Leather crafting

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Modern leather-working tools Leather crafting or simply Leathercraft is the practice of making leather into craft objects or works of art, using shaping techniques, coloring techniques or both.

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1 Dyeing 2 Painting 3 Carving 4 Stamping 5 External links

[edit] Dyeing

backed with a stiff board is ideal and common. Alternatives to spirit stains might include a number of options. Acrylic paint is a common medium. brown. often painted on tooled leather pictures. although they tend not to work as well. However. a flat piece of leather. the paint is likely to crack and flake off. "Hi-liters" and "Antiquing" stains can be used to add more definition to patterns. These have pigments that will break away from the higher points of a tooled piece and so pooling in the background areas give nice contrasts. Unlike photographs. [edit] Painting Leather painting differs from leather dyeing in that paint remains only on the surface while dyes are absorbed into the leather. Due to changing environmental laws. and then framed. In the main though. such as belts and wallets because under these conditions. though three-dimensional forms are possible so long as the painted surface remains secured. and black tones develop naturally through handling and as the oiled leathers absorb the rays of the desert sun. Leaving parts unstained also provides a type of contrast. latex paints can be used to paint such flexible leather items. A wax paste more often than not serves as the final coat. .A dyed leather carving Leather dyeing usually involves the use of spirit or alcohol based dyes where alcohol quickly gets absorbed into moistened leather. Gun holsters.[when?][where?] There are currently water-based alternatives available. wallets and canteens used by cowboys and buccaroos were rarely colored in the Old West. Due to this difference. The red. leather painting techniques are generally not used on items that can or must bend nor on items that receive friction. leather paintings are displayed without a glass cover. alcohol-based dyes are soon to be unavailable. carrying the pigment deep into the surface. to prevent mold. saddlebags. Oils such as neatsfoot or linseed can be applied to preserve leather but darkens them. backed with wood or cardboard. Sweat and grime will also stain and 'antique' leather over time. Shoe polish can be used to dye and preserve leather.

cam. . seeder. pear shader. [edit] Stamping Examples of geometric stamping on leather. and craftsmen. Commercial stamps are available in various designs. To make the impressions last longer. reenacters. By far the most preeminent carver in the United States was Al Stohlman. as would be done in filigree. The other tools are punch-type implements struck with a wooden. often by striking the stamps with a mallet. Usually. The surface of the leather is not intended to be cut through. Most stamping is performed on vegetable tanned leather that has been dampened with water. veiner. After the leather has been stamped. these are stylized pictures of acanthis or roses. beveler. but it can fade if the leather becomes wet and is flexed. California. In the United States and Mexico. and background tool. the design stays on the leather as it dries out.[edit] Carving Main article: Leather carving Leather carving entails using metal implements to compress moistened leather in such a way as to give a three dimensional appearance to a two dimensional surface. as the water makes the leather softer and able to be compressed by the design being pressed or stamped into it. nylon or rawhide mallet. known as "Sheridan Style". typically geometric or representative of animals. of carving leather predominates. The swivel knife is held similar to pencil and drawn along the leather to outline patterns. The object is to add further definition with them to the cut lines made by the swivel knife. His patterns and methods have been embraced by many hobbyists. the western floral style. the leather is conditioned with oils and fats to make it water-proof and prevent the fibers from deforming. Leather stamping involves the use of shaped implements (stamps) to create an imprint onto a leather surface. The main tools used to "carve" leather include: swivel knife. Texas. and a few other styles are common. scout troops.

