Leather Trivia

Leather is a great natural medium which can be worked in any way. It can be cut, moulded, dyed, tooled, embossed, pressed, braided, engraved, sewn, burned, painted, stained and much more. For about as long as people have been on the Earth, they have been tanning the hides from hunted animals and livestock to make shoes, clothing, tents and more. Leather can be crafted by anybody from a skilled craftsman to a child doing an arts and crafts activity. It can be made into various items such as clothing, automobile upholstery, furniture, luggage, bags, purses, wallets, shoe strings, shoes, boots, belts etc

Benefits of Leather

  • Leather has properties that make it superior to other materials such as fabrics.
  • Leather has an exceptionally long useful life that usually lasts about 5 times longer than fabric.
  • Leather will not tear easily and is much stronger than other fabrics this is why Bikers wear leather to protect them in case of a fall.
  • Leather is more fire resistant than other fabrics.
  • Leather will retain its shape and will not crack or peel.
  • Leather breathes making it comfortable equally in hot or cold temperatures unlike many fabrics.
  • Leather resists heat and sun damage.
  • Leather ages well and will retain its good looks for many years.

CARE

  • While conditioning your leather shoes with a commercial product, always read and follow the  instructions to avoid damage to your leathers.
  • Avoid getting your leather shoes overly wet and wait till they have air dried properly.
  • Do not store leather shoes in sunlight.
  • Do not store your leather shoes in a damp area as it might lead to a mildew problem.
  • Store your leather shoes in a cool closet with low humidity.
  • Never store your leather shoes in a closed plastic bag.
  • Avoid storing near to or using chemicals, solvents and paints on your leather shoes.

CLEANING

  • We recommend that you avoid cleaning your leather shoes as far as possible.
  • If you must clean, then try a mild soap and cold water with a sponge.
  • Dry the leather shoe immediately with a soft towel.
  • Do not rub continuously over one spot; this will create a patch.
  • You can use a leather-moisturizing product (lanolin based) on sealed leather to remoisten and make it supple again.
  • On non-sealed leathers do not use any moisturizer as that might seal its grain.

When choosing leather, make sure it looks natural, smells good, and has a soft hand feel. The softer the hand or feel of the leather, the better its quality.

