New Location – New Ideas

Running a small business like this, it is very easy to fall into a rut. You carry on doing what you have always done, business ticks over and all is well.

From time to time however, new ideas and innovation spring up from unlikely sources. The latest for me was when a customer asked for a blue eyepatch. Blue? But eyepatches are always black or brown or tan are they not? Good enough for pirates and Marvel Superheroes after all. To cut a long story short I looked into the process and ordered some blue dye. It works really well, especially with matching thread colours.

Custom eyepatch, blue waxed thread and blue dye.

So, prodded out of my complacency, I ordered a range of dyes and experimented. Some colours work really well and others not so good. I have put together the colours that I think really work well and have added them to the Etsy Shop, blue, purple, green red and so on are the new black!!!

The new colour range available not only for eyepatches but all the products available on the Etsy shop.

Eyepatches that changed my life (for a few weeks anyway)

Although the vast majority of the eyepatches I make are for people who need one for medical or cosmetic reasons, I do get asked for “Pirate” eyepatches with a skull and crossbones embossed, and am happy to do that. Another, only slightly less popular variant is the “Avengers” style.

Now, it might be hard to believe but I had no idea that the MCU (google it) was even a thing. After watching one film to see the eyepatch style I became hooked and have since purchased every single “Avengers” film plus spin offs. So having blown any profit in that style of eyepatch I thought maybe I could re-coup some of the losses by adding it to the Etsy shop.

The eyepatch is loosely based on that worn by… but you know who I am talking about of course.

It is, however, a fully functional eyepatch, with a deep convex shape for comfortable wear and is made from 100% veg tanned leather, polished to a high gloss and completed with a leather strap and small buckle. As an eyepatch wearer myself, I do not like buckles, either too loose or too tight but, hey, you can not argue with Hollywood.

If there is a particular style of eyepatch you fancy, drop me a line. Who knows there might be another movie franchise I have not discovered😄

All weather Eyepatch

Several months ago, a sea captain (yes really) ordered a standard eyepatch following surgery on an eye. It was duly despatched and positive feedback was received. However after a few weeks I received an email from him asking how to reattach one of the straps. I explained how and recommended the same leather glue we use here. A few days later another email from him explained that the straps “kept falling off”. This go me thinking and after contacting him I learned that he lived and worked in the South China Sea, hot and damp. A short while later I received a similar email from a chap living In Edinburgh, Scotland, not noted for its dry sunny climate.

So a need seemed to be there, for an eyepatch for outdoor use In inclement weather… and here it is😄

How does it differ from a standard eyepatch? Firstly the attachment method for the straps. Although the press and glue functions perfectly well for 99% of customers, in constantly damp conditions it can ‘let go’, so, on these eyepatches the strap is passed through the hole and is secured with heat shrink tubing, no glue involved. Although it is slightly bulkier the trade off is unavoidable for a weatherproof fixing.

Secondly, rather than traditional leather polish, these patches are treated to a special acrylic coating that imparts a shine, but importantly, is fully waterproof. The acrylic is applied both sides, inside and out, to fully protect the leather.

So there you have it, for use in inclement weather or hot humid environments please choose the All-weather Eyepatch.

Innovative extended wear eyepatch

Over the years we have noticed that most of our valued eyepatch customers are buying for medical reasons rather than simply “dressing up”.

The first eyepatch was created for my own use, having had eye problems going back 30 years or so. Photophobia was a big issue in my right eye. Repeated failed corneal grafts, retinal detachments and other complications eventually degraded the useful vision to such a point that I elected to have the eye removed to escape from the near constant pain. Having a prosthetic eye makes me look relatively normal, but there is still a risk of damaging it when out walking or whatever. With the prosthesis removed the risk of foreign bodies entering the socket is even higher.

So the classic original eyepatch was created. Convex to avoid contact with eyelashes, thin comfortable leather thong to hold it in place for comfort. It works well and has sold to many hundreds of satisfied customer.

However, from time to time feedback has been received, mainly from customers from warmer climes, enquiring about a cooler eyepatch.

So, the Blackwater Leather Research Facility swung into action and an improved eyepatch specifically for those with no, or very little, remaining vision in the eyepatch eye was developed.

Introducing the “Extended Wear” protective eyepatch (drum roll or fanfare here).

A double row of perforations provides efficient air flow.

Newly developed thong attachment is resistant to damp conditions.

Trials suggest that the EW (Extended Wear) eyepatch stays noticeably cooler and remains drier than the standard patch. Additionally, the strap securing method has been altered and no longer relies on a glued joint, stronger and unaffected by rain or sweat. Finally, rather than traditional polish, the EW eyepatch is treated to a waterproof acrylic coating, further providing reliable performance in wet, rainy or hot and humid conditions.

Please note, this eyepatch is NOT 100% light proof and is not suitable for people with a photophobic eye or large amounts of useful vision. It is aimed for those that wish to protect a blind or prosthetic eye.

More developments are under way, watch this space for details of the “Active” eyepatch, currently beta testing.

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 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.