Glossary of Common Freedman’s Terminology

Articles & Blogs Glossary of Common Freedman’s Terminology

At Freedman’s, the core of our history, story, and work is often grounded in terminology that is unique to our trade and therefore, our brand. Below is a brief glossary of terminology that might help to better shape the Freedman’s story for you; help you to more vastly understand what makes our products richly unique; and gives testimony to the men and women whose hands and artisanal skills are a crucial part of our tagline: Tradition In Every Stitch.

First, what does tradition really mean?

“An inherited, establish, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior. The handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction. A cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions.”

Our story began in 1802 and has been passed down from one generation to the next. David Freedman is a sixth-generation harness maker who learned the art of the trade from his father, who learned it from his father, and so forth. We stand behind our tagline of ‘Tradition In Every Stitch’ because each stitch that our artisans put into our leather products is a stitch learned from the passing down of a familial skillset; a precedence passed down by example; a behavior and customary pattern established generations ago under the Freedman’s name.

What do we mean when we speak of quality and excellence?

“A degree of excellence. A superiority in kind. A distinguishing attribute.” “The quality of being excellent. Very good of its kind, eminently good.”

Quality and excellence are marksmen of our tradition. We believe that our products must be superior to others in order to be safe for the horses, easily utilized by horseman and women, and last for quite some time.

What exactly is an artisan?

“A worker who practices a trade or handicraft. A person or company that produces something in limited quantities often using traditional methods…”

Each of our leather products is hand-crafted, hand-stitched, and hand-made by artisans in our Toronto, Canada workshop. A real person, carefully trained and practiced in the art of leather is placing each individual stitch into your handbag, saddle, bridle, and all other leather goods. This makes each leather good, to some degree, unique and one-of-a-kind. Our artisans are highly skilled, hand selected by David Freedman, and in rare supply. We have sourced men and woman who can carry on the quality and excellence of work expected behind the Freedman’s brand. Working alongside David, they are the faced behind the curtain who make our products truly great.

Defining craftsmanship.

A craftsman is “a person and especially a man who practices a trade or handicraft as a job. A person who is skilled in a craft.”

Craftsmanship is the art of the skill of a craftsman. We consider our artisans craftsman and women, and therefore their work is very specific, very skilled, and very personal to our brand. The quality and excellence of the craftsmanship is what makes our product truly unique.

What makes a product hand-crafted or hand-stitched?

Put quite simply, it means crafted or stitched by hand. The hands of our artisans stitch and create our leather products, each one individually. There is no machine production line or large quantity of items begin cranked out by a piece of industry – each product is overseen and created by an artisan skilled in that area of work or type of product.

What is a tannery?

“A place where tanning is carried on.” Tanning in terms of leather is “the art or process by which a skin is tanned.”

Freedman’s leather is sourced from tanneries all over the world. Different leather is utilized for different products, depending on the needs of softness, strength, use, etc.

Vegetable Tanning: What is it? Why is it less harmful for the planet?

The tanning process of real leather to make animal skin wearable or useable for the consumer can mean the use of lots of energy and chemicals to transform the original skin into the leather material that is used. Strong chemicals are needed to break down proteins in the skin.

Vegetable tanning is a tanning process where leather products are treated with natural vegetable tannins that are biodegradable and can be easily discarded at the end of their natural life cycle.

Vegetable tanning is a long-standing Italian artisan tradition that has been handed down through generations, not only making for beautiful leather products, but contributing to a sustainability cycle. At Freedman’s most of our leather horse furnishings and bags are tanned with vegetable tannins, marrying this Italian leather tradition, with the Freedman’s tradition.

Leather as a by-product of the meat industry.

Many leather suppliers offer leather that is strictly certified as a by-product of the meat industry. As a natural material, ethically and sustainably sourced leather is reusable, recyclable, and can be an upcycled good.

The ethical sourcing of this leather is also important. Ethical sourcing is the procedure by which materials or ingredients procured by a business are obtained in a sustainable and responsible way. Ethically sourced leather can be hides that are pro-cured from the meat industry or from those of animals that die from naturally occurring events.

Describing a finished edge on leather.

A finished edge on leather is when the edge is completed it is shiny and slick, helping to prevent moisture from entering the edges of the piece. A finished edge is burnished, meaning that the dye of the leather is evenly distributed, with full coverage. Burnishing tools are used to help in the finishing process. Many of Freedman’s products have finished, burnished edges.

What does it mean when a Freedman’s product is double-stitched?

The term “double-stitched” refer to when there are two threaded needles being used simultaneously to form a loop or lock stitch. Each stitch is made by one needle and thread passing through the same hole in the leather in the opposite direction, therefore forming a lock stitch. This technique is also known in America as a saddle stitch.

The strength of the stitch itself comes from two separate components. As the stitch is set into the leather and tightened, the thread that is on the bottom side of the leather can be tensioned very tight, thus pulling itself deep into the bottom side. The second attribute comes from the awl that’s used to make the hole for the threads to pass through. Harness awls are typically four sided and not round. They are sharp and can easily pierce through heavy and thick leather. Because the human hand is pushing the awl into the leather, not every single stitch hole is on the identical angle. This creates what is called a staggered stitch. Although this staggering may not be visible to the human eye, the slight variations makes the line of stitching extremely strong as the stitch line itself is less apt to perforate.