In this COVID environment, many people have gotten creative about face masks, but none quite as much as the members of the British Master Saddlers, who turned their leather crafting skills to mask making. The competition, which ended mid-March, challenged saddlers to make a decorative mask — for a carnival, masquerade, animal or fancy dress. The masks had to be predominantly made of leather, but embellishments were permitted.
The competition was promoted as a fun class to show off the many and varied skills of those in the saddlery trade and it didn’t disappoint. The masks were judged first by SMS master saddler judges Mark Romain, Catherine Baker and Ms Schlotter, then went to a vote on Facebook. The results together gave the final outcome.
These may not be Covid safe, but they are a remarkable display of craftsmanship. Check out some of the winners!
Jeff Barry won the open class with his “green man” creation.
He said: “The standard in the classes was superb. I was delighted to win the open class and it made all the effort so worthwhile.
“As it has been a bit quieter with the pandemic I decided to enter the competition and I made the mask on and off over a month. I saw an image of the Green Man and thought it would make a brilliant entry; I’m so pleased I did.”
Zoe Hurst was the delighted winner of the Apprentices, Trainee and Intermediate Members Class with her Lion creation.
“The mask took shape over a few weeks, I didn’t sit down in one session, mostly just worked on little pieces as I went. It took a lot of adjusting the pattern to suit the leather I had and to develop my skills working with the different types of leather I had available, it was definitely a labour of love! “
“I was at first apprehensive about entering the competition so I wasn’t too keen on spending much on it, looking at my leather stash and my scrap bin I had lots of leftover bits and pieces in various browns/tans, etc, in lots of different finishes and thicknesses and decided to work from that. I decided on a Lion as they’re easily recognizable, very impressive, easily makes a statement piece and perfectly worked into my colour pallet. My favourite West End Musical, like a lot of people’s, is also Lion King so that probably had a subconscious doing in my inspiration.”
“I was genuinely shocked to have won, when I saw what the other entries had created I didn’t think I had much of a chance and was just hoping to place. But I’m really quite proud of myself, it’s been super tough recently and I think a lot of the entries were missing The National Competition which is usually at this time of year so we’ve put all our gusto into this. It’s so great to see how creative this community is!”