The joy of scrap-picking


dscn0062A few weeks ago a friend came to my house so we could design a simple scuff that her students could make. While here she mentioned that she had been to a motorcycle jacket-making factory in Fall River, MA, where they gave away their scrap leather. I started salivating, because I am making toddler and adult shoemaking kits using upcycled materials and am always looking for new sources.  So, yesterday I made the journey too.

The motorcycle jackets in the showroom on the first floor of the factory were beautiful – I had expected the leather to be quite soft and thin but it was not – it was maybe 4-ounce Italian leather (I saw an Italian address on a box), black with an amazing sheen.

At first it seemed it wasn’t a good scrap day, as I heard an employee say that they were cutting out a lot of small pieces from the leather. But as we traveled to the various stations, boxes of scraps appeared and I began to feel like I had won the lottery!

I saw scraps being added to a trash bag liner of a big barrel and asked if the bag was available; the person working there said, “You wouldn’t want this bag, it has food and other trash mixed in”. I said, “Oh yes I do”, and grabbed the bag. (The first thing I did when I got home was to clean that bag out, the scraps I got from it were well worth the effort (the leather scraps, not the food).

There was only one problem: since they were careful to use this valuable leather as completely as possible, the scraps were small. If I were in the key chain business this would be no problem, but I wanted to use this leather for my women’s shoemaking kits. On the way home, I remembered a pair of “kit” shoes I had recently made for myself. I had wanted to use up the last of a lavender hide to make my shoes but none of the pieces were sufficiently big – so I added extra seams, and pieced the shoe together.

So that’s what can be made from one of my shoemaking kits – black shoes with an extra couple of seams made from the finest motorcycle jacket scraps!