Handmade Leather Goods
When it comes to handmade leather goods, Bill and Lauri Keitel could write a book. In fact, they practically did. Dave Carter of the National Bison Association says they were a trailblazer in the Bison leather specialty industry. Bill and Lauri Keitel started the Buffalo Billfold Company, bringing Buffalo leather goods to the forefront in the North American leather goods market.
When they started to handcraft leather goods back in 1972 the worked with a much different type of leather than they do today. At that time, they focused on hand tooled cow leather because it was very popular then. Broadly speaking, their focus was on crafting hand tooled belts, hand tooled wallets, hand tooled purses, etc…. They became very skilled at handcrafting all sorts of leather goods. Hand tooling is just one part of the handcrafting process though. They hand pick each piece of leather that goes into their Buffalo leather products, hand cut, fold, and work the leather by hand. They use all of the tools of the leather working trade.
Handmade Leather Goods: Wallets, Billfolds, Purses, Belts, Cases, Clips and more
We are makers. Our love to create things with our own hands is what drives us. Experimenting with different designs, mediums, colors, etc… brings excitement to what we do. And the medium we landed on happens to be leather. Through this artistic expression, we create handmade leather goods. Our handcrafted leather goods include wallets & billfolds, checkbook covers, money clips, purses, belts, card cases, coin cases, travel, briefcases, journals, historic reproductions, computer and guitar accessories, sporting gear, and more….
What will our legacy be? We want people to remember that we handmade products that were of great quality, functionality, and lasted a long time. Most the world lives in a throw-away style society. Buy cheap, and when it wears out throw it away and get a new one. But when you look at the cost over time for these cheap products, they really aren’t that cheap at all. Over time, re-buying everything costs more. And it creates vast amounts of waste.
We want to flip peoples habits. If you spend a bit more up front, you can have high quality products that last 3-5 times as long. Plus, they’ll develop character. We’ve had belts come back to our store over 35 years after they were purchased – still functional. This isn’t the case with everyone of course. Some people have jobs where their leather goods get worn faster. But overall, we find that on average our handmade products will last 3-5 times longer than most, and some much longer than that.
We’re happy to craft handmade leather goods for you and thank you for supporting our small business all of these years!
Leather Goods Handmade from American Bison Leather
What could be more iconic than the North American Bison? This large mammal has roamed the plains of North American and played an important part of many peoples lives. In 1889 the American Bison was brought to the brink of extinction (Bison population: 1,091) due to habitat reduction and unregulated shooting. However conservation, along with an industry need has raised the American Bison population to approximately 500,000 today.
The leather from American Bison hide is unique. It’s tough and durable, yet retains a softness, almost like deer skin. We’ve spent decades perfecting our Bison hide tanning recipes and now have a Bison leather that is like none other. We use this American Bison leather in our handmade leather goods to bring you some of the best Buffalo leather products around!
Handmade Leather Goods Made in the USA
The Buffalo Billfold Company has been dedicated to keeping our handmade leather goods, made in USA since the day we opened our doors in 1972. We’ve always had a goal of handcrafting fine leather goods while at the same time supporting those in our community. We hire and train leather workers, creating jobs that sustain our workers and their families. We believe that in creating a work environment that is fun and fulfilling because it encourages everyone involved to do their best work. Everyone of our leather goods are handmade in USA!
The Art of Designing Handmade Buffalo Leather Goods
Designing handmade leather goods is always a fun part of our day. There are many days that we wish we could just design and play all day long, but if we did, we’d probably go out of stock of too many products! The art of designing leather goods is a complex and tricky thing because everyone has their own likes and dislikes about what they’re looking for in a product. It’s our job to create those perfect products. We look to functionality first. For something like a handmade leather purse to be functional, it has to serve a purpose, and serve that purpose well. Besides that, it needs to stay together. If it falls apart too soon, it’s helping no one.
Once we’re finished designing and testing we get to announce the new product, via social media and email, and give you a chance to try out another of our handmade buffalo leather goods you’ve come to love.
The Art of Selecting Leather for our Handcrafted Leather Goods
When we look at all of the aspects of handmade leather goods we also look at the process of hand selecting specific parts of leather based on their natural designs, color, thickness, stretchiness, pliability. Each of these aspects of leather matters greatly if you want to end up with a quality leather product.
Leather qualities we look at while handcrafting leather goods
Leather Natural Patterns
Every Bison leads a different and unique life because they are raised and grazed in wide open fields. That means that their hides are just as unique. Some Bison hides are marred in spots, showing where small wounds were inflected because of “disagreements” with other Bison. The natural patterns in Bison hide are just like those patterns you see if you look at the skin on the back of your hand. Unique. That means that each of our handmade leather goods is completely unique in it’s style and design. When we are hand picking leather to use in a product, we make sure that the natural patterns for each piece match and compliment each other.
Color also plays a factor when choosing which leather pieces to use in our handcrafted products. We choose to have our leather tanned in natural colors only. That’s because we want to preserve and compliment the natural look and feel of the North American Bison and its habitat. So we tan our leather in brown, black and russet red colors to give our customers a bit of a selection that will easily match and pair with whatever clothes you might be wearing.
Leather thickness is one of the main factors in the durability of leather goods. Thicker leather goods will last longer. However, thickness isn’t everything. Think about how uncomfortable it would be to carry around a thick wallet made of .25″ wood in your back pocket: sure, it may last 2874 years, but how comfortable is that going to be?!
Since 1972 we’ve been developing our own tanning recipes making tweaks and adjustments each time we order a new shipment. Our custom leather has reached this perfect point of “highly durable meets super comfortable.” And we’re still continuing to adjust small variants in our tanning process to make it even better.
Leather stretchiness matters when you’re hand making leather goods because it is a factor in the future usability of the product. If we use leather that’s too stretchy on a leather belt, then it’s going to get too big and loose once you start wearing it. Of course all leather belts stretch a bit, but choosing the proper leather will prevent it from going out of control! However, some pieces of leather should be a bit stretchy. For instance, if you have a card pocket that you want to stretch a bit, then you need to use the appropriate part of the hide which stretches the desired amount. Our leather money card clip holder is famous for this. The card pockets will let you hold as many or as few cards as you want.