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40 Under 40: Meet Corrie King

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Every Monday, we are celebrating one of our 40 under 40 makers.

This week, we are getting to know Corrie King, a Master Saddler, Bridle Maker and Harness Maker as well as an on-call firefighter! Lets get to know more about her with our Q&A.

Tell us a bit about what you do?

I’m a Master Saddler, Bridle Maker and Harness Maker, but I mainly specialise in bespoke bridles. I run a small workshop in North Oxfordshire where I take on bespoke work as well as repairs, and a small amount of harness work (mainly for our local brewery who still use Shire horses for some of their beer deliveries – one of only 3 left in the country doing this!).
I have quite a few strings to my bow, though! I am also an on-call firefighter at my local station, where I’m lucky to work with a really wonderful crew. It provides a nice contrast to the solitary life of a bench saddler! As well as this, I help on my partner’s farm with a flock of 800 sheep, mainly at lambing and shearing time which are both really hard work but so rewarding.


How did you get into making leather goods? / What or maybe who inspired you to start making?

I’ve always been creative, ever since I was very young. I was always first to the making table in primary school, and that creative streak continued through my school life. I started riding around age 10, but it wasn’t until much later that I considered saddlery as a career. I collected model horses as a child, and would make miniature saddles and bridles for them. It was my riding instructor who first put me in touch with the saddler who I was later apprenticed to, and once I had decided that saddlery was my calling, I couldn’t get started quick enough! I began studying at Capel Manor College aged 16, right after my GCSEs. I gained my level 2 skills tests whilst studying there for 2 years. After that, I was apprenticed for 3 years in Leicestershire, where I learned more about what it takes to run an effective saddlery business, whilst also working towards my level 3 skills tests at the Saddlery Training Centre on training weeks every few months.


What is your favourite product to make/favourite commission piece?

I make a range of horsehair memorial pieces, which incorporate the hair with leather – bracelets, keyrings, stock pins and other trinkets. I’ve always loved fiddly jobs like this, and each piece is always so unique and usually very meaningful for the customer, who might have lost their horse. So those are really special to make.


What do you love most about working with leather?

I love seeing the transformation that leather as a material goes through, from a hide of leather through each part of the process into the finished item. It feels like a little bit of magic sometimes! 

What are your next goals/ Have you got any exciting new projects lined up?

I’ve had quite a busy winter in the workshop, so I’m actually having a bit of a break from the bench whilst we are busy on the farm lambing! I’ve got some bespoke bridles lined up for later in in the spring and into the summer, though. 


What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a leather worker or who has just started out?

Get out there and give it a go!
Find out who your local bench saddler is, or find a leather worker in your area, and get in touch. Ask if you can spend some time in the workshop with them, take the chance to learn from an expert.


What does it mean to you to be included on the 40 under 40 list?

It’s lovely to see my name alongside so many other talented makers!


How important do you think it is to keep traditional techniques alive in the modern world?

Very much so – I think it provides an important and really meaningful connection to our heritage. I also feel that programs such as The Repair Shop have done brilliant things for bringing awareness for Heritage Crafts into the public eye. More people are realising how important these traditional skills are, and how close we are to losing many of the less common ones.


What have you done to keep relevant in a digital age?

I’ll be completely honest in saying that I have somewhat lost touch with keeping my social media up to date in the past year or so! It’s something I’m hoping to work on this year.


What is the biggest challenge to becoming successful in your discipline?

Running a business as an independent Bench Saddler, and trying to make enough for it to pay the bills is difficult, as is finding the balance of the enjoyment and passion for the craft alongside running it as a business. No-one prepares you for the ‘real world’. There is a lot of support within industry, don’t get me wrong. However I’ve found that this tends to be much more when you are a student and a trainee. My feeling is that this support tends to drop off in some ways once you qualify, so it can feel very challenging despite best efforts, when setting out to start a business. I am fiercely passionate about my craft and will fight for it till the last, but my goodness it can feel immensely challenging and overwhelming some days!

