Our run of Arc Shoulder Bags continues to be worked on in the studio this week. Today, our artisans are painting and polishing them, two steps that occur in tandem. Each piece of leather is shuttled back and forth between the painting and buffing stations and as this happens, the surface becomes smoother and smoother until no suede fibers are visible.
The process begins by painting over the exposed edges of every Arc piece, which “raises the grain” of the leather—almost like a piece of wood. Once the latent fibers have surfaced, they’re sent to be buffed off, and the process is repeated again. With each round of painting and buffing, less fibers will surface, and so we know a piece is done when the edge’s texture is flat to the touch and richly colored. Layers upon layers of paint alone tend to strip away over time, but when coupled with buffing, the paint is fully worked into the leather instead.
Our work isn’t done yet at this point. After every piece seems to be finished, we’ll confirm this by running a finger over their painted sides in a “blind test” to be sure there are no uneven spots or rough fibers. All pieces must be examined to be sure each one is consistent with the next, which ensures the visual shape of the Arc will be correct upon final assembly. They’ll then move on to the next station!