How It’s Made – Lemolo Nameplate

November 2, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Posted in Backpacks, handbuilt, Lemolo Bags, portland, Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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As the official launch dates seems to finally be approaching, I wanted to show off a bit of my hard work. The following is a photo set laying out exactly how each Lemolo nameplate is made. By hand, by me.

The process starts with a 6″x18″ sheet of brass shim. The first thing that needs to be done is to cut the brass down. I use a large metal cutter provided by one of my shop mates (thank you James). You have to carefully mark the brass, line up your piece and slowly, but forcefully, swing the arm down. It cuts at a very slight angle and takes a bit of getting used to. It’s not hard once you get the hang of it, but it can be rather tedious, especially when the pieces start to get down to their final size of 1/2″x2″.

Once the brass is cut down to the appropriate size the next step is to hammer “LEMOLO” into it. I had a custom stamp made for this specific purpose. A very hard, stable surface is required for this step. A heavy, purposeful swing is required when hammering the stamp to ensure a deep, even, well-cut final result. This can take a little practice to get the technique right. It is easy to get a accidental shadow image as the brass or stamp could make a virtually un-noticable hop when the stamp is struck. You only get one shot at this, so it has to count. At about 1/3 of the way through the process it is a real bummer to have to scrap a nameplate at this stage.

The next step is to round the corners on a grinder (thanks for the use of your grinder Jordan). Not much needs to be removed, so a steady hand and sharp eye is key here. The corners just need to be rounded a bit, that’s all. Once the corners are rounded you need to brush the  backside of the nameplate along the edges with the grinder to smooth out any burrs that may have formed.

Only one more step is required before you are ready to rivet the nameplate to a finished bag. For this I was previously using a handheld drill and getting acceptable, but not great results. My friend Blake stopped by the shop and offered the use of his heavy duty hold punch. You simply find where you want your hole to be and squeeze. It takes a short amount of time for each nameplate but your hand can get a bit fatigued if you have a relatively large quantity to punch. This has been a dream compared to using a drill (thank you Blake).

At this point the nameplate is finished and needs only to be riveted to a bag. I lay the nameplate where I want it then mark on the bag where to punch the holes. As every nameplate is made one by one and the holes are cut by hand there can be a slight variance in where the holes in the bag need to be. So, to be sure everything looks just right you need to be sure to mark the bag using the exact nameplate you intend to rivet to that specific bag. Once the holes are punched it is simply a matter of loading up the rivet press, lining everything up, and pressing it together.

This small run of backpacks and duffels were all sewn by real people, whom I have met, working at Portland Garment Factory in SE Portland. I am the founder of Lemolo, sole designer, and each and every nameplate was completely made from scratch and attached by me. Lemolo Baggage, all proudly made in USA.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope you found it both interesting and informative!

-Elias Grey

Visit or follow Lemolo Baggage on Facebook and Twitter.



October 4, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Posted in handbuilt, Lemolo Bags, portland, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I am honored to be a part of Portland Garment Factory’s House Show. A celebration of 3 years running for PGF and introduction of their very first fall collection, HouseLine. A handful of carefully selected designers along with myself will be showing and present for the runway show, dance party, and pop-up shop. Enjoy light snacks and drinks (donation only). Come join in the fun and get a chance to shop for the latest in fall immediates from some really amazing local designers. All for only $10. This is going to be a really great show, I recommend buying your tickets in advance. Get your pre-show tickets direct from PGF here.

Hope to see you there!


In Progress – Photos From The PGFactory Floor

July 18, 2011 at 11:14 am | Posted in Lemolo Bags | Leave a comment
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Got to check out some Lemolo fabric awaiting the cut and stitch when I stopped by PGF last week. Really exciting to see my designs laid out over all of that raw fabric, ready to be cut. Here are some photos from my visit…

I’ve been working towards this for a very long time. Everything seems to be falling into place, not always as expected, but it is all coming together in it’s own way. I’m trying not to force anything, let it come together as it does. Doing my best to take set-backs in stride and not sweat the small stuff. This approach has take a bit of extra time, but I think that is paying off. As new opportunities seem to continually arise in that “extra” time that would have seemed otherwise wasted. I am very excited and proud of the product I am creating and am getting ever more anxious as the finish date draws nearer and nearer. This is a very exciting time!

