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Making Bags is a Bihn Family Tradition

I can’t remember how exactly it started, but back in the 1970s, my mother took up the hobby of working with leather. Living near Santa Cruz, she had easy access to leather from the Salz Tannery.

The tannery had a small retail store on site, known as “The Dead Cow”, which also sold leather working tools and patterns for making bags and other items. I would often accompany her, and I can still recall the rather intense (and not altogeher pleasant) smell of leather being tanned.

As you can see by these photos, my mother took her hobby quite seriously. In fact, she regularly sold the leather handbags she made to her friends. Her favorite leather to work in was Salz “Latigo “ which was quite beautiful, and very thick.

TOM BIHN | Making bags is a Bihn Family tradition
Barbara (Bobbie) Bihn's initials in one of the handbags she made. This particular handbag is on display in our conference room at our Seattle, Washington company headquarters and factory.

TOM BIHN | Making bags is a Bihn Family tradition

TOM BIHN | Making bags is a Bihn Family tradition

TOM BIHN | Making bags is a Bihn Family tradition

Though I was never particularly inspired to work much in leather, growing up in a home where somebody practiced a craft and made things clearly inspired me – creativity breeds creatively. So when I wanted outdoor gear, it seemed natural for me to teach myself how to make it.

Thanks Mom :) And Happy Mother's Day to all!

TOM BIHN | Making bags is a Bihn Family tradition

Traveling in China

Barbara Bihn ~ 1931 - 2014.

1 comment

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We're the TOM BIHN crew: we design bags, make bags, ship bags, and answer questions about bags. Oh, and we collaborate on blog posts, too.

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1 comment

  • Ed Gledhill

    Thanks for the story about your mom. God bless her. May she rest in peace.

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