When you purchase leather this way. As civilisation developed in Europe. The art of tanning leather using the bark of trees probably originated among the Hebrews.. At some time. goat. containers for liquids. From leather. and the use of leather later spread throughout the Roman Empire. the exact size and shape of the finished leather is dictated somewhat by the size and shape of the animal hide that the tannery received to process. vegetable tanning. grease and bark extracts. clothing. Although leather is sometimes cut into various shapes for the convenience of the customer. pieces of leather dating from 1300 B. Royal charters or licences were issued permitting people to practice leather tanning. belts. the art was a closely guarded secret passed down from father to son. to the nearest 1/4 sq. bellies. For ease of handling during tanning. tanning using the extracts from the bark of certain kinds of trees. He has used hides to make clothing. One thing to always remember about leather .History of Leather Leather has played an important role in the development of civilisation. shoulders. The principle protective armour of the Roman soldier was a heavy leather shirt. Because of this. pig and reptiles are tanned and sold in their original shape. How leather is sold The most economical way to buy leather is to purchase it directly from the tannery. large animal hides are usually cut into smaller sections ( sides.C. you are assured of getting value for money. not a synthetic material. the Chinese knew the art of making leather . Leather is usually priced by the square foot and sold as a complete hide. by accident or by trial and error.it is an animal¶s skin that has been processed into finished leather. a fur piece was highly prized as her jewellery.e. man discovered methods of preserving and softening leather treating animal skins with such things as smoke. tanners and leather workers united in the trade guilds of the Middle Ages. In recorded history. man made footwear. ). The Greeks were using leather garments in the age of the Homeric heroes ( about 1200 B.. is measured on government approved measuring devices at the tannery. Asia and North America all developed the technique of turning skins into leather goods independently of one another. shelter. Leather comes from tanneries in various shapes and sizes depending on its intended use and the animal which it came from. carpets and even decorative attire. During the Middle Ages. the . was supplemented by chrome tanning. as did the craftsmen in other fields. Skins of smaller animals such as calf. The Indians of North America also had developed great skills in leather work before the coming of the white man. etc.ft. The exact size. In the nineteenth century. have been found in Egypt. To the Egyptian lady. boats and even armour. This process uses chemicals and today accounts for about eighty to ninety percent of all tanning done except for the leather used in the soles of shoes and tooling leathers. Primitive societies in Europe. In primitive societies. From prehistoric times man has used the skins of animals to satisfy his basic needs. ) at the tannery. i.C.

NOTE: ONLY FULL GRAIN. We will always be happy to answer any questions you may have about our craft. Split. etc.8 sq.3. All leather carving and tooling must be done on full grain leather. VEGETABLE TANNED LEATHER will absorb water and tool correctly. Suede. Buying leather is much easier if you understand what the different types of leather are used for. Splits are usually embossed with a design or sueded. Top Grain IS NOT the same as "Full Grain" leather. and since they are wet when they are put through the splitting machine.2 . thethickness of the leather will not remain the same throughout the hide.FINISHING PREPARING THE LEATHER Leather will take up and hold an imprint only if it is damp. Kip. Grain.ft. There will always be slight variations and that is why leathers are usually shown with a range of thickness . usually 9 . The lower part of a side.. The skin of a large calf. Leather that has been sanded to produce a nap.18 sq.4mm. how different leathers are tanned and how large skins are cut and sold. To make leather a uniform thickness. Full Grain. The epidermis or outer layer of animal skins. Belly. before work begins with any . This refers to the undersection of a piece of leather that has been split into two or more thicknesses. usually 15 . Leathercraft terms Back. Here are a few of the basic terms used in leather craft with their explanations.ft. first the hides are run through a splitting machine.. Top grain leather has often been sanded to remove scars and then sprayed or pasted to "cover up" the work. WORKING WITH LEATHER PREPARING .ft. Only the hair has been removed and the grain or epidermis is left on.2. Top Grain.TOOLS .6mm. Leather that is just as it was when taken off of the animal. 3.17 sq. So.DYES .price is always higher because of the additional costs for labour and waste. Since animal hides are not of uniform thickness. usually 4 .such as 2 . A side with the belly cut off.

you need to dampen the leather ± ¶CASE¶ it is the proper term. FELT TIP PENS You can use these to draw quite intricate designs on hide bags. Some so-called permanent markers smudge if you get them wet. gives it a semi water resistant finish. Felt tips work equally well on light coloured suede and soft. A wax polish can be applied sparingly. TOOLS There are dozens of different metal stamps available from leather craft suppliers. They range from simple geometric ones to quite complex motif stamps that you can use singly or to make a panel of repeated pattern. otherwise they come in ready mixed bottles. dark colours work best. feed the leather with saddle soap. but for our money we¶d rather stick to good old saddle soap. Often they are sold as powders which need to be mixed with methylated spirit. You can even make your own simple stamps using small lengths of hardwood moulding. with tight snap on or screw tops. Good luck!! Tooling Leather / Art Work . FINISHING When the leather dries it will probably look pretty dry and dull. for mixing or storing. You can buy a good range of colours and most of them can be diluted to give lighter shades. These are also referred to as fancy punches and dies. To smooth the fibres on the flesh side of the finished article. is safe to use on dyed or untreated leather and you can often get it from shoe shops or hardware stores. The dyes will come with instructions on how to mix them up so scrutinise the details carefully. Better still. belts and straps etc. then the edges will loose their sharpness. You can rub the surface hard with a rag and produce a fair shine. Use spirit based markers if you want to put on a saddle soap finish. so again. Do this with water and a small piece of sponge. Put it on a non-fluff cloth or your fingers and rub well in to bring up a shine. DYES Most of the leather dyes you can buy have a spirit base. are thin like water and soak into leather rapidly. There are products around which claim to give all kinds of wonderful gloss or lacquer finishes to leather. SADDLE SOAP This is excellent stuff and we can¶t recommend it enough. matt grain leather. Hit them with a mallet and work on leather dampened with water. It helps to soften and clean leather. They dry quickly to give permanent waterproof colours. Leave for a minute or so to allow the water to penetrate. These stamps should last pretty well for a good few dozen imprints. This will enrich the colours and polish up to a beautiful sheen. you haven¶t finished. That¶s because the dye removes some of the natural oils in the leather. water based ones will smear. The chunky sort of permanent marker is also useful for colouring bevelled hide edges. Strong. Don¶t worry. experiment on scraps first. Colours can also be mixed. The sponge should be pretty damp but not wringing wet. It imparts a smooth natural sheen to grain leather (not suede).tools and before tracing on your design. but we find mixing more than two colours turns the dye muddy.

