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The Modus Operandi: Turning and Burning the Working Tote

By Lotuff Leather

Knots are just knots, except when they’re not (say that ten times fast). As alluded to previously, tying knots is one of many stages in the stitching of a Lotuff bag, but it’s such an intricate and precise action that we think it deserves a more thorough explanation.

It’s not just that almost all of our bags have at least 48 hand-tied knots which make them stronger and sturdier. After being tied, they're finished off with a “turn and burn”, what we've come to call the act of finishing threads in our studio. It involves melting and sealing these knots, and is probably the most important step for a bag- even though it's quite difficult to do and not technically necessary. Adding structure and visual appeal, turning and burning is part of what makes a Lotuff bag so long-lasting and beautiful.

The Working Tote has been designed to contain many “hidden” turn-and-burns so as to attain its streamlined look, meaning it’s especially important to be attentive to the details: if one step is done incorrectly, all the stitching on that thread leading up to the error must be redone.

Each time a knot is needed, a loose square knot is tied in the thread and its end is heated. Because the thread we use is nylon, it begins to melt and harden instead of turning to ashes like cotton would; this makes it near-impossible for the knot to ever come undone. That knot and its melted end are then maneuvered back into their hole with the help of a hammer and tweezers. Finally, if the knot will be otherwise visible, a bone folder is used to essentially push the leather over the hole and seal it permanently. As a result, there’s no room for mistakes, especially since not every turn and burn is the same depending on which part of a bag is being worked on. 

There are three types of turns and burns, and every separate piece of a Lotuff bag is turned and burned using at least one of these methods. The first being a non-visible one on a piece of leather that will eventually be attached to another. As it won't be seen and will be fused with another piece, the knot is only tucked, not sealed with the bone folder. The second is a visible one, appearing on the exterior of a bag, and the knot here is sealed into the stitching so as to render it invisible. The last is an edge wrap, which follows the same procedure as the former but is made stronger by virtue of the five threads that reinforce the corners of the bag where the knot is being tied. 

If we can’t feel any of these turned-and-burned knots when we run a finger over them, then everything has been done correctly and the bag is ready for polishing and grinding. 

-Liz Silvia