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Five manufacturers for leather in Scotland.

Over the years Make Works has been lucky enough to come across a number of tanneries, saddlers, leather workers and fabricators carrying on the age old practice of leather-working, from their busy workshops across Scotland. The five fabricators we've chosen to feature here are all small scale (often family-run) leather manufacturers and tanneries; Skyeskyns, McRostie, J Hewit and Sons Leather, Journeyman Leather and Aero Leather Clothing.


Worth noting, they are all more than happy to supply in one-offs or smaller quantities to artists, designers, and makers - and you can contact them directly on their Make Works listings.


Skyeskyns


Skyeskyns are a sheepskin tannery preparing lambskins for tanning and further fabrication. Operating as a family business since 1983, Skyeskyns is now the last commercial sheepskin tannery in Scotland. In addition to their usual lambskins they offer a commission tanning service for deer hides, or even fish skin!


 Sheepskin at Skyeskyns, a sheepskin tannery in Skye


Check out Skyeskyns' listing on Make Works


McRostie


McRostie are a traditional, artisanal leather workshop based in Johnstone. They started life back in 1887 as a traditional harness makers and sadlers' ironmongers in Glasgow.


In the 1980's the business went into administration, and rather than deal with losing their supplier, the Campbell family who at the time ran a local equestrian business bought the business. Now run by Colin Campbell, McRostie continues using the traditional methods of harness-making, along with many of the same tools used by the business back in the 1800's. 


Colin working away in his leather workshop


We asked Colin how he found moving from the equestrian business into leather working:


"The material is still what holds me today. It is a very honest material and versatile too. British bridle leather of this quality just cuts like a knife through cheese. I like its durability, its longevity and being a by-product of the food industry, its sustainability."


Using a variety of leather cutting and finishing machines in house, McRostie are able to produce bespoke leather pieces to order as well as taking on repair and restoration projects. 


Check out McRostie's listing on Make Works


J Hewit and Sons Leather


J Hewit & Sons are also a family-run business that's been a part of the Scottish leather industry for many, many years! J Hewit & Sons is a 7th generation family-run business that started out life as a shoemakers shop in Edinburgh in 1806. As the trade of independent shoe makers declined, the family pivoted the business to respond to Edinburgh's growing publishing industry and started supplying leather specifically for bookbinding.


Working on a piece of leather at J Hewit & Sons Leather


Nowadays, J Hewit & Sons are a one-stop shop for all your bookbinding requirements. In addition to supplying everything from one-off through to medium runs of cut leather pieces for bookbinding, they also sell a wide range of bookbinding tools and materials. 


Check out J Hewit & Sons listing on Make Works


Journeyman Leather


Journeyman Leather is run by Jo Tonkinson who is a leather worker and saddle maker based in Sandness, Shetland. Jo uses traditional techniques to produce bespoke, made to order leather pieces. Typical projects include belts, briefcases, bags and saddles but Jo also takes on a lot of commission-based work which can be just about anything, as long as it is in hard leather.


Jo working on a belt at Journeyman Leather


Check out Journeyman Leather on Make Works


Aero Leather Clothing


Galashiels-based Aero Leather Clothing have been manufacturers for the world famous Aero Leather Jackets for over thirty years. Another a family-run business, which is run by Ken and Lydia Calder, specialising in the fabrication of vintage styles and leather jackets.


Fi trying on one of the jackets at Aero Leather Clothing


Ken at Aero Leather has been making leather jackets since the sixties - we asked him how his manufacturing has changed since then:


"We’ve never worked with production lines so as far as Aero goes we work the same way we always have… Essentially the same way we would have been working if this was 1935"


Pattern cutting at Aero Leather Clothing


Aero Leather Clothing also take on commissions, particularly for clothing departments of television and film companies looking to fabricate accurate reproductions of clothing. 


Check out Aero Leather Clothing's listing on Make Works


 


If you'd like to read more about Scotland's leather industry read our article: Anne McKenzie: Part of Glasgow's East End's Fabric


 


 

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