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 strips are cut into the leather with a strap cutter.
This is 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.
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.
It also needs to be adjustable to account for the varying widths you have to cut.
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.
Once you cut your strands, you start to braid them.
Next is the secret – after doing a bit of braiding, you take one of your ends and flip it through the braid.
And then you braid again – and flip again.
Then you kind of shake it out to level 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.
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.