Saturday, February 10, 2007

A short interlude

Life has been really weird here so I haven't really felt up to continuing the leather lingo entries. However I thought during the brief intermission I thought I'd post a couple of pictures of my latest leather project, a stamped card case.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Leather lingo - types of leather

It has occurred to me that people who might be reading this blog may not know all the leather types I talk about or the leather working terms I use, so I'm going to try to a few entries on that. I'm to start with the different types of leather.

One of the things you'll notice that I do is differentiate between tooling leather and garment leathers. This has to do with the way they are tanned and finished. Tooling leather is vegetable tanned, that is tanned through a process using plants high in tannin like oak and this tanning process is what allows you to tool and stamp vegetable tanned leather and also allows you to wet form this type of leather. Vegetable tanned leather is not dyed and does not have a finish applied to it, that is done after you have completed tooling or stamping it. Garment leathers are prepared in several ways and come in several different styles. The ones I use are chrome tanned top grain leathers, suedes and sueded splits. (Hides are usually thinned during the tanning process and the split is the part that is shaved off at that time. A split has no grain side at all, both side are sueded.) The main thing to know about them is that they have been dyed and finished and can't be tooled and probably shouldn't be redyed.

One of the other products I wanted to mention is rawhide. I've run into a lot of confusion about what constitutes rawhide over the years. Rawhide is exactly what the name implies, an untanned hide. It is not suede and it is not a hair on hide both of which are completely tanned.

I also try to mention the animal the hide came from if I know. Part of that is I want to be completely up front about the materials I use but the rest is that each type has it's own special characteristics. Cow hide is the most versatile it can be dyed and finished to look like almost any other type of hide. Pigskin is thin, has a distinctive look due to the pore structure, is very strong for its weight and is usually washable. Deerskin is soft, easy to work with and is a slight stretch to it. Elk hide is also stretchy but is heavier.

Next I'll talk a bit about working with vegetable tanned leather.