Rainbow Reception and the colour of leather

The BSLT foyer
The BSLT foyer

One of the most outstanding things about entering the renewed BSLT building is the reception area which has been transformed with an array of computers for the students to use, a wide screen to provide news and events (and world cup coverage?) and new bright furniture. The leather for the furniture was donated by the Scottish Group and has created a stunning modern look for the area, so fitting for the approach of the BSLT and the setting up of the Institute for Creative Leather Technologies.

The old settees in brown leather, also from the Scottish Group, were more suited to Club Rooms than staff/student meeting point and this is where they have gone – to the Sunley Centre – where they fit perfectly. For the BSLT my only wish is to have a couple of tables in reception where one can hold small informal meetings with a cup of coffee. It is bright and light now and good place to be.

A new short course

During June we have a new short course on leather making which addresses the needs of the whole supply chain allowing stakeholders in leather such as retailers, shoemakers and designers to obtain an understanding of the processes in just a few days. Hopefully before long some of the NGO people will think to attend before making negative comments about our industry without any scientific knowledge. Well intentioned statements are dangerous if they are not based on fact.

Boiled buffalo

Leather Sculpture
Leather Sculpture

A new art form has come into vogue in the BSLT based on the old French system of Cuir-bouilli which has been best described as: Leather boiled or soaked in hot water, and, when soft, moulded or pressed into any required form; on becoming dry and hard it retains the form given to it, and offers considerable resistance to cuts, blows, etc.  Discussion has been held with Tony Covington over the last eighteen months with regard to this being a technology worth re-examining in the modern world of knife crime and nasty needles, but we had not thought of this until Paul Evans got weaving with some buffalo hides.

The pieces in the pictures are on display in the BSLT building but are photographed in a garden setting in the village of Spratton where our Director had an open garden. All pieces were greatly admired as fabulous items for interior designs, and it was noticeable that Northampton folk intrinsically knew that they were made from leather, while those from out of town thought they might be ceramic or some other material. Who is it that said “leather in the blood”!

Late Notice, New Venture

In a new venture for the Institute and recognising the intention to address the needs of the whole supply chain a one week Summer School on leather is being held at the BSLT week commencing the 21st of June. As the note says “you may know your wools and polyesters, but what about leather”.  Bookings already indicate that it will be a success and we look forward to more such events in future months.

Mike Redwood

7th June 2010

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