I will try to continue to keep you all updated as notable progress is made.



Otter Wax, Gear PDX… and Ice Cream!

July 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Posted in portland, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Made in Portland has such a great ring to it, doesn’t it?! There are so many talented people in this city it continues to blow my mind on a daily basis. Creative capital of the USA! I would like to make note of three companies that you may or may not have heard of. The first I’d like to mention is Otter Wax. I had the opportunity of meeting up with Chris a few days ago. A great dude with a fantastic product to offer. We are hoping to meet up again early this coming week. Good things will come of this! A bit about Otter Wax, straight from the source…

OTTER WAX is the first and only water repellent wax that doesn’t utilize paraffin, silicone, or other synthetic ingredients. In fact, it was our search for a 100% natural waterproofing method that led us to create our product in the first place. We’ve tested OTTER WAX against the other methods, and have formulated our wax to be highly effective and environmentally friendly.

Most oil-finish waxes we’ve tested contain paraffin (a by-product of the crude oil refining process), and leave behind an unpleasant odor and shiny finish. The oil-finish waxes generally come in a small canister and are applied using a rag and heat source such as a blow dryer; A method that is both time-consuming and messy.

While the petroleum odor subsided in a couple of weeks, so did it’s ability to keep us dry. OTTER WAX comes in an easy-to-apply bar, and lasts for months between applications even with heavy use.

You will be hearing more about Otter Wax from me and many others in the near future I am sure. To find out more go to their website at

A quick shout out to Dylan of GearPDX. I met Dylan last night through mutual friends, one of which is going on a epic cycling journey soon (have fun Nate!). I got to check out a few his products but haven’t seen the whole line in person yet. What I did see looked great though! Fashionable cycling street wear, all proudly made here in Portland. Check them out at

Was sharing a few pints and good conversation with some friends at APEX on the 4th of July (whooooo! America!) when our good friend Chad rolled up in his ice cream truck! Chad, you couldn’t have had better timing. If you haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy Fifty Licks Ice Cream before you are really missing out! They can be found all over town sharing smiles and unique flavors from the truck, some of which include Slabtown Whiskey, Maple Bacon, and Stumptown Coffee. Sooooo good. For a list of of other ice cream flavors and to find out where you can get Fifty Licks see their website at

That’s all for now, Louis has a dog park date with is besty Zombie… don’t want to be late!


Changin’ Times/Keepin’ It Local

January 20, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Lemolo Bags, portland, What's New! | 4 Comments
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Dear Friends,

In the past I’ve done my best to keep you all informed on the latest in Lemolo developments, whether it be a new idea, a new bag, or a new direction. Honestly, it has been a bit of a struggle keeping Lemolo going over the past  year or two. I am sure you have noticed that I have had a inconsistent amount of product available at, what I’m sure seems like very random times. Aside from a short time back in early 2010 when I brought someone on to help with some of the sewing, everything Lemolo has been done by myself. That, combined with working 3-5 days tending bar has taken its toll on ol’ Eli. No complaints though, I have chosen the path that I am on and am happy with the choices I have made thus far.

I have said all of that to bring you up-to-date on current directions and developments on the business end of things around here. I had decided that, if Lemolo is going to continue then it can’t be just me, by myself, forever. A lot of thought has been poured into this area. I want to make the right decisions and please as many people as possible while trying to stay happy and sane myself. A tall order, I know. Time spent in the studio prototyping and behind the machine stitching has made it clear to me that I enjoy the design side of things much more than the production side. I am a very particular about my sewing, which partly is to blame for my slowness. I simply don’t have the speed that others have and that is a major disadvantage when it comes to trying to produce a large number of bags… obviously. Also, all that time spent trying to crank out bags has left only a very minimal amount of time to move forward, create more designs and grow the Lemolo Baggage line.

Ok, let’s get to the good stuff! It is important to me to have things created here in our great USA, and what better place than right here in Portland?! A mere 4 miles away (approx. 20 minutes by bike) from where I currently house everything Lemolo stands the Portland Garment Factory. I have recently had the opportunity to spend a little time with Britt, Rosemary and the rest of the amazing and talented crew there. Truly an amazing group of ladies. And our meeting could not have come at a better time for me. I feel very fortunate to have found them and am excited about what the future could hold for Lemolo and Portland Garment Factory.

