April 07, 2016

Leather gets better over time.

Leather has very interesting characteristics. With time it becomes softer, more malleable, and develops a beautiful patina, or color change.  While you can achieve this affect by beating up the leather and applying an antique stain, why not just wait for it to naturally develop character, and be present during this process?  Its like distressed jeans, it's so much better to know what each hole and paint stain came from then to buy a pair with random distressing.

No one likes breaking in a new pair of leather boots, or having to shove their cards in a super tight new wallet, but this is a necessary first step to eventually getting the look you desire.  Everything has to be new at one point, and its worth purchasing a high quality product to see it wear in. 

We attached a photo of the original prototype for the Bill Fold wallet that Steven has been using for the past 2 years.  As you can see, it only gets more beautiful with time, picking up the dyes from your pant pockets and the oils on your hands to develop a dark and smooth patina. 

Leather has tons of character, so let your leather express itself!

March 28, 2016

C.S. Osborne & Co Tools: Best tools for Beginers

     It is probably easier than you think to begin leather working, and you will find yourself needing only a few key tools to begin.  Here is the list we came up with of tools that will allow you to begin making leather products, or to continue after taking one of our workshops. Make Smith is excited to announce our new partnership with C.S. Osborne Tools to provide the highest quality tools to use during our workshops, and hopefully inspire future projects.

TO CUT:  It is always a good idea to have a high quality pair of sheers so that your pattern can be cut out well, with not too much exhaustion to your hand.  We suggest the CS Osborne Leather Sheers. This Heavy weight and serrated edges help prevent leather slipping while cutting.  They are very sharp and accurate so you can cut through thick belting or strap leather. 

TO CUT A STRAP: If you are looking to specifically cut a uniform strap or belt with thicker leather you will want to use a Draw Gauge. The draw Gauge can be set to widths up to 4".  We use this tool to cut down the side of a cow into 1 1/2" pieces for our Standard Leather Belt, or 3/4" for the handles to our Tote Bag. 

TO BEVEL: Edge Bevel's are used to round the edge of thick leather such as a belt or strap to dull the sharp edges and give it a smooth and finished feel.  Usually used the step after the Draw Gauge, Edge bevel's come in several different sizes depending on how rounded you want the edge to be.  We suggest using a size #1 on the top, and a #2 on the bottom.  

TO PUNCH:  Most objects requite holes to be punched in order to assemble. For this, we recommend a Revolving Punch.  This tool has 6 different size setting so you can use it for small holes to stitch up the side of an object, or a larger hole that could be used for a belt. 

TO STITCH: Align the holes that you punched with your Revolving Punch, and stitch together with a needle and waxed thread for maximum strength.  We suggest using a blunt point Smyrna Needle.  The needle does not need to be sharp because it is going through pre-punched holes, and depending on the width of your thread, it is helpful to have a big eye-hole to thread through.

And there you go... With this collection of tools and a little research on how each one works, you will be off on your way to make some great leather goods that you will enjoy for years to come.

Thanks again to C.S. Osborne for providing our classes with the highest quality tools in the industry.  We are excited to share our knowledge with you, and promote some more creativity!  If you are interested in taking one of our classes click here.

March 21, 2016

Multi-tiered Stool

Fig Avenue Furnishings is a group of like-minded but pleasantly disjointed furnishing designers & fabricators who work in or near Santa Barbara’s Fig District. What you see below is a multi functional stool, that has shelving under it for storage. We designed it as a  magazine wrack, and blanket in mind for the lower levels. The fabrication and design was done by Steven Soria and Joe Shelton as a commission for El Jardin.


March 10, 2016

5 Reasons our Workshops are Awesome

So why should you take one of our workshops? That's easy! Check out our list of reason we think our workshops are so helpful if you are interested in learning more about leather craft:

1. All of our workshops are beginner level, however one will teach you some advanced skills that are easy to bring home so you can make your own things.

2.  We give you a list of the tools you need to begin leather working, our secret inside industry suppliers, and how to properly talk about leather (thickness, grain, part of cow, etc...) so that you will succeed with shopping for leather and planning your projects.

3.  Our classes are usually the same amount as the finished product, so essentially you're just paying for the product, but get to learn how we make it. It's a great value!

