About the Brand:
Crafter: Isaac Paul
Location: Colorado (Previously Located in California)
"Never limit yourself, nothing is permanent." -Isaac
Isaac's career path started in the movie industry and he never thought he would end up a leatherworker. In fact, it wasn't until he first saw the Quick Release Belt Buckle, that has since become synonymous with Pigeon Tree Crafting, that he actually got into leathercrafting! Without hesitation, Isaac ordered a small batch of the buckles and Pigeon Tree Crafting was born!
"My favorite item to make is belts, as it's what started this all for me..." -Isaac
The Quick Release Buckle was what drew me to Isaac's belts. It wasn't so much the mechanism as it was the style of the buckle. That sexy curve and shiny brass (as well as other color options) just called to me. So my first belt from Pigeon Tree Crafting, purchased around early fall of 2018, was the 1.5" Single Prong, Indigo Leather Quick Release Belt with Solid Brass Hardware.
Natural Indigo is a fickle beast. Because of its nature, the hand dyed (by Isaac) vegetable leather of the belt is quite unique in that there is so much color variance. No two belts will ever turn out the same. The process isn't quick either as Isaac dyes the leather strip several times with a waiting period in between each dip in order for the indigo to really become that gorgeous blue.
The next belt I received from Isaac was his 1.5" Double Prong, Quick Release Belt in Burgundy Sedgwick Leather. The Double Prong Buckle is patented by Pigeon Tree Crafting and cannot be found anywhere else. The buckle works just as well as the single prong and holds the belt a bit tighter to the waist than its counterpart. Initially, I was concerned that the belt might be too bulky but that is certainly not the case as as it is the same size as the original despite the extra prong on the buckle.
The Burgundy Sedgwick Leather is a bridle leather and is very beautiful. Isaac leaves the natural waxes that you can buff out (or let it happen naturally), leading to a shiny finish. The leather is more flexible than its Indigo Belt counterpart and is so soft.
If it wasn't for my oak bark tanned leather belt by Carmine Jack Leather Company, these would get more wears. However, I still find myself going back to them, especially when I wear black boots (which is now becoming more common for me) because both burgundy and indigo compliment them so well. Without these belts, and Pigeon Tree Crafting, I might not have gone down the Heritage Wear tunnel. My wallet thanks you Isaac.
About the Brand:
Crafter: Ryan Buonamia
I remember the day Ryan slid into my DM on Instagram (is that weird to say?). He asked me if I had ever heard of oak bark tanned leather. At that time, I had been learning about, and still am, all the different kinds of leathers and collecting many different belts and wallets. My favorite belt at that time was my Pigeon Tree Crafting Quick Release, 1.5" Indigo Dyed, Vegetable Tanned Leather Belt. That belt (which is also a great belt) introduced me to the Fireman Quick Release Buckle and all its glory! So I while looking for the best leathers, I maintained a high standard for the buckles as well.
Ryan quickly dove into what made oak bark tanned leather so wonderful and unique. He told me about J & FJ Baker Tannery in England, where he gets most of his leather from. He said:
"J &FJ Baker's is mostly known for their oak bark tanning process; which is leather tanned entirely in a liquor produced from soaking english oak bark in water from the local river. They slowly step up the concentration every week, and this gradual step up prevents the hide from swelling up keeping those fibers in their natural alignment."
Here's a video about the process:
After about 15 minutes, Ryan had convinced me to get one of his belts. I told him how I had fallen in love with the quick release buckle. Lucky for me, he had a few laying around. I went with a natural, undyed belt as I felt it had the most patina potential, and boy has it changed over the last two years!
I am not one to really care about the unboxing process (I just want to see what I bought!). However, my oak tanned leather belt arrived in a nice box all wrapped up that, when opened. released an intoxicating smell of smokey wood chips that tickled my nose the way a campfire does on a cold night.
That smell lasted for quite sometime and became my everyday belt. Yes, the leather is that good and there is truly nothing like it! It is thick (4.5-6mm) and requires a break in period to conform perfectly to your body. Luckily, Ryan offers an Outfitter Kit that allows you to get the right fit and, while it doers require a little extra time, takes the guess work and anxiety away for first time customers.
Ryan's belts are truly spectacular that I had him custom make me a dress belt (1.25" width instead of his usual 1.5" width) out of a darker brown. I wore the belt specifically for my engagement photos and at my wedding. It has now become my go-to belt for those "no jeans" days.
