Monday, 19 December 2016

Merry Xmas from the North Otago Jacobites

Greetings Everyone Sorry for the lack of posts recently, but like most people at this time of the year I have been rather busy. In the New Year I am moving into a new flat where luckily I will have room to finally set up my leather craft studio where I will then be able to continue with many projects, that have been put aside since my return to New Zealand. Personally I have a 18th century baldric to make for my French sword and a targe to complete which I am looking forward doing as these are things I have been wanting to finish for quite some time. Already I have received some interest from several locals who are keen to learn more about Jacobite reenacting and next year plan to hold several workshops making such items as targes, sporrans, bag hose etc. I will be purchasing a new computer and will build a website for the North Otago Jacobites , which this blog will be linked to providing a place where people can learn more about the aim of our group which is historically accurate impressions from the Jacobite rising period. Slainte Domhnall

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

A Harris Tweed weaver

The Isle of Harris in Scotland has long been the home of the world famous Harris Tweed, where home based weavers such as the one featured in the fantastic video continue to make tweed of various patterns. For those interested in the Jacobite period Harris tweed is the best woven tartan that closely resembles what was being made in Scotland in the 18th century. Not all Harris tweed tartans are suitable, but the muted non bright tartans are perfect for any 18th century Jacobite impression. While some may be scared off from purchasing this tweed because of the high price , please remember the hours that go into making such tweed and the quality is reflect the retail price, you will not be disappointed in the quality I can assure you. So watch the attached video to see how it is made !

A Harris Tweed Weaver from alistair80537 on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Clan Campbell

If you are from clan  Lamont or one of it's septs, l do not need to explain to you why we are not friendly with Clan Campbell. Apart from treating the Lamont clan badly and taking sides with the English, they generally were not popular in the Scottish highlands. In fact many taverns had and some may still have signs reading " No Campbell's Allowed ". Out of principle l do not support any businesses owned or operated by members of Clan Campbell, which means I do not eat their shortbread, luckily Walkers makes a nice shortbread instead. To my dismay the town where I now reside has a popular butchery called " Campbell's Butchery " , you really have to search hard in the local supermarket to avoid any of their products as they make sausages, black puddings and other small goods.To make matters worse it seems they are quite proud of the family roots and even have a stylized clan badge featuring a wild looking boar on their signage . It makes me wonder if they really know much about their Clan history at all. Pictured in this post is their family butchery logo !

Friday, 28 October 2016

My new sword - a French epee du soldat

When l lived in Japan, l was unable to purchase any replica Scottish weapons , such as firearms, swords etc. But when I decided to return home to be closer to sick family members here in New Zealand. I did start window shopping for jacobite period swords , even though I did not have the extra funds to purchase anything at the time. While the Scottish basket hilt swords are the most popular among reenactors. That is not your only choice. If you wanted to portray a lower class of jacobite , there is nothing wrong with only having a locharbour axe !. After receiving some fantastic advice from my good friend Henrik who is an expert on jacobite period weapons he also mentioned the French epee du soldat sword which was brought over in great numbers from France to arm the jacobite groups. The Scottish basket hilts were only carried by 25 percent of the troups as they were very expensive. The rest were armed with older swords, French swords such as the one mentioned above or British infantry hangers that were captured from enemy troops. I had already decided that as l am trying to portray middle-class rank and file jacobite that the French sword would suit me best. So imagine my surprise to be given one by my good friend clansman Maclean on my birthday. I was almost lost for words - those who know me well would tell you that is quite a rare thing. So l would like to save a big thanks David, for presenting me with my 1st ever sword !. Looking forward to making a nice leather baldrick for it when I get time.  Posted below is a photo of my new sword.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The return of domhnall

I have just returned to my home country of new Zealand to be closer to family that are unwell. On the 25th of October l had a fantastic 18th century jacobite theme birthday party. One fantastic thing about living here in oamaru is there are other like minded people who are interested in jacobite reenactment. The attached photos were taken at my birthday party.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

My Jacobite Impression

Since I first got started in this hobby , I have been a Jacobite of one here in Niigata city , Japan. But from next week that is about to change with my move back to New Zealand where I will settle down in the coastal town of Oamaru , famous for its wealth of Victorian architecture and now Steampunk !. Anyhow there was a Jacobite reenactment movement many years ago in Oamaru , but it has since slipped by the wayside although I hope to reform it and gather some other like minded souls who are keen on non public campaign style reenacting.