4. The classes are small because our space is small, and there is a better ratio between student and teacher so all your questions can be answered. That means you get a lot of 1-on-1 attention when it comes to the tricky crafting techniques and steps.

5.  After we spend a few hours with you in a class, we develop a special relationship and are willing to answer questions, and give advice about projects you attempt in the future. 

So there you have it! The top 5 reasons you should sign up for one of our classes, and come nerd out about leather with us at Make Smith. Check out our classes by signing up here, and signing up for our newsletter.

February 29, 2016


Desert & Denim 2016 Recap

Here at Make Smith, we appreciate dirty boots. Do you know why? It's because they tell a story of an adventure... We're still brushing the desert sand off our boots after an incredible weekend working Make Smith's booth at the Desert & Denim trade show in Joshua Tree, CA. Put on by Juniper Ridge and hosted by Mohave Sands Motel, the weekend was filled with nerding out about leather, meeting other like-minded artisans, attending demonstrations, and drinking some tasty beverages. 

The intention of the show "to introduce unique brands to a curated group of buyers who appreciate an American style and value a community experience over the repetitive transaction of an average trade show", was exactly how it felt. Many vendors from all over the place came to show their goods, talk about their work, and lead demonstrations. Steven showed the crowd how to make our new tooled knife sheath. Something we have been practicing at the shop with the help of our super saddle maker friend Brad Cooper. We love the knife sheath because it keeps our sharp Anza Knives safe, while also looking great attached to your side. 

We were lucky enough to be placed in the middle of "leather row", and filled much of our time nerding out about leather with Bulldaogge & CO, Red Clouds Collective, DoomedNYC, and Sweet Trade to name a few. We all have different styled products, but the same materials, so it was great to share leather technique, frustrations, and what machines are running the industry. To make sure we didn't get too dehydrated in the desert, Union Wine, Sixpoint Brewery, and Tincup Whiskey were steady flowing, and if you ever needed a little pick-me-up sweet, Endorfin foods had some bomb chocolate.

It's necessary to take a step away from work for a few days to attend an event like Desert & Denim, because man you come back with some great stories, inspiration, and orders! We had so much fun in the Desert with all you insanely talented vendors! Thank you Juniper Ridge for organizing such a great weekend. We look forward to D&D 2017.


(Motorcycle and Camping photo credit: Candy Mountain Collective.)


August 14, 2015

Leather For Three Year Wedding Anniversary

The historic origins of wedding anniversaries date back to the Holy Roman Empire, when husbands crowned their wives with a silver wreath on their twenty-fifth anniversary, and a gold wreath on the fiftieth. 

But what about the third wedding anniversary? Which gift are we supposed to give to show our love and to honor the traditions of holy matrimony in modern times? According to Wikipedia, it is customary to give a gift of leather. So here we are to help! We offer a large selection of leather goods for both the bride and the groom, his and hers. So, on all of our pieces we offer hot stamp embossing and gilding to make each piece a little more personal. 

Copyright © 2014 Liz Kuball

June 04, 2015

fathers day ›

Top 5 Fathers's Day Gifts in Leather

It doesn't really matter which piece you choose for dad this Father's Day, he'll be happy with any of our handmade heritage leather goods. He'll appreciate you buying from a small shop like Make Smith. He's gonna be stoked on our ability to add little details like custom embossing his initials into the inside pocket. That's right, no one does custom embossing anymore, except us! During the "Checkout" process, you just type in the initials of the person you are buying for, and we add the service as a complimentary gesture, because you are AWESOME and so is the dad in your life. 

1. Leather Belt - Embossed with Custom Initials ...see more!

2. Leather Bill Fold Wallet - Embossed with Custom Initials  ...see more!

3. Leather Bifold Wallet - Embossed with Custom Initials  ...see more!

4. Leather Key Chain - Embossed with Custom Initials  ...see more!

5. Make Smith Leather Co. T-Shirt   ...see more!




May 09, 2015


We need your help and we are wilIing to compensate you for it. So, it's time for a giveaway and a fundraiser! When you donate any amount to our loan campaign you'll automatically be signed up to win this newly designed leather Daypack. Here are the details:

We are working hard on fund raising a micro-loan with Kiva Zip for $10,000 to build a better workshop. When you donate to our Kiva campaign you will be entered to win this fancy leather Daypack. We will choose the winner at random the day our campaign gets fully funded. Good Luck! Here is the lending link...