"I love making belts. Belts play such an important part in a persons life whether they realize it or not. A properly fitted belt is the difference between your pants staying up without notice and struggling to pull your pants up all day. Everyone has that one belt that they reach for above all others. They instinctively reach for it when getting dressed in the dark. Its comfort and security in a strip of leather. You have tried to replace it a couple times but those other belts just didn’t feel right so they sit in the closet gaining dust. Knowing that someone is making one of my belts their go to belt amongst all their others is huge to me. I am deeply honored by every one of my customers that has purchased one of my belts and I hope to see photos of what they look like now."
About the Brand:
Crafter: McCord Rees
Website: Instagram Page
McCord Rees was looking for a good Field Journal. One that he could take anywhere and still look good after everyday abuse. An everyday carry field Journal should hold character, look great in all situations, and be easy to carry and write in; all while lasting generations. Unfortunately, there really wasn't much out there that fit his needs. A college ruled notebook looks unprofessional while others are simply a leather cover over a pad of paper.
With the help of his friends, McCord was able to design a Field Journal that met all of these standards. After designing and selling thousands of field journals he turned his attention to creating the thinnest and most durable minimalist wallet. Fast forward to today and you'll see he is creating many standard products and a vast variety of custom orders with interest worldwide.
Both my Refined Field Journal and Rugged Minimalist Wallet from StoneGrain Leather are works of art. What I love about my field journal is all the natural markings you can see on the leather. The flap, which McCord told me he uses as a bookmark, has rough edges (called a raw edge cut) and has all these characteristics that can only be found on my journal because the leather used was cut from one particular hide. Meaning, the cover of my field journal will never be duplicated. Add in the deckle edged paper and you have a classic looking Field Journal that will be special to me for the rest of my life.
The wallet is just as detailed as the journal and is very sturdy. Unlike some minimalist wallets I have come across, the sides are hand stitched and can be in any thread color you choose. McCord told me that it takes a couple of weeks for these wallets to form to your EDC and that the leather will start to patina after about one month! Looking forward to that!
More products from McCord include a black cuff with brass hardware and a Cavalry Belt. I love both products and the cuff is opposite my watch most days. The belt is something truly unique and makes for a great dress belt that stands out without being heavy or ridiculous looking.
The belt has two parts in order to wear it: you size the belt with the double prong strap and then hook the beautiful lock through the holder. If that is confusing it is because I do not really know how to explain it! It did take me a few tries to figure it out but once I did the result was breathtaking.
I wear it one of two ways, first with the hook just being visible and the second being that both the hook and double prong strap attachment is visible. Both parts flank my pants fly and one is able to clearly see more of the beautiful belt hardware. The thinner width makes it ideal with dress pants but I have also worn them with jeans just fine. Who knows, maybe I'll wear this belt at my wedding next year!
About the Brand:
Crafter: Andy Mock
Andy has always had a knack for being creative as he comes from the professional world of Graphic Design. He got into leathercrafting when his friend showed him his workshop and taught him some of his skills. As Andy's new hobby grew, he improved by continuously teaching himself the tools of the leather trade. Eventually, he decided to start Blackthorn Leather. His love for leather working grew and grew so much so that in November of 2017, Andy quit his job as an art director for a publishing company and make Blackthorn Leather his fulltime gig. He told me:
"Blackthorn Leather is one person (Andy). I do all the design, production, shipping, branding, and marketing. I started the brand officially in 2009. It (leather crafting) has been amazing doing something you have a passion for. " -Andy Mock
Over the last couple of years, I have acquired a small collection of Andy's products (he even made my groomsmen gifts which were custom key fobs). Thanks to him, EDC items never go missing (well, almost never) because I throw them in my hand tooled, custom Valet Tray. Another product I have is my own custom key fob in natural vegetable tanned leather complete with my initials. The key fob has seen some considerable patina develop over the last couple of years.
Out of all my Blackthorn Leather Goods, I would say that the The Brogued Rover II: Minimalist Wallet is my favorite.
It is a beautiful wallet that has a money clip that doubles as a very handy bottle opener. The color is called "Antique Brown" and is hand dyed and tooled is by Andy. The leather itself is vegetable tanned and is so strong that it actually takes a bit for the wallet to stretch out to hold more cards. I like to carry it in my front pocket, which is slides easily in and out of. Despite having the money clip, the wallet does not feel too bulky and I hardly notice it is there.
The tooling on the wallet is second to none and really makes it such a unique piece. What makes it even more special is that it is completely customizable; from the designs to the color. In addition, you can swap out the money clip/bottle opener for a pen pocket instead. Truly a remarkable work of art.