Vegetable tanned leather is a wonderful material. We use only full grain leather for our crafts – this kind of leather is strong and durable. Goods made of vegetable tanned leather change over time as if they were magical items that save the history – been places, seen objects – every scratch and wrinkle has a story to tell. And may be the most important thing is, they serve you for a very long time, some even for a lifetime and if they’re properly taken care of, there’s great value of the item always left for the next generation as well.
This hasn’t been obvious for everyone, so let it be stated here that this kind of leather is genuine leather.
We use best available materials for our crafts. These dyes (colors), oils and other finishing products have been specially produced for working this way – all the way by hand.
Leather dyes, colors
We dye leather for every item separately. First, because all the hand carved images have to be carved first onto the leather and the overall look can be made more interesting when applying the dye later. And, because almost all our works are custom made leather goods, we dye the leather used for certain item as we have agreed with the customer. This way everyone may have really personal and special leather goods.
Sometimes there’s a request for varicolored items and in this case we’ll take on the painting by thin small narrow brush.
Dyes that sink into the leather surface
We have decided to use the sort of dyes that sink into the leather surface. Colors do not rub off the leather or crackle. When you touch the leather, you’ll feel actual leather under your palm, not the coat of paint. All these dyes are really beautiful and there’s quite a selection of them too – we usually keep black, dark brown, light brown, yellow, green, blue, violet, mahogany, red and orange on our materials shelf. But there are even more variations and tones, so it is possible to order additional colors (also lighter or darker variations).
But – there is a limit in this range – there is no white, pink or grey for example.
As these colors sink into the leather, they allow to keep the best magical features of the vegetable tanned leather still visible. For example you can observe the changes in tone even when leather is dyed – exept for the black as nothing can’t get darker than that but proud black-items owners can still enjoy the changes in the leather itself (it gets smoother, more elastic). And of course this sort of change in leather is more obvious for lighter colors.
Colors that stick onto the surface of the leather
Just a little additional information: there is a range of colors available that stick onto the leather surface. It is probable, that this sort of color would rub off or crack in time. In our opinion these colors are better suited for items that do not get very heavy usage (like bags, briefcases, wallets, belts or really any other item you would use daily), are made and meant more for beauty than “hands on” and are kept indoors.
In this range there are no limits – there’s white and pink and grey.
Oils and waxes
By adding oil and wax we can restore the softness and durability of the leather. Oil and wax also provide some protection for leather items, keeping them in best condition to face rain, sunshine and possible mud splashes that they might come across.
We also oil and wax all leather pieces while assembling them to the item you requested. When carving images we need to dampen the leather (sometimes repeatedly for very large and detailed images) and that makes it a bit stiffer. Also a certain change is notable after dyeing, so to restore it to the best health, we treat it with all the best leather caring products.
Oiling and waxing isn’t something you should overlook if you want a long lifetime for your leathery companion. The better care you take of it, the longer it is able to serve you. This also helps to keep your leather items in best looking condition.
Leather goods with oiled finish
Oiled finish means that leather goods will be left undyed but they are oiled and waxed. They are in their most natural color.
These items – with oiled finish – are the ones that allow you to observe the magic of vegetable tanned leather most clearly. How fast or how much does the color tone (for example) change can’t be predicted, as it depends on the usage, environment and care. In addition, there is a part in this magic also for the tanning process and materials used for it. The tannins left into the leather react with environmental elements and the result can be observed on the leather.
Hand sewn leather goods
Needlework is also a hand made work in our workshop.
For seams we usually choose a very strong waxed thread – that one can’t be torn by hand. We also offer linen thread, that is weaker but shouldn’t be a problem for lighter and smaller items. In fact, I have a quite heavy and large shoulder bag that is sewn with the same linen thread and it is in perfect condition even after years of usage.
For seams we cut a small tunnel into the leather surface with a special tool. The thread will “sit” in this tunnel so the seams won’t be on the surface but levelled with the surface. This protects the seams and the thread can’t be worn off that easily.
Hand sewn seams vs machine sewn seams
Most of sewing here is done by saddlers stitching. This is a kind of style where every stitch ends with a knot.
We have been asked many times that why on earth would we do such a thing – hand stitch a whole briefcase for example? But there is a difference in the outcome. Machine made stitches are quick to branch off when the thread happens to break. Saddlers stitches end with a knot and don’t branch off so easily. So the leather item will still hold intact and the repairing is much easier this way.
In addition – when hand stitching, the needle goes often through the thread itself and this sort of waxed thread gets really well stuck this way. So well, that even if I had to open some previously made seams for some reason, it is easier to cut the thread between the seams but to try to open the seams one by one.
“Well made, durable and beautiful leather goods“Wanakuramus’ Leather Crafts
Handmade all the way