A Leather Craftsman
Mike East is the epitome of the traditional craftsman; humble, talented and eager to try new things to further his craft. Now in his 80s, he learned his craft at the National Leathersellers College in the late 1950s. Covering all aspects of leather manufacturing, much of his time was split between lectures, time in the tannery or the laboratory. In the tannery, Mike learnt to process the skins, known as hides, from raw to finished leather. After leaving the College in 1959, Mike worked in several tanneries across the UK, one being the largest tannery in Europe, in a technical capacity, then in sales, before the UK leather trade rapidly disappeared.
Crafting a Living
In 1980 along with his late wife, Mike set up shop on his own at a Craft Centre in Shropshire. They had begun making and selling their own soft padded bags for musical instruments and expanded the range to belts and handbags and other tourist gifts. In the late 80’s they relocated to Hay on Wye and went on to making leather boxes for restored WW1 field guns. Ironically the workshop that saw so many hides made into beautiful leather creations is none other than our very own Woodee Store in Dorstone! Since officially retiring in 2002, Mike has been ‘pottering about’ working from a small workshop at home; but in the last twelve months has come out of retirement to make our Leather Aprons, Skewer Pouches and Woodee Bellows. We are so grateful to have Mike and his wealth of experience in team Woodee. What a heritage!