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Hand Crafted Leather Bottles by Beaver Bushcraft

How we make our beautifully hand crafted leather bottles at Beaver Bushcraft........

Whether they are for Film sets, TV programs, Museums, Collectors or for personal use, our traditional style handmade leather bottles are certainly becoming more and more popular. Made using only the very best vegetable tanned leather, bees wax and pine resin our traditional leather bottles are all made by hand in our Kent based Workshop. Each bottle is individually cut, stitched, wet-formed & then waxed by us, in-house, from start to finish. This allows us to have full control over the manufacturing process, which effectively means that we can guarantee that each bottle that we make is superior quality.

It takes us approximately 7 to 10 days to make each leather bottle. We carefully select matching, left and right handed leather bottle blanks from a single hide of leather that will allow us to homogenously wet form a leather bottle, after they have been carefully sewn together. 

During the wet-forming process each bottle is individually assessed and then carefully shaped, to enhance its own natural characteristics. It is carefully formed into a beautiful and unique, yet consistently accurate traditional leather bottle shape. Picture on the left right shows Mark shaping one of our bottles by hand. 

Mark shaping the leather bottle by hand
Getting the wax to the correct temperature is crucial

Once the bottles have naturally dried for at least week, they are then fully submerged and impregnated in a full immersion in a  bees wax or Brwers Pitch bath, before being fully lined and sealed with more  wax. Picture on the right shows getting the wax to the correct temperature, this is most crucial that the heat is just right! The wax we use is totally food safe. 

Once the bottles are fully harden, we can then attend to the final stages of the manufacturing process before they are finished off by giving them a good polishing and then buffing with a soft cloth. As you can see they certainly are a labour of love!

Reindeer Skin Covered Bottles we made for the film "The Huntsman"

Personalised Leather Bottles we made for Pippa Middleton

We made a load of mini leather bottles as Gifts for a woodland wedding

A batch of Leather Bottles hanging up to dry for the TV Show "10'000 BC"

A Brief History of Leather Bottles:

We at Beaver Bushcraft like the idea of continuing traditional skills, particularly the tradition of making leather bottles. Leather bottles – as opposed to animal bladders and intestines - have been in use since the Neolithic period and probably earlier if the truth be known, when they discovered that leather/skins could be shaped by wetting the leather and letting it hardened by boiling it or leaving out in the heat of the sun.

It could be said, that leather very much was the material of choice, for the personal transportation of small quantities of liquids, from the earliest days of Human history right up to Tudor times and beyond, for its availability, durability and lightness of weight. Certainly, by way of contrast, leather bottles, would have been much easier to make and to carry than the heavier more fragile, and without being fully glazed, porous in nature earthenware pots of the time. Throughout history, leather bottles have been adapted, shaped and designed to suit their purpose. For example the leather bottles found on the wreckage of Tudor ship the Mary Rose, where made wider and flatter on the bottom to stop them rolling around whilst at sea. The photo above right shows a copy we made of one of the Bottles found on the Mary Rose. We deliberately made it look very old and rustic.

During Elizabethan times, it was only the rich that could have afforded genuine glass wine glasses due to the high cost of glass and the skills needed to make them. Wine glasses would constantly have been filled by a servant holding a leather bottle who was known at the time as the ‘Botellar’, a term and position in life today that is more familiarly known as a ‘Butler’. In the village of Hallaton, Northamptonshire, the sport of bottle kicking was very popular. The bottle was originally made of leather making one wonders, if this was the origin of the leather football !!! 

Early Eastern ‘primitive’ leather bottles were really just a ‘bag’ made from tanned or untanned skins of entire animals, such as kid, goat, cow, camel or buffalo. And i n most cases made from the animal entire body, after the legs and head were cut off and sewn or tied closed!!!  When filled, these leather bag bottles grotesquely retained the shape of the animal. The Photo above shows a modern version of a bottle made from the skin of an animal. Certainly the use of whole hide bottle bags is still widely used by nomadic Mongolian tribes, who often use them for storing fermented milk, butter and cheese’s as well as water.

Other bottle bags used by our ancestors for storing wine or oil would have been tanned by plants rich in tannins such Oak bark and leaves etc & then seasoned in smoke, a process that apparently gave a rather peculiar tang to the flavour to the wine. I’m glad to say the process of storing these liquids has become more sophisticated since then, especially since the invention and widespread availability of glass! 

How Leather Bottles Have Shaped Our History......

