About Barrie J Bailey
In the Beginning…
I started leatherwork about 1962 while serving in the Royal Australian Navy. My hobby at that time was the braiding of thin cord to make belts and lanyards. I also made “Knot Boards” for decoration or practical training aids and presented them to Naval Cadet Units in the various ports I visited around Australia.
It was during such a visit to Darwin that I came across a craft market where I saw a demonstration of braiding leather thongs into whips, belts and lanyards. It was a simple process to replace the cord that I was using with leather thong.
I read an article in a magazine that mentioned carving and tooling leather so I purchased a Lucky Seven Craftool Kit complete with the Lucky Seven manual and then taught myself how to carve leather and 50 years later I am still going strong.
My wife and I spent some time in the early eighties acting as the colony leatherworker at the Old Sydney Town tourist attraction north of Sydney. We then worked the local weekend markets but the pressure got too much trying to keep up with the demand. The tourists did not want quality leatherwork – they were more interested in ‘nick-nacks’ with Australian animals stamped on them.
H & B Leathercrafts…We had a go at operating a RM Williams Tandy Leathercraft franchise for a couple of years and once again the pressure of waiting for deliveries from US and Australian suppliers and fending off irate customers who wanted it yesterday proved too much so we sold up the business. It was a ‘wake-up call’ because most of the customers were elderly financially challenged people who could not afford the prices of the craftools and manuals. My dream of operating a leather craft shop full time was put on hold.
Royal Agricultural Society (Royal Easter Show)
During the period 1972 to 1988 I started entering my work in the Sydney Royal Easter Show and the Brisbane Agricultural Show and scored the following results — “Standard of Excellence Awards” three years running, 12 First Prizes, 9 Second Prizes, 8 Third Prizes.
Parkinson’s DiseaseMy leatherwork was put on hold about five years ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. I went through the “Why me” phase and realised that there was nothing I could do about it so I got on with life. My Doctor varied my daily dose of pills and I am now stable on 8 pills per day. So far so good. This has given me a new lease on life and at 73 years of age I can still saddle stitch without stabbing myself.
I became a member of the International Internet Leathercrafters’ Guild (iilg) in 2011 and took part in a competition – “Tribute to the US Navy SEALS”. I was placed first in the Master Division. The following year I was awarded a Second prize for my entry which was a carved leather clock face.