GrabBagToday a temporary product hits the shop…the Surprise wallet. When making leather wallets the natural way – hand cutting, dyeing and oiling – there can be a few mistakes made… or even just natural blemishes that appear. I will never purposely ship out a wallet that don’t look its best, so what I have been doing is slowly acquiring a small stack of random wallets that just didn’t quite pass the beauty test. That may be a little harsh – the reality is that they have very subtle surface blemishes on them. Say for example a minor scratch, or a discolored spot, an oddly placed scar, a dented rivet – you know the kinds of things that full-price doesn’t justify. All of these wallets are in great useable shape and the blemishes will not affect their durability of longevity in any way – so they are now for sale here. The more you buy at once, the more you save. Cheers!

leather wallet saleGet ’em while their hot. I recently overbought a bunch of hides and decided that rather than let them sit here in the shop for too long, I’d  put out a sale on specific wallets in the Sun Tanned Natural Color. The wallets on sale will shift randomly, so if you see one you’ve been wanting – make sure to grab it. As of the writing of this post these wallets are on sale: Traditional, Thin, and Simple Snap.

BackPackJTree03__0024The Desert is a vast and empty space, capable of absorbing all thought going in and expelling the visitor with a mindless sense of calm. It stretches its broad and parched plains outward in all directions, seemingly without end. Silence prevails here, not a drop nor tweet nor howl of the wind. A silence so stark the heartbeat can deafen. A silence broken only in the night by the packs of roaming coyotes out on their nightly prowl.

BackPackJTree03__0005

The desert is a place I go to recapture my sense of primal humanity. Over the last year I have journeyed out into the arid lands once every few months. It clears out my thoughts, and reminds me of how incredible and serene the natural world truly is. Significant thoughts of a few days earlier become meaningless as I press on gaining miles and searching for spots to sleep before nightfall.

BackPackJTree03__0009

BackPackJTree03__0013

BackPackJTree03__0001When backpacking, the basic daily needs of back-country life take over your focus, and all that is left are a few stray thoughts from your city life well beyond the horizon.

BackPackJTree03__0048

In hiking through the wild, I try to step off the trail for at least half the journey. Breaking my own path narrows my focus down to only a few key thoughts: watch out for rattlers, keep track of time – pace – heading – and approximate position, dodge the thorny plants, keep an eye out 15 yards ahead for the best route through the brush, and find a spot to settle for the night out of the prevailing winds.

BackPackJTree03__0054

When I head off the trail I typically get vast distances all to myself without a single person in sight. I generally pay for it though by having to work my way through unexpected obstacles not apparent on the map. A simple ridge descent can turn into a long and slippery slope sliding down loose rocks and having to push through thorny brush while keeping from going over either edge.

BackPackJTree03__0052BackPackJTree03__0057BackPackJTree03__0018

But no complaint is ever made when campsites like those above are found. The views are endless. The night is quiet.

BackPackJTree03__0045BackPackJTree03__0063

I now travel fairly light. It helps in getting me further into the wild. Above is my entire cook kit. A light titanium mug, a tin foil lid, and beneath is a small container that holds a bit of 180 proof liquor used as fuel.

BackPackJTree03__0069As I have always said, try to take a break yourself and get out into nature. It’ll cure you of some of those city-borne ailments in no time.

 

Well, the time has come to upgrade my line of briefcases. After several fans out there requested a larger size…I went ahead with it and upgraded the fastening system to a belt design, giving things a sturdier feel and a nice way to adjust the tension for those who carry more. The larger size option will give you 2 extra inches of space lengthwise and 1 inch more vertical. That means y’all can fit yer Macbook Pro 15 inch laptops in there. These guys should be ready in the shop for purchase within a week – just gotta photograph them first and put up the new details.

