Last week, after seeing the work I did for my brother's in-law belt, my good friend Hippo asked me to stitch him up a ranger-style belt. If you haven't seen one, just Google "ranger belt", and plenty of images come up.
Anyhoo, I don't know if you have ever worked with British/German ex-pats living in West Africa. If you have, then you know that they are both jovial and particular, and, if it weren't for my day-job as a lobbyist (that's right), I might have even succumbed to his honeyed words. Heck, I probably did a little bit, anyway. He plied me with fine vocabulary, weaving in particular requests with the vision of a near-perfect belt and its use to draw in hundreds of fawning customers.
The "particular" about which I speak concerns the type of leather he would like: bridle leather. I'd never heard of it before, but I looked it up and yes, it is, indeed, an actual item. A very nice item, as a matter of fact. I did some further perusing, and learned a bit about it. I also learned about a wonderful place I'd never before known: Outfitters Supply, out of Columbia Falls, Montana.
You see, a lot of horse packing gear has to be strong, consistent, weatherproof, and still nice enough to not wear a hole in a horse. Or an Englishman, for that matter.
I got on the phone with the good folks at Outfitters Supply, and in two days had two fine pieces of bridle leather, finished on both sides. The stuff is beautiful, and pictures (especially the ones I take) do not do it justice. Oh, the ideas it inspires, constrained by finances!
|Some beautiful bridle leather!.|
I'm okay with stitching, but, like the tooling job on Pedro's belt, I've never done it for over three feet in length. So, I got back on the horse -- or pony, as it were, and stitched up a sporran for practice. I practiced the saddle stitch (appropriate, considering I'll be working with bridle leather and sitting on a stitching pony), and I feel comfortable. I also know that I need to upgrade my stitching awl.
|Another box in the mail!|
I poked around and found Pro-Dies. They are great people, out of Colorado, and custom make dies and punches for saddle-makers and people like me. I sent him my pattern, and he got me a die at a good price. I have to really wail on it with my mallet, but I get a consistent shooting tab that I can send up for sale.
The sporran I made is officially the first real quality leather item I've made for myself (my leather-clad mug was commandeered for a pen holder, and my mug and dagger frogs are too, shall we say, 'utilitarian'). I designed a cross pattern with knotwork inside it. Here are some pictures of the process:
|Here is the sporran in the stitching pony (a third hand, very helpful). On the table is the front panel of the sporran, and a panel for attaching the drawstring, to be stitched onto the front panel.|
|Here is the Rob Roy sporran, ready for a button on the top flap. If you are interested, I'll be selling sporrans like these starting at $100 -- you can check them out at my other webpage.|