Journey of an Architect is a blog started by Tim Ung to document his journey to design 30 projects by the age of 30 (May 2020). His posts focus on his design process, thoughts, struggles, and successes throughout his journey.

Nearing the end of 100 Leather Wallets

Nearing the end of 100 Leather Wallets

Having one goal for the month of April has been a fantastic way for me to stay focused and to continue learning the craft of leather making. Over the past week, I finished stitching all 100 wallets and reached a fork in the road which was whether I would finish the edges by burnishing it or leave it natural and raw. Here’s what I decided and how far these leather wallets have come.

Do I Burnish or Not Burnish the Leather Edges?

 
 

To help me answer this question, I decided to ask my siblings and my friends on Instagram using the poll sticker of the “stories” feature. All of my siblings preferred the finished edge which is shiny, smooth, and slick. However, my Instagram poll resulted in 55% on the burnished edge and 45% on the natural edge. Another interesting result from this poll is that a lot of my creative friends who I would consider to be more in the “artist” and “crafts” category liked the natural raw edge. Similarly, my friends who have strong opinions towards climate change, sustainable practices, and other similar world issues also liked the natural raw edge.

After much deliberation, I decided to burnish the leather edges for this first batch of 100 wallets. This reason was a result of my personal goal to learn more about leather making by forcing myself to learn how to finish leather edges. Hopefully, by the end of burnishing 100 leather wallets, I’ll have a better understanding of what it takes to finish a leather edge.

To be honest, my future projects will most likely have a natural raw edge finish because I also love the idea of having my leather products be as natural as possible. When I make these products, they’re comprised of literally the things that you can see; leather, threads, and attachment accessories. I’d like to stick to that ideology and maintain my own artistic rights as the creator of these wallets. Knowing how to finish the leather edges was important to me, so that’s what led to my decision of finishing the edges of my first batch of 100 wallets.

Selecting the Edge Finish Material

With the decision made, I was faced with 3 edge slicking materials that could either be used in combination or individually. First was using water and slicking the edge using a burnishing tool made of wood. Second, was using Gum Tragacanth which is a natural material that comes from a specific tree in Afghanistan, is dried out, and liquefied into a watery Elmer’s glue looking material. This gets applied to the edge and slicked with the same wood tool. Lastly was 100% natural beeswax that would be rubbed onto the edge and slicked on using the wood tool.

I decided to use the beeswax because it’s a thicker finish that would also fill some of the gaps between the leather pieces and create a uniform and singular edge. After burnishing over 20 leather wallets, I finally started to get the hang of the process and learned how to do it better and better. I also learned that doing the entire thing by hand can be very painful on one’s wrists. My fingers and wrists were in pain for the first few days and now, I’m able to burnish lots of leather edges without an issue. So far, I’ve burnished about 70 wallets and have 30 left to go!

Next Steps

Now that the wallets are nearing completion, my final steps are to spread the word with my friends and to finalize my tax forms for the state of New York so that I could legally sell these wallets. My plan is to create my leather products only in batches that I decide on and once those leather products are sold out, they won’t be available until I decide to make more. This will allow me to focus on creating new products and sharing them with my followers. I hope you join me in this leather making journey on Instagram!

Finishing my 100 Leather Wallet Goal

Finishing my 100 Leather Wallet Goal

Starting my 100 Leather Wallet Challenge

Starting my 100 Leather Wallet Challenge