So after several weeks of pleasant but frantic activity at home and even more frantic activity at work, I've finally given myself a four day weekend with no commitments and started to properly unwind and feel in control of life again.
As a result I'm back in the workshop for the first time in some time, and I have new products! I've been meaning to expand the options on my Leatherman Squirt mini multitool pouches for some time, and since I was almost out of black dye and needed an order from Le Prevo it made sense to get a couple of extra bits at the same time. So I've added a couple of dyes, and I'm now offering the pouches in a beautiful rich chocolate brown and a deep royal blue - I'll add them to the store in a couple of days once they're all finished and ready to photograph.
Honestly these are so pretty it's made me want to get more leather designs underway so I can play with the colours, so hopefully more coming here shortly.
I also picked up a bottle of Gum Tragacanth, which will allow me to burnish the edges (compress and smooth the fibres) of some leather pieces for a tidier look, and more importantly the rough suede side which is particularly visible on some pieces like my Leather Portfolio Case - I'm going to revisit that design shortly as I think I've figured out the remaining engineering issues to make it a really nice piece of work.
I've also finally finished what I'm calling the "Flap 'n Snap" version of the pouch, with a flap and magnetic clasp to hold the tool in place.
As with the portfolio case, I had an issue hiding the disc which locks the prongs of the magnetic clasp on the back of the leather.
Initially I used the punched out leather "button" I created for the Flip Phone Case but it was too thick on such a small item and looked out of place, so I ended up punching a thinner button out of my old leather jacket which was tidier.
I'm going to get together a bit more stock of each of these designs then put some advertising on Etsy and on a Leatherman forum, try and get a few more of these selling. Apart from anything else, I'm now on the last couple of square feet of the hide I got from my folks for Christmas several years ago when I started this whole thing, and a new one will cost about £100, so I need to start putting aside some income for that. I've also got some new notebook designs in the works; once those are all together I'm going to try shopping them around some local maker shops and forums.
The new tools mentioned in the title are a Bosch plunge router and angle grinder, both on my workshop wishlist for a good while now. The router is lined up for a couple of projects right away (rounding off wooden back plates for a set of coathooks and my mildly eccentric gong-based doorbell plan, on which more later) but I've also been learning how to use it by tidying up the profiles of my home cinema seating bases; I wish I could share with you how beautifully satiny smooth the curves are. Lots more plans using those tools in future.
Part of the aforementioned busyness, and the source of the new tools, has been the (very enjoyable) activity around my 40th birthday, which I celebrated last month. It's a very odd feeling - it does feel like a bit of a landmark, and even a year ago I think I would have felt, if not depressed, very conscious of the passage of time and how far I was from where I'd imagined myself at middle age.
But even in the last few months I've been blessed with so many (mostly unexpected) things - a better paying job, my house, being able to start to shift more time toward making things - that I honestly feel like life is accelerating towards where I want to be rather than time outpacing me.
I particularly feel how fortunate I am, at a time when so many people are having to be ingenious and determined and fight just to get by, to be able to explore different ways of expressing myself and supporting myself in a leisurely fashion without giving up any of my creature comforts (apart from a bit of spending money).
I'm going to be a little squeezed going into Christmas with the leave I've bought and what I've invested back into the workshop, but I get to enjoy experimenting with different ways of expressing myself through what I make and making it pay back, and that's a joy in itself.
See you soon!