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The Making of Our Upcycled Leather Christmas Ornaments

by | Nov 18, 2022

It was mid May and if you listened closely, you could hear the strains of “Deck the Halls” being whistled throughout the Rethreaded campus. Some people groaned, “Too soon, too soon!” But most smiled, knowing that our busiest season, though several calendar months away, would be here in a flash. For me as Director of Design and Manufacturing, it meant it was time to begin the design process for this year’s limited edition holiday ornament.

Inspiration can strike from any direction. The inception of this year’s ornament came while thinking about childhood memories of Christmas. My family’s trees always had bells on them. Some were iridescent glass and felt very fragile to my clunky little girl fingers and some were brass and jingle jangled in a way I was sure a certain someone’s reindeer team would sound like. The idea of a bell stuck with me. Here at Rethreaded, we don’t blow glass and we don’t forge metal…yet, but we do have quite an assortment of leather waiting to be upcycled into something special. More specifically, we have a green leather that when turned to its suede side is a soft rich forest green. Wait, forest green…like a pine tree? Yes, like a Christmas tree. But, I thought that we were thinking about bells. Yes, we are. But maybe that cone shaped bell made from soft green suede is cut to look like a Christmas tree and then it’s jazzed up with more tiny bells that suspend from its branches. It seemed whimsical and had potential and so I made a sketch.  

Now, months later after design and prototype approval, it’s time for my team to start the long process of breathing life into hundreds of little tree bells. The work is spread out through many hands in the production department. From my assistant production manager building a wood and acrylic jig used for drilling 2400 tiny holes total in three hundred flat tree shapes to another team member choosing and cutting colorful donated sari fabrics(over 12,000 square inches) that are used to line the inside of each tree, every team member contributes in some shape or form.

The ornaments also serve as a learning process for our newest team members and together they have set a minimum of 900 tiny rivets and will hang 1500 tiny bells from jump rings on little stylized tree branches. Most importantly, the ornaments creation is a lesson in focus, repetition, teamwork and the practice of creating the extraordinary from simple goods. 

With the tinkling of each bell comes a wish for hope and a better world. From our hands to your home, may our limited edition ornament not only bring you joy, but also the faith in knowing that you are part of the change by bringing hope home with you and placing it on your own tree.

Thank you and may your holiday season be filled with warmth and good cheer.

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