Call me fashionably late, my good sense of timing revealed that I should probably put this little post up about a new leather purse design…after Mother’s Day had passed. Whoops! Anyhow, it’s a beauty and took me just over a month to design, test, redesign, test again and whiddle down the fine details to get it just right. The result is another classic looking purse that has a good amount of room on the inside for all those lady-like goods. Designed to hold up to two separate and removable inserts containing pockets and snapable pouches, helping to keep it all organized. The Leather Crossbody Purse is made with the same high quality Full-grain Vegetable tanned leather that I use with my wallets and other goods. This type of leather is the absolute best you can buy in my opinion. It will show some of the original textures and scarring from the cow’s lifetime adding a world of stories to the purse. The shoulder strap is adjustable for the smallest lil’ lady up to the tallest and can even be removed if needed. The top closes with magnetic snaps making reaching in and out very convenient. Well, anyhow – I am sure there is plenty more to say about it, but I don’t like to ramble too much. I’ll let the pictures do the talkin’.
leather-purse-crossbody-bag-handmade_105_0005
leather-purse-crossbody-bag-handmade_105_0116leather-purse-crossbody-bag-handmade_105_0204leather-purse-crossbody-bag-handmade_105_0223_InsertComboleather-purse-crossbody-bag-handmade_105_0072leather-purse-crossbody-bag-handmade_105_0055leather-purse-crossbody-bag-handmade_105_0140leather-purse-crossbody-bag-handmade_105_0164leather-purse-crossbody-bag-handmade_105_0120leather-purse-crossbody-bag-handmade_105_0046leather-purse-crossbody-bag-handmade_105_0018leather-purse-crossbody-bag-handmade_105_0011leather-purse-crossbody-bag-handmade_105_0008

 

CakeWhiskey1_900The wonderfully crafted small business magazine Cake & Whiskey recently did a feature on my workshop with a full interview. I just finished reading through the rest of the magazine – it’s full of great stories of artisan entrepreneurs workin’ hard to build their businesses. Go check them out and sign up for a copy here, I just did. I have included a few short questions and answers from the interview below, but go on and check out the magazine for the full feature.mrlentz-portrait-maker-workshop_0085

Give us a walking-word-tour of your work space. Do you think it resembles that of a craftsman a century ago?

There is a lot to be said for keeping a simple, clean and efficient workspace. When I started out, I was horrible at putting tools away and being organized. Over time I have developed a few organizational skills that are key for keeping a good workflow going. My workshop has parts that are fairly typical of any leather workshop from 200 years ago. I have a solid workbench, a lot of basic hand tools used for cutting, carving, grooving, stitching, punching, pounding, stretching, clamping and much much more. I set this all up in front of a nice wide window so I can work in natural light for most of my day…I love it. A few advancements in the shop include a shipping station where I can easily sort and package up orders, a dyeing station, drying station, and lots and lots of shelving space for all kinds of little pieces I never knew I would need.

mrlentz-portrait-maker-workshop_0065

In your line of work, where do you feel you have the most purpose? What are you most passionate about creating?

You know – I particularly enjoy creating tutorials for my blog and fellow readers. I love teaching the art of leather craft and my particular angle on it. It is an immense field full of a lifetime of learning. I feel like those new to leather are just so stunned at all the knowledge to be gained that they don’t know where to start. So – I make very simple and practical tutorials to get people up and running with very detailed photos of each process. If I had more time I would create 1 a week. I also love designing new goods for the shop. It is a long and fun creative process that can really be a good mind bender when trying to figure out the practicality of putting an idea onto paper and making it work in real life.

mrlentz-portrait-maker-workshop_0112

You said in another interview that ‘you should always follow your passions.’ How have you found the magic of turning your passion into profit?

I think the magic of turning a passion into profit begins with believing in yourself, your idea, and not letting anything or anyone dissuade you or make you feel that it isn’t worth it. It really isn’t magic at all, I think the reality is that if you really want your passion to also work as a means for income…you are in for a lot of long hard work. During the startup process of my business and continuing today I spend a lot – almost all – of my free time – invested in my business. Unlike any other generic job…this actually doesn’t bother me one bit. Even on my days off I find myself back in the workshop tinkering with a new idea or making a gift for a friend. That’s where the passion comes in, nothing feels like work anymore.

mrlentz-portrait-maker-workshop_0182What’s most important to you about Mr. Lentz? 

