When Starting out as a full time saddle maker, I kept a plan of procedure for each of the various rigging types that I was called on to build. These plans were constantly being updated as I proceeded from saddle to saddle. Here are some of the documents that I worked up back then. I don't do things exactly like this now, and in some cases have changed things quite a bit. My hope is that these might be helpful to some of you just starting out, and that they may provide a guide to your own note taking. When I was building mostly contract saddles this approach really helped to develop efficiency and speed in my workflow.
The fourth PDF here is a copy of the notes I made when teaching other makers to build the hunting saddles that we were contracted to produce.
It has recently come to my attention that the handpieces for the In-Line Swivel Knife Sharpening System have not been pictured in the online catalog here at my store. This has been an oversight that involved the simple un-ticking of a box in my settings.
The handpieces have been out of stock for longer than I had anticipated. I have a batch here that just require some finishing and I hope to have them back in stock by June this year, 2020.
I apologise for any confusion and inconvenience that this has caused.
In Prescott last week I was able to have students at my stitching workshop try out the new Horseshoe Brand pricking irons. I’ll tell you, they perform admirably. The are sized stitches per inch (spi) like we in the U.S. are accustomed too. They are also narrow enough to fit right in a stitch groove. Collen also set me up with a new awl that they are carrying that matches the pricking irons in the profile of the blade. It also fits sweetly in your palm. Nice work Jeremiah, and Colleen. #horseshoebrandtools
The problems in the first small printing of this book, “Harmony and Life in Leather”, have been fixed. The errors were changed right away and other than the first twenty or so books they have been going out with no missing images or text ever since. The books are available here. They can also be purchased from the Leather Crafters and Saddlers Journal, and will soon be available from Barry King at his website.
I want to thank all those who have recently purchased my new book, Harmony and Life in Leather. With the publication I have received notes from some of you which pointed out a couple of images that were left out of the first printing along with a couple of hanging sentences. I sent some of you an email with a new edited pdf of the pages that were affected, and have heard back that some were unable to open the files. I suggested that I could load the pages on this blog as images in a gallery that could be downloaded or saved as screenshots. This met with approval and seems like the best solution. Three pages of the book were affected. In a book however, even the simplest additions can have a big effect on the layout. The result is that I have placed six pages in this gallery to make sure I have covered everything that was needed.
To view the images you may need to open this post in its own browser page by clicking on the title (Oooops!) above. Feel free to copy and download these images. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, and appreciate the opportunity to share with you all.
Well at long last I have this in print and available here at Red Ox Brand Tools. I’m pretty excited about this new book. It comes with several patterns to use with the techniques and concepts that are covered in depth throughout the book. It contains 220 illustrations, and presents a unique insight into the art of ornamental tooling in leather.
Please check it out here. https://redoxbrand.sagecreeksaddles.com/product/6467/
You can see full descriptions of the classes here on the new Class Information and Tool List page. This page includes two illustrated tool lists for a solid start to your tool kits, including a source for the tools discussed in my new book.
I’ll also have the new book Harmony and Life in Leather available at the show.
A few days ago my good friend requested some assistance with a layout for a pair of boots he is making. I made this little slideshow to illustrate how a layout can be filled by placing the main structures along the flow (or skeletal) lines, and then filling with the simple leaves descending from the flowers flowing back to the origin.
If you open this slideshow and advance frame by frame you will see it as a time lapse animation.
Follow the Flow
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Much thanks to Paul Krause for so graciously allowing me to share this. If you found this helpful, please leave a comment to let me know what you saw that was useful. If you have questions please ask them in a comment. Also, feel free to share the information you find here.
This post is excerpted from my book, “Drawing Floral Patterns For Leather Tooling”
The following drawings illustrate
the skeletal lines within the various
shapes that we draw, starting with the
most basic leaf and progressing to complex
structures like acanthus leaves, scrolls,
The simple leaf in the drawing here
shows how the leaf tapers to blend into
the skeleton. This is the way that skeletal
lines work in a nicely flowing layout.
They are in the center of the various structures
in the drawing and keep things moving
In the next, more complex leaf there
are two skeletal lines, and in the next leaf
there are three. The third line descends
from the lobe that is formed by the S curve
at the top. Knowing that the skeletal line
is there, where the swelling of this lobe is
at its fullest, we are able to keep things
As will be seen in the layouts presented
later, most of these lines don’t get
drawn in when drawing a layout pattern.
However it is important to know that they
are there. These lines form the composition
beneath the big picture.
For the purpose of this blog post I want to make a suggestion that you get a tracing pad, print out these images and trace the lines. -But- When doing this I suggest that you concentrate on the dimensions of each part relative to the other parts. Try tracing the little thumb, or simple leaf and then turn the tracing to see how many times its length will go into the the S curve at the top of the combined leaf. Concentrate on the size and sweep of the curves in the S curve. The curve at the tip is smaller than the curve that connects the thumb leaf. While tracing look to see how each line relates to the skeletal lines.
The point is, it is not enough to make the right number of bumps, curves and tapers. Each part needs to be in the right proportion to every other part.
It is perfectly acceptable to trace like this for the purpose of learning how it feels to draw certain shapes. If you practice enough you will develop muscle memory for the shapes. If you don’t gain muscle memory you simply won’t be able to draw floral designs. So develop the discipline to practice when you are not trying to work on an actual project.
When you can draw the basic shapes that you want to use in your patterns, then you will be ready to take on the much more complex task of putting them together in a layout.