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Do What You Want

As part of living in our modern society we are expected to also live by a standard of social norms – or a group held belief of how members should behave in a given context. Ultimately it is our decision whether we will let these standards of our society become our own laws for living, or whether we will use them merely as an option, a secondary path to fall back on if our own dreams falter. I have always believed in doing what you want. It is what makes me happy, and today I was shown this video below by a good friend, and in it are some very inspiring words that deserve a dedicated blog post in its honor. The video is about ‘Slomo’, a resident San Diegan who had a mid-life epiphany that he didn’t have to follow society’s preconceived notions of how he needed to run his life. He was a doctor of Neurology and Psychiatry for years…then he became … well… if you have 15 minutes you should watch it to the end. I have seen this guy a few times down at the beach, truly inspiring.

Now, continue onward towards your dreams – I’m hard at work on mine.

  • Sudhir Purohit - April 19, 2014 - 8:58 am

    I want to make wallets out of leather boots which are available in missing no and in stock lots here in India,can u help me?ReplyCancel

    • Mr. Lentz - April 19, 2014 - 9:26 am

      That sounds like a good idea Sudhir, if you email me I may be able to point you in the right direction. Cheers!ReplyCancel

Liquid Gold

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Last Saturday I filled one thousand of these guys…

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All in one day and all as part of a new idea I have about the quality of handmade leather goods. You see, high quality leather deserves high quality care. As such I decided to develop my own formula for keeping your handcrafted premium wallets, belts and more in the best shape possible. My handmade leather Spiff N’ Shine is all natural, mixed by hand, filled by hand, labeled by hand (ahem, with the help of one obliging lil’ lady and payment of an ice cream sundae).

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This concoction is the same formulation that I use to initially oil and wax each piece of leather in my shop. A great leather conditioner made from Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Beeswax, and Carnauba Wax – it is 100% natural and contains no animal byproducts…like mink oil. In fact – the truth is – I have heard great things about working with mink oil, but have chosen to stay away from it due to the entire, somewhat shady, industry behind how they get that mink oil (not good). As it turns out really high quality leather will break in on its own without the need to infuse it with other chemicals. It will shape to the person, develop a unique and rich patina based on its use and environment. The leather will age into a work of art all your own.

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But back to filling tin cans. It ain’t glamorous and I should probably think about wranglin’ up some gents to fill them for me in the future. It’s  a tricky business and quite a challenge figuring out a unique way to keep the mixture hot and fill these tins. Every wallet and belt will come standard with a tin of my leather conditioner, as a gift as well as a guarantee that what you are gettin’ is the finest of fine.

 

 

  • James Shane - February 18, 2014 - 9:45 am

    Wonderful! Will you be offering this product on your website for purchase sometime soon?ReplyCancel

    • Mr. Lentz - February 18, 2014 - 9:57 am

      Hi James, in fact these are all shipping for free right now with every leather item ordered. Thanks!ReplyCancel

      • James Shane - February 18, 2014 - 10:04 am

        Thanks! I’m looking to snag some from you as I have began making my own wallets recently. If you happen to start selling your concoction, I will definitely be a buyer!ReplyCancel

        • Mr. Lentz - February 18, 2014 - 12:16 pm

          I would highly recommend making your own. It is not too hard and the materials are fairly easily found. Search around the internet for a good recipe and experiment away! That’s what I did for a while until I found what worked well for me.ReplyCancel

Taking a look back at 2013

A few weeks into the new year and it is time to take a look back and see what happened in 2013. Mind you, I quit coffee cold turkey yesterday (for the 432nd time), and am writing this with taped up eyelids dosed on pain meds. Let’s see if I can get through it. Here we go:

2013, just like 2012 was a year of massive change for me, Mr. Lentz. In the beginning of the year I had just returned from an 8 month journey through Central and South America. I was in culture shock. There are a lot of things you don’t get while traveling and one of the biggest ones that bothered me was the lack of some solid mental stimulation. Traveling is great, it is fun to see new things, new places, new people…but I ultimately missed what I had begun in my workshop in Boulder, CO. That is – designing, building,writing…all around creating. This keeps me busy and gives me a feeling of fulfillment like no other South American ancient ruin can compete with.

So…once I returned to the States, I packed up my stuff in Boulder, CO and headed out West to begin my work anew.

I started from the very beginning, taking a close look at my previous designs and reworking them. Ultimately creating entirely new ideas that were much more refined.

I did the same for my rings, creating new designs, using better materials and in more efficient ways.

I took a break and philosophized a bit about creativity and why you shouldn’t care.

