General Questions:

 

So are you Wright or are you Rede?

My name is Jordan Lee. When I started this business I knew I wanted to be my own boss and work in a creative field, but I wasn't sure doing what. So I named the business Wright and Rede. Wright means to make things (like a shipwright) and rede means to advise or council. I figure with those two words I can do pretty much whatever I want

 

Rede? Like reed or ready?

Rede like reed.

 

How can I contact you?

jordan@WrightandRede.com

 

Don't you have a phone?

Yes I do. It sits next to me in my workshop. Generally I'm wearing gloves that are covered in dye or oil and I'll have to look on in frustration because I can't get to your call in time. By emailing me you will give me the opportunity to finish what I'm doing, help the environment (because I won't have to keep using new gloves), and allow me to think of the most satisfactory and intelligent answer to your inquiry I can come up with

 

Do you have a studio? Can I see it?

I have a workshop in my home. My insurance company has informed me that having customers to my home is a giant no-no. Also, I'm shy and value my privacy.

 

But I've just gotta talk to you in person!!!

Throughout much of the year I am out and about at events all over the greater Cleveland area. Feel free to email me and I can let you know when I'll be in your area. Please stop by and say hello since I love getting a chance to meet people. Like I said, I work out of my house and sometimes the face-to-face time I get with real people is pretty limited (especially during the holidays).

 

Did you learn how to do this in jail?

Leather crafting was a common trade skill taught in correctional institutions in the days of yore. Sadly any institution (correctional or otherwise) that teaches a valuable trade skill as part of it's common curriculum is becoming a rare thing indeed. I am entirely self taught through lots of trial and error and the power of the Internet.

 

Would you like to donate to my charity?

Yes I would! Like most people I like to think of myself as a good person. I do my best to live in a way that agrees with my self image. I am also only one person and the resources I have available are smaller than the demand for charity I would like to fill. As such I take all acceptable charity requests and place them into a raffle which I have an impartial judge draw from blindly. This way I still get a chance to help out and everyone gets a fair chance at getting something for the cause.

 

Are all Wright and Rede wallets magical?

While not yet scientifically proven, spontaneous high-fiving, kind-hearted strangers returning lost wallets, vanquishing of foes, and occasional invisibility* have all been know to occur in the presence of and around Wright and Rede wallets.

 

***invisibility not guaranteed unless you possess the one true wallet. One wallet to rule them all.

Process

 

Do you really make all this by hand?

Yep. Every last little stitching hole is punched and threaded by hand.

 

How long does it take to make something?

From start to finish each item takes at least three days. This involves many repeated steps of dyeing, working finish into the leather, and then drying it slowly.

 

Can you make me something if I send you a picture I found on the internet?

No. That would be producing a knock-off. If you want a cheap copy of something I'm the wrong guy to ask. I suggest you give your patronage to the individuals who put in the work of designing the item in the first place. If you can't figure out who made it feel free to send me a picture and I'll try to send you in the right direction. I spend an inordinate amount of time admiring other leather workers craft.

 

Do you do custom work?

For each and every item I produce I spend hours (months) agonizing over the tiniest little details of the design. I do this because I'm my own boss and being able to sleep at night is the only way I can tell if I'm happy with my performance. For this reason I cannot take on custom work since this would extremely curtail the amount of work I could produce.

Materials

 

What is vegetable tanned leather?

Vegetable tanned leather is produced by tanning raw hide in tannins from natural plant matter, like Chestnut and Sumac. It is slightly stiff and generally light tan in color. This type of leather is unique in its ability to accept dye and tooling. It will also develop a rich patina as it ages, becoming softer and darker.

 

Why don't you use Horween leather like everyone else?"

]I do occasionally use Horween. They produce some of the finest leather I've ever worked with. In general I prefer to do much of the currying work myself. Horween produces some very fine leather, but it is already dyed and treated with a very specific type of finish. To me this would be like a woodworker buying wood that was already stained and finished. By dyeing and finishing the leather myself I have more control over the appearance, character of the grain, and the feel of the hide.

 

What the Dickens is currying?

Currying is the step that comes after tanning leather. A tanner would turn raw hide into a side of leather. A currier takes that tanned hide and applies dyes to color it and oils and waxes to give it softness, water resistance, and tensile strength.

 

Where do you buy your leather then?

In general I purchase directly from the tannery. There are only two commercial tanneries left in this country producing this type of leather. Many tanneries claim to be domestic but they are only using domestic hide which is then cheaply tanned in South America.

 

If you are dyeing the leather do I have to worry about it transferring color?

In the leather industry this is called crocking. Just like with a new pair of blue jeans, it is possible (but extremely unlikely and only under pretty specific conditions) to cause the color to migrate. This is a possibility with any dyed leather. Please note that the dye is sealed under a layer of finish. I have never received a complaint about crocking from any of my customers, but in theory it is possible. If you are concerned about crocking avoid conditions that involve heat, friction, or moisture while breaking in your new leather.

 

My new leather feels kind of stiff. Is this normal?

Yes. Like any type of quality item made from vegetable tan leather, it will start out kind of stiff. Much like an old pair of cowboy boots or a leather baseball mitt, you have to break it in a little. This is actually one of the benefits of veg tan leather as the breaking in process will create an item that is unique to you.

 

What if I want it to be softer?

Some leather conditioner and a little gentle massage will loosen it up.

 

Can I get it wet?

I do not recommend getting your leather wet. Leather that has gotten wet will dry stiff and a lighter color. If you do get your leather wet work a little oil into it and it will loosen up and darken a quite a bit. It will look different than when it was new. That is all part of the aging process.

 

What do I need to do to take care of my new leather?

Much like a classic car your leather will need a little attention from time to time. I recommend conditioning once every six months to a year, depending on how it was used. When looking for a conditioner, find one that is free of solvents (which will evaporate thereby sucking important oils from the leather) and petroleum products (which will eventually break down into solvents). A good rule of thumb is to find one that looks like lip balm and not Vaseline.

 

It looks like my leather is cracking a little.

This can be caused by two different things. A little bit of cracking along the edges is generally a sign that you are a little overdue on conditioning. With newer leather this might happen along the edges of a bend. It is generally harmless and is part of the aging process. A crack running across the grain is the result of excessive strain. This happens when unbroken in leather is creased or folded under a fair amount of stress. This is equivalent to buying the tightest pair of pants you can fit into and trying out some yoga moves. No matter the quality of the material, they are going to rip under enough stress. As the leather ages and becomes softer this becomes much less likely to occur.