First, I'll start by saying I don't make belts.
Belt making, in my opinion, is what I call leather work.
Leather work is not the same as bag making.
Leather work, or leather craft, ends with a single piece of leather that is worked to perfection. The piece itself, alone, is the reflection of the workers skill.
With bags, the end result is a bag with some leather on it.
Usually, there are so many leather elements that they sometimes get lost in the overall aesthetic of the bag.
I try not to incorporate too many leather elements, which can cause the bag to look "leather-heavy".
Usually, when I use leather, I try to showcase the leather element for a strong visual.
The fabric needs to speak and have presence.
Finding balance between the two is not always easy.
In an ideal world, I would spend 100% of the time working the leather the way it should be done. The other 100% of the time would be making the actual bag.
Think of it this way, you pay $40-$80 for a handmade belt. The amount of work going into that belt is the same as a leather strap on a randonneur bag. Except there are 4- 9 leather elements on a randonneur bag.
What I love about making a leather belt is that it combines several skills into one final simple product. I love the groove work, bevelling, punching, embossing, and the final edge work.
Different edge treatments yield different finishes.
Lately, I like using dye, then cream, then wax, burnish it up smooth, then finish it with a Japanese glaze.
It still amazes me that each belt I make will last a lifetime, that's a long time.
At some point, I'd like to spend time with a master leather worker.
Until then, back to bags!