Well, I would like my leather goods to make an impact on people and restructure how they carry their life. My goods are designed and meant to be minimalistic, thus allowing people to think about what they actually need to carry versus what they currently stuff into their wallets or bags. I enjoy the minimal ethic to a large degree, I think we could all benefit from pairing down our lives into simpler living and lifestyles. I think this is especially important as our society grows more complex and busy. Also – I would love for my blog to help inspire more people to make things with their hands. I can’t imagine how many incredible artists are out there just waiting to discover themselves, if only they would put down that smartphone or tablet and make something useful with their own bare hands.

mrlentz-portrait-maker-workshop_0209

Every cowboy needs a few moments to collect his thoughts. So, this one went out deeper into the desert. A few miles into the wilderness area inside of Joshua Tree National Park, under a full moon. The wind whipped, cactus pricked and luckily the snake did not bit.

joshua-tree-wilderness_0024

The first camp was set up on a high ridge, miles from any trail and without the slightest hint of humanity in sight.

joshua-tree-wilderness_0040If you need a break from life, a chance to let all of your thoughts settle, consider planning a 3 day getaway to the desert, mountains, or plains. Get away from your daily habits and stressors. Even just 2 days out and you might even see a big change, go with it.joshua-tree-wilderness_0046The best way I have found to really get away and get some good solid nights of solitude is to hike out into a designated wilderness area. Get yourself few miles in and you may be the only person willing to make that extra effort and thus get the entire place to yourself.joshua-tree-wilderness_0128Make sure to bring the appropriate equipment for wherever you end up…but don’t take too much – it’ll just slow you down. Out here in the desert all I really needed (but did bring more) was a sleeping pad and bag, some grub, and about a gallon of water per day out. That’s as minimal as you can get and it would allow me to hike even deeper into the desert.joshua-tree-wilderness_0138

Leather Holster WalletThis early Spring brings yet another new design to the shop. The Leather Holster Wallet. I dreamed it up because every cowboy or cowgirl out there should carry a holster, it’s standard issue with the lifestyle. However nowadays you are probably better off with a modern twist on things, as the ol’ 6 shooter might scare yer neighbors.leather-phone-holster-leather-wallet-holster-052_0041

 

Built to hold an included money and card pouch that fits snugly at the top of the holster, and saves enough room to carry an iPhone 6 or similar slim items. It has a minimal belt loop built into the back that will fit any 1.25 inch wide belt.Leather iPhone Holster

I personally do not carry a smartphone on me, I did once – and it cramped my style. No matter – this holster will fit my old-school cellular just fine.

Brown Leather Holster Walletleather-phone-holster-leather-wallet-holster-052_0022leather-phone-holster-leather-wallet-holster-052_0005The edges are secured up with solid brass, nickel plated rivets. That’s one durable way to do it. The leather is hand-cut, hand- stamped, branded, dyed, oiled, waxed and assembled all in my workshop. It will definitely catch some eyes out there by high-noon.leather-phone-holster-leather-wallet-holster-052_0172Now available in the Mr. Lentz Shop.

It’s an early Spring out here in the Desert Southwest and with it comes a few early births. I am happy to report on three of them already, one for this blog entry and the two others later on when I get an extra second. No, fortunately I ain’t talkin’ about babies, and unfortunately I ain’t talkin’ about calves. Today I am talkin’ about the the mini Leather Notebook Cover and pen:

Built from one durable, Full-Grain, Vegetable-Tanned piece of high grade leather and cut down to the absolute minimum…down to the millimeter. The leather you see in the photo above is hand-dyed, hand-oiled, hand-waxed, hand-riveted, and hand-hammered into shape the old fashioned way. This is the way leatherwork should be done. You can visibly see the quality in each and every piece this way.

leather-notebook-case-with-pen-minimal-slim-022_0014

The notebook itself is a mere 2.5 inches x 4 inches, the perfect size to fit in this pocket-sized creation. The leather grips onto the durable steel pen and wraps it all up in a protective manner.

leather-notebook-case-with-pen-minimal-slim-022_0006This item was designed out of necessity. I was using just a notebook everyday, but quickly tired of frayed pages, lost pens and just the impracticality of it all. So – I got my neurons workin up in a good ol’ storm and came up with the simplest idea I could think of to house a notebook and pen. It’s practical – cowboy style, I’ll rest ‘er there.