I have learnt a lot from a fantastic Facebook group that I belong to called Jacobite Rising Reenactors, check them out as its well worth joining if you are serious about putting together an authentic impression  and have also read a lot of history books as well. The fun part of this hobby is you are continually learning new things all the time.

So lets take a look at my own impression that I am still working on , pictured below are some photos of my current kit. And some of my early mistakes

First lets take a look at the above photo, while I like the color combination , I purchased a cheap wool Rev war waistcoat from Jas Townsend and Son in the USA in navy blue. And while it is comfortable it is totally wrong for the period having the split front as it should be longer and straight across the front bottom edge instead. I also bought cheap Fugawee straight lasted shoes and while correct for the period I wasted money on buying buckles when actually lace up shoes were far more common, period portraits hardy show anyone wearing buckled shoes at all !. The sporran which is nice is suspended from a separate belt when in fact it should hang directly from the main wide leather belt , to top off my mistakes I have footless tartan hose instead of full bag hose . Shirt is cotton - should be linen but at least the bonnet which is knitted and felted and linen haversack are correct. 

The above photo shows a few improvements from the first photo , namely a custom made wool waist coat of a better cut with replica period pewter buttons and a Harris Tweed drawstring kilt that I made, also the strap on linen haversack has been shortened , The blue bonnet I made myself is felted and great for hotter weather . 

The above photo shows my hand stitched Jacobite period Harris tweed waistcoat with fabric buttons and a replica sporran that hangs directly from my main kilt belt. In this photo you can see that my impression is improving , even though Harris tweed is expensive it is well worth the money - so if you are wanting to put together an authentic impression Harris tweed in muted colors is really the best choice. 

The above photos show the matching highland short coat also in Harris tweed, both the waistcoat and the coat were made by my friend and historical tailor Hunter Cogle from the USA , he is an expert and a Jacobite reenactor himself and can easily help you obtain the correct look for the 45 that is not only made well, but is authentic as well.  As you can see I have converted a pair of Fugawee straight lasted shoes into lace ups , which are more authentic than buckles, but still need to make some tartan bag hose instead of my footless moggans which are totally wrong. 

So there you have it my progress so far from zero beginner to getting a more authentic look. All this takes time and money like every other hobby, but if you do a lot of research at first you will not only save money and time. As for weapons I am still deciding what I might like and what class of Jacobite I would like to portray - at present I am leaning towards a rank & file soldier who would have most likely been employed as a farmer , cattle drover etc.   


Monday, 3 October 2016

Your 1740’s Highland Impression By Brian T. Carpenter

The purpose of this article is to detail the various “classes” of Highlander as they would appear in the field during the `45, to assist hobbyists in assembling a more authentic impression, based upon their own economic desires and/or limitations. Bear in mind that there is a bit of simplification involved here, as there would be some blending across “class” lines, but that it is useful to divide the clan force into three distinct types of fighting man.

Type 1: Clan Gentlemen

This group was comprised of the chieftain’s close relations and primary tenants, or “tacksmen”, and thus formed the gentry or “upper-crust” of the clan society as it turned out to fight. These were also known as “front rank men” as they would take up that position in the clan battle line. Not a numerous contingent, this class only accounted for about ¼ of the clan’s fighting force.

Clothing. (Fig.1a & b) These people tended to be somewhat in the strutting peacock mode, and prided themselves on a fine display of their distinctive Highland garb. Short coats (jackets), waistcoats, plaids, and hose would feature different tartan setts of lively colors, often derived from the more expensive imported dyestuffs. Period portraiture shows that tartans based upon a rich red background were popular with this class. Philabegs (“little kilts”) and tartan trews would be in evidence. Shirts would be made of finer and whiter linen and perhaps display ruffles. White or black linen neckcloths would be worn. Hard-soled shoes with bright buckles would appear in this group, though many would also wear traditional “currans” or brogues in the field.

Weapons. Within this group we would see the complete outlay of Highland weaponry. Fine basket-hilted broadswords and backswords would be carried suspended from tooled baldrics with brass or silver buckles and trim. The ubiquitous dirk would display intricate knotwork carving on the haft, and might include a side-knife and fork in its sheath. The leather covered targe, or shield, would feature elaborate tooling and patterns of brass studs and bosses. 

