Sunday, February 13, 2005

Leather Craft

Craft Training & Craft Courses are virtually non existent these days and the choice for those people wishing to embark on a career using Leather Craft as that career is practically a non starter. Having said that there are some excellent short courses run by artisans in various parts of the UK. However this can prove expensive if relied on exclusively as a beginner will have to return frequently to a centre to get all the basic skills necessary to become a credible and proficient Artisan. There are some college courses available but these are HND design courses with the main emphasis on design with a small impute of craft skills which is intended to enable a student to specialize in a specific area of either shoes or leather goods.

The old and now defunct City & Guilds 470 0 & A level Leathergoods Craft Courses which lasted two years placed the emphasis on craft skills with an element of design included. How did this come about, We can't blame the colleges as they have to provide courses that will bring in suitable funding. HND & Degree courses produce that funding. The fault lies with successive Governments (of all all shades). Or to put it more bluntly their department that oversee the funding.

Craft Couses have always been seen by these controlling bodies as 'Low Level Courses' The theory being that you don't need to have any intelligence or schooling to work with your hands or create Craft Objects. Consequentially little funding was available to colleges offering such courses. The availability of grants to student wishing to take craft courses was also meager if offered at all, all these factors played their part in the demise of craft courses.

Apprenticeship's stopped and to be fair the closure of many leather goods companies due to them being unable to compete with cheap imports helped to bring this about. The introduction of NVQ,s helped lower the standard of skills (I will be taken to task for this) but I was unfortunately involved in the introduction of these into the Leather Industry, but I said at the time it would be bad for crafts in general and I think I have been proved right. Now don't get me wrong I did not say that all NVQ Qualifications are rubbish or that they did not work. In fact they are fine & provide excellent results when applied to the right subjects.

Lets use Hotel Management as an example It is not important where in the country a hotel is situated the basic requirements will be the same & these specific skills can be taught adequately using the NVQ formula. It was couses of this type that the NVQ honed its skills on & formulated its course structure on. Their mistake was in assuming this would work on Crafts and Hand Skills (Which was as far as I am concerned further proof of the ignorance prevalent regarding Skilled Work). Another major flaw was the assumption that skill taught in one factory would match those taught in another, With NVQ,s being Work Shop based as far as their craft Skills component was concerned is the cause of the problem. There are companies producing cases, companies producing handbags, companies that produce only belts, companies that produce only wallets, etc.

Lets take that company that only makes belts, the skills required to produce belt are few and an NVQ acquired there will not enable the recipient to make more advanced items like a case for example. This is without allowing for the quality factor as some companies produce cheap goods & others produce high quality goods. I have no problem with this as there is a market for both, but where does that leave NVQ,s and to be more precise their value as a Craft award. A lot of the newer companies making leather goods have started up with no background in the industry and unlike the old established companies do not have the technical knowledge to pass on, how can they, skilled craftsmen of the old school are either long gone or in short supply. (And we hear Governments complaining of Skills Shortages), I as a City & Guilds moderator for those old Leather Craft Courses am well placed to make this criticism. More on how to get these skills now in my next blog.


Blogger kimcoston said...

Scuola del Cuoio tucked behind Florence's Renaissance gem, the Santa Croce church, offers short seminars in fine leather craft amid the most culturally inspirational ambience possible.

6:32 AM  
Blogger kimcoston said...

Scuola del Cuoio also offers intensive, longer apprentice-like fine leather craft training.
Students work with fine calf, lamb, alligator, ostrich sourced from the famous Tuscan tanneries that supply Gucci, Ferragamo, Prada and other luxury brands.

Training in the same renown Tuscan leather craft techniques that brought the big brands here for production are part of the package. Training for creation of handbags, small leather goods is intricate and specialized in customizing and personalizing products for clients.

Scuola del Cuoio is an incredible find.
A small family-owned business started in a unique collaboration with Franciscan monks after WWII to provide a skilled trade to war orphans, these people know what they are doing and really care.

Italy is world known for its tanneries and fashion production culture. It is the place where French and American luxury brands go to develop their products: Chanel, Dior. Since Burberrys produces alot of its clothing there, I would wager a bet that their leather goods come from there as well.
Thumbs up on Scuola del cuoio for an authentic educational experience in artisanal craft.

6:43 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home