The great spur maker John Ennis once remarked that one difference between a visual artist and a craftsman is that the work begins after the drawing is finished. Unless you’re endowed with the phenomenal skill of say, Sam Maloof, working designs out on paper is a good idea. Many leather craftsmen work out their floral decoration on paper, but it can be a useful tool when designing the construction of a piece as well. The lines of a saddle can be seen on paper and worked out before cutting begins. Likewise, I draw smaller, simple projects out on paper so that hopefully, the mistakes are made there instead of leather.
The obstacle that I had to overcome in my mind was the amount of time it took to do this drawing. When you are raised to think that getting work done had something to do with hammers, shovels and the like, drawing pictures seemed counter productive. I eventually realized that working things out on paper was something you could get paid for. It fell into the category of “working smarter and not just harder.” Today, drawing my construction and decoration ideas out is something I enjoy a great deal.