What do YOU do after surgery?

Two weeks ago I had surgery to remove a parathyroid gland. Yes, I had to do a quick google to find out what they are and what they do. Post surgery I was told to rest, but by the end of the second week I was SO bored, I decided I had to do something to pass a day…

So I made another Viking bag. A little one this time, just 14cm wide and very suitable for re-enactment. It will not take an early Anglo-Saxon iPad, but will happily hide a phone, keys and wallet.

Think I am getting the hang of these bags, all hand sewn with waxed linen thread, veg tanned shoulder body and goat skin gusset, lindenwood bag frame, finished with pine tar and raw pine turpentine and wax. They smell lovely👍

This bag would probably suit mid-status Viking or Saxon, although I have plans for a really “blinged up” version with lots of shiny bits. If you feel like treating the Viking in your life I would think a bag like this would cost about £45 + P&P. Remember everything we make is custom made to order, so everything is unique.

The Vikings are Coming…

Here at Blackwater Leather we are not all about working.  Amongst our hobbies is Viking Re-actment!  Yes, dressing up in silly clothes and running about hitting each other 😄.

We wanted a couple of good quality bags to keep authentic items in, like iPhones, iPads etc. and couldn’t find anything on the market that fitted the bill.

So we decided to design and create our own.  Based on early Viking finds from Scandinavia, these bags are as authentic as we could make them.  The bag frames are linden or ash, the bags are wool and linen or leather and the fittings are bronze or brass.







So, if you are looking for an authentic reproductiin of an early medieval bag, look no further!

A Really Good Idea, but…

My son suggested that a time lapse video of some of the more regular jobs might be a good idea. Gaffjaw re-leathering, Bowsprit traveller leather, Shroud Cover’s being made.

This is easier said than done however. It involves fixing a camera on a tripod aimed over ones shoulder and pointing at the work in hand. I understand that newfangled iPhones can do this and that they can be set to take a snap every few seconds, minutes or whatever.

But what if one toddles of to make a cuppa? Or answer a call of nature, or forget about the camera and pop out for a few hours! Not a very interesting video! Still, undeterred I promise to try again😄

Anyway, for now these pics will have to serve to give at least an idea of the process involved in re-leathering a gaff saddle.

Promise to try harder and post a video very soon👍

Authentic Viking Dog Harness?…

Well, not quite but it could be:)

A mate in a local Viking Reenactment group needed an “authentic” harness for his warhound.

Being part of Regia Anglorum he has to be very careful when it comes to matters of authenticity. There were simply no plain, simple, dog harnesses about.

As regular readers will know we are always up for a challenge, so, grab a tape measure and away we go. First job was to choose the leather, in this case it is 2.5mm veg tanned shoulder, strong and supple. The thread was artificial sinew, a sort of nylon based thread that looks the part and lasts for years. During the early medieval period, metal was very expensive, so rivets were out of the question, the whole thing is hand stitched and only two brass parts were used, the buckle and a large ‘D’ ring.

A trial fitting was carried out on a Viking practise night and all the parts were marked up and brought back to the workshop. After several hours we had a prototype to try out on our own warhound, the long suffering Inca.

All looking good, so at the next practice night we sallied forth and tried it on…

So ‘Cooper’ is now dressed the part to raid villages all over Essex with his warrior owner.

If you want to know more about Viking re-enactment visit ‘The Vikings of Essex” at www.langfjordssliehtwulfas.com and on Facebook, of course.

If you would like a custom made to measure (nearly) authentic Viking dog harness, just get in touch or check out the Etsy shop.

Something new…

Over the years we have re-leathered a great many bowsprit travellers but last week we came across a first for us. This traveller arrived through the post for re-leathering, it is constructed from stainless steel tubing. Galvanised mild steel is by far the most common, stainless bar we see frequently but never a stainless tube.

After chatting to it’s owner we learned it was off of a Heard 28′ one of my all time favourite boats, and co-incidentally, the customer and yours truly had visited a sister boat a couple of years ago that came up for sale nearby on the River Crouch. I very nearly made an offer for her but the wife considered the interior a bit gloomy🤨.

Anyway, I digress. Why not stainless tubing? Saves weight and gives a larger, kinder, radius where the traveller bears on the bowsprit. I don’t think there are many faults on Heards and reckon this little innovation is a cracker.

The leather used here was 2mm veg tanned shoulder and it was hand sewn using waxed linen thread. Should give many years of service and with a regular application of tallow, should last as long as the bowsprit!

And for today’s trick…

We will be making a holster for a metal detecting trowel.

“Evolution” produce very robust and hard wearing digging trowels, but they do not supply holsters. No problem, I made this holster/sheath from 1.5mm veg tanned shoulder, this holster will last for many years. It is stitched using tough polyester thread and is re-enforced with stainless rivets in strategic places.

It is open-ended to allow dirt and water to escape from the bottom of the holster, rather than having to remove from the belt and tip upside down. Please don’t ask how I know this 🙂

Although I made this for my own use, I would be happy to make something similar for fellow Detectorists, however, I would need to have your trowel to ensure a good fit.

I estimate the price would be around £30, depending on size etc.

Belt loop integrated with the body of the sheath for strength.

Re-enactment arrow quiver

For some years I have been making Bass Bow Quivers, they are used by double bass players as a convenient place to put the bow when plucking the bass. Pictures of these are in the “for sale” section.

A while ago I was asked to create an “early medieval” style arrow quiver. After a bit of research I discovered that very early quivers were made from linen, with a few bits of leather here and there for reinforcement. However, it has been suggested that leather was used too. Probably belt hung but at least one source suggests they may have been back mounted too.

Metal, in early medieval times, was very expensive, so I ruled out the use of metal fittings, and decided to hand sew everything using waxed linen thread. I also chose not to ornament the quiver, to give it a “workmanlike” feel, rather than a “high status” item.

The customer was happy and a new product was added to our portfolio!

Silva Compass Case

Never let it be said that we guys, at BWL rest on our laurels, fail to adopt new technologies and do not move with the times.

A long standing issue with making small wet moulded items is the time and cost of creating moulds. The same applies to embossing stamps, but more about them later. My eldest son treated me to a 3D printer for my 60th birthday. It was not long before I hit on the idea of using it to create one-off moulds for specific jobs. My Silva Compass Case being a good example. With a bit of fiddling with a CAD software program I produced a superb mould for the cases. Much more accurate than my earlier wooden version, it turns out correctly dimensioned case parts again and again, and when it finally breaks, I can print another!perfect fit, time after time 👍😄

Dogs are nearly human…

…but, not quite. Today I had a request for an eyepatch for Gus. No problem except that Gus is a Labrador🤨

When one really looks, one notices just how different a dog head is to a human one. No forehead and no solid sticky out ears. Making the patch is easy but how on Earth will it stay on?

1- two elastic straps that fix to a collar

2- Velcro (?)

3- or what? Ideas on a postcard please, this one has me stumped!