For more information, please visit www.ckleatherworks.weebly.com 

40 Under 40: Meet Corrie King

_________________________________________________
Every Monday, we are celebrating one of our 40 under 40 makers.

This week, we are getting to know Corrie King, a Master Saddler, Bridle Maker and Harness Maker as well as an on-call firefighter! Lets get to know more about her with our Q&A.

Tell us a bit about what you do?

I’m a Master Saddler, Bridle Maker and Harness Maker, but I mainly specialise in bespoke bridles. I run a small workshop in North Oxfordshire where I take on bespoke work as well as repairs, and a small amount of harness work (mainly for our local brewery who still use Shire horses for some of their beer deliveries – one of only 3 left in the country doing this!).
I have quite a few strings to my bow, though! I am also an on-call firefighter at my local station, where I’m lucky to work with a really wonderful crew. It provides a nice contrast to the solitary life of a bench saddler! As well as this, I help on my partner’s farm with a flock of 800 sheep, mainly at lambing and shearing time which are both really hard work but so rewarding.


How did you get into making leather goods? / What or maybe who inspired you to start making?

I’ve always been creative, ever since I was very young. I was always first to the making table in primary school, and that creative streak continued through my school life. I started riding around age 10, but it wasn’t until much later that I considered saddlery as a career. I collected model horses as a child, and would make miniature saddles and bridles for them. It was my riding instructor who first put me in touch with the saddler who I was later apprenticed to, and once I had decided that saddlery was my calling, I couldn’t get started quick enough! I began studying at Capel Manor College aged 16, right after my GCSEs. I gained my level 2 skills tests whilst studying there for 2 years. After that, I was apprenticed for 3 years in Leicestershire, where I learned more about what it takes to run an effective saddlery business, whilst also working towards my level 3 skills tests at the Saddlery Training Centre on training weeks every few months.


What is your favourite product to make/favourite commission piece?

I make a range of horsehair memorial pieces, which incorporate the hair with leather – bracelets, keyrings, stock pins and other trinkets. I’ve always loved fiddly jobs like this, and each piece is always so unique and usually very meaningful for the customer, who might have lost their horse. So those are really special to make.


What do you love most about working with leather?

I love seeing the transformation that leather as a material goes through, from a hide of leather through each part of the process into the finished item. It feels like a little bit of magic sometimes! 

What are your next goals/ Have you got any exciting new projects lined up?

I’ve had quite a busy winter in the workshop, so I’m actually having a bit of a break from the bench whilst we are busy on the farm lambing! I’ve got some bespoke bridles lined up for later in in the spring and into the summer, though. 


What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a leather worker or who has just started out?

Get out there and give it a go!
Find out who your local bench saddler is, or find a leather worker in your area, and get in touch. Ask if you can spend some time in the workshop with them, take the chance to learn from an expert.


What does it mean to you to be included on the 40 under 40 list?

It’s lovely to see my name alongside so many other talented makers!


How important do you think it is to keep traditional techniques alive in the modern world?

Very much so – I think it provides an important and really meaningful connection to our heritage. I also feel that programs such as The Repair Shop have done brilliant things for bringing awareness for Heritage Crafts into the public eye. More people are realising how important these traditional skills are, and how close we are to losing many of the less common ones.


What have you done to keep relevant in a digital age?

I’ll be completely honest in saying that I have somewhat lost touch with keeping my social media up to date in the past year or so! It’s something I’m hoping to work on this year.


What is the biggest challenge to becoming successful in your discipline?

Running a business as an independent Bench Saddler, and trying to make enough for it to pay the bills is difficult, as is finding the balance of the enjoyment and passion for the craft alongside running it as a business. No-one prepares you for the ‘real world’. There is a lot of support within industry, don’t get me wrong. However I’ve found that this tends to be much more when you are a student and a trainee. My feeling is that this support tends to drop off in some ways once you qualify, so it can feel very challenging despite best efforts, when setting out to start a business. I am fiercely passionate about my craft and will fight for it till the last, but my goodness it can feel immensely challenging and overwhelming some days!

For more information, please visit www.ckleatherworks.weebly.com