Brown leather briefcase

  • Timur civan - February 4, 2016 - 7:09 am

    Man, I could really USE this bag. I have the smaller one, and despite its beauty and quality, the fact it doesn’t fit my computer means it hangs on the wall more often than not. Looking forward to this.ReplyCancel

SunriseTrail_0031

Well yet another year has come and gone and instead of taking a look back into the dust to see what was accomplished I thought I’d set my sights on the horizon this time. It’s best to travel forward and be inspired by what”s to come. Don’t get me wrong – the last year was full of huge and wonderful changes…but it’s this next one that I am looking forward to. Every year around this time I start to get quite a few ideas rattlin around my brain. I finally have some time after the Holiday rush of orders to settle back into a rhythm in the workshop and plan out the year ahead. How about some New Year’s Resolutions to kick off 2016:

Get outside more.

This includes just some of the simple pleasures like taking a nice walk on down to the workshop in the morning, perhaps as the sun is rising out over the foothills to the East.

Go further outside and closer to nature.

Over the last year or so I have been honing some of my backpacking skills and cutting down on gear and weights. Taking a few ultralight trips out into the deserts in the Eastern edges of California. Solo trips are the best and going light is a must, especially in the desert where you typically need to carry all of your water. This next year I plan to make quite a few more trips out into the sticks and take some photos along the way to share on here.

Acquire some new leatherworking skills.

I already have a head start on this one with my whipmaking adventure (see post here). In doing so I am learning a great deal about plaiting leather which can come in handy to create a whole different style of braided items. I am also looking into dragging my leather sewing machine out of storage to see if I can fire it up again and potentially add to the complexity of bag designs in the next year. I am all for rivets in my work, but there are a few applications that can benefit from the stitch. Anyhow -the idea is that the learning never stops and that’s probably the most fun part of working with your hands. Always something new to master.

Blog about things that inspire me.

This past year I focused a lot on building up my social media presence for the biz. It is a ton of work and very distracting The end result I find is that I post things that are of semi-importance without much real substance behind them. You know – photos taken just for that instagram post or a product shot to promote a new design on Facebook. In doing this I had neglected this blog, my photography and other artistic passions I used to pursue in favor of the quick and dirty social media post. Well, I am drawing the line right here and now. I aim to post right here on the blog first – about things that inspire me. If you dig deeper back into this blog site to my first posts you will get an idea of what I will be aiming for in the next year. Just a bit more pure unfettered artistic expression.

Try to stop answering customer emails after 9pm.

Ha! That’s a tough one because I never really feel that I am working now that I have found something I  love to do. Though any form of technology should probably be shut off for me around this time and instead – just grab a good ol’ fashioned book.

Take a few risks.

I am not sure what they are quite yet, but there are always plenty to choose from in a year. I like taking calculated ones, but sometimes you gotta just jump right into it and cross your fingers.

I hope all y’all have some things in mind to help guide you into the new year, feel free to share them in the comments below. It’s good to have a focus and some thoughts on how we can keep improving our lives. Just keep on traveling forward, the horizon will always be just in sight.

 

 

 

Happy Holidays From Mr. Lentz

Happy Holidays to all y’all out there!
Did you know that this cowboy does hereby find himself sincerely grateful for your support this year and holiday season? Well..I do and I wanted to send out one last email this year to let ya know. So, thank you from the bottom of my western held heart. You, my friend are one heck of a Compadre.

As every year comes to a close and orders ramp up like a dust storm from the high heavens, I tend to burn the midnight oil and keep goin strong to make sure everyone gets their leather goods on time. I hope you were satisfied with my service and I do hope y’all come back again soon. Next year will have quite a few more bag designs and accessories as well as a handful of new wallet ideas. I will be looking into more belts and general all-purpose goods as well. My continued passion for leatherwork drives me to keep makin the finest leather goods out there.

Now quite a few of you who just purchased an item from me…as well as quite a few that have owned one for a while now, might be interested in how to keep that high quality Vegetable Tanned leather in good shape, so it can keep servin you for years to come. I’ve got just the answer for you, so if you’re ready – go ahead and skip on over to that page here.

