What is your background?
My love for leather work first started with an obsession for footwear, particularly the beautifully made antique shoes in the collection of my local museum. The hundreds of tiny buttons, the detailing and the care put into shaping the curve of the heal.
The only person that I could think about who could teach me the technical process of making shoes was the local clog maker who took me under his wing and encouraged me to pursue my ambition. So after a couple of years at art college, I managed to get a place at prestigious and ancient College, Cordwainers then part of Central and St Martin College, London.
Wanting to learn how to create shoes entirely by hand led me to an apprenticeship in the West End of London. I was very lucky as apprenticeships were very few and far between. For 12 years I worked exclusively for 4 or 5 boot and shoe maker in the West End and Mayfair. A chance conversation led to a residency at the Royal Armoires in Leeds where I spent two years working with the in house leather worker to produce 30 pairs of Jack boots for the household cavalry. While I was there I began to think about producing a collection of leather goods under my own name. I was encouraged when my first show sold out completely. I have worked hard to build on that success becoming more creative with styling and inventive with detail as the collection has grown.
Where did you study?
Hereford College of Art and Design, Cordwainers College, London
What inspires you
The quality of craftsmanship. Traditional leather working skills and the people that have them. The beauty in simplicity.
Describe your creative process?
Saddlery leather, thick, requires hand stitching, have to understand the material strengths to design beautify crafted bags. Once I have established a design I work with the customer to tailor it to their needs. I chose each hide individually looking for a perfect finish and a consistency of colour. I buy from only two or three top end tanneries using only the finest British leather. The leather is all hand cut and punched ready for stitching, buckles and straps are attached, and then the bag is hand stitched. The final process is to wax the whole bag to make it waterproof and to create a lustrous finish.
Who have you collaborated with?
Mark Beabey, Flame Oz, Bedfordshire Basket Makers, Rowanna
Describe your collection?
The collection as it stands today is all about clean lines, contemporary forms combined with traditional skill. It includes signature pieces, the satchel and the saddle bag. Both have the enlarged buckle detail that I have become recognised for. Each piece is unique because they are handmade, and gain depth of character as they age.
What are your latest shows/events coming forwards?
- Palm House 20 Sept
- GMCCF 9 to 11 Oct
- Made by Hands Cardiff 30 Oct to 1 Nov
- Hereford Contemporary Craft Fair 13 to 15 Nov
- Crafts in the pen 20 to 22 Nov
- Open Studio 4 to 6 Dec
To buy Designer/Maker Catherine Edwards work go to http://ameliasbarn.co.uk/axel-baby–a4-leather-satchel-by-catherine-edwards-717-p.asp
(c) product images by Ed Chadwick
(c) profile shot by Craig Shaw from Happy Photography.