Look what I made: a MacBook Air sleeve

Meant to post this a couple months ago. I was commissioned by a friend. After a couple experiments with scotch tape and newspaper, I laid out the hide and got to work:
New project

Then I spent roughly 900 hours punching holes and sewing:

MacBook Air envelope, before

Not too shabby.

MacBook Air envelope, before

My hindsight hunch is that I should have reinforced this better. Time will tell:

MacBook Air envelope, before

Dyed and ready for action:

MacBook Air envelope, after

Fits the 13-inch model like a dream. Other things I’ve made: a super-simple wallet, a leather tray.

Look what I made: a tray

I like to have a place for everything.
I made a tray

I have a drawer in my nightstand for all my day-to-day stuff, but it still didn’t feel together enough.

I made a tray

A light went off in my head when I saw these leather trays from JW Hulme and Aspinal. This was actually the whole reason I started messing around with leatherworking in the first place.

I made a tray

Turns out, besides being convenient in my actual house, this is *exactly* what I never knew I always wanted when I settle into a strange hotel room. I hate having my stuff scattered about the room. Everything centralized, mind at rest. Snaps let it pack flat.

I made a tray

I didn’t know how to set snaps when I started, but a few minutes of obnoxious late-night hammering and cursing had me on my way. I also didn’t know how to sew leather at the time, so this one remains unlined.

I made a tray

By the way, I still can’t sew leather very well at all. Evidence forthcoming.

Look what I made: a wallet

I love this thing.
I made a wallet

Rollin’ flush with my single dollar bill. That’s just how I do.

I stole the idea after stumbling across Leffot’s Fold wallet when I was trying to find some shoe porn. Mine isn’t nearly as nice as theirs. On the other hand, it didn’t cost $100, so I’ll call it a draw. I also got the satisfaction of a job-kinda-well-ish done. I made a quick paper prototype and then went to cuttin’. Part of the fun of doing a quick sloppy draft is that often times the quick sloppy draft is surprisingly good enough.

I made a wallet

Like they say, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. I loved the stripped-down feel. I will spare you the #lifehack #diy #dailycarry #tips about how I use it. You’re welcome.

I made a wallet

The point is, this thing is awesome. Now that I’ve tested and loved the concept, I’m considering making myself an upgrade with nicer leather and non-crooked cuts. And there’s also the expected satisfaction that comes with generally trying harder—not to be underestimated.

Alas, the ascendancy of this wallet means that my previous favorite, the Backpacking Light/Simblissity collaboration, the LiteFOLD XP, is now retired. After 6 or 7 years of hiking and, um, sitting on my ass, the old wallet was showing its age. I still highly recommend Simblissity and will probably pick up another one for multi-day outdoorsy use. My fold is the new king.

Urban Spectacles makes handmade eyeglasses from exotic woods and other materials. I’m due for a new pair. Though I hate to get all fetishy about fashion, if I don’t go the $40 eyeglasses route, I might give this guy a look. I’ve had my current pair for about 8-9 years now.

It’s been really wonderful to keep an eye on A House by the Park, “a first-hand chronology of the design, planning, and construction of a modern home in Seattle.” I’m not in the market now, nor do I plan to be in the near future, but it’s cool to watch and learn from a safe distance.

Austin Kleon found the Gerd Arntz Web Archive, dedicated to the work of the German designer:

Otto Neurath had developed a method to communicate complex information on society, economy and politics in simple images. For his ‘Vienna method of visual statistics’, he needed a designer who could make elementary signs, pictograms that could summarize a subject at a glance.

Arntz’s clear-cut style suited Neurath’s goals perfectly, and so he invited the young artist to come to Vienna in 1928, and work on further developing his method, later known as ISOTYPE, International System Of TYpographic Picture Education. During his career, Arntz designed around 4000 different pictograms and abstracted illustrations for this system.

“Holy crap!” indeed.

How We’re Wrecking Our Feet. It’s the shoes. Old news, but worth hearing again and again.
Foot freedom is a movement in the ultralight hiking community as well. Once you realize that you don’t need to carry 50lbs for a weekend trip, you realize that you can ditch the leather boots and hike with shoes. And after that, for me at least, it’s been an ongoing search for the lightest, most flexible shoes I can find. I really like Inov8‘s line of “trail slippers”. The Vibram Five Fingers models were mentioned in the article. Shoes from Vivo Barefoot were also mentioned but I have no idea why even their cheapest models cost over $120. [via link banana]

An interview with Dan Roam, author of The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures, which I need to remember to buy:

Today there are great drawing tools in a lot of software packages, and many business people, bless their hearts, are getting better at using them. The problem is the pictures look perfect when they’re done. And by virtue of looking finished, they actually turn off people’s desire to constructively comment on them.

[via austin kleon]

In a New York Times article about the death of encyclopedias, a Britannica guy talks about well-designed books as a luxury item. Content might be everywhere, but good design can still expect an appreciative audience:

He envisioned the print volumes living on as a niche, luxury item, with high-quality paper and glossy photographs—similar to the way some audiophiles still swear by vinyl LPs and turntables. ‚ÄúWhat you need people to understand,‚Äù he said, ‚Äúis that it is a luxury experience. You want to be able to produce a lot of joy, a paper joy.‚Äù

[via michael surtees]