  • There are many factors that can affect the quality of leather and hence determine in what type of product it may be used. The animal's genetic makeup, environment and diet give its hide its unique variations in texture and color. These varying colors, indentations, wrinkles and marks on the hide are part of its natural beauty and uniqueness. The fewer imperfections on the hide or skin of an animal the less finishing needs to be done by the leather craftsman.
  • In a premium quality hide or skin, the full natural grain is maintained and dyed to enhance its beauty. If the natural grain has many imperfections then the natural grain is sanded away and an imitation grain is pressed into the surface of the hide and then dyed accordingly. Leathers are finished in many different ways depending on the item being produced and how it is going to be used. Just as there are many variations between animals there are also differences between different areas on the body of an animal. Across the backbone the grain is relatively tight while the belly and flank areas the grain may be very loose and have more stretch. Graining is unique to each individual hide.
  • There are numerous types of hides and skins with different treatments and processes for tanning into leather. Various finishing techniques are used by skilled craftsmen to fashion the leather into many different kinds of leather products. In the production of leather, each tannery has its own techniques and recipes for creating texture and color variations. Transforming hides and skins into leather is done in three basic phases: pre-tanning, tanning, and finishing.
  1. Alligator skin: is an exotic top quality leather made from the belly skin of an alligator commonly used for shoes, gun cases, purses, wallets and belts.
  2. Buffalo hide: Buffalo leather is durable and has a unique, natural grain character. It is used in fine small leather goods, men's dress shoes, women's shoes and western boots.
  3. Cowhide: This affordable and functional leather has nice wearable properties, strength and durability. Since cowhide is a by-product of the beef industry, the hides are easily available.
  4. Deerskin: It is soft and supple leather. It can be wet and dried over and over and will retain its original condition. It is very comfortable for any temperature, for both cool and warm weather.
  5. Elk skin: And moose skin is a heavy leather. It is similar to deerskin but thicker and needs to be shaved down or split to be used.
  6. Equine hides: Includes hides from horses, donkeys and mules. These leathers are like cowhide leather but more durable.
  7. Goatskin: Used for dress shoes, boots and smaller leather products.
  8. Lambskin: it is a very soft and luxurious leather with a distinctive velvety touch because of its natural lightweight layers. Lambskin is very wearable and with proper care will give you many years of wear.
  9. Ostrich skin:: An exotic leather with a pattern of quill sockets. It is full of natural oils and is hence flexible, pliable, durable, tough and yet soft to touch resisting drying, cracking and stiffness.
  10. Pigskin: Pigskin is a very versatile leather with a natural, lightweight structure giving delicate patterns, textures and soft naps.
  11. Sheepskin: sheepskin is the warmest leather available. It is the hide of a sheep with the wool attached which can face into the shoe to produce a wool lining or face outside for a fur-like appearance.
  12. Shear ling: hide from lambs, much softer to the touch and lighter in weight than sheepskin but equally warm and similar in appearance.
The Pre-tanning Process for Leather
  • Skinning – of the dead animal – should be fresh.
  • Fleshing - soak the hide in a mild alkalis bath to soften up the tissues and then machines do the fleshing leaving a clean, uniform surface.
  • Dehairing- is done, by soaking the hide in a bath of lime or lye water.
  • Scudding- Scraping to remove the dirt and lime from the hide's surface.
  • Bating- Rinsing in water and then in a bath of vinegar and water to neutralize PH (lime) in the hide.
  • This rawhide is stretched tightly onto a frame until it has dried. It is now ready for tanning or preservation either by freezing which is good for one year or by salting called curing which lasts for about six months.
The Tanning Process for Leather
  • Tanning preserves the hide and makes it flexible and durable.
  • Chrome tanning- hides are kept in a drum containing a solution of common salt, acid and soda. After 5-10 hours the conversion to leather is completed.
  • Vegetable tanning- process using plants and tree bark having tannin. Tannin when combined with the proteins in a hide form leather.
  • Splits- The thicker hides are split into uniform thicknesses by machines and called splits. The top layer with the natural outside surface is developed into full grain leather or buffed into corrected grain leather. The lower layer is split and finished into suede or coated split leather. eg. patent leather.
  • The Finishing Process for Leather- The finishing process can include: dyeing, rolling, pressing, spraying, plasticizing, lacquering, antiquing, waxing, buffing, snuffing, embossing, glazing, waterproofing, stain proofing, flame proofing or any other post-tanning treatment.Finishing makes leather stronger.
  1. Full-grain leather: hides that have not been sanded. The grain is retained giving more strength and durability. This grain also breathes, resulting in less moisture from prolonged contact. Full grain leather develops a patina with use. Full-grain leathers are typically available in two finish types: aniline, semi-aniline.
  2. Top-grain leather: is the second-highest quality. The "split" layer is removed, making it thin and pliable. It is sanded and finished and gets a colder, plastic touch. It has less breathability, and does not develop a natural patina with use. It is less expensive and has greater stain resistance than full-grain leather.
  3. Corrected-grain leather: has an artificial grain. The imperfections in the hide are corrected or sanded off, an artificial grain is then embossed into the surface and finished with dyes. Most corrected-grain leather is pigmented as the solid pigment hides the corrections. Corrected grain leathers are hence available as two finish types: semi-aniline and pigmented.
  4. Split leather: is created from the fibrous part of the hide left after the separation of the top-grain. An artificial layer is applied to the Split leather and then embossed with a leather grain (bycast leather).
  1. Pure aniline leather: Also called aniline or premium select leather. Only some hides can be converted into pure aniline leather. This is the best quality and most expensive leather as it is made from full grain hide with natural markings and no grain corrections and hence no pigmentation. This leather may use a clear finish or protective coating.
  2. Semi-aniline leather: (or aniline plus leather) is a full grain leather, with a small amount of surface dye or clear pigmented finish showing the natural grain of the leather.
  3. Protected aniline leather: The hide is dyed and/or coated with protective pigments. Its color and finish are applied hence artificial and the natural markings are less visible. Protected leather is water repellant and hence stain resistant, making it easy maintenance.
  4. False Aniline Finish: A leather which is completely layered with pigmented finishes creating grain to emulate pure aniline or semi-aniline finished leathers.
  • SUEDE: is created from Split leather. Suede is "fuzzy" (Napped) on both sides. Because suede from split leather does not have the tough exterior skin layer, it is less durable but softer than full-grain leather. Manufacturers: However use a variety of techniques to make suede from full-grain leather also nowadays. This type of leather is calledNubuck. It is usually more expensive than suede, and needs to be dyed heavily to cover up the sanding and stamping process.
  • A NAPA: Leather, or sheep/lambskin, is naturally one of the softest leathers in the market today.
  • PULL-UP: Leather produces a burst of color when the leather is pulled tight. This leather is aniline dyed with an oil and/or wax application. This separates as the leather is pulled, causing the color to become lighter.
  • PATCHED LEATHER: Once hides are tanned, dyed and finished as desired, then leather matching in color and texture are selected. Skilled craftsmen then cut each leather hide, by hand, into pieces which are then sewn into mosaic patterns making a final product that is one of a kind.
  • PATENT LEATHER: When cowhide has an extra shiny finish due to treatment with protective finishes such as acrylic paints or waterproofing.
  • NAKED or NUDE LEATHER: is a leather that has little or no protective finish.

LEATHER WEIGHTS:

In the leather industry, the thickness of leather is specified in terms of weight. The number of ounces in one square foot of material determines the thickness of leather, so every ounce of weight in a square foot of leather is equivalent to a sixty-fourth of an inch thickness. Hence, a four-ounce leather is approximately one-sixteenth of an inch or 1.6 mm thick as a square foot of that leather weighs four ounces.To determine the approximate thickness of a leather item that you see online you need to pay close attention to the posted weight of that item. Almost every product listed online has its weight posted next to it for shipping purposes. A heavier weight means thicker leather.


COST OF LEATHER: Various factors determine the expense of a leather item.

  • Hide Type: the type of animal used for the hides or skins can determine cost. The leather of exotic (or rare) animal s is more expensive. Weight: Leather gets more expensive with increase in weight.
  • Grade: The leather cost goes up in proportion to quality. The higher the grade of leather the more expensive it is. Grade A is better than B and Grade 1 is better than 2.

    Manufacturing Process: The processes used in its manufacture like the type of tanning, the dyeing process, type of dye, how the leather is crafted and many more manufacturing techniques determine the cost of the leather.

Various factors determine the expense of a leather item.
  • Hide Type: the type of animal used for the hides or skins can determine cost. The leather of exotic (or rare) animal s is more expensive .
  • Weight: Leather gets more expensive with increase in weight.
  • Grade: The leather cost goes up in proportion to quality. The higher the grade of leather the more expensive it is. Grade A is better than B and Grade 1 is better than 2.
  • Manufacturing Process:The processes used in its manufacture like the type of tanning, the dyeing process, type of dye, how the leather is crafted and many more manufacturing techniques determine the cost of the leather.