The Leather Cutter
I specialize in West-End Closing. Traditionally this would just be stitching the leather together on a sewing machine. West-end closing is for bespoke work and covers a wider range of skills. Bespoke pattern making and designing, which involves cutting paper shapes to then be used as templates for the leather cutting.
Clicking – This is the precise cutting of the leather to the bespoke patterns. This is the action depicted in the painting. I was using a special curved blade simply called a ‘clicking knife’ which is designed to be amazingly sharp and provide a drag free cut on the material. I then used the dividers that you can see in the foreground of the painting to mark some of the material allowances and stitching lines.
The next step would have been to stitch all of the components together in various ways adding layers of supporting leather underneath for added durability.
Hand-stitching is a big difference between factory and bespoke work. I make my own threads out of linen and wax them together, these can be seen in the other Lobb painting to the side of the shoe makers workbench . Most shoes are either finished with some supporting hand-stitching or have lots as an artistic feature. Once this leather shell or “upper” is complete I then last (pull) the material over the last and roughly nail it to check all is well and ready for the maker to attach the sole.
I was granted one of the first apprenticeship funds by the Queen Elizabeth Sholarship Trust to carry on the traditional craft that John Lobb provide for the royal household as royal warrant holders.
QEST is a charity that supports excellence in arts and craft and provides much needed funding to individuals in the form of a scholarship, or supporting companies in educating someone through a apprenticeship scheme for a longer term,