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About Leather for Folkies

Leather for Folkies is the brainchild of artist, leatherworker and morris dancer Simon Brock, who will now switch to the first person to avoid sounding pretentious.

The seed is sown

It all started in 2010 when I met clog maker Trefor Owen at Whitby Folk Week, and subsequently went to train with him in the art of clog making. Having trained as a cabinetmaker, I had been attracted by cutting the wooden soles (which was fun) but in the end I found the leather uppers just as interesting.

After spending some time volunteering as a clogger at the Colne Valley Museum, including learning more tips from another clog maker and leatherworker, Phil Howard, I dedicated myself full time to learning leatherworking (in which I am 90-odd per cent self-taught).

In 2012 I launched the imaginatively-titled Simon Brock Handmade Leather Goods as an outlet for my range of high end bags and belts.

Clogs

The development of Leather for Folkies

Then in 2014 I met a man with a gun, who commissioned me to work on extending his gun slip (not a euphemism). He suggested I get into making accessories for people who go shooting – but I know nothing about shooting. He suggested I get into making things for the historical re-enactment market – but I know nothing about historical re-enactment.

Then a flash of inspiration struck me, and I realised I could make leathery things for a market I actually understand: the folk world. Not only understand, but love, live and breathe. Leather for Folkies was hastily cobbled together just in time for Whitby Folk Week in 2015 – in fact it all came together so quickly that ‘Leather for Folkies’ was the best name that the combined minds of the Sheffield folk scene could come up with.

Extra-curricular stuff

When not making leather goods of the folkie or non-folkie variety, I am an active participant in the folk world, spending most weekends dancing with Flag & Bone Gang, Handsworth Sword Dancers and/or avant garde Cotswold outfit Black Hart Morris. I play a gaily-decorated accordion, dress up variously as St George and the Derby Tup in seasonal mumming plays, and do a decent line in shanties.

Accordion

The rest of the team

I am chief designer, maker, tea boy and bottle washer at Leather for Folkies – but design ideas and product testing are also contributed by my (very supportive and patient) significant other, Catie, who might occasionally answer the phone if it’s her day off; by our folkie neighbours Jen and Bob; and by anyone else who will listen. Designs are all road-tested by real life folkies before being offered for general sale.

You can become involved too! If there’s something you hanker after and it looks like it has potential to join the permanent Leather for Folkies product range, then you’re likely to end up getting the prototype for material costs and beer money. Get in touch and tell me what’s on your mind.