Matthew Payne is a Master Harness Maker and Saddler and has been in the trade for more than 30 years. Based in Devon he has organically diversified away from making only exclusively equestrian leatherwork and into small leathergoods and interior design leather pieces.
The techniques evolved for making fine saddlery and harness have been transferred to produce beautifully hand-stitched leather messenger bags, belts or handles for furniture. He is a one man band and every piece is hand-stitched. This doesn’t mean stitched by hand on a sewing machine but each stitch put in by needles with his own hands. It’s surprising, but many people think hand-stitching is using a sewing machine!
- Handmade leathergoods to order
- Fine saddlery & harnesses
- One-off leather pieces
- Leather bags & cases
- Dog collars & leads
The majority of Matthew’s clients are companies selling to customers internationally. He makes for Ralph Lauren, Dunhill, Purdey, Linley and John Lobb among others.
He has also worked with designers Dan Hopwood and Bill Amberg. The leathers Matthew works with are predominantly English. Most of his leather comes from J. and F.J. Bakers in Devon, they produce some of the finest Oak Bark Tanned leather available. The bridle leather he uses takes 14 months to tan and has an amazing waxy patina, and with care, a bag for instance, will last generations. Matthew also works with a few restorers of vintage luggage and has been asked to make new straps, handles and linings for early 20th Century Louis Vuitton trunks and portmanteaux.
Although Matthew makes for the aforementioned clients he is more than willing to make one-off pieces. He still makes bridles and saddlery too, and is more than delighted if he has to measure up a horse for a new bridle. When he has time he enters the Society of Master Saddlers bridle making competition and was lucky enough to win the open class in 2018 and 2019.
Another favourite focus of his attention, is working on sidesaddles. A lot of sidesaddles still in use are ones made in the early to mid 20th Century and are consequently getting a bit wear-worn. The best are usually the ones produced by the ‘big five’ London makers that unfortunately don’t trade any more. They are works of art in themselves and it a pleasure being able keep them going and ridden on.
Trade memberships / Awards / Qualifications
Member of the Society of Master Saddlers – Master Harness Maker
nr Okehampton, Devon
Telephone: 01837 840256 or 07813 959780
Facebook: matthew christian payne