Hi Folks. As you may have read a few posts back, I’ve been making and selling saddle stitched leather bags. I enjoy working with my hands. And I enjoy the process of applying the knowledge I have to making something beautiful and practical. I draw on knowledge about creativity, sustainability, customer research, usability, materials & processes, operations, marketing, packaging, DIY & maker stuff. I also really enjoy the community I’ve been engaging with: artisans and craftspeople. They’ve been generous and helpful with their feedback as I’ve been getting this thing going.
I have a very simple site up. You can check it out here.
I hope you are doing well. Drop me a line at xanthe dot matychak at gmail dot com and let me know what creative things you’ve been up to. X
FOR FUN (a play on the title to this post)
I go back to, I go back to…
I’ve just started making leather totes. I’ve made two so far, one at a time. This week I decided to up my production game and try to make three at a time.
I started this challenge by writing out all of the steps in making a bag, hanging that list on my studio wall, and editing the list as I need to. I’ll share that list here:
- Rough cut the hide – this makes it more manageable
- Cut the straps
- Fine-cut the leather with a template including rivet holes
- Glue and clamp the sides
- Groove sewing lines and punch stitching holes
- Saddle stitch the sides
- Tamp down the stitching with a mallet
- Glue and clamp the gussets
- Saddle stitch the gussets
- Tamp down the stitching with a mallet
- Turn the bag inside out
- Rivet the straps
What I’ve learned so far:
STRAPS. I need to cut the straps when before I fine cut the bag. I still haven’t done this and I’ve already started stitching. Why am I procrastinating? Because cutting long straps is a pain in the butt. Hopefully, there’s a strap cutter in my future which will make things a lot easier.
ALIGNMENT. On one of the bags, I forgot to glue it up before I punched the stitching holes. So I’m not sure if things will line up but here’s to hoping that they will OR that I can re-punch the holes that need it without messing up the seam lines.
CLAMPS. I discovered a bottleneck in step three. I can’t glue-up 3 bags at the same time because I don’t have enough clamps.
Oof. Writing this out makes me feel tired but in a good way. I enjoy paying attention to the process. A few semesters back I taught the well-known operations book The Goal so I’ve got that model in the back of my mind, too. Nerdy fun.
FOR EVEN MORE FUN (process p*rn)
Making watch straps at Hermes
and I’ve got enough of this hide to make 2 more. Good times!
I recently scored some bargain hides in OKC and mailed them home to Ithaca. They arrived last Thursday and bit by bit, over the past week, I’ve been working toward making a full-scale leather bag.
You can see my iterative prototyping here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/wySRTm8M2rdiyWke9
I started with a tiny prototype just to learn how the stitching would feel in this material. But it was so tiny that I couldn’t even turn it inside out when it was sewn up. So I moved up to a half-scale version of the bag, first in EVA foam. This prototype was really quick and gave me some good intel–I just wanted to see how the bag would hold up when I turned it inside out after sewing. Turned out ok.
From there I moved to a half-scale in leather. From this prototype I wanted to experience each step of the process: cutting and preparing the leather, gluing and clamping, sewing, and turning it inside out. All went well except for the proportions. When I turned it inside out, it was too tall because the leather, unlike the foam in the previous model, brought the side seams in significantly.
But my prototypes gave me the confidence to move to full scale even though I hadn’t yet gotten the proportions I wanted. I made proportional adjustments in my full-scale template then cut and prepped and glued and sewed. I rushed through the rivets a bit because I was running out of time, but overall I am very pleased with the bag. I’ll carry it around with me for a week before I make another, just to test how it behaves in the wild. But I have a feeling that I have a design that’s close to production ready.
Hoorah! Now the question is, can I buy myself a fancy rivet press? Uh, tools are cool.
I picked up these bargain-bin hides while in OKC this past week. It feels freeing to have so much (cheap) material to work with. I’m going to try out a bunch of things in weeks to come.
These hides are milled which means that they are soft and don’t have as much structure as the veg tanned scraps I’ve been working with. But I still think they can hold the shape of a basket if I keep it small enough. We’ll see! If all else fails, these babies can make a whole lot of straps and book covers.
for more studio snap shots, see my google photo album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/PKaNMFj8ScEsxeK58
I’ve never understood why people make jokes about basket weaving. Think about it: What skill could be more useful than making an object that carries things from one place to another, using materials that you have lying around? I happen to have a lot of tyvek and a little bit of leather, so I’ve been designing tyvek baskets with leather handles (at half scale for now). I think these vessels are sweet and I like imagining filling them up with fruit in summer.
I love all kinds of baskets and if I had the right studio space (which would have to include a sink), I’d definitely take up weaving.
TAKE IT FURTHER
Swamp Road Baskets are the most beautiful baskets, made here in The Finger Lakes
I love this modern spin on Shaker Baskets by Studio Gorm
My BASKETS board on pinterest
I snapped this picture of my workbench at the end of the day yesterday before I cleaned up. I love my studio. And tools are cool.
Im taking a board game design class at Ithaca Generator these days. I’m using the opportunity to explore concepts from my sustainability research, stuff that I normally read and write about.
The prototype here is for a cooperative game called “Grow.” The setting for the game is a Community Supported Farm. In the game there are six players – three farmers and three members (though in reality the ratio is more like 1 farmer to 75 members). The objective of the game is to harness the trust built into this network to exchange value. The meta objective is to inspire players to do this in real life. Continue reading “Games that Promote Sharing”