The simplest can be the hardest

I finally got back into my leather shop this long weekend. Travel has been very heavy, and I’m also trying to learn guitar, so the shop has patiently waited for me to remember to visit…

old_wallet

My old (thin) bifold, used for about a year. Kangaroo leather dyed red.

I needed to touch my tools and leather for a mental reset. It truly is therapeutic to make things by hand. However, another motivation was to rework my bifold wallet design. I always strive for simplicity, quality, and functionality in my leather work. I spend a lot of time thinking about functionality, and I use pretty much everything that I make in the early stages of design refinement.

I’ve always enjoyed making wallets, and based on the number that I’ve made, other people have enjoyed using them. Wallets are uncomfortable if you carry them in a rear pocket. Therefore, my primary design goal has been to keep them thin. I almost always use kangaroo leather, which is very thin, soft, and tough. It also ages extremely well and gets more and more beautiful with time. The tough part is getting a place for cards that doesn’t add much thickness. I have always hated the cheap fabric that many commercial wallets use inside the card slots, because it tears.

front_new_wallet

Front of new bifold wallet design. All kangaroo (body and lace).

 

Until now, I’ve compromised by having a single piece of leather for all the cards, and this is very thin and works. However, it can be a pain with several cards, and over time the cards don’t stay up and are hard to grab. Therefore, I tried a modification with different thin layers sewn separately to hold 4 cards on each side. This works (and is widely used on wallets), but it does add bulk compared to my thin version.

Since I hadn’t been in the shop for a long time, I also had a hankering for braiding, so I decided to do what I had avoided for years: edge braiding! I loved to make wallets as a kid at summer camp using this technique, and since then I can only think of summer crafts at camp when I see one. That is a nice memory, but maybe still a bit clunky for a nice wallet…

The front 5 thong applique braid adds a bit of bulk, and I probably should have avoided that, but it was fun to do. I’m reasonably happy with the whole thing, but it is thicker than my last design. The cards seem to work much better, though. It is a bit “crafty”, but it also evokes a simpler time. And it was fun to make! Stay tuned for the next iteration when I use it for a while and get some more shop time.

2 responses

  1. Art, I’ve really enjoyed my Edison wallet over these past few years. Living in Mexico, I have a cold-sweat panic sometimes reaching for my credit cards…did one or more fall out? The answer is, no! I have NEVER had any of my cards fall-out, thanks to your great design. All the best, James.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: