Explorations

Hand-Stitched Leather Bag

There are a small handful of Inkleaf bags out there in the world, but at this point I think it's been several years since the last one. It's not something we'd normally do these days, but this past fall I found myself designing a new bag for my nephew's birthday. Had some leather to use up, so why not? 

The vegtan is Hermann Oak and Wickett & Craig. Tiger thread for stitching, cotton webbing for the strap and handle. I'm really looking forward to seeing this age - the brown patina of the vegtan is going to look great next to the natural color of the webbing.

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Today I Made... a Gum Pouch, Part 2!

trident gum pouch

Earlier this year I made a gum pouch for Wrigley's gum. That was one of my favorite projects so far, so when we received a request for a Trident gum pouch we jumped on the chance and ended up with several variations. I originally made a simple pouch where the gum could only be retrieved after pulling the packaging out, or alternatively the gum would have to be loaded into the pouch. That was ok, but I wanted to make a better design where the package stayed in the pouch with seamless opening and closing. 

So... after finishing that second design, we found out that Trident had completely changed their packaging. Not only did they change the size of the box and gum pieces, but they went from a plain box with a flap to a fold out design. We had apparently picked up the last of the old stock before it was replaced by the new gum. That means I'll be following this post with part 3, my favorite gum pouch so far!

In the mean time, keep scrolling to see the process for this wet formed pouch.

 Vegtan soaked in water, formed over the gum packaging and left to dry overnight.

Vegtan soaked in water, formed over the gum packaging and left to dry overnight.

 Glueing the corners.

Glueing the corners.

 Front piece glued to the back and stitch holes punched.

Front piece glued to the back and stitch holes punched.

 Trimming the corners. My favorite step.

Trimming the corners. My favorite step.

 Trimmed, stitched, and burnished.

Trimmed, stitched, and burnished.

 The flap piece, made to fit the packaging flap. I had to set the snap first so it was a bit difficult making sure it stayed centered while glueing. There's probably a better way, but it worked.

The flap piece, made to fit the packaging flap. I had to set the snap first so it was a bit difficult making sure it stayed centered while glueing. There's probably a better way, but it worked.

 More glueing.

More glueing.

And the finished pouches:

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gumpouch
 One of the test versions. I decided to try the blue paint on this to see how it wears.

One of the test versions. I decided to try the blue paint on this to see how it wears.

 Inside of the test pouch. I kind of like the bit of color.

Inside of the test pouch. I kind of like the bit of color.

Keep an eye out for part 3... soon!

 

For more projects, check out the posts linked below!

Today I Made... a Coin Pouch!

This week's project is a wet formed coin pouch. Wet forming leather can be a lot of fun so I've been looking around the house for things that would make for a good mold. I have a number of Altoid tins, so I used a small one to make little coin pouches. I think I'll try the larger tins at some point as well. More pictures of the finished pouches at the end of this post!

coin pouches

My parents are traveling to Japan, which was our home for over a decade. This is their first time back in 17 years, so these two pouches are for them. They'll need them to store all the coins for the ubiquitous Japanese vending machines, right? 

I took the same approach as I did with the gum pouch, by first winging a rough draft pouch and then improving upon it. Over the course of making three pouches, you can see some progression of approach:

First I tried leather cord to keep the leather in place. Eh...

Then I remembered I have these things called clamps.

The third time, I placed one piece of leather cut to the curve of the tin under the clamps, grain side to grain side for the least amount of marking.

I formed the first pouch directly over the tin only to come back a few hours later to discover small dark spots on the surface of the leather. At first I thought it was possibly mold or something similar, but after some research I found that the tannins in leather can react with iron. I used plastic wrap over the tin for the other pouches, and other than one or two spots it fixed the problem. Lemon juice, being an acid, can also help reduce these spots.

A bit more of the process:

Someday I'll get one of those fancy sets that allows you to stamp full words at once instead of one letter at a time.

Glueing to the back.

Marking out the flap.

I usually like to keep my workbench open and cleared off as I'm working, but it ends up like this during random projects.

The completed pouches. The last three images show the rough prototype pouch.

 

For more projects, check out the posts linked below!

Today I Made... a Scissor Sheath!

Last year I made a thread snipper case and meant to also make some sheaths for our scissors but never got around to it. This past week I finally tried out a couple of sheath designs. I wanted something that was minimal, but could also hold a couple of needles.

scissor sheaths

The flat sheath on the right is based on a concept I've seen here and there, to which I added a couple of needle holes. It's ok, but not as minimal as I'd like. The other design is vegtan molded to the shape of the scissors. For the final version I included a place for the needles and gave it a nice burnished edge.

