For a Lotuff bag, grinding and polishing are the two congruent steps which ultimately guarantee its sleek form. They’re all about defining a shape, and because we don’t create anything that doesn’t include these processes – from the smallest credit card wallet to the biggest briefcase – this means that they have to be mastered perfectly by the artisans who carry them out.
Grinding might seem similar to splitting in that it involves reshaping a piece of leather, but beyond this, these actions are actually fairly different in nature. Grinding is about controlling the shape of a bag and working with the machine to achieve a result; it’s a much more manual process that involves a concentrated level of control: the pressure applied as the leather is run along the grinder has to be equal from top to bottom, or else the outcome will be imbalanced and therefore unusable. Much more so than splitting, having steady hands and thinking in a physical way about shapes and motion are obligatory requirements for grinding, because uniformity is everything when it comes to the final product.
Learning from experience and intuitively understanding the feel of the machine to determine what the leather needs are equally integral both for this step and those that come afterwards. For instance, if the edges of a bag aren’t ground symmetrically, the stitching that follows later on down the line also won’t be even due to the fact that it follows the contours created through the grinding process. A decision has to be made for every piece so we can determine what’s best for each individual bag, and this takes quite a lot of practice to grasp.
Once grinding is completed, polishing comes into play, which encompasses multiple side steps in and of itself. Grinding can leave something of a “fuzzy” edge, so we first use a buffer to remove these rough boundaries and generate a smooth texture to refine and match the shape created with the grinding machine. Bags are then literally polished with our leather elixir, which acts as a moisturizer for the leather to lock in its richness and texture. We could technically create a Lotuff bag without including grinding and polishing, but in the interest of our product and our customer base, we choose to do them because they’re about taking what’s already present and making it even better.
- Liz Silvia