Leather


I use almost exclusively, full-grain vegetable-tanned leather, somtimes referred to as tooling leather. It is tanned using vegetable matter, such as oak tree bark or leaves. This type of leather has been used throughout history for all sorts of applications, including footwear, armour, drinking vessels, bags and so on.

One of the great attributes of this leather is the way it will form it's own patina over time, with exposure to sun and general use. It is a very strong leather and objects made from it have been known to last for generations. Veg-tan leather comes in a range of thicknesses, dependent on a number of factors, including the type of animal and whereabouts on it's body the leather is taken from.

phone caseI have seen examples of leather items made from all sorts of animals, however, mine tend to be from cowhide and occasionally, buffalo or pig. I source my leather mainly from British and Italian tanneries and their agents.

I mentioned above, tooling leather. Veg-tan leather has this marvellous ability to accept all sorts of action on it's surface from hammering stamps onto it, carving, gouging - even burning or branding. I certainly always have a number of items available on which I have used pyrography to draw patterns or typography. This leather is also good at receiving both dye and paint.

Before I go on, I should point out that if you are unfamiliar with leather, except perhaps for the modern sofa you are sitting on, veg-tan is quite a different thing to the leather your sofa is made from. This is almost certainly made from chromium-tanned leather, a material which has soaked in a lot of not very nice chemicals which have made it soft and pliable, but nowhere near as strong - or pleasant. Only some of the most expensive Chesterfield-type sofas use veg-tan, and this furniture may last many decades of constant use.

So you get the message, that veg-tan is one of the finest leathers available and is so versatile that it can be used all sorts of goods.

razor guardHow do you look after it though? Well, stopping it from drying out is quite important, but not by soaking it in water! Water can stain untreated leather. Dependent on what the finish is if your item, simply rubbing some olive oil over the surface is enough to regenerate it. However, this doesn't work on everything. Most items leave Meadowgate Leather with several applications of Carnauba cream, which is a treatment made from a palm oil and beeswax. If you can find a supplier, then use this, but if you are stuck for a treatment in your part of the world, try a neutral shoe polish - experiment on a hidden portion of the leather if possible.

As I cannot see and feel your item, I cannot guarantee that the aforementioned will work with your item, but in my experience they have never harmed the leather, although be aware they may darken the colour or patina after application.

I know a few people who have asked the question whether leather is sustainable and if it is ecologically correct? I have to answer that the leather I use is just a by-product of the meat industry. If the world stopped eating meat, then there could be a leather supply problem, but as it is, only a relatively small percentage of animals slaughtered for food have their hides turned into leather. The rest I am afraid tend to be burned or buried. So looking at it that way, the leather product industry is at least making the most of these animals and they are not going to waste.