At Castello DaVarg, crafting articles with character requires attention to detail and time - lots of time. So, we never rush the steps or take shortcuts during the design or the crafting stages. Our philosophy is that if nature waited so long to develop the character in the hide, we might as well take our time in crafting them that extends that character into our articles.
Working with genuine leather is notoriously time consuming. Starting with the tanning, every step is labor intensive since each individual hide has a different shape, thickness or maturity. Vegetable tanning is also an inherently slow process as the hides are tanned with natural tree tannins- it is not uncommon to take as many as 30 days in a tanning drum for transforming raw hide into the resilient durable leather. Leather is then inspected, and graded based on the grain quality, size and frequency of marks and color consistency. All these stepd is conducted by the eyes and hands of skilled leather craftspersons.
Once the leather is tanned, the finishing on both sides is undertaken to condition the grain surface and impart the correct shade. The inspection process is then repeated. Castello DaVarg then manually grades and selects the leather, based on the articles they go into. Since every leather has natural marks and flaws, it is imperative that we match correct grade with the article. From start to finish, it takes about two months before we start processing the leather. This time lag is important to us since this allows the leather to mature- expand and contact withe the temperature and humidity variations and breathe in the right amount of moisture. Again, we do not rush this process and let the leather age in our aging rooms before we start the next processes.
The aged leather is then processed with skilled and techniques derived from saddlery. The leather is cut for individual article pieces and formats. The cut pieces are inspected and sorted, then kitted with hardware and thread based on the article and shade. The thread length is preassembled on two steel needles and lubed with natural bees wax. The article kits are then assigned to specific artisans based on their skill level and stitch requirements. Artisans specialized in saddle stitching then join the pieces using two needles and a thread- Castello DaVarg does not use glues or synthetic materials for joining. Each stitch length is individually crafted with a precise stitch sequence that is predetermined for each article. The artisans use various stitch methods- short pitch at corners, double stitching at ends and cross stitching at stress points to bring about the beauty and durability in saddle stitching. Even at the optimal speed, an artisan can make about 4 stitches per minutes so it is not uncommon that even the simplest of articles takes hours to finish. So why do we do hand stitch while a sewing machine could do the stitching in a fraction of the time? Well touch and feel a saddle stitch on a DaVarg article and compare with a machine stitched article, and you will understand why.
Once the articles are finished and the edges are smoothened and coated by hand. The DaVarg logo is then stamped directly on the body of leather to show the authenticity and embossing qualities that is unique to full grain leather. The articles get another round of inspection and are given a generous coat of EEVEs leather balm. This balm further conditions the leather. The stitches are relaxed as leather absorbs the balm fully. The article then goes into an maturing chamber that is maintained at a specific temperature and humidity. The stitched article breathes in the moisture, expanding and contacting around the stitches. The edges and folds are formed and the stitches are further relaxed in the maturing chamber. Maturing can take anywhere from 24 hours to several days.
The entire process of crafting a genuine leather article at Castello DaVarg is meticulous, time intensive and systematic. We are mindful fo the fact that character of genuine leather need to be enhanced at every stage as it transforms into the elegant article that you would cherish forever.
If you ever come across leather that is peeling or shredding, chances are that it is bonded or one of those 'man made leather'. Try to stay away from them- they may look good as new, but will not make you look good in the long run.
What is so sensual about genuine leather and what causes its allure? Is it the rarity, complexity and elegance? Or is it the connection we have as humans as we survived through the ages?