My name is Oliver Foulds. I’m a leatherworker with a small workshop in Belper, a former industrial town in Derbyshire that sits at the heart of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. I use traditional techniques, making everything by hand without the use of machines.
I love history and have always enjoyed seeing how things were made in the old days. Men and women devoting their lives to a single craft to supply their community with a vital commodity, eventually excelling at it and passing their skills down to apprentices. If your goods weren’t suited to their purpose or were poorly made, you would lose business. Quality was king.
You would expect modern technology and skills to have advanced leatherwork to its pinnacle but instead they have focused on clever ways to make bad leather look good. Quantity and speed dictate the modern way of doing things and now so many of the leather items you see for sale are poorly constructed with inferior materials. Mass production has stripped the strength and soul out of leather.
If you don’t want to waste money on something that will fall apart in a few years and look shabby then you need to have it handmade. There are still leatherworkers today who use traditional methods to craft high quality goods from start to finish. The fact that you’ve read this far shows that you’re after some proper leather so I’ll let you know what I do.
I make leather goods by hand, piece by piece, on my own. I only use hand tools, no machines. In fact the only electricity I use is my lamps and my music. It is very important to me that waste is minimised in every step of the crafting process and I try to avoid the use of any plastics except for where they are absolutely necessary.
My family roots lie in the music trade and so I’ve grown up around beautiful items of great quality. I will always have a fondness for musical instruments and a deep respect for the precision and craftsmanship necessary to make them. Inspired by this I want to achieve the same level of quality with my leatherwork and it’s an exciting path to follow. The guitar straps and other music accessories I create are made in honour of my family trade. Look out for new products, ranges and leathers appearing on the site as I continue to explore the craft.