“I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind”.
Today, I got to experience another little bit of real Australia. Mandy (Bryan’s sister) had asked him and I to accompany her to a cattle farm, about 7 kilometers away from Charters Towers. She is getting married on the 4th of August and has decided to rent a horse and carriage for the grand day. I thought it was a beautiful idea, very fairy-tale and a thought that, I am almost positive, most young women have thought of at some point in their lives. Thanks Disney.
We were welcomed to this farm with two massive white swinging gates. At the top, it wrote “Leahton Park.” The farm was clean kept, beautifully white and had at least 5 different buildings on the property. The one building we entered into was where they took bookings for horses. It was also a gift store. There were shelves upon shelves of mugs, homemade leather belts, wallets, and saddles. This place wasn’t just a farm, but a tourist destination. What I later found out was that this farm was home to the “Long Hornbull with the longest horns.” This bull had been in the Guinness World Book of Records and no bull has beat it since. Now, I have never been fond of horses or even classified myself as a farm kinda gal, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by all this farm had to offer. I have though been spotted at a couple country bars back in Edmonton, doing two-step on the dance floor…
A man walked in, the crafter, the artist of the entire farm. I first saw him through a doorway from the gift store. Behind the store was his workshop. As Mandy organized and corrected details for her special day. The man in the workshop came out and introduced himself. We began to have a small conversation about farms. He asked where I was from, and related to me by saying that he had a Canadian girl and father from Ontario, who owned Longhorned bulls themselves, visited for a couple weeks to check out the farm. He took me into his workshop. I wasn’t sure if this was something he did for all visitors, but I got a bit of a thrill as I felt this wasn’t a place where visitors went most often. Bryan and I checked out where all the leather merchandise was crafted. He had saddles finished and unfinished lined up on horse back molds. Layers upon layers of unused leather on the shelf behind his work station, a plastic bucket full of his tools used to indent designs into the leather, and a spray bottle for wetting the leather.
He showed us the basic steps of designing the leather:
First: Cut the leather to the size and shape that you want
Second: Smooth all the corners/edges/ curves of the leather with water and a finger so they are smooth
Third: Spray the leather. If the leather is not wet, then the leather does not keep the design imprint
Fourth: Make your design. You need a small design chisel and a another tool (hammer-like) to help drive the tool into the leather
Fifth: Make sure the leather stays wet, when the leather starts to become a light color, that means that it is drying and will not keep the design.
There were other steps involved in this. But I’m sure that if he told everyone how he perfected his craft, he may or may not lose a slight bit of business because it would no longer become a unique craft. He made it look so easy. He was so patient and delicate with the leather. Very careful, intricate and gentle. I asked him how long it took to make a saddle. He replied with five days. I couldn’t even imagine having the patience to complete such an amazing piece of work. A virtue that I must work on in the next year.
I have always found leather crafting to be an incredibly amazing hobby. Ever since I started my obsession with hemp bracelets and wooden beads, I been wanting to add leather strapping to it. I have been obsessed with the idea. Not to mention my favourite movie and adventure novel of all time “Into the Wild by John Krakauer,” Christopher McCandless spends time with a man he met on the road, making a belt of all the places he had been in the last two years of his life. The man had made it a hobby of his as well to make these bracelets, and the man at Leahton Park strongly reminded me of the man in the most inspiring novel I have ever read.
I left the farm feeling more enlightened, cultured, and… country I suppose. Maybe I will start making more bracelets and have this moment be the backbone of my new designs.
Song of the Day: Jono McCleery – Wonderful Life