The Library of Spanking Fiction: Wellred Weekly
ArticlesItems of interest regarding all things spanking
Focus on: The London Tanners
In this first of what will hopefully be a series of articles that focus on implement manufacturers, Ian Head offers us an insight into how he came to setup the London Tanners, a manufacturer of leather straps, tawses, paddles and other implements, based in both England and the USA.
I wasn't aware of any sexual connotations until when I was probably 10. Corporal punishment was still in use in many schools then, and I once saw a girl called Sandra get spanked in front of the class. She had been talking in class or something like that and the teacher kept telling her to stop, but she just kept on and on. The teacher called her up to the front of the class, put her over a desk, lifted her skirt and hit her maybe four times with a slipper. For me, that was the first time I realized that sexuality and spanking were connected.
During my teens, I'd spank girls lightly while making out but like most people, until the Internet really opened the whole thing up, I thought I was alone in my love of spanking. I used to ask myself, "Am I weird?" and felt awkward trying to figure out a way to say "I'd like to spank you" to a girl. So it took a while to really adjust, and not feel guilty that I enjoyed spanking girls.
As an adult, thanks to the internet, I found BDSM and spanking enthusiast groups and forums, started going to munches and parties, and getting involved in local fetish communities. Although I have experience in all aspects of BDSM, and still belong to several groups in the USA and the UK, I find I am much more of a spanking purist these days. I have been an active member of such spanking groups as Shadow Lane, Crimson Moon, and Strictly Spanking NY for many years, and was the Vice-President of Florida Moonshine.
In the late 1960s, during the hippy boom, I started a company in England called The Saddlebag Company which made handbags and belts and things like that. Because I was young and couldn't afford to be in an upmarket area, I was located in a very seedy part of London. Consequently I was surrounded by a lot of pornographic book stores, and within a few weeks of opening I was approached by a couple of the sex shops asking if I would make cuffs and other leather bits and pieces for them. That was how I began making items for the BDSM scene.
As I became more involved, I decided I really wanted to learn more about it and so I took a saddlery course. You can still see the saddlery influence in my implements. I use saddlery- and harness-grade leather, the best I can possibly find, and the actual construction is basically the same as I would use to construct a saddle, harness or tack. I hand-stitch everything, there's no machining whatsoever. I also use only the best leather which I buy from the best tanners around London and around the world. The tannery I use the most has been in existence since Roman times and is now one of the only remaining Oak Bark Tanneries in Europe. All their leather is tanned using a process of vegetable or oak bark tanning, using many tallows, oils and waxes in the finish. This gives the leather a unique suppleness and durability.
In 1979 I moved to the USA and began going to munches and parties. I soon discovered that there was a lack of quality, hand-made leather spanking implements over there and so I decided to create The London Tanners. Initially I began selling my implements at BDSM and spanking parties and eventually put my implements up on eBay.
Today the London Tanners no longer sells cuffs or floggers and now I concentrate mainly on what I call corporal punishment implements. Our workshop has been back in England for 2 years now and we are celebrating our 12th anniversary this year.
I'm often asked what makes a good leather spanking implement. Cowhides have changed a lot over the years. 50 years ago, animals were killed primarily for their hide and so the leather was often a lot thicker, because the older the animal, the thicker its skin. Nowadays, however, animals are killed mainly for their meat rather than their hides and since they're killing animals when they're much younger the hide is thinner.
Personally, I prefer Oak-Bark tanned leather as it's completely natural and no chemicals whatsoever are used in the process. It can take up to a year to tan a hide which produces heavy, really dense leather. The finish is so good that it is very often difficult to tell the back from the front. It's also beautifully supple because it's got all the oils and tallows worked into it. Once I get my leather supply in, I continue the process by completing each implement by hand.
In order to administer a good strapping with a leather strap one needs to remember that it is not like using a paddle or even a flogger. The stroke should be delivered from the shoulder using the full arm and not the wrist. A strap should not be snapped like when wielding a hairbrush in an over-the-knee position. Quite often people tend to twist the wrist which in turn causes the strap to twist and land sideways. To deliver a firm and accurate stroke it's best to use your full arm and shoulder. It doesn't have to be devastatingly hard and if you are doing it properly the strap will make a definite smack.
In terms of caring for your a leather implement I recommend cleaning them about once every six months using something like Fiebing's Aussie Leather Conditioner or a similar product with high beeswax, lanolin and tallow content. When you're shopping for leather care products, it's always advisable to look at the contents. I wouldn't recommend anything that contains chemical petroleum products, such as white spirits as they will actually dry out the leather. Use the product on the leather implement by working it in with your fingers, allowing 24 hours for it to soak in, and then remove any excess with a dry cloth.
For cleaning leather implements I actually recommend baby bottom wipes. They have enough bleach and disinfectant in them to clean but at the same time they are gentle. I carry a little pack of them in my toy bag and as they're already wet I can just wipe my toys before and after I use them.
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