Immediately upon entering into their gigantic space at SE79th & Stark you are welcomed by warm feelings, good energy, and the sounds of things getting done. Numerous sewing machines whirl away a few steps down from a large cutting table covered with fabric samples and works-in-progress. Pattern pieces hang along the wall next to the table while large shelves behind hold rolls of fabric awaiting use.

Britt and Rosemary have been both easy to talk to and fun to be around. They know how to be professional, while still keeping things feeling light. I am happy to announce that we are currently in the progress of working on our first project together. I am excited about this new development and hope that it is the beginning of a long, mutually beneficial relationship.

This new direction means a lot of things. The first, and most obvious, is going to be the availability of Lemolo. More Lemolo for more people! There is still a lot of work to do though. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll start seeing loads of new Lemolo backpacks next week. I assure you it will be worth the wait though. I hope you are all as excited about this as I am! I will do my best to continue to keep you informed and up-to-date as progress is made.



P.S. I stole all the photos you see above from the PGF blog… follow them here.

Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show

October 4, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Posted in handbuilt, portland | Leave a comment
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Be there.


Sunday Parkways

May 16, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Posted in portland, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Louis and I took a couple hours out of the day to ride through NE Portland’s Sunday Parkways this morning (see map). Not sure of the official count, but there was a pretty good turn out by the time we arrived. Aside from a few bottlenecks, streets weren’t overly crowded and parks boasted a lot of room to stretch out and enjoy some food and drink.

Ran into a few friends while cruising around. Rode with Mitch for a bit. He represented well, riding one of his own creations all decked out in Lemolo baggage (more photos here).

Although the sky above started off a bit gray and the ground damp, sunshine and blue skies prevailed providing all who choose to go a good day in the park. The next Sunday Parkways event will be June 27th in N. Portland. Maps, dates, and more info on Sunday Parkways can be found here. Hope to see you there!


ANT Sighting

April 13, 2010 at 11:38 am | Posted in bicycle, bikes, handbuilt, portland | Leave a comment
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This hot little number caught my eye as I rode down Belmont the other day. I had to pull over and take a quick picture. It’s always nice to see a ANT bicycle out in the elements! Mr. Flanigan’s simple understated elegance never ceases to impress.



March 31, 2010 at 9:12 am | Posted in portland | Leave a comment
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Rode up to Little Red Bike Cafe for breakfast on Monday. I’m not afraid of a little foul weather, but the wind and rain on Monday were absolutely punishing at times. That being said, knowing what my end goal was going to be kept me pushing on. And let me tell you, it was worth every icy breath and every weary, wet pedal stroke.

Upon my arrival, I received nothing but warm smiles and good service. Fresh brewed coffee from Courier Coffee Roasters warmed me from the inside while I waited on my breakfast. Evan delivered my breakfast to me along with good conversation.

After my first bite I realized that this sandwich must be photographed. I was going to devour, slowly but surely, every tasty morsel of food in front of me. I had to have a before and after shot to prove it. And proof I have….

After breakfast I was able to give Ali a quick hello and thank you before I was back in the saddle, headed south towards the shop. I honestly cannot say enough good things about Little Red Bike Cafe or Ali and Evan themselves. If you haven’t been, or just haven’t been in a while, get up and go. It’s worth the ride every time.


Momentum Magazine

March 19, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Posted in bicycle, portland | Leave a comment
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Momentum just published it’s first Portland specific regional edition in March! Go pick up a copy of Momentum Magazine for free on the streets of PDX (and 24 other US cities). Can’t find a paper copy? All the articles are archived online. Look ’em up here.

Momentum provides urban cyclists with the inspiration, information and resources to fully enjoy their riding experience and connect with local and global cycling communities.

Published six times a year, Momentum Magazine focuses on transportation cycling and bike culture in North America. Momentum’s positive and solutions-based editorial coverage includes arts & culture, city and people profiles, food, books, current events and gear.

Visit the Momentum website @


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