Welcome to my blog. I work full time and creating is my sanity. I like to use many different mediums and was a finalist in the Fire Mountain Beading Contest in 2008. I am a passionate blogger, and a promoter of handmade goodness.

I love : my husband, my fur kids, family, music, sunshine, creating, chocolate, handmade soaps, the DUST Team, gardening, friends, Triple J Radio and photography. Comments welcome, I hope you enjoy the adventure with me.

Please respect my copyright and that the original ©photographs and ©text published on this blog remain the property of ©Maddabling (Samara). Please do not reproduce, crop or alter my original photographs.

made with love.........................maddabling xox

proud member of the down under street team

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Friends - West Australian Artists - Andrew (AKA OHP)

Happy Friday lovely Maddabling readers - phew what a week! How's things in your part of the world? There is a long weekend coming up here, it's kind of nice to have an extra day added to your weekend. 

This week it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Andrew (aka OHP), this weeks Friday Friend. Andrew is a fellow West Australian and passionate music lover who also happens to be an extraordinary leather worker! 

Andrew will be taking over the Maddabling blogging reigns as my Guest Blogger this week. I don't get to feature blokes all that often and you will just LOVE his work. My other half worked in leather work as a trade (in an earlier life) so I truly appreciate the work and skill that goes along with this craft. Here are a few favourites that I had to share with you all.  Aren't they gorgeous ? 

I was also particularly captivated by this series of photos showing a restoration, from old to new again. Love love love it!  
Dear readers I  now invite you to take a little YOU time, sit back and relax, and read a very inspirational story, The Lowdown on OHP's Leathers. I hope you find his story as fascinating as I did. Have a fab weekend everyone x 
The Lowdown on OHP's Leathers

G'day, I'm Andrew  and my passion is leather. 

I have been doing leather work for 9 years and I've worked with a variety of leathers including Cane Toad leather. I think my journey started  shortly after working as a rousy in hot smelly  shearing sheds from dawn to dusk every day. It wasn't good for my health , it also landed me in hospital, and in a lot of pain, however, work was also hard to find in my central wheatbelt town in WA. 
It wasn't long before I asked myself a simple question " what  can I do with my hands?" as I've always been quite creative , and virtually out of the blue, I decided to try my hand at leather craft. I have never worked with leather at all at this time, not even in school.
I went to my local library and borrowed the only  1970's book on leather craft numerous times, I  found some leather craft suppliers , commandeered my Mothers sewing room ( much to her disgust) and it went from there. It started mainly as  a hobby at first, but then realised that I could make a few dollars out of it. But best of all,  it was the buzz of actually making something with my own hands that I loved.

There were successes and failures at first, but mostly successes, but as the saying goes, 'we learn from our mistakes', and much to my surprise, I became quite good at it and I really  to enjoyed it. Many people took a lot of interest in what I was selling  at the markets, mainly small items like key rings , book marks and just a handful of belts.....I was even more surprised when they started to place orders.
I still have my early 'attempts'  and my mistakes at leather craft in a box under my workbench , and I do occasionally  compare those pieces to what I can do now, and  boy, what a difference. With the knowledge of leather that I have now accumulated , I can make myself whatever I please....and I love it!!

Over time , I took every opportunity to increase my   knowledge of leathers and  obtained a lot of books, patterns, tools and contacts  etc. and all I wanted to do is  learn and create more . Years later, I now have my own workshop and my own business , ........and my Mother has got her sewing room back.

I see art everywhere, and it's ironic that I hated art class in high school, but I think that was more to with the teacher than the art itself. Art engages the mind. , and like leather, no two items are the same, no matter how hard I try.
A lot of   my creativity comes from my Mother's side, as she was a seamstress by trade in the UK, even sewing for royalty. She  also made and taught pottery, taught spinning,  as well as making her own wool  and later with our own sheep and making  knitted garments for us as well as for others. Although she doesn't do pottery anymore, she  still sews, knits  and makes an assortment of handicrafts for the markets. That creativity still flows between us. We  often bounce ideas off each other. 

One of the sewing machines I use, a Pfaff 60 approx 60 years old, (now in my workshop), is what she once used to make our clothes on  when we were kids and during her seamstress days, a good indication of how strong and reliable the machine is.
I have found that 'word-of-mouth'  and some simple flyers and business cards  would have to be my most  successful means of advertising, and obviously, working hard making a good product, which has also created a good reputation for me. It still continues to keep me quite busy.

I have tried some online and newspaper ads, but that doesn't seem to work as well for me. I do a lot of craft markets ( its over a 1000+ now) , and I have learnt that people  are very tactile and like to see and feel the product, and even smell the product.The 'smell' of my stall could  be advertising in itself eh?
I do sometimes go on a website forum  called 'leatherworker.net' , which is very helpful if I get stuck on something or I need help with my machines, or I sometimes help others. It helps anyone from the absolute beginner to the advanced and experienced leather workers. Its a great way to show off, share ideas, troubleshoot, and no question is a 'silly question' .

I make a wide variety of items like belts, bags, tool cases, book marks, keyrings,wrist bands, just too many items to list. But belts are my biggest seller, my 'bread and butter' so to speak. The cheap and nasty imports are the biggest complaints amongst my customers who prefer a handmade item.
I do get a lot of joy from turning a blank piece of leather into something really beautiful that will hopefully outlast me. I can do all the hand carving , tooling,  and hand stitching and every item is all handcrafted. I don't always use sewing machines. Hand stitching is quite therapeutic and has a more traditional look. 

I also do a lot of assorted custom work and some harness work for horses. I also do horse rug repairs. I took advantage of a hole in the market in my area. I would love someone to teach me how to make or repair saddles , and I'd especially love to learn how to do the fancy  harness work, with all the 'bling' on draught horses one day. 

There have been so many favourite pieces that I have made over the years, but most recently, I have a couple of pieces. One is a stubby holder with a beer logo stitched in on one side ( one of my bright ideas), and a carved horse on the other. Horses are often difficult for me to carve and I practice doing them as much as I can , but on this occasion, I think I've almost nailed it.
My other favourite at the moment, is an old handbag that was in dire need of some love.
I made something old  new again. There was no set plan as to what to do with it, my 'creative juices' start to flow .
I  just see an image in my head and go with it  and that was the end result. But I do set myself a challenge with old leather bags. I can't cut the original  leather in any way. All main leather components have to be kept in the original shape or form. I can add extra trim,  add new hardware , change colour if I want to, and I've achieved just that.

My hobby , my love of art , hard work and perseverance has now turned into a seven day a week small business that I am so proud of.
You can see so much more of my work  on my photo page :  http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=ohpwa  and no doubt you'll see it grow in the future.

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