The lost craft of leather tanning

Inspiration from London Craft Week 2017

Looking at the incredible line-up of this year’s London Craft Week it is clear that leather-working is alive and well in Britain. We headed to Leathersellers Hall on Friday morning for a look around the exhibition curated by Bill Amberg, a man who has very much inspired our own business.

 Saddle by Patrick Saddlery —  Leather at London Craft Week


It was fantastic to see the wide range of handcrafted British items on show — from Mark Tallowin’s fine leather bags to bowls made from fish leather. All in all the trip inspired us to think, if there is so much innovation in the making of leather goods, why isn’t there more attention on the making of leather itself?

Craft Tanning


Craft is a word that is seldom associated with leather production. Leather is so ubiquitous that it never gets much thought and the fact is that most tanneries make huge quantities quickly, cheaply and with the same chromium process — so it’s not surprising really.

 Kid leather Mimosa-tanned and ready for drying.

Kid leather Mimosa-tanned and ready for drying.

We founded Billy Tannery with the goal of bringing the craft and creativity back to tanning. Borrowing a mindset from craft breweries, we plan to explore all kinds of tanning processes and ingredients. We read only this week that the oil distilled from rose petals can be used to make a rare leather that maintains a floral aroma for years after tanning.

But before we head off on these experiments and adventures, we will continue to spend many long hours perfecting our core Mimosa bark process. The rose-scented backpack may have to wait until next year… watch this space.


Discover more about the Fine Leatherwork event curated by Bill Amberg here