Ok, so I know I talk a lot about the leather we use from J & E Sedgwick & Co., but that's because I and many others believe it's the best bridle leather in the world. I made my first belt from their leather, and I still use it almost every day.
I visited the tannery a few weeks ago to place an order for a few different leathers, and I took my trusty 12 year old camera along for the ride. Let me talk you through some of the work that goes into creating this fantastic leather...
J & E Sedgwick are known around the world for the quality of their bridle leather.
Many imitate it, but none come close. From start to finish, it takes a single piece of leather around 6 weeks to work its way through the tannery. What's even more impressive is that they do all of this using only UK sourced raw hides.
What makes J & E Sedgwick stand out from the crowd is their currying process. This is the most important part of the tannery process and is what makes their leather so special. The "currier" hand sets the leather, removing as much of the stretch as possible, which also removes growth marks and leaves the leather with a very smooth surface. It is an extremely labour intensive process that takes years to perfect. Few places make bridle leather, and even fewer still use this technique.
Here you can see two "curriers" working on a piece of leather. They work on large slate benches, wetting the hides and pushing them gradually outwards to flatten the hide and remove all of that stretch.
After the hand currying process, the leather hides are dried on overhead racks.
Once dry, it's over to the grading area, where they sort all of the skins into grades for the leather to be dyed.
Dye is applied by hand, using a horsehair brush.
Bridle leather is distinctive in that the surface side (grain) and the back side (flesh) both carry dye, but the inner has no dye as traditionally it is not needed.
J & E Sedgwick bridle leather is finished with a clear bridle finish and then hand greased with a secret blend of tallows, oils, and beeswax, which penetrates the surface and feeds the fibres within.
All of the processes detailed above contribute to making bridle leather incredibly strong and durable. So strong, in fact, that horse riders trust their lives with it.
Our leather hides will be arriving in the next week or two for your bags and belts. We have 4 colours on order for belts, and one of those colours is something unusual that J & E Sedgwick doesn't usually sell, so we're excited to share this with you once it arrives.
Our new range of belts will be ready in time for Christmas, so if you're looking for that special gift for someone who has everything, then look no further!
Stay tuned for further updates!