• The Modus Operandi: Finding the Best Vegetable-Tanned Leather

    By Lotuff Leather

     

    The leather tannery sits on the same plot of land as it has for the past three centuries. It’s seen generations of workers pass through its doors while still remaining owned and operated by one family. They’ve all shared an inspiring commitment to quality and an inherent pride in the leather they produce.

    It’s only natural that those who contribute so greatly to the first step of the Lotuff process strive for the same level of perfection that we do. Great leather is the lifeblood of a great leather bag.

    We walk through its grounds and see age-old techniques and sophisticated modern innovations acting as strong bedfellows. They respect and balance each other. The first adheres to tradition and quality; the second embraces efficiency and gently respects the environment.

    The root of tanning the best leather comes from a literal root—that belonging to the eucalyptus tree. The oils from its bark are extracted and set aside for the final steps of the tanning process. Then each cut tree is used as fuel for the fire that heats the water used for the tanning up to its proper temperature.

    The particular (in both senses of the word) dyeing process we use protects the natural grains. Because the hides are uncorrected, the grains are just that—natural. They vary from piece to piece.

    The bark on the tree is ground to a powder, done so to properly extract the tannins, which act as catalysts that stiffen and tan the leather.

    After the hides have been soaked in the heated water, that used water is pumped to a resting pool. The natural particles from the leather sink to the bottom, and the clean water on top is then reused. The natural, sunken sediment is then extracted and used as fertilizer for the planting of new eucalyptus trees, bring the process full circle. It’s remarkable in its adherence to the full utilization of every possible element.

    Take a walk through the tannery with me to see it yourself:

    Eucalyptus, a flowering tree, that naturally contains tannins.

     

    Barkless Eucalyptus

     

    The water tank.

     

    A drum for soaking.

     

    Leather at an early stage in the tanning process.

     

    Tanned leather, ready for dye.

     

    Vegetable dyes.

     

    The afternoon sunlight shining through leather scraps.

     

    A precision dyeing machine.

     

    Leather is stretched by the "spoaking" method.

     

    "Electric Blue"

     

    Freshly tanned and dyed leather.

     

    Always finish with a thorough inspection, and admire the fruits of your labor!

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