We have already mentioned the word ‘Botellar’ and how it changed into the word ‘Butler’. The Bottle on left shows one of our hand stitched traditional style leather Flask. 

When Leather is worked wet (so that it can be shaped) and then air dried, it becomes what is known as ‘Jack Leather’ and medieval leather drinking utensils thus became known as ‘Jacks’. The use of the word ‘Jack’ continued until Nelson’s time when they were known as ‘Jack Boots’, hence the naval phrase "Fill up your Boots" meaning "have a drink"!!!!. In fact the term ‘Jack boots’ is still used to this day ‘German Jack Boots’ is a good example.

Our copy of a leather bottle found on the Tudor Ship 'The Mary Rose'

We love the way leather bottles as well as leather drinking vessels have helped shaped the social drinking habits through the ages and we at Beaver Bushcraft just love the idea of continuing this great tradition and keeping this ancient skill alive. Many people still make leather bottles to do this day and we like to think our hand crafted leather bottles will the heirlooms of the future & bringing back a little bit of history to life.


Hudson Bay Tinderboxes & Boris Blog !!!

 Not sure how many people are aware of the situation with the new trade deals between the UK, USA and the EU. Sadly it’s impacting everyone, especially small business due to the difficulties of importing & exporting, not to mention the UK want the USA to register for VAT in this country! This is affecting some of the raw materials we need but most of all, our beloved Hudson Bay Tinderboxes. We are looking at a way to import them in from the USA without involving heavy masses of paperwork not to mention the high costs of Import Duty, VAT etc. So meanwhile we have had to come up with an alternative ourselves. Saying that, we have also wanted to make these for a very long time now…..our very own ‘Beaver Creek’ Tinderboxes!!! Beautifully hand crafted from vintage leather.  We have built in a high spec solar lens into the lid and have added a leather lens cap to protect the glass. 

Hudson Bay Tinderboxes by Beaver Bushcraft
Hand Crafted Leather Beaver Creek Tinderboxes

Inside you will find a traditional Flint & Steel fire lighting kit! Everything to capture and make fire like the old pioneers used to! Just like the Hudson Bay tinderboxes, our leather hand crafted Tinderboxes are designed to be used and the more you use them the better they will look over time!

We will still be selling the Hudson Bays, in fact we have recently managed to get hold of a few pre-loved ones. These will be available in our Vintage & Preloved section of the website in a few weeks!

Meanwhile we are working on a solution to try and get the Hudson Bays into the UK without incurring a huge amount of fees!!!! Watch this space.

2020

21 Jul 2020

Bespoke Belts Built to British standards using best Bridle Butt Blog

2019

5 Oct 2019

How Mother Nature has inspired us at Beaver Bushcraft

4 Apr 2019

All About Our Beaver Bushcraft Handmade Leather Bottles

3 Feb 2019

The Shark Bushcraft & Survival Kinfe review by Mark Edlington-Booth

19 Jan 2019

Hand Forged traditional Fire Steels verses modern Laser Cut?

12 Jan 2019

And another lovely customer testimonial....

2018

19 Nov 2018

Testimonial from Conor James @we3adventures on Instagram

17 Oct 2018

S.H.A.R.K. - The New Era of Sharpening Begins!

2017

22 Oct 2017

How To Climb A Mountain....so to speak :)

2016

1 Nov 2016

Ligting up my passion....

27 Oct 2016

Holding a Flint & Steel: Its all in the wrist

16 Apr 2016

And out of the ashes Belisama was born…..

8 Apr 2016

From Paramount Studios, stuff for a TV show, to making bottles & getting new stock in……

11 Mar 2016

It's almost sensuos......

29 Feb 2016

Mother Nature is the best manufacturer we know……

19 Feb 2016

And a bit of ember malipulation....

12 Feb 2016

Gone fishing.....

5 Feb 2016

Been a funny old week....

28 Jan 2016

Heart Shaped Fire Steels...not just for girls!

21 Jan 2016

'Bean' to busy to Blog.....

16 Jan 2016

In the workshop...all in a day's work

13 Jan 2016

Hudson Bays and a little bit of back ground information.....

9 Jan 2016

How we make our Hand Stitched Woodland Pouches

8 Jan 2016

Making a leather sheath with Ross

7 Jan 2016

It makes a change....

5 Jan 2016

How to hold a traditional Fire Steel

4 Jan 2016

Wet & misreable day....

3 Jan 2016

The Sunday after the year before!

3 Jan 2016

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