Through my recent foray into Instagram, I discovered that a few of my blog readers from the early days of the indigoshrimp blog have been active in leather crafting, setting up their own workshops and brands over the past few years. Unlike me – who is terrible at making stuff – some of these guys are pretty good. Tom of Hawkmoth Leather Co. is one such comrade, and today I hope to introduce to you another!
Rocky is a leather craftsman operating out of Brisbane, a small city in Australia where I grew up. Rocky has recently launched his official webstore after 8 years of crafting.
mill is the name of his workshop, and he focuses on entirely hand-made carry goods.
Featured today is an Elliot card wallet that has been hand-made by Rocky out of Horween tannery’s #8 shell cordovan. Let’s take a look:
What we have here is a minimalist, single compartment design that is folded out of one piece of leather. The single compartment is sized to hold a small stack of cards, a couple of dozen folded bills or a handful of coins. When folded, it measured 8.3 cm wide, 10.9 cm long, and less than 1 cm in thickness.
The one piece construct is supplemented by a small, secondary piece of leather that forms the edge lining of the flap. The smooth backside of the shell cordovan conveniently acts as lining for the wallet.
A deep curve is cut with the apex sitting in the middle of the compartment, allowing easier retrieval of contents. Apart from the curve, the rest of the piece features fairly straight lines.
Shell cordovan is difficult to photograph, especially colours like #8. They also tend to show different tones under different lighting and with changing angles. Most of the photos here show this shell in cold sunlight, so as to glimpse its true colour. Under more intense or warmer sunlight, like in the last two photos, the colour can be darker and closer to chocolate brown in appearance.
What about shell cordovan?
Five years ago I wrote a piece regarding shell – read here.
Despite the massively increased popularity of shell cordovan over the past few years, my opinion remains the same – it’s an excellent, slow-made product by Horween and other tanneries, but I would still consider it very much a type of leather that is best combined with workwear. It is a durable material stuffed full of oils & waxes. Whilst it scratches easily, the marks are easy to repair as there is no grain.
#8 in particular, is the darkest in Horween’s #-series of shell colours, which are produced by increasing layers of Horween’s famous red shell dye. The rarely encountered #2 leather is light red, #4 is deep red, #6 is dark red, and our #8 here is usually closer to brown. Outside of black, #8 is probably the most traditional and most common of Horween’s shell cordovan colours. It is also one of the colours with the most potential for patination, usually revealing more redness over time.
My best description of the true colour on this #8 wallet would be “black cherry”.
This wallet is hand-made in its entirety.
Hand-cut. Hand saddle-stitched. Hand burnished.
The stitching is done with linen threading of moderate thickness, density of about 7 SPI.
The tan thread colour contrasts with the dark colour of the #8 shell cordovan, and does reveal minor irregularities in the hand-stitch around the curve of the flap. Keep in mind that shell is a difficult leather to hand-stitch, and Rocky has done so without the use of creasing to guide & hold the stitches.
The cutting is done fairly precisely. All the outer edges as well as the inner compartment edge have been very nicely burnished by hand.
This is a smart little card wallet for the man who does not carry too much with him. Alternatively, it makes a good secondary holder to a main wallet, for things like coins, business cards or travel passes.
For me, the essence of this card wallet is “simply hand made”. It is minimalist, with mostly straight edges on the outside…and yet, even though this is a fairly simple wallet, all aspects of construction were completed by hand with simple hand-tools. Perhaps it’s in this point, and also the customisable and personal nature of Rocky’s craft, that differentiates this shell card wallet from many of the dozens of other shell wallets on the market.
I think this wallet would also look nice with non-contrast stitching, or denser, European-style stitch-work. For your own preferences, keep in mind that Rocky is very happy to satisfy custom requests.
At AUD $165 (~USD $120), Rocky’s card wallet is good value as far as a Horween shell cordovan product goes. It is rare to come across a hand-stitched shell cordovan card wallet near this price – maybe consider this an opening special! The same wallet made with vegetable tanned cowhide RRP at AUD $70 (~ USD $50).
Definitely have a look at the mill webstore and check out other examples of Rocky’s work. Just like me, Rocky is very interested in trying different leathers – he stocks an amazing variety of not only shells, but also superb veg tanned Italian, French & Australian leathers. You can contact him at mill or through his Instagram account @millnrocky