Belt Making Beginnings

How I became a Belt Maker

This is the story of how I started making belts way back in 1977.  The Maker Monday, and Workshop Wednesday are videos from my live presentations on Facebook.

Listen to the video above to hear the stories of how I got started in leather work, back in 1977, and where I purchased leather.  I will explain how leather hides are purchased and how the thickness gauge, the tool from last weeks Tool Trivia Tuesday game,  is used.

Join me Live on Facebook for this weekly series.  Next week join me to learn how my dad influenced my belt making and how I learned to stamp designs on leather.

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Did you play along with my little game?                                         This tool is called a Belt Stripper.

It is used to cut a leather hide into belt strips.  Watch the Workshop Wednesday video below as I demonstrate how this tool is used.

In the video above, watch as I demonstrate how the Belt Stripper is used .  I will demonstrate cutting the straight edge on the hide and the belt stripper in use.

The hide I am holding above is called a Double Shoulder.  Later in the video I will cut a Double Back.  Both of these hides and the differences between them are explained in the first video above.

When I first began making belts, I dyed them all by hand.  Leather is an animal skin and has scars and blemishes.  These can show when the belt is dyed and the dye does not always come out evenly.  The dye absorbs into some areas more than others.  It was difficult and many a belt has been ruined because of this.  Join me the week of Jan. 19 to learn more about my coloring and dying techniques.

When I lost my leather suppliers in Boston I had to look for other sources.  When I discovered Weaver Leather and was pleased with their leather, I began to purchase pre-dyed hides for making plain belts from them.  Belts have always been my best seller and now I save a lot of time, and mess, purchasing the double backs.  The color is uniform and the hides are finished nicely both front and back!

Next week, please join me for Workshop WednesdayLIVE at Noon, when I will demonstrate how I create the hand stamped geometric designs on belts.

I started making belts back in 1977.  I do not have any original belts to show you.  The mallet shown on the upper left is a picture of the original mallet I purchased back in 1977 on my very first trip to Siegel & Company.

The ends were made of rawhide and could be replaced.  They needed to be replaced frequently because the ends would wear out and would not strike evenly.

The mallets on the right are what I use now.  They are made of plastic.  They are almost indestructible.  They are at least 20 years old and are in great shape!

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Hand tooled leather belts

      Next weeks topic:  Hand Stamping Designs on Leather

Please join me next week when I share the stories of how my father inspired my hand tooled belts and how he was my Belt Salesman, in the Maker Monday series.  

I demonstrate hand stamping a design on a belt and share how I learned this technique in the Workshop Wednesday series.

On Flashback Friday I will show some of my Dad’s belts that are still in use today.  My Dad has been gone since 2007, but his belts still live on and help me feel close to him.

Have any questions?????  Is there a particular topic you would like me to discuss?  Just let me know.

Any ideas for products?  Most of my products were developed because customers asked for them!  Please share your thoughts or ideas.

Jan Hibbard was born and raised in Wakefield, Mass. My love of animals and my interest in crafts developed as a child. My journey with leather began 42 years ago as I working on my teaching degree in Boston. Barnes & Noble opened in downtown Boston and I found a book on leather work. It mentioned 2 leather companies located in Boston. I went there the next day and I purchased my first hide of leather and a few tools. I made a leather vest which I still wear today. My LOVE of leather was born and it continues to grow.