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A few more images of the process:

 Forming the vegtan to the scissors.

Forming the vegtan to the scissors.

 Letting the glue dry.

Letting the glue dry.

 Hand stitching with Tiger thread. About to trim the excess and do the edging, burnishing and conditioning.

Hand stitching with Tiger thread. About to trim the excess and do the edging, burnishing and conditioning.

 And another look at the finished scissor sheath!

And another look at the finished scissor sheath!

Today I Made... a Gum Pouch!

I'm trying to get back in the habit of working on these small leather projects. It gets me out of my routine and exploring new techniques. Along the way maybe I'll hit on something that would make a good product, but mostly I just want to make things I would personally use. 

The problem is I get bogged down by wanting to figure everything out before starting a project and have it be perfect the first time. Predictably, I never get started. So I'm forcing myself to create a sort of rough draft piece that allows me to think out loud and then create a revised piece that improves upon the first. I realize when I type it out like that it sounds like an obvious process, but sometimes one needs simple reminders to get out of a mental rut! Most of the photos below show the revised version, but you can see both in a few of the last pictures.

So, the gum pouch. Joe loves his Wrigley's Doublemint gum, and has been asking me to create a pouch that could hold 4-6 sticks of gum at a time. He just had a birthday so that was the perfect time to finally make it. I've wanted to try more wet moulded projects, so I decided to go for a simple wet formed box shape stitched to a flat back piece.

gum pouch
 

Process

A few photos of the building process. Making wooden molds or something similar isn't very practical in my current space, so you'll see a lot of finagling with the wet forming. I'm sure there are better ways of doing this, but my challenge is to just make something already and not overthink it (and then do nothing). In this case I found that an eraser was mostly the right size, so I worked the vegtan leather into the right shape and clamped it down until dry.

Once dry, I punched the stitching holes and stitched it to the back piece, and trimmed the edges and corners as I went. Then the flap was cut to size and finally edges were burnished.

 

Finished Gum Pouch

That's it! Maybe later this year I'll make an update post on how it's aging. With summer coming up it should quickly tan to a nice golden brown.

Moleskine Notebook Cover with Pen Sheath

We recently created a custom large Moleskine cover with a built in pen sheath. Over the years we've occasionally made covers that included a pen holder or loop, but were never really happy with it. This one, however, came out particularly nice and we're thinking of making it a regular option for the covers. I especially love the contrast between the brown Horween Chromexcel and the Mesa (Horween Derby) which is similar to the Chromexcel but full of extra character. 

Checkbook Wallet

A customer requested this checkbook wallet after seeing one we made a while back on Instagram. I forgot how nice these feel - I might even modify the design to add snaps. The outside piece of the checkbook cover is made with the same thinner chromexcel we use on the Flapjack Wallet, and the inside is natural chromexcel. This one has three pockets that hold the checkbook, a good number of bills, and extra paper or cards.

Feel free to email us if you'd like one for yourself!

checkbook wallet
 Marking out the leather.

Marking out the leather.

 Inkleaf logo.

Inkleaf logo.

 Hand stitching with linen thread.

Hand stitching with linen thread.

 Leather cut and holes punched.

Leather cut and holes punched.

 Beveled edge.

Beveled edge.

stitching
wallet filled
leather checkbook wallet

Thread Snipper Case

This week's leather project is a thread snipper case/sheath. The snippers came with a plastic case, but we wanted something nicer. The case also needed to snap on securely so whether the snippers were thrown in a stitching pouch or hung up on a pegboard it wouldn't fall off. I used 2/3oz Hermann Oak vegtan leather, and gave it a coat of oil and leather wax. It will darken further in time with sunlight and more oil. 

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 Drawing around the snippers.

Drawing around the snippers.

 Setting the snap pieces after cutting out the leather. You can see I attached the two leather pieces together to make sure the snippers fit.

Setting the snap pieces after cutting out the leather. You can see I attached the two leather pieces together to make sure the snippers fit.

 Using the marking wheel. I don't normally use this tool, but it worked well to mark the stitches around the curve.

Using the marking wheel. I don't normally use this tool, but it worked well to mark the stitches around the curve.

 Some oil and wax. Ready to stitch.

Some oil and wax. Ready to stitch.

 Edge after sanding.

Edge after sanding.

 Border added to account for stitching and tab added for the snap. This was then cut out and used as a template over the leather.

