Leathercraft for Entrepreneurs

Fun And Interesting Facts About Handmade Leather Goods

Fun And Interesting Facts About Handmade Leather Goods

Do you know that the Romans used leather as the sails on their ships?  And Egyptian women started wearing leather fashion and accessories around a 1000BC. 

Since then leather has been everywhere, made into everything, and is a source of income for many. Leather is changing economies, especially in developing countries. Leather and leather goods industry are said to gross 629.65 billion dollars by 2025 and growing too.

leather book cover

Leather has a very bright future or else how do you explain a piece of material that has transformed the world as we know it? The fashion leather industry, including apparel, will reach $1254.2 billion in 2023.  If you ever thought of investing in leatherwork or the leather industry, this might be the right time to start. It is as indelible as the material is, so is the market and future of it.

History of Leather and Crafts

Leather dates back to the Stone Age and has been used as a protective material against elements. Funny, we still use it for the same purpose today, only stylishly.  However, as leather transcends the sands of time, its uses and style changed too.

Man dependence on animal for food is unarguable, and so is leather. It was easy to hunt animals and make the skin or hide into clothing, footwear, coverings, and water or wine sacks. It was the beginning of leather crafts, but the process was not fun. The skin would rot from remaining flesh, but it was one that birthed a new method or preservation known as tanning.

As the man and his society evolved; so did the use of leather and leathercraft too.  Today, we have leather weapons, living spaces, harnesses, fashion, writing and drawing surface and many more.

Leather Industry and Goods

leather bags

Even if you don’t wear leather, you have something made of leather.  Centuries after people wrapped themselves in skin and hides; we still do the same, only in a more fashionable way.  Do you know that two handmade leather goods don't look exactly alike?  They are like your fingerprint; each one is unique according to the mood, time and craftsman. Good leather will last a lifetime. 

Today, leather goods are mostly sourced for their durability, and other qualities like dustproof, fireproof, and crack proof. The industry will experience a 6.2 per cent growth in 2020 – 2025.

How is Leather Made?

Do you know that before chemicals and tanneries, the skin or hide was scrapped, soaked in fermenting solution and dried over smoke? It didn't preserve the skin as bacteria and mould destroyed it. 

Leather passes through 23 processes before the skin or hide becomes leather. You can make that 24 if you include the time and energy which the craftsman or women expend in converting it to a beautiful handmade good. The steps are curing, soaking, painting, liming, fleshing, de-liming, bating, pickling, degreasing and tanning. These are the first ten stages which are mostly manual.

how is leather made?

The next steps are splitting, shaving, neutralizing, dyeing, fat liquoring (this is lubricating with oil to soften it).  It's followed by samming (moisture extraction), setting out, final drying, staking & dry drumming, buffing & brushing, finishing and grading. The process is not easy, so do appreciate the craftsman and leather goods when you see them.

Different Types of Leather

Do you know that salmon leather exist? Yes, leather made from the skin of wild salmon. This leather is exotic, exquisite and sustainable. It might be a game-changer in the fashion industry too. There are five types of leather materials. They are top-grain, full-grain, corrected leather, split leather and bonded leather. 

These are the commonly used leather, but there are varieties on the market today. Do you also know that top grain leather is not the finest leather on the market?  It is full grain, so don't get deceived when you are out shopping!

Properties of Leather and Quality

leather satchel

Bet you didn’t know that leather could develop stretch mark, scarring, and wrinkles and that two leather materials are not the same?  The property and quality of the leather used are dependent on the animals used. Factors like their age and how they lived their lives are significant too. 

Leather is natural, has a shine and sheen to it, flexible, soft, resistant to tear, high tensile strength, and durable. If you treat it well, it will last forever.

Leather as a Renewable Resource

Do you know that over 7 million tonnes of leather will go into landfills if every piece of leather is not utilised? This renewable property allows scraps of leather and leather by-products to be of immense significance in the industry. However, because all things will die, leather is also biodegradable fulfilling the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle' rule.

Importance of Leather

Today, the fashion industry is the number one consumers of leather material. As the world turns to eco-friendly and sustainable materials, leather is the number one option for many. 

leather watch strap

The leather sector generate revenue in the form of employment and businesses, creating opportunities for many economies. The ability to increase domestic sustainability and boost growth via export make leather very important.

Uses of Leather

Do you know wallpaper was once leather? Today in some Middle Eastern culture, leather tapestry and wall art still exist. Leather is used for everything if you can imagine it. Today, there are leather shoes, clothes, interior decor, upholstery, kitchenware, mugs, fashion accessories, etc. The list is never-ending.

Leatherwork Products

These are products made of leather. Leatherwork was a skill associated with a few, but today everyone can make leatherwork products. It's a series of steps a leatherworker can use to create practical items from the comfort of their home or workshop. 

Leatherwork products include belts, purses, bags, wrist bands, accessories, shoes, jewellery, and more. Check out our leathercraft tool kits article on how to get started today.

It is the beginning of falling in love with leatherwork and making beautiful products at home.

Benefits of Leatherwork

Asides from keeping you busy and creating beautiful pieces, leatherwork allows you to immortalize memories and moments forever.  Do you know that leather is the only timeless material that breathes?

That is why it’s durable and resistant to environmental degradation. Leather is also said to behave according to the location it is used in. Its adaptability property makes leatherwork and craft a timeless creation forever. 

Leather has made a significant impact on human history since the beginning of time.  What started as a protective covering against the elements is now a must-have piece that everyone needs. Regardless of the use, leather plays a crucial role in modern society. Today, with technology and machines, leather processing and leatherwork are becoming easier.

However, handmade leatherwork products are unique and beneficial in many ways. Whether it is a career choice, hobby or a way to use up extra time, leatherwork benefit is a reward appreciated decades later.  We hope these fun facts about handmade leather goods will motivate you to start something unique for yourself and others.

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