Hawk Studio – Leather Braiding – The Mystery Braid


Chip showing the boys how to mystery braid

Ahhhhh – the question that always arises whenever someone sees a belt or a strap in which Chip has incorporated the mystery braid – “How did he do that?!!” Well, pay attention, because he is going to tell you how right here.

A mystery braid is a braid that is inserted into a solid strap of leather with no breaks at either end.

The mystery braid

The strips are cut into the leather with a strap cutter.

cutting straps into the belt

a belt which has been cut into strips

This is Chip’s strap cutter.

Chip's Strap Cutter

You can’t buy it. It is custom made for this type of work.

First – Chip is left handed so he had to have one made that would work in the direction he cuts.

chip holding strap cutter

Second, a commercial strap cutter contains a guard over the razor blade so you don’t cut your hand to smithereens. For a mystery braid, you need the blade exposed to cut the strands of leather inside of the belt.

exposed blade on strap cutter

It also needs to be adjustable to account for the varying widths you have to cut.

adjustment portion of the strap cutter

Next, you need to know that to make this work you have to cut an odd number of strands for the braid.  It can be five or eleven – but it can’t be four or ten.

varying amounts of strands

Once you cut your strands, you start to braid them.

braiding the strands

Next is the secret – after doing a bit of braiding, you take one of your ends and flip it through the braid.

flipping the belt through first time

And then you braid again – and flip again.

second flip through the belt

Then you kind of shake it out to level the braid.

shaking out the braid

You need to do an even number of flips through the braid. The more flips, the tighter the braid. Here is a 5 strand braid with differing numbers of flips.

2 flip and 4 flip braids

When Chip and I got married, our wedding bands were leather mystery braids. My beloved husband did a 5 strand mystery braid in a quarter inch wide piece of leather for me for that day. Not surprisingly, it did not hold up very long just because the leather was sooooo thin that it wore apart. He made me several more over the years until we finally found our current metal bands that we agreed to use instead. We did our engagement belts (yes, we both had matching engagement belts) using the mystery braid and it is incorporated into all of my bags. I love that idea of the continuous, unbroken piece of leather that still travels about itself in the center.

So that is Chip’s gift to you all today – the secret of the mystery braid.

Tomorrow – Markus shares his strawberry, almond, chocolate chip muffins with you. I just love my family.

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About Shelly R.

I am a Mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, an attorney, a crafter, an aunt raising three young nephews with my husband, and the granddaughter of an amazing woman - my Polish Grandmother. My Grandmother gave me so much, through her love and her patience, her sayings and her time teaching me how to craft and to give to others, that it seemed fitting to share some of that wisdom, to tell some of her story, and to chat about life and crafts in a way that would be a testament to what she gave me.
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9 Responses to Hawk Studio – Leather Braiding – The Mystery Braid

  1. Amanda says:

    Way cool! I’m going to try this with paper. Thanks for sharing the secret.

  2. That is so. Freaking. Cool! And ridiculously clever. I love the idea of the leather mystery braid wedding bands. Permanent ones are nice, of course, but there is something very poetic and true about remaking them as needed—a reaffirmation of commitment.

    • Shelly R. says:

      Yeah, that idea of continually reaffirming the marriage was held through about 4 wedding bands before Chip said “Do you have any idea how hard it is to cut, much less braid, a quarter inch mystery braid?” I think I still got one or two more after that but we started looking a little harder for a more sturdy alternative. :D

  3. Danielle says:

    I’m so glad he showed us this! And I too wonder how Amanda’s will come out with paper….I just might have to give that a try too.

  4. Amanda says:

    I tried it about 5 times with paper, and it worked once. Hahaha. I think paper is a little hard to work with for this because it’s crunchy and hard to straighten. But it also might have something to do with my brain…

  5. Chip R says:

    To learn it you can probably u tube it. the start might be the tricky part.

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