As a final note, for those that did place an order this season you received a little somethin’ extra in your package. A card worth $10 to come back in the future. I sure would appreciate if you passed that along to a friend or family member (or heck, just use it on yourself). It’s an important part of growing a small business like mine. I ain’t lookin to get too big, just to have a solid following of good natured people that know quality when they see it.

Ok well the wind is pickin up out here and the darn internet is gettin all chopped up so I better head on out. I wish you all a very Happy Holidays and well an even better New Year.

Sincerely,
Mr. Lentz

R0000142-2When making things by hand, I find that there’s always a challenge to overcome. Usually part of a process can be improved, quickened, and possibly even changed out altogether. It’s important to never stop learning your craft. I know I will never find perfection in the skill of leatherwork…but it doesn’t stop me from pursuing it. It’s just important to know that perfection cannot be achieved.  However it is possible to become more and more skilled in your craft over time though. In my spare time I find myself researching some of the same processes I am quite used to now – just looking for a different take on things to see if it sparks any new ideas. Up above is a rivet press of mine with an addon rivet hopper that I have not used yet. I haven’t quite found a reason to until recently and now it is taking me down a path of lots of research, questioning people on forums, calling up manufacturers, and watching videos. I want to learn this other way of riveting inside and out because…well I just enjoy the craft and want to master it. Leatherwork has so many possible paths you can follow, so much to learn – it’ll probably take a lifetime.

Be safe out there over the holidays, hopefully I can get another post in with an update on my whipmaking progress.

R0000055Well, sometime about a year ago I decided I wanted to pick up a new skill in leatherwork. I bought some books, looked around the internet and after a bit of research landed on the art of whip-making. It may sound a bit odd, but hey it’s also a bit interesting. Kind of a dying art really. Way back in the day when cattle ranching was the way of the West there were all types of specialty trades in existence, one of them included the whipmaker. Before I go any further I should explain that whips in the West were never intended to hurt the cattle. In fact hurting any cow on a ranch or in the range would be considered good reason for expulsion from all work duties.R0000060

In fact the whip was created to be cracked, a sound made when the the loop created on the whip when flicked by the wrist exceeds the speed of sound as it travels down the length of the whip itself. Here’s a quick little reference from Scientific American . Kind of like a mini sonic boom. This noise would be used to startle the cattle and help herd them in the direction the Cowboys needed them to go.R0000065

Well, now as things began to change for most in the West – cattle herding and whip use began to die down quite a bit. They are still used today, but only a fraction of a percent of what it used to be. It’s quite hard to find good information on whip making – the traditional way, beyond a book by Ron Edwards called How to Make a Whip. And one more source, the youtube videos by an Australian whipmaker named Bernie – you can find it here. To make a short story even shorter, I read the book and am following the youtube videos…and it ain’t easy!

R0000066The base of my whip is called the belly and in this case I am using several things to beef it up. The handle is actually a steel tent stake. One of those big ones that look like a huge nail. This gives the handle some weight and keeps it stiff. The insides of the whip are several layers of cowhide wrapped around thin strands of lace. I used a waxed thread to help hold the first layer in place. Then I started the plaiting. I may have two or three plaited bellies in the interior of my whip to build up girth and slowly increase the length. Since this is my first…it will undoubtedly look like a frankenstein inspired whip, but it’s a learning experience and my next one will prove to be better.R0000077I cut the lace from a side of cowhide using a australian strand cutter and going in circles around the hide. Then I ran the strand through a lace cutter to get the width down to 6mm. The lace needs to taper all the way to the end so using one of the tools shown above I crept the razor closer with each pass and narrowed down to 3mm at the tip.R0000067

Then I pulled the lace through a beveler on each side to cut a 45 degree angle into the lace. This helps it lay smoother when plaiting. I have made more mistakes so far on this whip than I can keep track of with all my fingers and toes, but it doesn’t bother me. It’s a fun experience and I am sure that even if my whip ends up looking like a bloated pregnant boa constrictor…it’ll probably still crack just fine – and my next one will be even better! Have a great Thanks Giving meal to all my U.S. readers out there!R0000076