 

working with leather the old fashioned way

I prefer to work with leather the old fashioned way. Starting with a nice large side of Full-Grain, Vegetable Tanned leather – which I then dye by hand. I make several passes with the dye, standing back to take a long look at the resulting color, then applying more as needed. The dye I use, I make myself…just as the earliest leatherworkers used to do. It is made entirely from vegetable matter and is non-toxic…that means I don’t need gloves and I can get my hands dirty – just the way it ought to be. Doing it all from scratch, and doing it all by hand takes longer, it’s quite a bit more work – but the results are worth it and I love every step of the way. Above I am hanging and inspecting a freshly dyed side, soon to be cut into wallets, cases and much more. Gotta love the smell of 24 square feet of leather!

leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0198

In the final moments of 2014 I managed to pull together the last tutorial for the year. One I had promised a few emails back and one that I had been wanting to do for quite some time (I purchased the knife back in July after all!) Now that the holiday season has started to wind down, I can finally take a breath or two of the outside air. So crisp and pure, such a memory of several months ago when I last inhaled the fresh outdoors. Well, let’s get down to business shall we…

how-to-make-a-leather-knife-sheath

This here is the knife. As mentioned, I had bought it several months ago from a man in Northern CA who hand forges his knives from scratch. Then he makes custom handles out of wood or collected antlers. It was a design and an idea I couldn’t pass up on, and I love supporting other makers out there. If you get a chance take a look at his selection of knives at Jay Bear Knives, he’s one talented dude.

leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0008leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0013leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0052

The tools of the trade needed for this job are shown above. From left to right: hand-stitching thread, scissors, a mallet, diamond shaped awl puncher (pro-series with interchangeable heads), cutting wheel, stitching groover, edge beveler (the smallest size you have), your knife…it can be any size, some leather (I am using full-grain vegetable-tanned), a stitching horse.

leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0056

Now, I had been thinking about this tutorial for several months – and when it came down to it and I had some free time… I decided to just wing it! It’s really the best (most fun) way to design and make things. Basically I decided to throw the knife down on the leather and start drawing the shape around it. I figured I deal with any problems as they come up…which they always do. So be sure to read ahead before proceeding on your own as there is one big problem coming up fairly quickly!

leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0059After sketching out the first side, I flipped the knife over to continue the shape on the other side, keeping in mind that the sheath will be folded in half and sewn up the side. Most of it is symmetrical, but I wanted to also add a belt loop for easy attachment on the waist.

 

leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0061

leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0063

Here you can see the extra length drawn for the belt loop, it should be about 1/2 inch longer than the width of your belt so that there is room for the stitching. Keep in mind that this tutorial will work for a knife of any size, you just have to eyeball things and adjust for your own knife. On mine I wanted the entire blade to be protected as well as about an inch of the handle so that it would sit snugly in the sheath.

leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0072I cut out the larger curves and straight lines with the cutting wheel…leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0068

Then I moved on to my pair of Chinese scissors to cut tighter curves and round corners.

leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0071 leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0074

Here’s the basic shape I got.

leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0078leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0079

 

I then folded it in half and took a look at my symmetrical drawing skills. They apparently were a bit off – so I held it down while folded and cut the excess off.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0081leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0083leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0084

 

After looking at my shape for a minute or two and testing it out with the knife holding it on my belt I realized pretty quickly I had made a big mistake. This goes with the territory of doing things on the fly! The shape I had automatically cut out was meant for a left handed person. There was a fifty fifty chance of that I guess, but doesn’t it always seem to work out for the worst?leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0086

 

Knowing that I should probably correct this mistake early on, I decided to take advantage of this setback by choosing a new piece of scrap leather that I liked with extra scarring. Above is a piece I would not normally use on my wallets because it is a bit too marred…but I must admit – I do love this kind of texture and it’s perfect for my sheath.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0090To get the same pattern but in reverse for a right handed cowboy, I flipped the pattern over and traced it out.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0091Once cut, I lightly misted the edges to prepare the leather for cutting the stitching groove and beveling the edge.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0094

