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Leather badge making – passing it on after 50 years

George Butterworth writes:

“I was introduced to leatherwork and folk music around the same time in 1972. I went to numerous folk clubs in the Manchester area and made instrument straps and belts for friends and several musicians including the Spinners, Houghton Weavers and Mike Harding. 

“One of the first badges I made was for one of my favourite folk clubs, the Ring O’Bells in Middleton. Then people started to ask for badges for their folk club or morris dancing team especially when I had a stall at various folk festivals.

George Butterworh Badges“Initially I made the badges by using an old ballpoint pen which had run out of ink to emboss the design in the leather.  I then used technical pens to ink these lines in and then hand coloured using dyes and small brushes.  Although they took a long time I found the work quite therapeutic.

“When I acquired a mortgage and children came along the necessity to earn more money drove me to find quicker ways to make badge production quicker in order to keep up with increasing orders.  I innovated over the years using hotfoil printers, embossing plates and colour transfer printing,  although they are still largely handmade.

“Over the years I have made over 600 different badges to the extent that the badges have been adopted as part of the tradition as part of kit and are a major fundraiser for teams and events.

“Now 50 years on it is time to pass on the tradition of making the badges.  My friend Alasdair North has taken over the business and will be continuing as normal.  I will be in the background giving support and guidance for continuity.  Any enquiries coming to me will be passed on and Alasdair can be contacted at badgesmith2022@gmail.com  or at 07710198836

by George Butterworth

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