Better Late and Great than Early and Squirrely
The oldest technology meets the newest. God made Adam and Eve and gave them a soul. Apple made the iPhone and we gave it a sole. God made them clothes of skin and we did too.
This last year, I learned about 50 ways you can’t wet form old boot sole leather to make a really cool solid leather iPhone case. But the good news is that I found one way that you can, and it’s divine.
Inch for inch, this design has been the toughest one I’ve ever worked on. I had no idea when I started over a year ago how brutally complex it would be. I bet we’ve made at least 40 prototypes that didn’t work. Here are the questions we had to answer.
What type of leather? How much veg in the leather? Too little and it won’t stay formed. Too much and it will crack. Just the right amount so the phone clicks in place. How thick of leather? So it still charges on a charging pad. So it insulates well but not too well that it doesn’t let heat out? How to fix it in place while drying? Tying? Clamping? How long to dry? How fast can we dry it and it not shrink too much? Temperatures to dry? Engineering the design to keep it flexible and not crack? How to cut the edges cleanly? How to get the camera hole straight? Leather over the top of the buttons or cut around them? Can we cut around the sound holes? Around the charging hole? Will the leather weaken in places if we cut out? How wide a groove over the buttons? How deep? How perfect? How far over the side edges should the leather be cut for it to still click in and hold firmly in place, yet not get in the way of using it? How much around the bottom corners? How much up under the speakers? Finishing the edges?
It took me three generations of iPhones to perfect this method of case-making. But I finally got it right, and it was worth the trouble. We won’t be making very many of these; they’re tough to get right. The thick vegetable tanned leather that bootmakers use for the soles of their boots has to be cut and formed by hand using techniques that were perfected a few thousands years ago. There’s something cool about that - the oldest technology meets the newest.
After we cut the leather, we soak it in a bucket of water until it’s good and wet, and then bind it to a mold and let it dry for 6-10 hours or so. It takes a long time and it’s hard to do. But I think it’s worth it. I’ve been field testing one of these on my own personal iPhone X and I love it. It’s gotten about five shades darker and is really starting to show some character. I get compliments all the time. You can get cheaper cases that sort of resemble this one out of the box, but the difference really starts to show once it begins to darken and patina. The real beauty with this case isn’t how it looks on day one, but how it looks after 6 or 8 months. I also love the notches over the side button and volume buttons. It’s a cool way to see and feel the quality of the leather. Our thick leather is also a great insulator, which will help preserve battery life and generally keep your phone happier and healthier.
You'll probably never own one of these unless you grab it now. Get your Boot Leather iPhone X Case HERE.
El Presidente (The President)
Saddleback Leather Co.