Here is the stitching groove in action. Its job is to create a line parallel to the edge to give me reference for punching the stitching holes. It also helps sink the thread to protect it from wear.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0095leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0098After cutting the groove, I bevel the edges to take care of that hard looking edge when you use the cutting wheel.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0102I stamped it with the next number in line and branded with my logo, why not!leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0108

Then I took a break and caugth myself deep in thought about knife sheaths.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0114

 

I skipped photographing a step – my dyeing process. That is another tutorial for another day. It can be quite complex. You don’t actually need to dye vegetable-tanned leather as it will age quite beautifully on its own, creating a deep rich patina over time. In the step above I am applying a light coat of oil. There are many types you can use, as well as pre-fabricated oil/wax mixtures. I make my own all natural mix…the same stuff I send out in a free tin to all of my customers. It’s great stuff and I can work with it, without using gloves!leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0116After the oiling and waxing the sheath pattern is really starting to look like something.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0117leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0120On to the pounding block. I have clamped the sheath together to help me align it when I punch through with the awl.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0122leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0123leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0126I carefully line up the awl in the groove and knock it with the mallet.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0129All the way around the sheath, re-attaching the clamps on the other side to help keep things straight.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0133I then open up the sheath and fold the belt loop part into place.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0136Punching two sets of four holes for a little extra durability.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0137Here is the sheath in the stitching horse. The first step is to stitch up the belt loop before stitching up the sides…or you can guess what kind of trouble you’d be in.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0140I am not going to go into detail here about how to make the stitch, but I do recommend that you check out this other tutorial half way through, as I have some great closeups with explanations on how to hand-stitch. The same applies to this sheath. Here’s the other tutorial: How to make a Leather Walletleather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0143I chose to double-stitch the top part of the belt loop for a bit more strength since it is a stress point.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0145Now you can stitch up the side.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0147Make sure to back-stitch 3 or so holes to help the thread stay in place.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0149leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0151

 

Now that the sheath is ready to test out…I noticed another big problem. The knife slides in nicely. So nicely that it goes straight down into the thread area. This is real bad. Within days that thread will be sliced by the knife.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0153Where there is a problem, there is a solution waiting to be had. I took another scrap piece of leather.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0154And cut it into the shape of the bottom of the sheath.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0156leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0158I then proceeded to wedge it in there to the bottom. A perfect solution? No. But is makes the wallet functional, and time will tell if some other solution needs to be found. If you want to fully avoid this problem, you will need to cut out a thick strip of leather the same shape as the side of the sheath with stitching. Then you will need to stitch that in between the side so that if the knife pulls down to the bottom or side…it will just hit a thick piece of leather and not the stitching.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0161leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0167Another problem arose quickly thereafter…don’t you love the world of hand-made?  The knife felt a bit too loose in the sheath since I had designed it just a tad too big. I needed to tighten it a bit with a few more stitches.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0170Punching the holes with the awl.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0172I stitched that sucker up. Again – this is all on the fly and more about just winging things. This here ain’t a perfect solution either as it is possible for the knife to slowly wear these stitches down each time it is drawn. I decided to take that chance as it isn’t the end of the world if it does happen…since these last two stitches are separate from the structural stitches on the side. If they get cut I cn easily re-stitch later on.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0175While the sheath is still moist I press the edges against the burnisher. It is a drill-press mounted one and does quick work on smoothing and polishing the edge.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0181

Now what is a knife sheath tutorial without some beauty shots?leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0184leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0187leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0190leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0192I must say – I do love that scarring that I chose, it makes a great accent.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0198If you loved this tutorial – please let me know by writing a comment in the section below. Feel free to ask questions there as I am likely to respond so all can benefit. Happy New Year to all and thank you again for supporting my work and livelihood!

