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    Handles

    Bags are made from many different parts. A handbag can contain as many as 20-30 parts, while more than 100 parts can go into the making of a business bag.

    One part that is considered to be the most vital to the life of a bag is its handle.
    This is the part that the owner comes into contact with the most, and the ease with which the handle is held and how it feels in the hand can have a major impact on the impression of a bag.

    Toyooka’s specialist handle manufacturers, which are rare even throughout the whole of Japan, use their semi-mechanized production lines to meet their customers’ requirements not only in terms of quality, but also cost and delivery.
    However, when made only by machine, gaps can form between the core material and the material enveloping it, which can cause wrinkles. For this reason, the sewing process is conducted by hand by skilled craftsmen, who press each handle down one by one as they sew.

    Handles are only small parts, but they require many processes to complete.
    For example, there are eight stages to handle production: cutting → skiving → gluing → core wrapping → pressing → sewing → cutting → polishing.
    Each of these stages consists of even more detailed processes. For example, the “polishing” stage includes undercoating → beveling → roughing → undercoating → semi-finishing → burnishing → polishing > final finishing.
    These processes are carried out on the straight section of the handle, before the necks of the handle (both ends) are treated in the same way.

    Handles also have to be able to support the weight of the bag’s contents.
    The maker predicts which sections are more likely to sustain damage, considers how best to reinforce those sections, and orders an original formula for the adhesive.


    Leatherwork

    There are many different kinds of materials used to make bags, including leather, synthetic leather, canvas, and nylon.
    The material is chosen to suit the desired properties of the bag, such as strength, lightness, and function.

    Leather is characterized by the way it feels to the touch, its colors that deepen with use, and its elegant beauty.
    The appearance of leather changes depending on whether it is colored with pigments or dyes. Dyes have finer particles than pigments, so the original texture of the leather shows through. Changes in the leather as it ages can be enjoyed, but, in this respect, the quality of the leather itself is an important factor.

    Leather is not used straight from the tannery, but undergoes further working by the bag makers as well.
    To ensure that the parts that are sewn together are not too thick, certain sections of the leather need to be made thinner, in a process called skiving. The angle of the skiving blade and the amount of pressure applied enable the thickness of the leather to be adjusted down to the millimeter.

    Because leather was originally the skin of an animal, even a single hide can have varying densities, depending on the section of the body it covered. The back portion is hard with dense fibers, while the belly area is much softer. The direction of the fibers also makes a difference to the stretch of the leather, so the maker decides on the best part of the hide for the bag’s purpose.

    An important process that affects the beauty, durability and feel of the leather is edge polishing.
    The furry cross-section of the leather is hardened with chemicals and then polished with a buffer or sandpaper. This process is repeated multiple times to achieve the desired finish.


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