• RAYS Design

Making Gear for Plant Professionals

Updated: Dec 3, 2020

While working out of an office in New Orleans, I was enveloped in an interior environment full of beautiful plants and trees. So, when biophilic design firm, Luna Botanicals approached me about making a custom tool belt for plant care, I was intrigued.

Biophilic wall in Canal Place, New Orleans, Design, Luna Botanicals
Luna Botanicals work in Canal Place, New Orleans.

Luna Botanicals is a licensed Landscape Architecture firm that combines the science of horticulture with the art of design to create immersive, thriving environments. It's Luna's genius that makes places like Main Squeeze Juice Co. and Auction House Market so enjoyable.

RAYS Design, circle bag, leather bag, leather purse, handmade, hand stitched
RAYS circle bag served as inspiration for the belt.

Unlikely Inspiration for a Tool Belt

Back to the project, Cofounder, Jeanne Luna really liked the style of my round leather bags and wanted a tool belt with a similar look. However, making those bags is time consuming, so I needed to simplify both the production and construction processes.

Note, those donning this tool belt would be climbing ladders to tend wall mounted greenery, caring for air plants and removing dead leaves inside heavily trafficked commercial spaces.

Typical tools of a plant care specialist.


Serving both functional and aesthetic roles, I planned to make this tool belt a piece of art. My Plan: Use wood molds to wet form leather, then machine stitch.

I'll write a separate blog detailing how I made the wood molds. Here I'll just focus on some of the design aspects of the project.

The Dead Leaf Issue

I spoke to a couple of Luna's plant carer's who presented the issue of dead leaves. Apparently, caring for plants means you're going to deal with dead leaves. A lot of dead leaves. Before then, she would just shove the leaves etc. into her pockets as her job was to not only keep the plants alive but also keep them beautiful.

This led me to ponder how I could design a component for the belt to contend with plant debris. I needed a sizable pouch but didn't want to weigh the belt down considering the primary material would be leather. So I put on my sneaky gadget cap and came up with a solution.

BAM! Hit 'em with the retractable plant debris bag! I grabbed some of these photos directly from my social media so please excuse the text and blurs. This was the first prototype and both the client and I liked the results. Next, I tackled how to make a holder for large spray bottles.

plants, tool belt, rays design, plant debris bag, dead leaves, bag for dead leaves
Final Iteration of Retractable Plant Debris Bag

Spray it Don't Say It

The plant carers at Luna Botanicals often use large spray bottles, but apparently, some jobs don't necessitate them. Translation: spray bottles are big and heavy so when you need to use one, you'll want it at the ready (i.e. on your tool belt). However, to securely hold a heavy 32 oz. bottle of water you need something sturdy. A bit of a conundrum, but I dove in.

First I tried the easy route - maybe the debris bag concept could be useful in this case! Turns out, not quite. In order to slip the water bottle back into the fabric pouch, carers needed both hands: one to hold open the pouch and the other to maneuver the bottle inside. NEXT. I tweaked the design of the fabric pouch to stay open, but it was still falling short. The bottle would swing a bit and was not remaining upright for easy grabbing. NEXT.

I was trying to avoid making a large leather apparatus to hold this bottle. As mentioned I wanted to avoid heavy bulk for an item that wouldn't be used all the time. So, I did some research on how spray bottles are stored, and landed on a lovely result. Command Brand (Command Strips) has a product that sticks to the wall and supports the bottle by the spray trigger. BINGO!

I made a few prototypes, one using a bra underwire (too flimsy), and voila, my holster was complete. I also made it with a clip rather than a loop so the holster could be attached to pants as well as a belt.

Getting a Round

I wet formed the leather around pre-made molds to get nicely curved shapes.

Final Tool Belt

Click, cut, douse, form, dry, stitch, treat and voila! Final tool belt below.

For more information, feel free to reach out or leave a comment!


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