April 16, 2015

Funding Make Smith Growth in 2015

Hey friends and clients,

I am working hard on fund raising another micro-loan with Kiva Zip for Make Smith Leather Co. Last years loan worked out so well that it put me in-line for the next level of social borrowing. So, thanks for all of your help! If you are interested in lending again this round, just follow the link to my lending page (you will have all the money you lent last year just sitting in your Kiva Account). Make Smith on Kiva Link:

December 17, 2014


Swing by the Make Smith Shop Thursday December 18th and let us hand pick gifts for the loved ones on your list. We will offering gift wrapping and hot chocolate will be served by Mike from Twenty-Four Blackbirds Chocolate. He will also be giving a demo of our collaboration Chocolate portfolio.

Hot Chocolate will be served from 6-8pm

Bourbon will be poured for those adults ages 21+

We hope to see you there!

Address: 117 West De La Guerra Street Unit C

December 11, 2014



Even though I know it would be cheaper to produce in other countries, the reason I chose to be a “Made in the USA” maker is threefold: quality control, a close relationship with a manufacturer, and short lead times.

1. Quality control

I firmly know that each bag is going to be made the exact the way I want it. I  put time and effort into creating my collection and I thoroughly inspect each bag before it leaves our workshop. We ensure that everything is correct, even down to the color of the thread in the stitching.

2. A close working relationship with our customers

If I am ever feeling unsure about something or have a question I know I can call up my customer and talk to them, and they can call me. People do not understand what a pleasure it is to have a real person pick up a phone. Our customers are investing in my company, as I am investing into them. When they buy from us, they are buying piece-of-mind and creating a relationship with the people who've made their goods.

3. Short lead times

When an order is placed, it will be created as quickly as possible - usually three days. That’s something not all factories can say in the USA, and that beats any lead time overseas. Some companies working with China and Bangladesh place their order six months in advance and pray it will be completed and delivered on time. ( I could go on and on about shipping nightmares, carbon footprint and other environmental issues revolving around outsourcing overseas... but I wont. I'll save that for another blog post.


Twenty-Four Blackbirds and Make Smith have joined forces to create the ultimate limited edition chocolate tasting gift set! This set includes a first for the chocolate world: A smoked, single origin chocolate aged on natural Veggie Tan leather. The resulting flavor profile opens strongly with oak, smoke, and leather, paving the way for a bright fruitiness midway through before tapering out into a creamy cocoa finish. This chocolate is perhaps the best compliment to Bourbon ever devised!

Also included are 2 of each of our three half-ounce single origin dark chocolate bars, and 1 of each of our large 1.4 ounce single origin bars. Tucked inside you will find cards for each of the chocolates for recording your tasting notes and a brief guide on how to taste chocolate to help you explore the full sensory experience of each single origin chocolate.

When you're done tasting, the handmade leather portfolio case will provide you with a lifetime of use, be it for refilling with chocolate to host your own chocolate tasting parties, or for filling up with picnic supplies for that perfect Spring day. Each case is hand branded with the signature Twenty-Four Blackbirds logo, gold foil embossed with the signature Make Smith logo, and backed by Make Smith's LIFETIME GUARANTEE.

This gift set is extremely limited and cab be purchased here!

November 08, 2014




We are very excited to announce our newest design… The Leather Shopping Tote bag! Its a carryall in softly worn tan or black leather with 2 inside pocket to keep you organized — it's the stuff-it-all-in-and-go bag you'll sling over your shoulder in style. Whether you're going out on the town, or keeping it low-key, this shopping to has an elegant style, and a well made construction that will last forever.

See more on the product page:

November 02, 2014



Cheers with your buds, pick out your favorite color of leather, and have a custom fitted belt made for your next occasion, or favorite outfit. We've been making leather belts for three generations but have never allowed the public to come in, until now. Hand select their favorite combo - you can choose from seven different colors of belting leather, apply a black, white or brown stitch, and then choose from hundreds of different styled vintage and new belt buckles. And as always, we can emboss your initials free of charge!

