Indigoshrimp

Apologies for the lack of ranting…

…but it’s been a very hectic year for me, work wise :)

Hoping to have more spare time later in the year to get this blog back on the road again!

Lofgren Engineer’s boots

Long time no post…sorry about the absence. Apart from working through ideas for the future of this blog, I’m also in the process of moving & renovating.

To kick off a series of new posts, here is something special from the good folks at Speedway. Denim-heads and boot fans amongst us heard whispers about Lofgren’s up-coming line of footwear (indeed, the blue suede shoes are already available), but seeing is better than gossip when it comes to engineer boots:

(photos courtesy Speedway)

The Lofgren engineer’s boots in an EMS parcel at the front of your door sometime in the middle of this year :)

According to John, this is the finalised version.

Some folks may have seen earlier prototypes – the finalised specifications differ in a few ways, including:

1) Extra stack on the sole

2) Double stitching around top of shaft

3) Hand stitched shaft seam

4) Double stitching on both vamp straps

5) Changed to D width

Looks bloody amazing, don’t it?

I’m thinking this will be my first pair of Engineer’s.

It won’t be available to ship for a small while, but  for more details in the mean time, pop by to Speedway.

Stay tuned!

Sorry about the lag in posts – Indigoshrimp is currently being upgraded at the moment, with new photography equipment and a couple of new (& improved) solid wood backgrounds for leathers.

We’ll be back very soon!!!

Spotlight: enlightened0ne’s leather goods!

Friend and fellow medico enlightened0ne has recently joined our fascinating hobby – here are some of his daily leathers.

First up is this modified US postal mailbag, made by Scott at Don’t Mourn, Organize!:

I was quite impressed with the overall design, and certainly the more modern “briefcase” style construct of this messenger bag makes it more friendly for academic/office use.

The leather for the body/flap is a heavy natural vegetable tanned leather from Wickett & Craig.

The straps are natural vegetable tanned horsehide from Horween.

He also brought along a couple of belts, the leathers of which you’d probably recognise.

There’s the Triple C harness leather on this double-pronged belt, also made by Scott:

Worn almost daily for 3-4 month in both Japan & Australia – the grain has darkened very nicely but the subtle shine of harness leather is still there.

The definition of the grain has also increased dramatically as the tannery finish on the grain slowly wears off, revealing the true nature of the leather.

Best seen in black & white.

Finally, a monster of a belt – the Military belt from the project with Charlie at Equus Leather!

This is one of the finalised project belts, not the prototypes previously shown on this blog.

A couple of differing points.

To start with, the pins are wider in diametre:

Also, the russet bridle leather from Baker’s tannery is thicker – measuring over 6 mm!!!

At this density and thickness, I would classify this leather as armour grade :)

A good day meeting up with a fellow enthusiast!

I wish there were more leather & denim-heads in Melbourne.

The Military belt – 1 month update

You might remember the belt project that I recently rolled out with Charlie at Equus Leather – the Military belt.

I’ve been wearing my strap of belt with denim for the past month now, and I must say, the belt has served me tremendously well.

The leather is strong & hard-wearing – especially considering its unfinished nature – whilst evolving with a beauty that is unmatched by mix veg. / concentration tannage produced leathers.

It really is one handsome beast!

The grain of the leather, with its deep growth and rustic texture, has come out of the initial “awkward” phase that all natural vegetable tanned leathers must go through…the colour is no longer a pale nor fleshy, but has taken on a light, golden tan that contrasts so well with the indigo in denim.

The solid brass buckle too, is beginning to show its true colours.

If you look closely at the buckle in the photos of this post, you’ll see that the top rim (which is in contact with denim & clothing) has begun to loose its polished finish.

Along with that, the process of tarnishing is slowly creeping in too.

In the next months & years, the buckle will change and age as the leather does – a synergy of “evolution” that I talked about in previous posts on this blog.

Charlie’s stitching is holding up remarkably well – no signs of wear on the front at all, and only traces of indigo staining on the knots at the backside – iron proof of masterful saddle stitching.

The hardware has left its imprint, an accelerated process of oxidation – which is usually a dark brown colour on English oak bark leathers.

The unfinished fibres has picked up some indigo…

The unburnished edge is beginning to darken ever so slightly, and there’s no fraying in the fibres at all!

All in all, very impressed by the first month of wear, and I hope the participants of this project are similarly satisfied with their belts :)

Of course, more updates to come for the Military belt.

This leather will only keep getting better!

Following up on the bridle horse leather coin pouch…

Here it is, after a couple of months of daily use.

The shine on the bridle finish on the horsehide is now deeper and more lustrous.

The grain is beginning to pop out – becoming more defined and giving the another layer of complexity to the overall texture of the leather.

Really quite different from regular (cattlehide) bridle leathers.

