John Hagger trained in Walsall as a saddler and bridlemaker because he wanted to learn how to work with leather in the traditional way. Even though his interest is not equestrian related the influence is evident in his designs.
After relocating to Devon John began a 2 year period of self styled study investigating traditional, pre-industrial leather making techniques. He established links with interested tutors at Northampton university and spent many hours in museum libraries. John is fascinated at the way we can make leather just from animal skin and tree barks. The transformation is alchemy.
He discovered Bakers Tannery in Colyton, East Devon. They tan their hides with oak bark from the Lake District in huge underground pits after which the hides are hand finished. It’s a process that takes almost 2 years and is a far cry from the automated factory production of modern world tanneries. Their leather is made in the old way and exactly suits my need for a more primitively produced leather.
From time to time John tans the skins of locally culled deer from the Dartington Estate and nearby Dartmoor. He also occasionally retrieve road kill transforming the skin of their slain carcasses into items of beauty. It is with one of these road kill deer skins he tanned that he made a handmade football for the Homeground project run by the Devon Guild of Craftsmen. This football will be part of the touring exhibition which will visit towns and cities whose football club origins are associated with a different craft industry.