The Indigoshrimp blog was first set up to document my progress with raising a species of Australian fresh water mini shrimp that could turn a dark shade of indigo under optimal conditions. I also gradually started putting up photos and writings regarding various denim and leather goods, more as a journal for myself, so that I could compare and contrast the ageing and tasting notes of these pieces over time. To my own surprise, some of these blog posts became quite popular – especially the leather content – and thus the Indigoshrimp blog slowly became what you see here today.
My day job has nothing to do with the content posted here – I am not a writer or a professional social media user by any means, nor do I work in the rag or craft trades – so I am very happy that there are so many fellow hobbyists out there who share these interests, and who would take some time to read what I have to write.
Anyway, long story shorter, a few readers have e-mailed me to say that many photos from the 2010 to 2012 period are inactive…it is with much sadness that I inform you: Those photos hosted on ImageShack back in the day have been deleted by ImageShack, and are now lost forever 😦
So, over the next couple of years, I’ll slowly re-write or re-photograph some of the more popular posts from that time. A couple of months ago we revisited the leather care post, the new version of which you can access via the blog menu. For this post, we’ll revisit one of the most popular workwear wallets during the early 2010s – the medium wallet no. 2 made by Chris of Angelos Leather!
This particular wallet is one of three mid-wallet designs that Chris produces as part of Angelos Leather’s regular line-up. During the year 2011, this wallet became very popular among leather enthusiasts of Superfuture and Style Forum. Some leather workers have taken inspiration from this wallet, and a few imitations have been made in the years since.
Please keep in mind a few things as we go through this review. First, Chris’ current no. 2 wallet features a few minor adjustments such as the shape of the card slots. Second, the photos below show my own wallet in their most current condition, which is almost six years since I first purchased the wallet – I’ve tried to clean it as thoroughly as possible with saddle soap, but the leather is obviously not in new condition. Third, the inner front panels have been dyed black by me – if you think the dye job looks shoddy, then blame me, not Chris!
In size and shape this no. 2 wallet is very much an archetypal mid-wallet.
It has a Japanese style “floating panels” design, with the outer and the inner being hand-stitched together. It measures 12.5 cm tall by 9.5 cm wide when folded as per the photo below.
It features six quick access card-slots, two additional card compartments, and one horizontal notes compartment.
How the seven layers are pieced together, in particular, is quite ingenious and aesthetically pleasing. The end result is a very functional mid-wallet design with a very good mix of storage and quick access, being of high capacity yet not overly bulky. At the widest, the panels add up to 12 mm in thickness.
This wallet is made with Angelos Leather’s standard Italian vegetable tanned saddle leather in natural. I’m afraid none of my original photos of this wallet have survived, but for reference, have a look on Chris’ blog to see what the leather looks like when new.
This natural leather has darkened significantly over time, and what you see here is a lighter shade of colour after a thorough cleaning with saddle soap.
You can see that a good deal of indigo staining remains, though not nearly as much as before – see an earlier update here.
Overall, the ageing and patination of this leather has been good, but in saying that, please consider the fact that I have fed and curried this leather specifically to achieve this outcome. I suspect if left to its own devices, the colour cast and warmth of the leather would be different.
The quality of the leather is quite good as far as a 2 month drum veg tannage goes, but it does not have the superior qualities of softness, grain growth, responsiveness and shine that Red Moon / Pailot River’s natural saddle leather possesses, and it in no way compared with Baker’s oak bark leather. Don’t mistake my analysis for criticism, as there is nothing wrong with the leather at all, only that it could be better considering the caliber of Chris’ craftsmanship. Put it another way, if I were to upgrade this wallet, the only thing I would change is the leather.
The above photo demonstrates what happens when vegetable tanned leather catches fire…long story.
Chris’ handwork on this wallet is simply wonderful!
The various panels and seven layers are neatly cut and precisely joined together – what should have been a very busy side-profile (given the complexity) looks surprisingly clean due to Chris’ careful work.
All the edges of each individual piece had been beveled and hand burnished…even after six years, the edges are still smooth and slippery!!!
Chris really takes his burnishing and hand-stitching seriously!
The burnishing are hand-rubbed with wooden tools which Chris created himself.
The stitching are hand-sewn saddle-stitch featuring a very sturdy linen cable.
See how neatly the stitches sit in the side-profile photo below, taking into consideration the massive thickness of the linen cable as well as the age of the wallet.
What still astounds me as I look upon this wallet now is how smooth and trim it looks from all angles. IMO, a testament to Chris’ clever design and incredible hands.
Overall, the quality of work here is very high – obviously the work of a professional leather craftsman. There is an usual precision hidden within the rugged beauty of this wallet, my own appreciation of which has grown during the years since I first reviewed this piece.
If we keep in mind that Chris has been making this particular style of wallet since the 2000s – before the advent of Western denim heads, reddit and Instagram – we have to conclude that his work was much ahead of the times.
In fact, even with the rise of home hobbyists and small businesses making leather goods out of their garage (and everyone sharing information & photos of their crafts on social media), I very seldom see wallets approaching the quality of work that Chris had achieved on this wallet six years ago.
Given my own pedantic personality, less than a handful of leathercrafts have ever made me think “Holy cr@p, this is awesome!”, but this Angelos Leather wallet was one of the few that I’ve come across that really impressed me.
Very good value too; I vaguely remember Chris was selling the standard version of this wallet for around $120 USD, with the shell cordovan version being not too much more expensive.
The Angelos Leather blog has not showcased any new products for some time, and the Facebook page has not been updated in over a year. The last time I checked in with Chris during the middle of this year, he was still actively crafting, though he was no longer very interested in producing media content with me as he once did. Perhaps he is simply too busy nowadays?
Would I buy it again? Yes, and no.
My own standard for natural vegetable tanned leather has certainly been raised over the years, and if I were to custom Chris again, I would probably provide my own leather. Chris’ design and workmanship though, cannot be faulted.
Regardless, this no. 2 medium wallet is one of my all time favourite pieces, and is on display in my lounge room. There is only one other wallet being displayed at the moment, so it’s fair to say that I am a big fan of Chris’ work!