Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The last time I wrote about taking the step up in handbag making, from hand laced bags, to bags made using machines. This time I am going to show you how this is done in the factory.
The man above is Otis Anthony, shown in his factory in Framingham MA. in 2001. I learned a lot from Otis in the 70's when he developed and made the Frye Handbag line under license from the Frye Boot Co.
Otis passed away a few years ago but his legacy lives on with me and others he taught over the years. I was in the artist colony at the Greenbrier a few months ago and saw some of his styles made the way he did it so someone out there has his equipment and is still making bags the way he did.
I visited a designer handbag factory earlier this month and had permission to take photos as long as I didn't use their name on the Internet. Maybe you can tell who's factory this when you see some of their styles.
The man above is hand cutting handbags. Look and learn... He is cutting against sheet metal with a knife made from a hacksaw blade. They hand cut almost all of their handbags which allows them to be "up to the minute" and change styles without waiting for dies to be made. They custom make the handbags one at a time as orders come in.
After being cut the parts are put in plastic bags to keep all the parts together. The linings parts are in another bag with the same order number and are sent to be sewn. The external parts are sent to this department to be skived. They keep a sample bag of each style that they refer to in order to know where and how much to skive. It take a lot of experience to know how to do this and it must be accurately done so that the leather parts fold properly. This skiver has servo motors to adjust all the skive parameters. They read out on a digital screen. He uses this info to reproduce the adjustments for a particular skive.
The next step is to glue and fold the leather parts as needed for the style being made. This time consuming job requires a lot of skill to fold evenly and straight and to get the proper radius on corners .
After sewing, hardware is added, and the bag is inspected before adding the pigskin lining.
Here are some completed bags ready to be shipped.
This designer bag company uses expensive Italian leather and custom hardware. On some styles custom handles and fittings are made from a very hard and expensive tropical wood that is exclusive to them.
This modern factory sure is a lot cleaner and more well lit than the shop Otis had.
This is a view of part of my studio. It's a lot more comfortable than a factory setting and makes use of natural light. I custom make orders. You can see the work orders on the bench and stuck to the windows. The sewing and skiving machines are to the left and to the rear.
You can view my handbags on my website LeatherGoodsConnection.com
and "How to make a leather handbag from a photo", on my .net site or from links on the LeatherGoodsConnection.com home page.