You may have noticed a new film featured on our homepage – if not, it’s well worth a look! Check it out below. We’re truly honoured to feature in this beautiful piece of art that celebrates traditional artisan techniques and the process behind handcrafting an Oak Bark leather belt.
A couple of months ago we were approached by local videographer, Rob French, who wanted to collaborate on an interesting new project, featuring local artisan businesses. Rob wanted to create a short film to tell the story behind hand crafting an oak bark belt from scratch alongside the workers of J and FJ Baker as they create their world-renowned oak bark tanned leather.
An Organic Process
Rather than showing the process step-by-step from start to finish, Rob wanted to produce something with an organic, natural flow – highlighting the organic nature of traditional techniques that have grown out of centuries of expertise. In his own words:
“Like rivers have to work hard from source to sea, it’s easy to forget the source of a great product and the amount of work, skill and time that is embodied in every stage.”
That’s why the film shows footage shot on scene at J&FJ Baker’s tannery in Colyton interspersed with footage of Matt crafting an oak bark tanned leather belt in his workshop in Totnes. Alongside this footage, beautiful natural imagery (shot with Matt and his dog, Billy alongside the River Dart) connects the artisans to the environment, making them part of a larger organic process.
We love the way Rob’s film celebrates the beauty behind ancient techniques and uses natural imagery to highlight the importance of the patience, sustainability and craftsmanship that goes into creating a quality product.
In a world in which consumers are very much separated from the products they buy and the impact these goods have on the environment, this footage serves to highlight the way in which we all rely on the environment for the products and processes that are part of our everyday life.
Traditional Oak Bark Tanned Leather
Oak bark tannage is a traditional English method of turning hides into leather organically, using only oak bark, stream water and time. There’s been a tannery at the J&FJ Baker site since Roman times, but today the process is an endangered craft, with Baker’s being the only oak bark tannery left in Britain. Find out more about the process on our blog post featuring J&FJ Baker Oak Bark Tanned Leather.
Celebrating Artisan Leather Belt Craftmanship
The film also highlights the level of detail and skill that Matt puts into hand crafting each Colville Leather belt, resonating with our focus on the value of hand-made quality products over society’s drive for fast fashion.
In the footage you can see Matt using a variety of traditional artisan techniques to create his belt. In case you were wondering what’s going on in the footage, here are the different methods Matt uses at various points in the film:
About the filmmaker
Rob French is a professional filmmaker based in Torbay, Devon. With a background in Art and Creative direction, as well as commercial business promotional video, he has a passion for using film and music to communicate and connect:
“The combination of imagery and sound has such meaning, a universal language that cuts through apprehension and connects you to people, countries and lifetimes away”
“Bark to Belt” communicates the passion and skill that goes into creating each Colville Leather product, as well as connecting people to an ancient tradition of craftsmanship that is in danger of being forgotten in a world of industrialisation and mass-production.