During peacetime, firearm ownership was pretty much limited to this class, and these men would bring their own guns to war with them. Long arms generally consisted of hunting-type fusils and fowlers, many of them quite fine and of Continental origin, generally Dutch and French. The distinctive “heron butt” Scottish long guns with snaphaunce locks might still be seen in very small numbers. British, French, or Spanish military muskets left over from earlier Risings might also appear in the hands of these men. The unique all-metal Scottish pistols would be owned by many members of this class, often in pairs. Flat powder horns with beautiful and intricate knotwork or geometric engraving would be utilized. General. These men would be more “fashion conscious” and would wear their hair long and dressed in a queue or “pigtail”, or cut quite short and a wig worn. They would be clean-shaven during this time period. They might own a set of normal “long” clothes for trips down to the cities, but generally wore their Highland dress on campaign.

They were the “shock troops” of the clan regiment, forming the front rank and charging fiercely upon their enemies with sword and targe, after delivering a volley from their firelocks. They did not believe in engaging in firefights, and did not usually have the ammunition to do so.

Type 2: Rank & File

To use a modern phrase, these men were from the “middle class” of clan society, and thus were the most numerous group. They comprised better than ½ of the total of fighting men fielded by the clan. There were gradations within this grouping; what we would call “upper middle class” on down to “lower middle class”, but certain generalizations apply. They were smallholders and tenants of the clan gentry; the working class: the cattle drovers, the boatmen, the farmers, and so forth. During normal times, under the leadership of one of the “gentry”, they would make up the cattle-raiding parties or punitive expeditions that were a part of the constant “interaction” between the clans. During war, they would form the middle ranks of the theoretical four-rank regimental battle line.

Clothing. (Fig.2) These men would present a plainer appearance than their “betters” amongst the gentry. Over their natural colored linen or woolen shirts they would belt on their tartan plaids. Tartans of this class would be of softer or muted colors derived from local dyestuffs, and perhaps less intricate in terms of sett. Jackets or waistcoats - sometimes both - were worn, sometimes of tartan fabric, but very often of plain, solid colored wool. Blue, green and brown are described as having been popular. A knotted neckerchief might be worn in lieu of the gent’s cravat. Short hose could be of tartan or solid-colored material. Hide “currans” generally covered the feet, or occasionally plain shoes. The knitted blue bonnet was universal to all classes.

Weapons. As a rule, this class of men did not own personal firearms, not because they were prevented but rather because they couldn’t afford one. A tiny number possessed very old or beat up guns, including 17th C. matchlocks or worn out pieces with broken locks and cracked stocks. During the `45, however, practically all of these men would be issued military muskets that had been captured, or shipped in from the Continent. The two main types would be the British Long Land Pattern (sometimes called the 1st Model “Brown Bess”) and especially the French Fusils D’Infanterie models of 1717 or 1728. Issued as a “stand of arms”, a bayonet and cartridge box would most often have been included with the musket.

Most of these men would have carried some type of sword. In the Highlands, a sword was equated with the fighting man. But also, all European infantrymen carried swords as side arms during this period, so one would expect the Highland soldier to follow suit. One would not encounter elaborate “top-of-the-line” basket hilts within this group, but numbers of older, simpler types of basket hilt swords, including knocked-about veterans of the last century. Many, however, would be armed with one of a variety of non-basket hilted blades, including hangers or “cuttoes” with simple guards, and British or French infantry swords. These latter types would be issued with the appropriate musket as part of a “stand of arms.”

All would have their dirks, but only a few would possess a targe.

General. In battle, these rank-and-file men would deliver musketry along with the front rank gentry, but like them would not have the ammunition nor training to prevail in any sort of firefight. They would go into the Highland Charge with either the sword, or with fixed bayonets.

Less concerned with fashion than their “betters”, an altogether plainer appearance would be manifest. Facial hair would be more apparent here than amongst the more stylishly clean-shaven gentlemen. Without the benefit of “ghillies” to carry their baggage, these men would be encumbered with haversacks, canteens, and the like.

Type 3: Rear Rankers

Forming the rear of the clan formation would be the lowliest members of the clan economic structure, and the most ill-armed. They would account for the remaining ¼ of the total force. Made up of the serving class (ghillies), the landless, and “broken” or clan-less men, these were not truly fighting men at all, but were there at their masters’ beck, or from having been “press ganged” into the army. Their function, besides waiting upon their betters, was simply to add depth to the clan battle line, and the weight of additional bodies to the Charge.