 

Then I made a few more rings…

 

I expanded on my ideas a bit, trying to push them to the limit of what was possible. Out came this Grass Knuckle.

I took the time to write several tutorials, which I am proud to say have helped numerous makers like myself begin in the world of makin’. The one below is about how to build a quick, cheap and sturdy workbench.

Then I threw together an idea about a wood and leather lunch box. It came together nicely, but I am still looking to improve the design.

Several fans requested a simple leather wallet tutorial…so I made one. I realized that a lot goes into a simple leather piece like this just to get it looking right.

Partly due to my own forgetting of the steps to make a leather belt (there are many) – I made a tutorial of one. This guy now sells in my shop, it’s a fine piece of work.

There were a few ideas I had to scrap. The one below is a leather and dye combo I do not use anymore – in favor of natural dyes I make by hand.

This phone wallet below was scrapped. It included a secret interior pouch…that was extremely time consuming to make.

Many new wallets were born this year. The time taken to conceptualize, design, template, create, refine and finish for sale in the shop is immense! – But worth every second. I love designing new work, the best part is when I condition up the leather with my own hand made leather balm (extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, carnauba wax), the leather glows with deep and rich colors.

Constantly experimenting with new ways to create natural colors from vegetable matter…I added two more color options Dust Storm and Stallion – though soon to be combined into just the Stallion.

For a brief period I created a desertscape for photographing my leather goods. This proved hard to maintain in the longrun and I quickly switched back to wood backdrops.

Realizing the importance of getting away is crucial to the creative mind. I took a break in Colorado, hiked a fourteener and let my mind be free and wander without anything or anyone to tell me what needed to be done next. I recommend this for everyone – take a nice solo week and drive off somewhere towards nature. You will be glad you did.

Some designs from the past were revived for a custom order. Only to quickly disappear again back into the past.

Mistakes were made, plenty of them. In fact it is quite common as a craftsman to fudge things up every now and then.

I burnt some leather too.

Then I created even more leather designs, a purse, cuff and the belt from my tutorial.

 

Towards the end of the year I disappeared into my workshop, not seeing the light of day for weeks on end. It got busy. Very busy, very quickly. It was a blast and I worked my tail off.

Looking back is kind of crazy, just reading through this and realizing how far I have come since my travels ended. There are a lot of new ideas and projects coming along that I will be sharing on here shortly. I have a few fun powertools…still waiting to be unpacked due to the craziness of the Holiday Rush). With them I plan to make bigger things – things for the home and maybe some art. This next year looks like it will be a busy one as well, but I am preparing for it in advance. That’s the great thing about making mistakes – hopefully you remember them and learn a bit from them. I think it’s important that when we are all sittin’ back and thinking about the new year ahead of us, that we also look at the year behind us and continue on that path of improvement. Cheers the 2014!

  • Ang - January 30, 2014 - 5:22 am

    I randomly came across your website while searching for leather working tutorials – your photography is amazing especially love the photo of your Dad. Your landscape photos are incredible too, and obviously informs your other work. Where can I see more of your photography online?ReplyCancel

    • Mr. Lentz - January 30, 2014 - 8:56 am

      Thanks Ang! Actually I used to have a whole other photography website a while back. I decided to merge the two to slim down the amount of upkeep. In this upcoming year I hope to do a lot more photography work as it is a real passion of mine.ReplyCancel

      • Ang - January 30, 2014 - 9:05 pm

        Yes. Please do! I’m actually surprised that you’re not a professional/commercial photographer. I really appreciate your work.ReplyCancel

The Light of Day

A slow, eternal, monotonous creak. The turn of a doorknob. A hint of movement in the air, a breach to the outside world. A sliver of light falling upon the floor…there is life. There is…daylight. The date is December 25th 2013 and out from behind the shadowy depths, beyond view of the doorway, emerges Mr. Lentz.

He is…alive, slightly unrecognizable, and with the apparent glare of 1,00 cups too many of a highly caffeinated blend of coffee. He has survived the mayhem, the madness…the holiday rush of orders.

While the rush was entirely expected…the size of the rush was not. Mr. Lentz thus disappeared from all facets of public life and endured harrowingly long hours in the workshop. Starting in early November and lasting until Christmas day, the mere existence of daylight itself was questioned. From dawn till long after dusk the workshop was a constant arena of precise pandemonium. All orders ordered in time were delivered on time. All customers now rejoicing in their new wallets, belts, necklaces and rings. All coffee shops supplying Mr. Lentz with his daily dose of gallon upon gallon of coffee were sent into the fine frenzy of victory. Mr. Lentz, now awash in the warm rays of sunlight, declares himself victorious and thanks all of you – his fine fans, for your generous support this year. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all!

