The Project Belt Revisited

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It seems like forever since the belt experiment took place, but I realized it’s barely been six months. However, some of you have seen some good wear out of them, so I figured as post was in order. It’s been great hearing from wearers, and I’ve enjoyed seeing the varied abuse.

Since that first project, I’ve learned a lot and refined my belt-making process. One defining improvement has been to slick the edges with beeswax on the new belts. For the initial project belts, they were left untouched to accentuate the break-in, but I think I definitely prefer a smoother, slicked edge. I’d just recently slicked mine, and I know Garrett did that to his.

If you guys want to clean up your own rough edges, it takes just a little beeswax rubbed in there and then you can use a slicker tool, or just a small piece of heavy canvas to vigorously rub that wax into the edge. As you rub, the wax will smooth the edges nicely. If they are really frayed, you can slick with lightly dampened water first and after drying completely – go after it with the beeswax.

Another announcement about the belt line is that it will definitely be growing. I’ll be introducing a more finished version in English bridle leather with a new buckle, and also a special announcement on Monday (Sorry folks, looks like Friday now) for a new model that I’ve recently collaborated with Darian from FREE/MAN. It’ll be available though my store or the new FREE/MAN online store (especially good for our Canadian customers to save on shipping).

Special thanks to those of you that have shared your pics – Anabela, Geoff, Evan, Garrett, Megan C, Megan R and Stacey. Also, anyone else is welcome to show off their own wear-in pics on either the Wood&Faulk flickr group or facebook page.

 

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Entermodal Bespoke Leather

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I like to experiment on a leather project here and there, and even though I can make some things really well, I know my limits. After experimenting, I get better, gain more knowledge, but my amateur status is never more evident than when I meet a true master of the craft.

One such master is Larry Olmstead of entermodal. Larry is one of the nicest folks you could ever meet, and he’s a wealth of knowledge and skill in the leather-working trade. I spent a few visits in the shop talking about leather, processes, mechanization vs. hand made, but I mostly just stood in awe of what was going on in there.

As you can see from the photos, so much is done by hand – cutting, stitching, forming. It’s an fascinating process to see how the raw materials become such a beautiful object. The process takes a lot of hours, patience and attention, and when it’s complete – the final piece is amazing. All materials are carefully chosen and thoroughly researched, ensuring everything is made in the most conscientious way.

Larry’s also working on some new experiments with waxed canvas and leather that utilize some ingenious construction methods – on one bag he’s building, there’s zero canvas material waste – every bit of one yard is used. Just one example of the depth to which Larry thinks about the craft of bag making.

If you’re ever in Portland, you can see his work (and most likely him) on display in the space he shares with Halo Shoes at 938 NW Everett. Want to learn some things yourself? He also hosts leatherwork classes. Some more info and pics here at the entermodal facebook page.

 

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Some New Makers

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One great side-effect of having this blog is that I’ve gotten to meet other interesting craftsfolk and see their ideas and products. It’s inspiring to see what fellow tinkerers have been working on.

A while back, I got to know Garret at Strawfoot Handmade and it’s great to see that he’s going strong and creating some great work. My camera satchel is serving me well, and Garret sent me a pic showing that his carpenter’s bag is treating him well too.

More recently, I’ve met two Portland-based makers, each doing some amazing– yet very different things.

First off, Antler&Co. Personally, I love antlers. I don’t care if it was a 2008 super-fad… the real thing is and always will be CLASSIC. They’ve been around for thousands of years, so I’m not gonna let some ‘white plastic knock-off Apartment Therapy saturation’ ruin it for me. Don’t want to kill a cuddly animal for decor? No problem. Antler&Co uses natural sheds for their work. Each year, deer naturally shed their antlers and grow new ones. Why let them decay on the ground when they can be collected as little works of (handy) art? I have one of Greg’s ‘Hanger Holder’ pieces and it’s amazing. The antler is beautiful itself, but the attention to detail in the packaging is insane. They really put together a great product, complete with all necessary hardware. Check out their wares at Antler&Co.

Another recent Portland upstart is Maak Soap Lab. This is a small, handcrafted operation that makes the most amazing soaps. After opening the Doug Bar and placing in my soap tray, the amazing scent of fir and cedar traveled through the entire house. Granted, I have a small place, but it smelled amazing. The soap lathers up well, and even though it smells strong, you’re not left with a perfume-y odor. It washes clean, with just the slightest scent on your skin. Maak is also venturing into essential oils, and I’m dying to try that cedarwood scent in my house. You can follow what they’re doing at Maak Soap Lab. Also, I’ll be carrying some of their bars in the Wood&Faulk shop, starting next week.

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Strawfoot Handmade

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So, having this blog has introduced me to lots of cool new folk and I’m really grateful about that. One such fellow is Garrett Kautz, a bag maker who operates Strawfoot Handmade. Garrett has been experimenting and crafting handy totes from his small Santa Cruz studio for a couple years now. Using a heavy duty single-needle machine, regionally sourced materials, and smart details like hand-hammered rivets, Garrett creates some clean, classic designs.

I’d been admiring the work coming from his studio for a little while, so when an opportunity came open,  I jumped at the chance to have him make me something cool. I’d seen that he had previously created a great roll-top lunch bag, so I wondered if he could modify that idea a bit as a small camera bag – something that would protect a camera and maybe some film when I’m traveling. After listening to my request, he really came up with something perfect – from the thorn-proof waxed canvas, right down to the vintage wool lining. He even included a vintage seed bag to wrap a lens or carry some film. Great work, Garrett. Check out his work at strawfoothandmade.com

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