It’s somewhat minimalist in construct (it was my intention for it to be so), but Scott’s work is holding up beautifully.

There is some imprinting of the outline of coins at the backside, though for a single-leather construct I must say this bridle horse is immensely durable:

The NOS black snap buttons are beginning to show wear as well…

Wearing in a rather graceful way – none of the nasty chipped-paint appearance that often occurs on cheap snaps.

Really can’t wait to see how this pouch will turn out in a few months time – both the leather & hardware are showing so much potential!

I have to say, this bridle horsehide from Clayton is one of the best leathers I’ve come across, regardless of tannage.

Drop Scott a line at Don’t Mourn, Organize! to see for yourself :)

Oooop

Sorry about the stasis – will be back with more posts tomorrow :)

Tricker’s shell cordovan Stows at 80 days!

It’s been almost 3 months since the horsehide footwear contest began, and I reckon my shell cordovan Stow boots from Tricker’s is beginning to pick up a little bit of wear.

I have to say, at this stage, I haven’t worn these boots long enough to make do an informed review just yet.

Shell cordovan is quite hardy after all, and these boots are breaking in more slowly than my other Tricker’s pairs.

I will share some photos though, perhaps giving you an idea of the initial evo. of a pair of shell shoes.

At the park:

This pair has not been polished since new – a coat of leather feed is all.

The creasing profile and the overall aesthetic is remarkably different from non-waxy leathers, including the calf leather that is Tricker’s mainstay.

My opinion regarding shell cordovan footwear?

Can’t really tell you yet, but do check back in a couple of months :)

 

7 Tips for Stain Prevention

Often we start off with a pair of raw denim jeans.

The idea of watching something change & evolve over time is quite appealing, and usually one thing leads to another…denim, leather, duck, brass, etc.

It’s a pretty stress free hobby mostly.

Though, just as many beginners to raw denim fuss over soaking/washing/drying their jeans and the general maintenance of indigo, beginners to raw leather sometimes fuss over the staining of natural vegetable tanned leathers.

Internet wisdom encourages wabi sabi, a “let it be” attitude, towards the upkeep of raw leather – my point of view is just a little different.

 

My opinion is that your leathers should age in a way that reflects your lifestyle and, to an extent, personality and aesthetic preferences.

That means a chair-sitting city crawler like me really can’t go around with a roughed up toe-cap or a scratched riddled wallet.

My preference is for a balance between the evolution of the grain, the darkening of the colour, and the development of patina – a combination of surface abrasions, staining and other cosmetic “damage” that has grown into the grain.

This is where indigo and natural leather can clash.

While a small amount of indigo staining adds character to the grain and contributes to the development of patina, too much staining detracts from the appearance of the leather and shifts the attention away from what’s happening on the grain of the leather.

The same concept applies to oil stain and water stains, though these are harder to prevent and mostly irreversible once done.

So here are 7 hot tips for the reduction of indigo staining on your vegetable tanned leather goods:

 

1. Beware the new raw denim + new raw natural vegetable tanned leather combination:

You’re kinda asking for indigo staining if you do this…

 

2. Use older (more evolved) natural leather goods or dark-coloured leather goods to break in new denim:

As these are much less susceptible to indigo staining, and any dye that does end up on the grain is more easily removed.

 

3. Hot soak or wash your raw denim jeans before first wear:

By getting rid of excess indigo and tightening the weave of the denim, staining is usually less likely to occur.

 

4. Applying leather feed to the grain of the leather before first use:

Raw natural vegetable tanned leather is like bluestone – anything that gets stuck onto its surface eventually becomes incorporated into its structure. Once indigo sits on raw natural veg. tanned leathers for too long, the dye may be hard to remove even with leather cleaning agents like saddle soap. Adding oils and waxes into and between the fibres of the leather makes its structure less permeable, both to water and dyes.

 

5. Wipe off any indigo stains as soon as you notice it with a damp cloth:

Yep, if you have taken on board the advice in tip #4, indigo molecules sitting right at the surface of the grain is easily removed with a bit of water & friction. As indigo isn’t water soluble, wiping with a damp cloth won’t cause the dye to sink deeper into the leather.

 

6. Avoid excess moisture or heat:

Denim bleeds when wet. Leather is more porous when warmed. It follows then to minimise indigo staining, avoid using susceptible leathers (raw, new, natural colour, etc) during inclement weather, in hot environemnts or when you’re likely to sweat excessively.

 

7. Protect the leather grain:

The grain can absorb and disperse stains; but if the grain is broken down, the leather will loose this evolution ability.  Take care of the grain and the rest of the leather will take care of itself!

 

 

Happy Saint Valentine’s!

The Indigoshrimp blog is closed for Saint Valentine’s Day :)

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