Clothing. (Fig.3) Pretty much limited to the basic items of dress: the bonnet, linen or woolen shirt, and belted plaid. Shirts might be old and ragged, with two often worn layered to offer some degree of warmth. Plaids would be less voluminous than those of the well-off, and some might be constructed of unmatching pieces of fabric, with patches and raggedness apparent. Tartan patterns could consist of simple striping or checks, and the plaid might even be of an undyed or solid color. Cast off knee breeches and tattered waistcoats would be seen in small numbers. Plain hose, knit stockings or none at all, would be worn. Footwear would be confined to the rawhide currans, and bare feet would not be uncommon.

Weapons. Personally owned weaponry would consist merely of an unadorned dirk or hunting knife. There is some debate as to the number of imported or captured muskets available for issue to these men. It is realistic to assume that firearms were in short supply and that the rear-rankers had few if any available for their use. Polearms such as Lochaber axes and “half-pikes” - eight-foot spears - would be handed out to some of these men. Others would be armed with improvised weapons such as scythes attached to poles, or would be possessed of only a stave or bludgeon. If a sword made an extremely rare appearance, it would be some old, rusty, or broken bit.

General. This group of unwilling warriors served little real use in battle, and was unreliable as a fighting force. The best they could hope for would be to hack down a fleeing foe, or to loot the fallen. Many would simply run away or hide.

Their appearance would reflect the abysmal poverty of the people who occupied the lowest socio-economic level of 18th C. Highland clan society. Dirty, ragged, unkempt and ill-equipped are the norms for this class.

Friday, 23 September 2016

The Locharbor Axe

Most Jacobite reenactors who want to purchase replica weapons go for the popular Scottish basket hilt sword or the Murdoch flintlock pistol  or both plus a dirk. But one of the other less famous but deadly weapons is the Locharbor Axe . A full description of the axe is below taken from the net. There are a few places making replicas for sale , but it is something that could easily be made by your local blacksmith.  It was used in great effect in many of the battles throughout the Jacobite period with the hook being used to pull a mounted rider off a horse and the axe head doing the deadly work of bringing a horse to a stop and killing the rider.  Below is from friend Andy Stuart from the

                                           White Rose of Stuart Living History Society 

The Lochaber axe is first recorded in 1501, as an "old Scottish batale ax of Lochaber fasoun".[1]
The weapon is very similar to the Jedburgh axe, although the crescent blade of the former is larger and heavier than that of the latter.[1] The Lochaber axe took many incarnations, although all of them had a few elements in common. It was a heavy weapon, used by infantry for a defense against cavalry and as a pike against infantry. Like most other polearms of the time, it consisted of two parts: shaft and blade. The shaft was usually some five or six feet (1.5 or 1.8 m) long, and mounted with a blade of about 18 inches (45 cm) in length which usually resembled abardiche or voulge in design. The blade might be attached in two places and often had a sharp point coming off the top. In addition a hook (orcleek) was attached to the back of the blade. A butt spike was included as a counterweight to the heavy axe head. Langets were incorporated down each side of the shaft to prevent the head from being cut off.

And if you want to see one being used , my friend Kyle from Canada gives a fantastic demonstration of how to use it in the following link.  Also check out his Facebook group called

                                  Historic Highlanders Living History Group

Check out Kyles video below 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Trump in Scotland

No I am not talking about the millionaire Donald Trump !, but rather one of the oldest musical instruments which is known by various names throughout the world such as Jaw harp, Jews harp and in Scotland where it is called the trump.

Literary references are quite rare , though ( The Tongue of the trump ) is a Scottish proverb - used by Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns , no less , describing the main or most active person in a group.

Another early reference to the trump is found in the fantastic book Highland Folk Ways by I F Grant on page 135 which states - The highlanders also played a humbler instrument - the Jews harp - generally called the trump. the earliest allusion to it I have met is in a record of a trail at a Justice Court held at Inveraray in 1677 . a certain Donald McIlmichall , vagabond was accused of stealing a cow and consorting with evil spirits. Donald told the court that one Sunday evening he had noticed an lightened opening in a hill in Appin, and on entering , he had seen a crowd of men and women dancing in a place having many lighted candles. He said he did not know who they were but judged them not to be worldlie men. He admitted that he returned to meet in various shians ( fairy mounds ) on ilk Sabbath nights and that he played the trumps to them quhen they danced. There is more to the incident but you will need to read the book to find out more. 

The jaw harp , trump is often overlooked today as nothing more than a children's toy when in fact as a musical instrument is has a history spanning 1500 years or so  

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Jacobite reenactment in Scotland

A great shot from the recent event at the Highland Folk Museum in Scotland.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Drawstring fileadhbeag - construction method.

