I knew there was something familiar about today’s date.
Other than my being a science fiction fan, May the fourth last year was significant because it was the day we announced that we could restart the supply of our non-essential goods to customers (see the Covid-19 info on the Belts site).
So today marks a year since we began a new normal; one that has continued to evolve, and will continue to do so. We are still sanitising hands and surfaces, wearing face coverings and keeping our distance…
We are delighted to be able to welcome customers into our new-look shop, with the belt maker’s workbench right in the window, and a spacious shopping area inside.
Those exciting plans I mentioned a year ago became a shop called ‘The Belt Makers and Friends‘ and inside you can now find a good range of gifts and accessories that compliment our belts, and that you might find around a person who belongs – for a part of their day at least – in an office, study or studio. Things like suitable leather bags and briefcases for the trip to work. Other items that brighten your day, such as a smart shirt and cufflinks to team up with a more casual trouser; comfy and bright, British made woollen socks; and leather pens that have been expertly hand crafted from our very own leather trimmings.
The range is expanding all the time and ‘desk decor’ is an area we are aiming at for the near future. Where will we be this time next year? To quote Dave Lister, of the JMC mining ship, Red Dwarf: “It’s going to be fun finding out!”
Last time I talked about beginning to plan ahead for that special gifting period at the end of the year. Continuing in that vein, I’d like to dedicate this page to our Signature Piece: the British Spirit.
Our British Spirit was born from a time that is not unlike this one in many ways. It was inspired by the sense of team spirit that was exhibited by the players, supporters and volunteers that were ‘Team GB’ at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The red, white and blue stitching represents the colours on the British Union Flag or ‘Union Jack’.
When the volunteer Games Makers made the London 2012 Olympics happen, their selfless energy and skills were given so that we could benefit from the history being made. Sound familiar?
We love to make this belt
We love to make this belt and are very proud of it. The Raise style enables us to safely secure all the start and finish ends for each of the three decorative thread colours on the inside.
Each of the red, the white and the blue stitches – always in that order – are painstakingly hand sewn with a long back stitch, evenly along the full length of each side and around the tip. When done correctly this produces a candy cane style of striping along the inside.
A piece of thinned leather will sit between the two rows of candy stripes and the entire top layer can then be sewn onto a base piece, producing the raised effect.
In a medium sized belt that’s around 1,360 stitches and a lot of work, as you can appreciate!
Which made us think.
Like those amazing, proud Games Makers of 2012 but this time with utmost, awe-inspiring bravery: the doctors, nurses and other members of our NHS risk their lives in British Spirit in this historic time of pandemic.
For every bespoke TBM British Spirit Belt sold between now and 30th November 2020, we’d like to donate £25 to NHS Charities
Can I say that again?
For every bespoke British Spirit sold between now and 30th November 2020, we’d like to donate £25 to NHS Charities.
Order one for yourself, for your partner, for your sibling, your best mate. Together we can repay some of the awe-inspiring workers of the NHS.
The shop is open for business 10am-5pm from Tuesday to Saturday. In store appointments are available for private browsing for just you and your household/bubble. Please get in touch if you need this service by filling in the contact form, button below 👇
It’s been an unusual year so far, to say the least. One of the strangest summers seems to finally be over and the children have gone back to school.
You know what that means?
It’s time to start planning for the end of the year. Let’s take it steadily, one gift at a time.
We have many lovely things
We have many lovely things on our Friends website and I’d like to introduce you to them, and to some of the people who make them.
Let’s start with our bag maker, Henry, of Henry Tomkins Leather.
We’ve known Henry for a little while now and, although he is semi retired, we were delighted that he was pleased to have the opportunity to place a few items from his extensive catalogue in our new shop.
He makes sturdy briefcases and lovely, soft bags and satchels in his studio, just 2 miles from our shop near the city centre. His hand made products are tough, durable and come with his personal 5 year guarantee.
The bold buckle strap front is complimented by a strong and sturdy comfortable handle, with reinforced leather covered metal bar to keep the briefcase in shape while carrying heavy items.
You have two internal pockets, for separating your home and office gear for example, and the front pocket has additional sections for storing those smaller items that always find their way to the bottom, eg. pens, passport, tickets etc.
There are three separate compartments in the main section, with a total of seven additional internal pockets. These are ready to hold whatever you need to fit in them, including pens, phone, wallet, etc.
There’s a handy zip compartment that is accessible from the back and the look is completed with a locking front fastener and two buckle straps. The Full Monty also comes with a fully adjustable shoulder strap with integral comfort panel. The comfort panel is fixed in the middle and the strap can be adjusted from both ends so you can always be sure the comfort part is right where you want it!
… so I had to do something else for a bit. I needed to take the product photos for Henry’s most excellent leather briefcases and bags so I greedily picked my favourite briefcase to begin, and brown and silver began to take over my day.
It’s a Brown and Silver masterpiece
Henry calls this The Full Monty
And with good reason. All Henry’s briefcases can be ordered in different colours, with extras or with other changes, however, this comes with the full works. The whole shebang. Nay, it’s the pinnacle of the briefcase department.
Inside the main section are three separate compartments, with a total of seven additional internal pockets. I’ve counted! These are ready to hold whatever you need to fit inside them, including pens and a phone.
A handy zip compartment is accessible from the back and the look is completed with a locking front fastener and two buckle straps.
The Full Monty also comes with a fully adjustable shoulder strap with integral comfort panel. The comfort panel is fixed in the middle and the strap can be adjusted from both ends so you can always be sure the comfort part is right where you want it!
I thought it would be wise to put a group together while I had the camera and the opportunity. Hmm, now what goes with a very dark brown briefcase with gunmetal fittings…?
How about a nice brown and silver belt?
This shade of brown is called Dark Havana. A very traditional colour for English saddlery, it is an ideal, all purpose colour for when black is little too dark but nearly black will do perfectly.
The silver coloured stainless steel in the West End Roller buckle is non-rusting and extremely durable. Having a roller on the buckle is designed to be kinder on the leather than not having one, however, it has to be said that the quality and standard of leather used in these belts puts the choice of whether or not to select a buckle with a roller, simply down to preference.
Following the silver theme
If your lover deserves a symbol of your depth of feeling, perhaps a pair of these cufflinks would be a useful and daily reminder?
A knot without an end, this design is, of course, widely known as a symbol of never-ending love.
Teamed up here with the utilitarian colour and nature of the stainless steel buckle, the silver coloured finish is achieved with practical, non-tarnish, rhodium plating.
Somewhere to keep them
It can be easy to lose track of tiny things. Our cufflinks are such a lovely product to handle; and to lose one, or both, would be a sad thing indeed. I would recommend keeping them together in a receptacle that is just as eye-catching… so it’s obvious that is has been made for an important job.
Alison Miles designs and makes these stunning pieces in her Shaldon workshop. Porcelain is delicate, it’s true, but it takes no time at all to become used to handling cufflinks in conjunction with this material that can bring so much aesthetic and tactile joy. Her lovely, textured trinket trays are available in lots of different shapes, sizes and colours.
Our web guru, Aaron from Takeoff-Development, was easily able to fix my website issue so I wasn’t stuck for long. Just long enough to take you on a two-tone wander through a small section of our shop…
‘It’s a brown and silver day today’ was written by Marie Buckfield