Border added to account for stitching and tab added for the snap. This was then cut out and used as a template over the leather.

 Checking to see where the bottom part of the snap should be placed.

Checking to see where the bottom part of the snap should be placed.

 Stitch holes ready and snaps set.

Stitch holes ready and snaps set.

 Raw edge of the stitched case.

Raw edge of the stitched case.

 And here it is, burnished to a nice smooth edge. I use a couple of different burnishing methods, but for this one I dampened the edge with water and burnished with canvas, then rubbed in some beeswax until it became smooth with a bit of shine.

And here it is, burnished to a nice smooth edge. I use a couple of different burnishing methods, but for this one I dampened the edge with water and burnished with canvas, then rubbed in some beeswax until it became smooth with a bit of shine.

 The finished case with the thread snippers!

The finished case with the thread snippers!

Kangaroo Doublecross Wallet

We've finished the kangaroo leather Doublecross wallet and here are our impressions. In the pictures you'll see the crafting process as well as comparisons with our regular chromexcel wallet. Now that we've worked with this leather, I can say that we are very happy with it. The feel of the leather is great, it tools and burnishes well, and it makes for an ultra thin yet durable wallet. We'll likely make a wallet for ourselves to see how it ages and tans over time.

In the comparisons below, you can see that the thinner leather reduces the overall thickness of the wallet visibly though not drastically. The 4oz chromexcel works really well for these wallets and they don't feel clunky or thick in the hand. However, if you're looking to get your wallet as thin as possible, the kangaroo wallet is basically the thickness of the cards themselves plus a little extra. Shoot us an email if you'd like one of these for yourself!

 Marking and cutting the Doublecross wallet out of the kangaroo leather. In this picture I'm cutting a test piece from the stretchier scrap part of the leather. With the leather being so thin, I needed to slightly adjust the dimensions. 

Marking and cutting the Doublecross wallet out of the kangaroo leather. In this picture I'm cutting a test piece from the stretchier scrap part of the leather. With the leather being so thin, I needed to slightly adjust the dimensions. 

 Edging the tooled wallet.

Edging the tooled wallet.

 Burnishing the edges. This leather burnishes really well.

Burnishing the edges. This leather burnishes really well.

 A layer of oil to condition before stitching.

A layer of oil to condition before stitching.

 The finished wallet!

The finished wallet!

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 Comparing the kangaroo wallet with 4oz Horween Chromexcel. They are both filled with seven cards.

Comparing the kangaroo wallet with 4oz Horween Chromexcel. They are both filled with seven cards.

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 The thinner leather helps to reduce the gap between the pockets. (I realized after the fact that the chromexcel wallet only has six cards...)

The thinner leather helps to reduce the gap between the pockets. (I realized after the fact that the chromexcel wallet only has six cards...)

 From the bottom.

From the bottom.

 And finally a closeup to show the difference side by side. 

And finally a closeup to show the difference side by side. 

Kangaroo Leather

It's here! A customer requested one of our Doublecross wallets in this leather, and we’re glad to be trying it out because this is some really nice leather. It's thin, as you can see in the pictures, yet very strong. The surface feels smooth and durable… it almost feels soft compared to the vegetable tanned cow leather we have on hand. Both leathers are great, but the kangaroo will have some special uses. Because of its strength, it’ll be great for lacing material as well as super thin yet durable wallets. It’s also twice the cost of our normal leather so we’ll be somewhat selective with the projects we make with this one. In the next post we’ll talk about making the Doublecross wallet out of the kangaroo leather and our thoughts after actually working with it.

 The kangaroo leather. It's roughly 6  sq ft.

The kangaroo leather. It's roughly 6 sq ft.

 It's very thin, and it actually comes even thinner than this.

It's very thin, and it actually comes even thinner than this.

A New Year: Leather Explorations

Another year has begun, and we find ourselves thinking on our goals for 2016. One thing we'd like to do more of this year is one off projects. Especially interesting and useful leather pieces for our leather tools and art tools. Maybe some pouches. Or a mini-bag for our little nephew. Definitely some tool sheaths. Some of these projects might even find their way into our regular product lineup, but our focus will be on unique items rather than production.

The first explorations will likely be made of kangaroo leather. That's a first for us. It's thin yet very strong, and may open up some interesting project possibilities. For starters, we're thinking about thin wallet designs and pouches for watercolor travel brushes.

We'll be updating this space with ongoing projects - we should have pictures of the kangaroo leather very soon!