units so I could start my first leather workshop. My Dad and Mom (Gerald & Verna Hartling) were very supportive in allowing me lots of space in the basement of their home to grow my leather business.

My mother, Verna Hartling by leather splitter in basement leather workshop.

My mother, Verna Hartling by leather splitter in basement leather workshop.

Mr. Mumford, a neighbour across the street even came over one afternoon with his chainsaw and made a solid level workbench out of a very large tree stump.  The tree stump is still being used every day for a sturdy work surface for punching holes in leather. On top of the tree stump I bolted an anvil that a friend Russell Lockhart help me make. I even made a dye bench/storage unit from lockers I salvaged from Prince Andrew High School that were being replaced.

Building New Leather Shop

By 1990, I had fully occupied the whole basement of my parents home as a leather craft work area with stock, sturdy wooden work benches, tools and leather bench equipment. To grow my business, I needed more space for more equipment. My parents generously allowed me space on their property to construct a building for a leather workshop in addition to continued use of their basement for stock. However, purchasing more equipment and a building required more money than I could afford.

One day when walking through my neighbourhood I stopped to talk to a hard working man originally from Turkey who owned his own upholstery business. I explained I wanted a building for my leather work but it was too expensive.  He said “Since you are young and healthy, you can build it yourself to make it affordable.” His encouragement was nice but I knew nothing about construction.

Mr. Laybolt, a neighbour up the street suggested his son David who was skilled and knowledgeable at construction could possibly work with me building the shop. His son agreed and worked a good part of the summer on his days off and evenings and left at the end of the day with detailed instructions regarding what I had to complete before he came back the next time. My father helped me with the construction as well. Another neighbour across the street, Mr. Piercey, helped me lay the top flooring. Our minister, Rev. Snow even dropped by one afternoon to help secure some windows.

The excavation for this building was done by hand by myself with a shovel which took many evenings over a number of weeks. My brother Philip helped me remove a tree stump when he saw how frustrated I became with the difficulty of the digging and how long it was taking me.  Our part of Nova Scotia has a lot of very large rocks under the ground.

Building first leather workshop.

In the summer of 1990, I am building the roof and my father is working down below on my first leather workshop building.

Moving Leather Shop Building

In the summer of 1999, we had outgrown our old leather shop and needed a larger workshop. My wife Gail and I considered building a larger building on another site but it was very expensive to rebuild as well as the high cost of having the heavy leather equipment moved. My brother Lester suggested I look into moving the whole building which I already owned. To my surprise, it wasn’t that much more expensive to move the whole building with the equipment in it as opposed to only having the equipment moved to a new location.

We had it moved to our new location next to our larger shop which was just renovated for us by Forrest Brothers Construction. They did a wonderful job adding new windows, doors, walls, insulation, gyp rock and siding. Wiring in the building was done by O’Malley Electric to accommodate leather machinery with large motors. No way was I going to excavate this site by hand with a shovel after my experience of doing it with the first building.  I contracted a company to excavate the ground for the placement of the old leather craft shop building but I can’t remember their name. After they finished, my friend Mike Haikings came over with his survey equipment and we accurately levelled the gravel area.

It was quite the move involving approval from the telephone company, cable company & electric company. Routes had to be checked, wire heights for all the utility companies had to be measured. Some overhead wires had to be raised, permits had to be arranged and scheduled moving time with the Halifax Regional Municipality had to be approved.

Before the move, electrical wires and telephone wires had to be disconnected from the leather craft shop. Machinery had to be securely bolted to the floor. Boards had to be nailed to the outside of the building to protect the exterior from the strain and pressure of the cables.

Moving original leather shop building to new location in September, 1999.

Moving original leather shop building to new location in 1999.

All our leather equipment was inside the building that was suspended by the crane. My livelihood was virtually suspended by the crane cable so we were very relieved when the crane finally successfully lowered it at the new location in another part of Dartmouth. Some of the leather equipment such as our leather clicker weighed a couple thousand pounds and other pieces close to 1000 pounds each. The crane operator was surprised that such a large crane was booked for our building. However, when he started to lift it and the crane registered how much it weighed with all the leather equipment inside, he understood why. He had to stop and reposition the crane to deal with the heavy weight load.

Sagadore Cranes did an excellent job of moving the building. The city of Dartmouth was cooperative with the scheduling times as we needed daylight to see since the building had to be lifted over trees and over the roof of another building but couldn’t be moved during busy traffic. There was manoeuvring in quite tight spots. The crane operator and crew were very skilled.

Relocating heavy leather equipment within the larger leather shop.

Relocating heavy leather equipment within the larger leather shop.

The metamorphosis from a tiny concrete block workbench on a basement floor to a large professional leather shop took many years. Most of our business is on the web selling our custom leather products such as guitar straps, dog collars, money belts and leather craft supplies. However we love it when customers and tourists visit our leather craft shop.

Combined older leather shop with larger leather shop.

Combined leather shop. Older shop next to larger renovated shop.

You can watch the following video of the “Big Shop Move”, which shows how our leather shop was lifted by the large crane and moved through the streets of Dartmouth (Halifax Regional Municipality). In the video, excavation was first done at the new location for the old workshop. After the building move, leather machinery was transferred between leather shops by the crane.

Video showing The Big Shop Move


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.

<img class="wp-image-431" title="Ox bells on leather hanging straps cialis in holland kaufen.” src=”http://blog.leathersmithdesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/oxen-bells-leather-straps.jpg” alt=”ox bell straps” width=”309″ height=”570″ srcset=”http://blog.leathersmithdesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/oxen-bells-leather-straps.jpg 500w, http://blog.leathersmithdesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/oxen-bells-leather-straps-189×350.jpg 189w, http://blog.leathersmithdesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/oxen-bells-leather-straps-417×770.jpg 417w” sizes=”(max-width: 309px) 100vw, 309px” />

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.

 

 

 


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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