Transferring the Pattern . The plastic side will protect the design from getting wet when you place it on the damp leather. simply print it off. light-colored top-grained leather for tooling leather. Tooling leather is done before it is painted or dyed. If you¶re not sure what you have. available at craft stores. seed catalogues (for floral designs) and magazines like National Geographic. The first step involves cutting a design into the leather. You can get tracing film in most hobby stores. When working with a large piece of tooling leather.html Start with something simple if you are just beginning tooling leather. store the leather in an appropriately-sized Ziploc bag and place it in the refrigerator.com/craft/carving. Once you find the design on the internet. Search the internet and leatherworking books for ideas on tooling leather. tape or glue something to the back to prevent the leather from stretching when you are working on it. coloring books. Paper palette. It can be trimmed to fit in your printer. followed by creating depressions with various tools that result in elements of the design presenting a raised surface. Copy and paste this url into your borwser and check out this great site for tooling leather patterns: leathersecrets. If you¶re not able to complete your project in one sitting. Other sources include wood burning and stamp making catalogues. Choosing and Tracing a Design Choose a design and trace it onto tracing film or wax paper with a pencil. consists of paper on one side and a sort of plastic film on the other side. moisten with a damp sponge.Use vegetable-tanned. and work up to more complex designs as you gain experience. If the leather becomes dry while you are working on it. test the leather¶s ability to take a pattern by wetting a corner and making lines with different objects like the edge of a coin.

you achieve a smooth and continuous effect. The pear shader is used to depress areas of the design. trace over the pattern. PVC or rawhide mallet. using tape at the back of the leather to hold it in place. cutting with the corner of the knife facing you. you can smooth them out using the back of a spoon. where texture and depressions are created in the leather using a wooden. Once you remove the film. If you¶ve made any mistakes. and the shallow part towards the side you want to push down or depress. Strike the beveller with the mallet. trace over the outline. as it becomes too soft to work with. following the lines. Then place the tracing film on the right side of the leather. about half the thickness of the hide. Using the tip of a ballpoint pen from which the ink cartridge has been removed. Creating Texture and Depressions Use a firm surface such as marble for the next phase. Use the beveller on the outside of the design to create the formation of ridges while giving a raised appearance. Bevellers come in different sizes. Position the deep part of the beveller into the groove you have made. a pear shader and a camouflage tool. medium and pointy one. holding the knife with your index finger resting on the u-shaped section at the top of the handle. you can purchase a special tool called a ballpoint stylus that is specially designed to transfer patterns for tooling leather. By overlapping each stamping. Try to avoid soaking the leather. adding contour and . Start with three: a small. you can see the design on the leather¶s surface.Begin by dampening the leather on both sides with a sponge. or by holding the piece under running water or dipping it in water. pressing firmly. This will give you plenty of versatility when tooling leather. Using a Swivel Knife Taking a swivel knife. a beveller. The knife is held upright at a 90 degree angle to the leather. Don¶t do multiple cuts over the line and make the cut light enough to just penetrate the grain. Instead of a ballpoint pen. while holding the body of the knife between your thumb and your middle finger. The knife should be turned by rotating the body between your thumb and the middle and ring fingers.

depth. . Get comfortable with your tools by practicing on scrap pieces of tooling leather. The camouflage tool works to add texture to the design and is excellent for such fine work as recreating the petals of a flower. That way you¶re less likely to make mistakes when you are working with the actual project.

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