  • MM - January 1, 2015 - 1:59 pm

    This looks great! I’ve been admiring your blog and find that your tutorials have been a great help considering I am just starting out. Looking forward to reading your tutorial on dying soon as I have been finding different things on forums; from your belt tutorial, you mentioned using EVOO and beeswax after dying the belt. Does beeswax provide enough protection and waterproofing? I have seen people use resolene. I don’t understand what the difference would make between the two.ReplyCancel

    • Mr. Lentz - February 14, 2015 - 12:39 pm

      Hi MM, well everything wears down over time, so no matter what you use, it will need to be reapplied as you wear it in. I choose not to use chemicals on my goods for my own health as well as my customers. Beeswax is a great alternative if you use it right, other oils also help make your product water resistant.ReplyCancel

  • Marcus - January 6, 2015 - 10:52 am

    Hi,
    happy new year!
    I’ve been reading your blog and it’s inspired me to get started in leatherworking.
    First I made a felt lined roll-up-bag for my wife, to take her brushes with her when she goes out painting.
    Next was a small wallet for myself. Since my driverslisence is bigger than the newer cards it had to be a bit bigger than the ones you offer. (Not as big as the ones you make for passports).
    And finally (probably not really, there is some more leather left…) a knivesheath for the first knive I made for myself a few years ago. Untill today it had an orange kydex sheath, functional but not really nice to look at.
    My question is, the leather you have used for your sheath looks quite thin, mine was about 2,4 mm. My sheath although wet-formed and stiffer than before still feels a bit wishy-washy.
    Another question is, why didn’t you sew in a welt (not sure if the translator got me right here) to protect the seam from the edge.
    MarcusReplyCancel

    • Mr. Lentz - February 14, 2015 - 12:37 pm

      Hi Marcus – you are correct – the leather used here is quite thin. If you want a long-term durable sheath I would use at least a 6-7 oz leather or higher. The leather I used in the tutorial was a scrap piece and since I was in the mood (and didn’t have any thicker stuff around) I just went for it. On your second question – yes a welt would help a lot actually. The best thing todo is to cut a very narrow strip of leather, a thick piece, and sew it in sandwiched on the edge. I am planning on a follow up tutorial to this one detailing even better techniques.ReplyCancel

  • Marcello Fauci - March 16, 2015 - 9:32 am

    Hi,

    I just received one of your items bought through etsy (a passport wallet)and I just love it, great job.
    I wonder if it could be possible for you to make for me a sheat for my favourite knife, exactly as the one above made for your knife……if yes i could send you all pictures and measurements of the knife.

    Waiting for your comments, I send you my best regards.

    MarcelloReplyCancel

    • Mr. Lentz - March 17, 2015 - 9:20 am

      Hi Marcello – I will probably be making a sheath or two for the shop pretty soon. Keep your eyes peeled in a couple of months and I may have it up for sale.
      Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Fin - April 17, 2015 - 2:01 am

    I am thinking of making my own blades and whats a blade without a sheath? Very good honest tutorial, will be trying this myself. Really good stuff!ReplyCancel

leather-iphone-wallet-case-phone-wallet-minimal-slim_0003After a little wranglin’ of stray thoughts, and corrallin’ up a few test runs…a new minimalistic iPhone wallet has been born in the West. It took a bit of sweat and late night fire talk to get this thing off the ground, but I am very pleased with the design. Built from one piece of leather and held together with heavy-duty solid brass rivets, this wallet will hold your iPhone (5c, 5s, 6, 6 Plus… all in different sizes) securely in place.leather-iphone-wallet-case-phone-wallet-minimal-slim_0004With a completely separated phone section, a tight pocket for cash and a very narrow credit card slot, you can have it all while on the go.leather-iphone-wallet-case-phone-wallet-minimal-slim_0009leather-iphone-wallet-case-phone-wallet-minimal-slim_0011leather-iphone-wallet-case-phone-wallet-minimal-slim_0012As with all Mr. Lentz goods – this here walelt gets branded with the logo and stamped with a unique consecutive number, making this wallet one of a kind, handmade by a true cowboy of the creative revolution.leather-iphone-wallet-case-phone-wallet-minimal-slim_0016Pictured here with a can of my own handmade, all-natural leather conditioner meant to keep high quality leather goods in great shape.leather-iphone-wallet-case-phone-wallet-minimal-slim_0084Available in three colors, all Full-grain vegetable tanned leather sourced from the top U.S. tannery. It’s now available in my online shop.

  • Errol Yim - December 27, 2014 - 6:45 pm

    Great products. I recently bought a bus. card holder/credit card/ wallet. Good quality.ReplyCancel