While I write this blog post from my cozy workshop in Washington, DC I sip from a disappointing cup of coffee. Do not use a Keurig coffee maker for anything but coffee. They sell all these fancy coffee packs to use with the machine but they are merely apparatuses to separate you from your money. How the hell am I supposed to get my day started with coffee that a robot would barely analyze as palatable. But I am cheap so I will suffer through the liquefied cardboard.
My name is Jon Wye and since 2004 I’ve been making a bunch of cool shiz, but mostly known for belts. Many years ago I developed a process for embedding images in leather, which is then turned into belts, guitar straps, camera straps, dog collars, wallets, etc. I also design some t-shirts. The great majority of our production is split between Jeff and myself. The artwork for our goods comes from about 22 artists from all over the world.
Jeff and I are able to do a lot with so few people because we have continually invested in new processes and equipment over the years, a strategy I had to adopt during the economic downturn, when employing someone new was too risky. Now we have some of the coolest leather working machines out there and I drool over my wishlist of upcoming machines.
Let’s follow Trolley and take a look at the operation…
Ubiquitous branding shot.
The first belt buckle I ever made. Hand carved out of wax and cast in plaster. Pewter pellets were dropped into the negative and heated with a blowtorch.
Jeff inspecting the belts after our specially formulated spray coating is added to protect the images in the leather.
Inspecting the straps after they are done curing. This one will be a guitar strap.
Hand setting some snaps for a belt order.
Every online order gets a personal note.
Our branded MADE IN THE USA, WASHINGTON DC stamp applied with a 1950’s roller embosser.
This is our roller embosser.
27 ton clicker press used to punch out of the various shapes for things like guitar straps.
Left: punch press/stamper for making all the holes in the belts perfect every time.
Right: Leather splitter for thinning down leather. The whole thing is basically one big blade.
One of our industrial sewing machines. I like using the Adlers.
Left: A Juki automatic sewing machine, which helps us put on the tags on all our tees.
Right: A pneumatic stamping machine for stamping the inside neck of our tees so we can be tag-less. I hate tags in t-shirts.
A wide view of our work bench where we prototype and assemble belts for online orders.
And this is Scarlett, my girlfriend’s blind dog, who often joins me in the shop. She is not just a little blind, she is totally blind. We have to tie her to the shop couch or she’ll wander around and get scared and poop somewhere. This has happened many times.
Thanks to Jon Wye for giving us a glimpse of his process and studio! Visit him at booth #88 at our upcoming Art Star Craft Bazaar on May 9th + 10th at Penn’s Landing Great Plaza! Visit his website and buy his cool shiz HERE.