 

 

Dutch Home and Garden

Thank you to my Dutch friends for publishing the wood and moss engagement ring in their issue of Home and Garden! Now off to find someone to translate this…. oh and Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Linde - December 1, 2013 - 11:07 am

    Hi, i can translate the article for you if you want, just send me a bigger scan :) ReplyCancel

How to Make a Leather Wallet

It is quite possibly the simplest form of wallets. Though make no mistake, it still takes a few steps and a couple of tricks to get it looking just right. In this tutorial I have photographed every step in making this leather wallet from figuring out the dimensions, to preparing the edges, dyeing, and hand stitching. If you have been following along in the past month or two you may have seen my leather belt tutorial as well, it’s worth checking out after you stitch this little guy together. Since this is a fairly long post (~ 100 photos), I am going to jump right to it. Give yourself almost 2 hours if this is your first project.

Above are all the essential tools required for this wallet. From left to right: Steel ruler, wax pencil, rolling cutter, edge creaser, stitching groove cutter, edge beveler size 0, 6 diamond shaped hole punch, scissors, two hand sewing needles, waxed thread, stitching pony (I built this one myself, but you can buy them online pre-made). Up top I have a rubber pounding mat to absorb the punch later on.

The type of leather I am using is called vegetable tanned. It is a type of tanning that allows me to work with the leather, mark it, and dye it. I chose a scrap 3-4 oz. piece that measured more towards the 3 oz. side – meaning it’s a bit skinny.

View full post »

  • naz - November 22, 2013 - 10:06 am

    really nifty!

    thanx for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • C - December 8, 2013 - 5:28 am

    Love the part about saddle stitch. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • Mr. Lentz - December 8, 2013 - 9:33 am

      C – definitely look on Youtube if you need an even more detailed version of how to saddle stitch. There are tons of videos on it out there.ReplyCancel

  • Faith - December 13, 2013 - 6:50 am

    Super sweet!!!! Thanks for sharing! I have limited wifi, so I can’t watch videos…so THANNNNKKK you for all the pics!!! So appreciate it! Awesome tutorial!!! More, more, more!!! ;)

    Thanks again!ReplyCancel

  • Scott Strittmatter - January 16, 2014 - 9:57 am

    This tutorial is so great. Where did you get your custom leather stamp from?ReplyCancel

  • Scott Strittmatter - January 22, 2014 - 7:37 am

    Awesome, thanks! I’m trying to decide between a heat embosser and a stamp. I like the size of the rivets on your Wild Bill wallet, I’ve yet to find some that small! Care to share where you get yours from?ReplyCancel

    • Mr. Lentz - January 22, 2014 - 12:19 pm

      Scott- I had to make this choice a while back too. It depends on two things – how fast do you need to do it (quantity) and how prominent do you need your logo? I decided on a stamp because I wanted something quick, easy to use, and not as prominent. As much as us makers would like to see our logos huge on everything, I am pretty sure customers would rather it be small and inconspicuous.
      As for the rivets try TandyLeatherFactory.com they are the mini double cap rivets. Though beware that they are really only made for the thinnest of leather – like two 2-3 ounce pieces together.ReplyCancel

  • Scott Strittmatter - January 23, 2014 - 10:00 am

    Great, thanks for all the info! I go to Tandy Leather to get my 8.5″ x 11″ sheets of vegetable leather for wallet-making but can’t seem to find a full vegetable tanned shoulder/hide of 2-3 oz leather. Do you typically get your leather from Tandy?ReplyCancel

    • Mr. Lentz - January 23, 2014 - 3:49 pm

      Scott – no problem! I would recommend buying full sides when you can. If you are going to be making a bunch of things this is a much better deal. I used to buy from Tandy until I decided a while back to up the quality and consistency of my leather. Since I go through a lot – I now buy direct from a tannery. That’s a great step if you go into biz making things, but if you are just having some fun and learning, I’d stick with Tandy for the time being. Be on the lookout for sales each month – they usually have good discounts on the lower grade leather.ReplyCancel

  • Paul - January 28, 2014 - 6:37 am

    I’m about to start my first wallet project. And first ever leather project. I’m taking pictures along the way and will DEFINITLY use your tutorial as I go because it’s the best I’ve seen. Thank you so much! By the way I’m using leather salvaged from an old pair of work boots I have. I might learn some hard lessons, but it’s my “test project”. I’m excited. :^)ReplyCancel

    • Mr. Lentz - January 28, 2014 - 3:49 pm

      Paul – Way to go! Using salvaged leather is a great (and inexpensive) way to learn. Plus it creates a piece with some memories built in.ReplyCancel