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All You Need to Know on The Ancient Art of Leathermaking

All You Need to Know on The Ancient Art of Leathermaking

Did you know that an average person is most likely to carry around at least four leather products any time he or she goes out? Everyone owns something made of leather.

In fact, leather is one of the most popular and durable textures in the world. However, few know the rich cultural history surrounding leathermaking. Leathercraft, as the art of making leather into craft objects, is an extremely ancient practice. The first testimonials of leatherworking dates back around 40BC when Egyptians and Hebrews started experimenting with animal skin discovering the original process of tanning.

old leather bookbinding

Few centuries later, the Romans were using leather as currency. By the middle ages, leather production had majorly spread around Europe, although its products were mostly reserved to the wealthy who could afford such refined items. Leather craft further blossomed with the discovery of the New World. In the 19th century, the industrial revolution ushered this art to new mechanical advancements that opened the production of leather to a global scale.

Nowadays, leather working is one of the easiest trades to get into and this is definitely good news if you are interested in it. With this introduction to leathercrafting, you will learn everything you need to know to take on a new hobby or, why not, a rewarding business.

The first step for getting started in leathercrafting is learning a number of basic skills that most projects require. Saddle stitching, cutting, gluing and burnishing will accompany you throughout your journey into leatherworking. There are definitely more advanced skills to learn, but, as a freshman of leathercraft, we advise you to take it step by step. While cutting and gluing are quite straightforward, you might need some further insight on the other two. According to leather craftsmen, saddle stitching is the best way to stitch leather.

leather crafting tool kits

Done by hand, it creates a knot at each hole preventing the whole thing to unravel in case the thread breaks somewhere. Burnishing is usually performed in order to seal the edges of your work. Polishing and reinforcing the leather edges by heating loose fibres together through friction will make your edges glass up beautifully.  

Besides the skills, you should also have a basic understanding of leatherworking tools. The most basic projects, the ones you should start with, will most likely need the following: a knife, glue, needle and thread, pricking irons, a mallet, and a ruler. These entry level supplies are easy to find in any local hobby or craft shop. Leathercraft beginner tool kits are also quite common to find, but beware, many kits are poor quality tools and full of things you will probably never use. Want to learn more about leatherworking tools? Check out our Leather 101: Beginner’s Guide to Leathercrafting

leather stitching methods

The only thing missing now is leather. Choosing the right leather, meaning one compatible with your project, is vital in leather crafting. Because there are many different options when it comes to choosing leather, before getting started you should learn first what to look for. The important aspects you should consider when choosing the right piece of leather are tannage, weight, temper and finish. When you have just started though, you might want to give yourself some time to explore rather than investing in some expensive hide. We, along with many masterclass artisans, suggest you get first the cheapest and low-grade leather you can find and just start experimenting with it.

Once you have practiced with some scraps, you are finally ready to pick out your first project. The best thing to do is choosing something you are genuinely interested in: it will help keep you passionate about completing the project. Pick something that is small and simple to make, it will help you narrow down the scope of skills and tools you need while staying on a budget. Here’s a few ideas of projects for beginners: a wallet, a card holder, a journal cover, a sunglasses case, or a dog collar.

artisans diy craft kit

Still confused and not sure where to begin? A great starting point could be our Leather Craft Kits. Fun and easy to use, .Ar:ti|sans Kits include everything you need to start out: vegetable tanned leather with refined burnished edges, thread, needle and simple, yet beautiful, models. Designed to ignite individuality and self-expression, these kits are a perfect way to move your first steps into leathercrafting as well as great gifts to self, family and friends for all occasions. The three designs currently available – Glasses Case, Passport Holder and Wallet – will soon be joined by many more. 

Learn more about .Ar:ti|sans Kits

Leather Eyeglasses Kit

Leather CardHolder Kit

Leather Passport Holder Kit