After a Lotuff bag is turned and burned, polishing and painting follows. Most leather bags on the market today skip the polishing and go straight to layering paint on the edges instead, which looks fine for awhile but eventually peels right off. In our case, we polish and buff each bag’s suede edges, paint over those edges, and re-polish the coarse and “fuzzy” texture that surfaces above the paint. Repeating this process at least four times and up to seven is arduous, but it means that when we’re done, each coat of paint has literally been buffed right into the leather and will never peel.
To be sure we’re done our job, we always run a finger over the finished edges of each bag without looking in what we call a “blind test”. This ensures that they’re all consistently flat to the touch and that no palpable roughness remains- but when this is occasionally the case, we spot-buff any areas that need a little extra evening out before doing the test again.
Essentially, each bag is treated almost like a piece of wood: just as one might “raise the grain” on a wooden chair or table, we raise the grain of the suede on our bags’ edges. In woodworking, raising the grain entails the act of sanding down the wood, staining it to cause any rough edges and fibers to “stand”, and then sanding those fibers off once again. This results in a finished product that is streamlined and smooth, exactly what our parallel process achieves for our bags in the studio. It’s a special step that other artists tend to skip over, but it’s important for us to do all we can do make each piece lasting and beautiful.
Once these smooth contours are finally achieved, then, our Leather Elixir is then used to round off the polishing of a Lotuff piece. Serving as a moisturizer for the leather to bring out the richness of its color and to preserve its texture, this last action guarantees our bags will look the best they possibly can upon reaching their new owners. Taking these extra steps creates a structure and cohesion that not only helps to make our bags look amazing, but guarantees they’ll be around for a long time.