Saturday, June 18, 2016

ART. MERK. - The Making Of A Fly Wallet

I first came across the work of Art Merk on his studio Facebook some time ago and though I am always impressed by leather artisans, it's not always just for their talented work in creating art with this medium but even more so by those that take it a step (or steps) farther by making something truly different and functional for fly anglers.  The leather fly wallets that Art creates are one of those things since along with a thick fly patch to hold flies there are also lockable pins for tube flies.  Absolutely genius.

I asked Art if he'd be willing to chronicle the building of one of these wallets and what he sent back went beyond what I asked for.  I think you'll enjoy seeing "in the kitchen" as much as I do.

This post is all the way from Lithuania which just shows you how far the internet and a handful of emails can reach. 

Art wrote...  "Playing some sort of the role in fly fishing community around the globe is so much exciting.  One of the expression of this excitement is that you can receive a phone call, message or email from the person you’ve never known.  Such a surprise happened to me when I found an email from Mr. Cameron with the interest on my hand made leather accessories for fly fishing.  Therefore, he offered to write me an article about the process of making these accessories.  The main idea, which led me to this article to be accomplished was Mr. Cameron’s thought.  Well, he said “if you making these things by your hand, show the “kitchen” as anglers could realize what hides behind these accessories and their nice pictures”.  And I thought he is completely right assuming, that people getting to know a bit more about this will feel more value. On the other hand, it might be just interesting for anglers, how the accessories are emerging until their finest look. So this much is of introduction and let’s go ahead to the most interesting part

The process I will show is not exactly step by step or D.I.Y. time, but as it has stages I will separate them from each other.

This is the first and most important part – to create the accessory in your head and go through all the process. In other words, the aim of this stage is to visualize the item and realize each single detail which takes a part in its accomplishment. For instance, the size of anglers vest pocket, the size of flies, the average amount of flies that angler is caring with in general defines the size of a fishing wallet. Also what materials will be needed, what steps of a process will have to be applied in a raw.
In this stage I use a lot of sketching as well, visualizing conceptual models and paintings.

When the idea of an item is figured, you simple take a roll of raw veg tan leather – completely blank material for following steps to be applied.

Measuring the piece of leather, exploring the quality, as the raw animals skin may have various damages as holes, scars, scratches. This is necessary to ensure the finest piece is selected. After this, you just cut the piece in shape and size you need.

After the piece is cut you can apply the picture you want. I personally draw all the pictures myself, as I am a painter as well. I prefer to use my own drawings, rather than found on internet and just printed, as it gives more character, individuality, it makes the accessory totally original.

The next step when the picture is applied, is cutting the lines. You cut the leather a bit, to make grooves, which later on will be carved with special tools. In the pictures you can see the transformation from the raw piece of the leather to the completely tooled, modeled painting with added texture to the leather itself.

So when the piece of leather is prepared, the time for painting comes. There are several different painting techniques, which can be applied for the certain result you want to get in particular. Well as you will have to write a separate article on painting the leather, I won’t go deeper in to this topic this time.

So the piece of leather is ready. All the rest of parts are ready as well. It is time to glue the pieces together and stitch the edges. Stitching is done by hand as everything else. Firstly, you make the wholes with special tool and then you stitch each of them one by one.

So before the very final step, every single accessory for fly fishing is penetrated with special mixture, which consist only natural elements. Most important of them is natural beeswax. Considering the conditions, the accessories will be used at, impregnation is very important as it provides protection from environmental influences, like direct sun, heat, cold. It also gives some sort of water resistance. It means that wallet will not get saggy in the rain, or when drops in the water. Also the painting is covered with a layer of special lacquer, to give extra protection in case of scratches.

And the very last step is the application of special wax to make edges nice and round.

VoilĂ  the wallet is ready!

Interested in seeing more of Art Merk's work?  Please visit his website and Facebook pages.

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