Recently I have been getting a lot of questions re the fitting of a drawstring to an 18th century fileadhbeag ( small plaid ) the same construction method can also be employed when making the fileadhmuir ( large plaid ) .  I would first like to offer my thanks to Daniel Cespedes who advised me in the 1st place how to use this method. Since then I have made 6 plaids using belt loops and it works very well and makes the plaid very easy to put on each time.

The Tartan : If you are trying to recreate an 18th century fileadhbeag or the larger fileadhmuir and want it to look authentic purchase some non clan tartan in muted colours - Harris tweed makes some fantastic tartans which are very suitable for this project - you may get a shock at the price per mtr but please remember this is hand woven in Scotland and very high quality , it is well worth the money !

First step : For the fileadhbeag you will need 3.5 - 4 mtrs in length so lay it out and see what it looks like , my first one was made out of some left over tartan ( not Harris Tweed ) and it was too short ! , no problem as if you are careful you can match the setts and sew them together to achieve the required length , pictured below is a photo showing the tartan pinned together ready for sewing , if the join is between sets it will not be seen as it will be inside the pleat.

After you have the total length you then need to figure out the width, it will be different depending on your leg length. But remember the fileadhbeag & the fileadhmuir were worn a lot shorter than the modern Victorian kilts that are popular today, some detailed accounts mention them being worn at mid thigh !. Find your natural waist then run a tape measure down to were you want it to stop . For me it was about 40cm add another 5cm for the turn down . Next you need to measure the length of the apron , this section does not require any belt loops and I made mine at 55cm . You need to make this at both ends , you can make it slightly longer or shorter to suit the sett if required.  The first one I made used 12 tape loops but my Harris tweed one uses 14 loops . Pictured below is the 12 loops sewn in place . 

To figure where the loops need to go take a look at the tartan sett and decide how deep you want the pleats ( they do look better deeper ) then place pins about 5cm down from the top and cut your loops. try placing the belt loops on every 2nd sett to see what it looks like ,Even though the loops will never be seen they do look better made out of the same tartan, you can fold them over double and sew them to make them stronger if need. They could also be made out of linen tape , leather etc. Pictured below is a photo of me working on my first Harris Tweed fileadhbeag with matching belt loops. The loops I made were about 3cm wide x 10cm long this will allow a wider belt to be used if needed, although the belt I have used was just some linen tape or woven cord which I found very comfortable. 

Take your time and hand sew every belt loop on well , they need to be strong as this is what will hold the pleat shape in place once gathered with the drawstring.  The picture below shows my red check fileadhbeag with a woven tape for the drawstring in place. Once all the belt loops are sewn on and the belt , cord is threaded through the loops you will get an idea of what the pleats look like , of course you can always do a test with the loops help in place with pins top and bottom to see what it will look like once finished. 

The above picture shows the over apron rolled up and the under laid out flat , someone else was using the table !. Now is time for a test fitting , take off the horrible trousers and throw them away as you will not be needing them anymore ! Hold the pleated section together and put it around your waist at the back, then do a bow at the front with your belt or cord. The two apron ends will be hanging down so just take the right under apron and fold it over to the left side and then take the left over apron and fold it over to your right side. Have your kilt belt nearby and put it on with the buckle at the front. The top will now fold down covering the belt. 

You can easily adjust the pleats whilst wearing it , by checking your rear end in a full length mirror or your lassie may offer you a helping hand to adjust the pleats. Once you have worn it a few times it is very simple to put on and if folded carefully will lay over a regular trouser coat hanger ready for the next time you want to wear it. The pleats should look natural as pictured below and there is no need to iron it nor sew the pleats down at all. 

The turn over at the top will be hidden by your waistcoat and should look like an authentic 18th century fileadhbeag. You can easily employ the same method to the fileadhmuir and you will no longer have to lay your plaid out on the ground and pleat it each time. While this has been the common method , I personally do not believe everybody rolled around in the wet, boggy ground pleating their plaid every time they wore it . The drawstring method makes a lot of sense and recently there has been research that shows a drawstring was sometimes employed in hold the pleats together .

For further reading and a more in depth historical study of the drawstring method check out the great 2004 article by Matthew Newsome  Did the early belted plaid have a draw string !  I hope this detailed post has been informative and should offer enough info for you to try making your own drawstring plaid .  