Needing some ideas on how to entertain your bachelor or bachelorette party? Bring them into The Belt Bar at Make Smith Leather Co. and get everyone set up with a custom fitted belt. We have a leather craftsman on hand to tailor to your needs. And best of all, you can sip a little bit of complimentary bourbon while you relax in The Belt Bar lounge. As we say at Make Smith, "A belt for a belt!"

belt (def.)
1. a strip of leather or other material worn around the waist or across the chest, especially in order to support clothes or carry weapons.
2. the portion of a serving of a beverage that is swallowed at one time



Copyright © 2014 Liz Kuball

September 15, 2014

American Made Audience Choice Awards

Voting for the American Made Audience Choice Awards begins today! And, I am very proud to announce that Make Smith Leather Co. was selected as a FINALIST in the style category. Please click the VOTE tab by following this link...


About American Made

American Made spotlights the maker, supports the local, and celebrates the handmade. The program is made up of people and communities that have turned their passion for quality craftsmanship and well-designed goods into a way of life. For more than 20 years, Martha Stewart has celebrated this spirit of innovation in the pages of her magazines and on her television shows. Now, through American Made, Martha Stewart and the editors of Martha Stewart Living are spotlighting the next generation of great American makers: entrepreneurs, artisans, and small-business owners who are creating beautiful, inspiring, useful products; pioneering new industries; improving local communities; and changing the way we eat, shop, work, and live. More about the American Made contest can be seen, here.

June 07, 2014



OK Gentlemen...we heard you!  The Make Smith bill fold wallet has arrived. Strong, slim, and built to last a lifetime, our bill fold wallet is made for the person who wants the function of a traditional wallet with the rustic Make Smith look. Perfect for dads, grads, groomsmen, or any other dudes (or ladies...we love a Make Smith tomboy) in your life. For more details and to order, check out the bill fold wallet page here.

June 06, 2014





IT TAKES A LEGEND. SeaVees was born in 1964. After seven years the brand was shuttered and long forgotten. Nearly 40 years later, a vintage shoe was unearthed in a Tokyo thrift store and the brand was resurrected. Over the course of 2014, we are celebrating our rightful 50th anniversary by teaming up with select legends (and legends-in-the-making) to create limited edition items that embody the spirit of SeaVees and the authentic era of 1960s California. Sold exclusively on, all proceeds will go to the charity of the collaborator's choice. The partnerships, the products and the causes will make for a legendary year.

Make Smith's involvement: We designed Limited Edition SeaVees inspired belts, key chains and iPhone covers are for sale NOW exclusively at All proceeds will benefit the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

To Purchase, go to:

June 01, 2014



I'm excited to announce the debut of the Make Smith home wares and bar accessories line produced in collaboration with Jenni Kayne Home. This new line will be available only at Jenni Kayne stores and the Make Smith shop and website. To celebrate, we're hosting a showcase of the new goods at the Jenni Kayne Home store in Montecito, California on Thursday, June 5th from 5 to 8pm. To add to the fun, Nick Purvis will be holding a cocktail workshop at 6pm that should not be missed. Please come by and join us for a toast!

Jenni Kayne Home - see map
525 San Ysidro Road
Montecito, CA  93108



May 26, 2014



We're proud to announce that Make Smith Leather goods will now be sold at Citizen of Humanity in Los Angeles, CA. This 2,000 square-foot space was created to be an open, aesthetic environment with soaring ceilings and striking industrial features – housing the largest assortment of product that Citizens has had in any one store. Their concept shop is a curated mix of Citizens of Humanity apparel with local and artisan companies, including collaborations with RTH, Shelter Half, and Lead Apron.

Citizen of Humanity - Website Link

8747 Beverly Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90048


We're honored to show our goods w/ these fine brands:
Citizens of Humanity
Getting Back to Square One
Kassia Meador
Lead Apron
Little Flower Candy Co.
MCM Fragrances
RAEN Optics
Rifle Paper Co.
Smith + Mara
Sugar Paper
Tata Harper
Westbrook Maker Hats
Make Smith Leather Co.
Brooklyn Grooming Co.


Though I'm not sure nothing could compare to the Ferrari you bribed your child with to get them through college, I feel like these three pieces would be a good place to start. In our opinion, leather is always the right answer, but maybe we're a little biased (wink wink). We pieced together this little shopping guide to help you make some quick decisions that wont go out of style.

1. Key Chain / 2. Envelope Wallet / 3. Shopping Tote


-Images from Arna Bee