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Step Inside M&U Co.’s Pennsylvania Tannery

BY alisha prakash 08/25/2014

When it comes to sourcing leather for their wallets, M&U Co.’s Hunter Craighill and Nathan Gryszowka don’t mess around. “We like knowing where the leather comes from and how it’s produced,” says Hunter. And for them, that means working exclusively with Wickett & Craig, a tannery in Curwensville, Pennsylvania, that’s been at it since 1867. “They’re one of two vegetable tanneries in North America, and they produce the best quality that I’ve seen.” Hunter talks us through all that happens there below.

 

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46 m u co.
"Its such a beatiful and calming haven and I am addicted to their waterlemon juice at breakfast. They also have Marmite, which I have a weakness for."
of M&U Co.

 

 

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“Then the pieces go to the tan yard, which is a series of big baths. Here, you’re basically converting the animal skin into leather. I don’t think they change the water—the tanning liquid gets better with age.”

 

 

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“From the tan yard, our leather goes on to be dyed. They tumble the hides in big barrels with a lot of dye. They come out dripping in dye and have to be hung to dry.”

 

 

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“Then the hides are hot-stuffed. They’re put into these oak barrels—these things rotate and get heated up. The hides are soaked and tumbled in tallows and oils to create a nice, finished leather that won’t dry and crack over time.”

 

 

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“After the hides are hot-stuffed, they go on to be waxed. This is the leather after it has been waxed. The final waxing makes the leather tougher but also allows a patina to come out. It’s like nice denim: When you buy it, it’s pristine and stiff, but as it wears in, it gets a character of its own.”

 

 

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“This is the finished bridle leather, at its full thickness.”

 

 

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“Our leather gets split to make it thinner. Natural cowhides can be between 1/8 inch and ¼ inch thick, and we want it as thin as possible, closer to 1/32 inch thick. They keep the outside face of the leather and cut into the interior side.”

 

 

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“We like a darker inside to contrast slightly with the color of face of the leather, so we have the tannery spray a darker dye on the inside after it has been split and re-finished.”

 

 

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“This is M&U’s fall order packed up. We ordered a few different colors—it’s probably 24 sides of leather. A side is half of a full cow, which is typically how leather is sold.”

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