Saddlery Courses are on the Up
The art of traditional saddlery is being rediscovered by a new generation who are taking the skill in fresh directions.
Hammering nails into a saddle in a rural workshop is far removed from Mia Sabel’s previous career. Sabel, 42, was working for a financial services company in Canary Wharf in London when she got the itch to reconnect with traditional craftsmanship and the desire to start making things. “I wanted more hands-on skills,” she recalls. “I wanted to get away from the office and have a bit of a life change.”
Now in her second year of the course at Capel Manor College in Enfield, north London, Sabel has set up her own business and is starting to get commissions to make bespoke leather stationery, attaché cases, fashion accessories and furniture. “The beautiful techniques I am learning by making tack and saddles can be applied to so many things,” she says.
Despite livery being historically a predominantly male industry, 85% of the saddlery students at Capel Manor are female. “Women are attracted by the possibilities of the craft,” says Hall. “Girls who come from horse backgrounds see it as a way of carrying on working with horses, while lots of individuals see it as a way of marrying craft and design.
“Saddlery is not just heritage and we are not just guardians of a museum piece. People are increasingly seeing that traditional skills are the building block for new and cutting-edge design.”
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