Best of luck 
Don Speden - Jacobite in Japan

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Over night hike reenactment

As there are no 18th century history events for the Jacobite period here in Japan , I usually entertain myself with making period kit and doing research. But this October if the weather allows me a couple of fine days I plan to do a hike to a camping spot up in the mountains overnight. My regular work schedule currently does not give me a lot of free time but I think I have come up with a plan to make use of what little free time I have to go camping before it gets to cold - at present it is just too hot for what I have in mind.

The Plan :  To walk from my inner city apartment to the main train station 2.8km then catch a train to the countryside town of Suibara and from there walk 11km out of the town to a free riverside campsite that I like. Highlights of the walk will include lots of concrete roads unfortunately but I will pass a lagoon, the fantastic award winning Swan Lake craft brewery which opens daily at 11am and a much needed fresh water spring. The total distance from Suibara train station to the campsite at 200 mtrs elevation is only 11km but I will be wearing full 18th century Jacobite kit and carrying everything that I need. I will be dressed similar to what you can see below plus I will also be carrying a period water canteen.

At present the plan is not to take a tent but to sleep rough outdoors at the campsite , in case of rain there is a covered shelter nearby . Cooking will be done over a campfire next to the river and as I will not be carrying any pots nor pans all cooking will be done over the open fire. Extra rations will be some bread and cheese and the main evening meal will be some meat and vege . For breakfast I will make porridge and one nice part about the 2nd day is I will get to take an outdoor hot spring in the mountain village before retracing my steps back to the station. Pictured below is a map showing the main route .

I would rather be walking on unsealed gravel roads , but as they are few and far between in Japan unlike my home country of New Zealand I am making the best of what I have . I have cycled the route several times and know it well and even though its a short distance it will be a good test for any future trips that I might want to do. Pictured below is a screen shot from the bridge looking down upon the Oku Murusugi campsite, There is a toilet block to the left of the picture but the nice green area next to the river offers a great place for a campsite either above or below the dam.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Replica 18th century sporran

Many years ago before I discovered the joys of leather craft a good friend of mine here in Niigata City named Kenta made the sporran pictured below. While the sporran can not be verified 100% to the period , it is very simple and has been my go to sporran for everyday wear now for several years. Over time it has aged and had a few minor repairs but is the perfect size for what I need to carry. This pattern called for it to be suspended from a sporran strap , which may be wrong as originally this type of sporran most likely would have been fastened directly to the kilt belt rather that being on a separate strap. Hidden underneath the horn slice is a magnetic fastener that keeps it closed , which is quite farby but works very well. If I made this type of sporran myself I would change the fastening system to something more authentic.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

18th century footwear in Scotland

While most of the artwork you see features men wearing straight lasted buckled shoes that was really only the case for the wealthy , even in some period paintings ,Scottish nobles who had money are wearing a basic leather pump shoe with no heel and laces. See the pictures below

The Grant Champion with his flat leather shoes

Major James Fraser of Castle leathers 

It was the Victorians who went crazy on all things Scottish so most artwork from that period shows fancy buckled shoes. Of course they did exist back then but they were too expensive for most people to wear. So pictured below is an original pair of Scottish leather brouges ( that is what they have been refereed too in first hand accounts from the mid 18th century ) . As you can see that are stitched together with leather cord rather than linen , sinew etc and by the looks of them they were made inside out first , stitched together then turned out the correct way. This is how earlier 15th & 16th century  turn shoes were constructed  so in my opinion this type of shoe may have been constructed along similar lines .

If you were to make these shoes , most likely you would make a paper pattern 1st , then a fabric pattern before buying some suitable leather less than 3mm thick otherwise they will be impossible to turn inside out once stitched together. Being flat and having no heel at all it is easy to see why this pair has a huge hole in the heel section. They were designed to be worn in a road less environment and being soft and flexible they would have given the wearer good traction on rough ground.   

Monday, 16 May 2016

Wet formed leather bag

In my quest to improve my leather work skills I purchased a fantastic book by the British leather worker Valerie Michael.

The book has a good selection of projects from beginner to advanced ,so I jumped straight to the advanced sectioned and have just started making my first ever wet formed bag.  The 1st thing I had to do was to make the wooden form which turned out very well and I got a great deal this morning on some nice 2.8mm vege tan leather that is now clamped in the wooden form to dry. I should find out in a few days if the wet forming has been successful or not . If all goes well it will look something like the example below .

And here is the leather I bought this morning clamped in the wood form . I really need bigger G clamps than the small 50mm ones I bought at the 100 yen store though !