December 2011

The Daily Planet – Afternoon Edition

A couple years ago, I adapted an old motorcycle bar bag pattern for use as a purse. Because it looked like the kind of thing I imagine Jimmy Olsen carries around, I called it The Daily Planet Purse. True to its namesake, it fit a camera and a small notebook perfectly.

Anyway, this version was a prototype and there was lots wrong with it (so I kept it). First of all, the buckle tabs were hand-cut, which means the look was a little lacking in uniformity.

I’ve since had tab dies made and finally got to use them to cut the tabs on a follow-up…

I also swapped the stitched-in-place strap for a strap with swivel snaps. Because these turn 360 degrees, there’s less wear and tear on the strap if you happen to be the kind of person who is hard on your bags/luggage/purses/etc.

Ba-bam. I’m so happy with the way it turned out. I love the leather and I love the brass and I kind of wish I was keeping this one for myself too.

Alas, that is not the spirit of the season.

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I Wish…

…I could actually show you all the things I`m working on right now, but, on the off chance that some of the giftees are regular readers, I can only give you snapshots of the future belongings of those least likely to be surfing these pages.

If the light wasn`t so awful here, you would be able to see the absolute beauty of this brown leather and you would know love. It`s. Amazing.

If you are in the market for my Christmas present, the rest of this hide is still rolled up at Tundra and I have so many plans for it. The leftovers I have at the studio feel like such precious little compared to the ideas in my head.

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Salt and Vinegar

Over the weekend I de-haired the hide. It had been soaking in a lime solution since Tuesday night and I pulled it out Saturday morning.

When I hung it in the yard, the hair came off in handfuls everywhere except two small spots, so I soaked it overnight Saturday as well.

Yesterday I removed the rest of the hair, rinsed the skin in cold water, then dropped it in a bath of water and vinegar to neutralize the lime.

This morning, I rinsed again, tacked it out and salted it.

I’m just about to mix up and apply the tanning solution. Afterwards, all that’s left (assuming everything stays on track) is sanding down the rough patches and dying the white leather brown.

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion…

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Strapping Young Thing

I didn’t post anything yesterday because my time was completely consumed by this…

Check that – my whole week was consumed by this.

In the beginning, the plan was to stitch it with waxed linen thread. This is how I usually do things around here because A) leather lace is pricey and B) The stitch pictured (called double cordovan) takes forever, which also jacks up the price of the finished piece.

When the future owner of this strap (sorry, top secret) decided to go with the lace, I was psyched. I had remained neutral on the question of lace versus linen thread because I didn’t want it to seem like I was pushing the more expensive of the two, even though my only real desire to lace came from a place that knew it would look rad.

I was on the side of linen almost solely because of how daunted I was by the prospect of lacing an entire strap.

It turned out to be fully manageable and even enjoyable.

I was a hundred times faster than I used to be, finishing he main body of the strap in the same amount of time it used to take me to lace a wallet (which is still a long time, but waaaayyy too long for a wallet).

I think part of the reason for this is that I learned to lace at the same time I learned everythig else when I started doing leather work three years ago. Lacing was a sidenote to carving, tooling, staining, finishing, stitching, using tools, etc. There was a lot to absorb and lacing was hard and so I knocked out a dozen wallets and forgot about it.

This time around, after a refresher lesson at Tundra, the work flew. So I’m, as always, super grateful to Peter and Sean for taking the time to answer a million questions this week.

I’m also grateful for the order. If it hadn’t come in, I’d still be scared of lacing, thinking a strap like this would take me 86 hours to finish.

As it is, I now know the truth and am planning another laced strap for the new year.

If you want to see it in action, check out this show at Toronto’s Dakota tonight.

PS – Check out the newly opened Baltimore House on King William. It’s awesome.


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Step Two

I started “fleshing” at 9:30 last night, thinking it would take an hour and a half, tops.

I took the hide out of the water/dish soap solution and drained it for five minutes, rinsed it in fresh water, then drained it for another hour.

Next up, I laid it out and cleaned up the inside.

I did a pretty good job of this when I skinned it initially, so there wasn’t much in the way of meat and fat to get rid of, but I was perhaps a little obsessive. I was so worried about getting rid of every last piece because if you don’t do that, the tanning agents won’t soak in and work their magic when you get to that point.

Just before 3am though, I was either satisfied or exhausted and moved on to mixing up 20 gallons of water and builder’s lime in a giant bucket, then tossed the hide in.

It’s supposed to soak here (with regular stirring) for about two days. After that, I should be able to slip all the hair off and get to work on the actual tanning. I’ll let you know how that goes Thursday.

Word to the wise – wear gloves if you ever plan on doing this. Lime is awful. My hands are so dry and scaly today, they’re catching all my clothes.

I practically had to wear mitts to photograph Lake and Larch stuff today.

Speaking of which, the below beauties will make their way into the shop tomorrow afternoon…

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