It has been a long time coming but it was worth it. Today I received the weekend bag which was made by Antonio from Enrile in Seville, Spain. I think it’s perfect for the Australian countryside and luckily for me, Antonio’s vibrant and perhaps a little flamboyant gift inside will remain hidden. It’s a blokey hard-working bag with a beautifully rich but rugged brown patina on the exterior. My journalist friend's comments were only bolstered today by my glimpse into the world of Antonio - a man dedicated to his craft.
Meet Antonio and his bag:
My name is Antonio, I’m the father of two kids and I’m happily married. I got involved to the leather being still a teenager. I think I was fourteen or fifteen years old when my father first brought me to buy leather remnants that I used to make bracelets. This turned into a hobby and later on, into my livelihood. No one of my relatives had ever being related to the leather trade before.
I studied marketing looking forward to being self-employed.
So far it has been a long and hard way.
The process of learning about leather tooling, handbags and saddles was almost completely self-taught.
I did an internship together with an artisan but I only learnt hand swing. Further skills were acquired through on-the-job-training.
Later on I completed a three year course in design and shoe making in Elda (España) where I luckily realized that what I already knew as saddler could be applied to shoes.
The learning process in this job is a never-ending task since you are always experimenting, finding out and learning new things in the workshop daily labour. Books and online resources have always been helpful too.
I´m 42 years old and I set Enrile up eleven years back.
Antonio, can you tell me how many man hours this bag took to make?
The total time spent on this weekend bag was 8 – 9 hours.
|The process begins at Antonio selects leathers for the bag|
How did you go about making a patina for the bag? How long was this part of the process and how difficult was it to get the patina right?
Australia inspired us for the patina. It is very likely that at least a 90% of the Europeans think about Australia as a tough country with an imposing wildlife; reason why I chose a patina that evokes the old worn-out leather bags instead of a uniform one and why I mixed different dyes to create reflections.
- Once the leather is selected and cut, I brush it applying two layers of aniline dyes, oak colour.
- Two more layers of light brown dye.
- And a final layer of medium brown dye.
In every case I always let it settle for an entire day before applying the next dye, so that it settles firm.
- Two days more to rehydrate the leather.
I don’t think this part of the process lasts more than 4 to 5 hours but it has to be made little by little. It is not a difficult task but a laborious one.
Finally the brightness with Saphir and water.
|Antonio, after cutting the pattern of the bag, begins to treat the leathers for patina|
What kind of leather did you use to make the bag and why did you choose this particular type of leather?
The leather is a 100% national vegetable tanned cowhide. I wanted it to be living leather so that it ages with every-day use as well as gets character.
|The vegetan leather swatch above shoes the affects of dyes which absorb well on this untreated leather.|
I am far away from being a master at patinas. Artists like A.Nurulaef inspired me, but my learning about patinas is based on trial and error. I use this technique very often, always applying patina before starting the shoe.
What is the most difficult part of making a bag which requires the most concentration?
When you aspire to make things the best you can, you have to stay focused. There are no ‘minor crafts’.
|Getting the patina right may take multiple coats to get the tint right, as Antonio says, you must stay focussed, as all leather pieces must roughly hold the same colour and depth of tones.|
I noticed you leather embossed the bag for us – but is this something you can do for all your customers upon request?
This is a technique to turn the subject’s aspect into a more old and rustic one. It can be applied to almost any kind of vegetable tanned leather. I remember that, after having seen his bag ready, one of my clients ordered a pair of shoes with the same patina and relief.
|Brown patina with embossed butterfly and initials for Le Noeud Papillon by Antonio from Enrile|
In English I would describe this bag as a weekend bag or ‘holdall’ but in Spanish what would you call it and does it have a function outside of being a general holdall?
Here you have a weekend bag, although people also use it as a kit bag for the gym.
Of all the products you make at your studio, which product line is the one which gives you the most enjoyment?
Many things are changing for the artisan trade. Internet has become a source of inspiration and non-stop knowledge feedback. It allows us to be aware of other artisans’ work that otherwise we would never have had the chance to get to know about and likewise, it has proved to be a useful tool to bring your own craftsmanship to the fore in an easily accessible way for clients.
Currently, we are experiencing an increasing demand for shoes that we cannot satisfy. Together with the increasing quality of our shoes, this has made us readdress our production system. We aim to offer a better product and a more effective service.
Within a few months we will be able to tell more about this.
|The finished bag - a real beauty and a piece of patience and hard work by the determined Antonio of Enrile in Seville, Spain.|
Would you like Enrile to make you a weekend bag or something similar? Antonio is able to pack and send products across the world. Although his English is not perfect, he is able to visually express each component very well and runs a smart phone which makes him available for most times of the day. Visit him on http://www.enrile.es/