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  1. The Pros and Cons of Crafting with Leather 7/13/2018 0 Comments As a textile material it’s said that the origins of leather are as old as civilization itself? A lot of writers credit its origins to different points in history, but perhaps the most impressive is actually found in the Bible. The Bible credits the origins of leather all the way back to Adam and Eve. After they sinned and were removed from the Garden of Eden it’s said that God made them garments from skin and clothed them. What type of skin? It doesn’t say, but I’m guessing it might have been a lamb or something similar. So regardless of what point in history you go back to, leather has been around a long time and will probably be around until the end of civilization itself. But what has made this material so appealing throughout the ages? Perhaps this blog is not intended to completely answer that question, but feel free to add to it with your comments below… So for now, let's talk about the pros and cons of crafting with leather. I think the best way to tackle this topic, is to simply look at the qualities of the material and it applications. In this blog I’m only going to be focusing on vegetable tanned leather, since this is what was used historically. Chrome tanned leather didn’t come along until the 1800’s. The Pros – It’s an eco-friendly and natural resource – No harmful chemicals are used in the tanning process. It has a very pleasant fragrance - Natural rich earthly scent that doesn't overwhelm. It is ideal for use in art or craft – Images can be carved and tooled into the surface of the leather to transform this material into literal works of art It can be wetted and molded into any shape or form you want. Magnificent statues and pieces of art have been molded with leather throughout the centuries, such as in the image to the right. It can be stained or dyed to any color you want It’s extremely durable and can last a lifetime (Special emphasis on Vegetable tanned leather) It’s not that expensive… - You might be surprised to here me say that, but considering what leather is and how much you can buy for the price, it really isn’t that expensive. Since leather is a natural resource, it’s prices will fluctuate from time to time. But regardless, I still think it’s a very affordable craft material that is unmatched by any other. It’s compatible – Leather is also very compatible with other textile materials, wood, and more. Leather takes on beautiful properties as it ages and antiques - As leather is exposed to natural elements, such as sunlight, moisture, and oils from our hands, over time the leather will take on a beautiful natural patina tan that only adds to it beauty and look. Cons – Leather requires a little upkeep – Compared to other textiles leather actually requires much less upkeep to maintain, but in order to keep it clean it’s best to protect your leather goods with leather care products from time to time. Best not to get it wet! – Leather can handle some moisture but being a natural material it’s best not to leave it in the rain if you really want it to last. Shopping for leather – One of the biggest complaints people have when buying vegetable tanned leather is that it has some scaring on the leathers top surface. But this is unavoidable since the leather is a natural material. So, if the animal is raised on the free-range, then it’s going to have some scaring from bug bites, barbed wire fences, branding marks, or other animal bites. In some ways I think these marks lend character and beauty to the properties of the leather, but if you are shopping for perfection, then there are more expensive hides that can be purchased. Top quality hides are usually made from animals that are raised in protective environments where their exposure to harmful conditions are removed. These hides are of course very beautiful, but also very costly. Sometimes it’s more affordable to buy 2 hides of a cheaper leather with scars than it is to buy 1 piece of hi-quality leather. I guess it just depends on what you are making and what the job demands. It’s a less known craft niche – Some may see this as a pro or a con, but I think the leathercraft industry doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Considering everything that can be done with leather and rich history of the craft I hope to see it become one of the most popular crafts the world has to offer. So as far as I can tell the pros, far outweigh the cons... What do you think?
  2. This bag was designed for an exhibition in Taiwan. I wanted to design a bag that I thought reflected something unique about Taiwan and my experiences living here for the past 20 years. One of the 1st things about Taiwan that grabbed my attention the 1st day I arrived was the swarm of motorbikes that covered the streets. Motorbikes or scooters are by far the preferred form of transportation throughout Taiwan and they vastly outnumber all other forms of transportation on the densely-populated Island. These compact modes of transportation are favored for their convenience in parking and inexpensive maintenance. But as convenient as they are, they are also quite dangerous and it's not uncommon to see accidents daily. I myself have been in 2 over the years, resulting in breaking a shoulder in each accident. I have since thrown in the towel and now drive a car with lots of airbags..! Regardless, these bikes have left a deep impression on my life and so I decided to create a luxury bag built around the properties of a scooter tire. Coming up with a design I really liked that would work well with the shape and weight of the tire was challenging at 1st, but eventually the concept came to life. The 1st challenge I had starting out was finding the right tire for the job. So, I went to a large motorbike shop and to my surprise after hearing about my plans to design a bag out of a tire they began to enthusiastically bring out every tire they had in their collection for me to choose from. This made finding the right tire a whole lot easier and they have my sincerest appreciation..! To make this project a piece of art and not just a bag I wanted to incorporate the use of a variety of exotic leathers, such as horse leather, gazelle fur, and fine Italian tanned leathers on different components of the bag to give it a richly exotic look and feel. To lighten the weight of the bag I have removed any unnecessary rubber from the tire and have used extra thick (3mm thick) Leather to provide the bag with strength and support for the tires shape and weight. Every component you see on the bag was cut, dyed, and stitched together by hand using only traditional techniques... The end result was better than I could have expected! After spending about 2 months coming up with a design I spent about another 50 -60 hours to build the bag itself! Since then I have come up with 3 distinct designs for the tire bag for both larger and smaller tires. If you'd like to see more pictures of this bag and some of my other leather artwork and designs, please visit my page at www.fischerworkshops.com Thanks!!!
  3. This bag was designed for an exhibition in Taiwan. I wanted to design a bag that I thought reflected something unique about Taiwan and my experiences living here for the past 20 years. One of the 1st things about Taiwan that grabbed my attention the 1st day I arrived was the swarm of motorbikes that covered the streets. Motorbikes or scooters are by far the preferred form of transportation throughout Taiwan and they vastly outnumber all other forms of transportation on the densely-populated Island. These compact modes of transportation are favored for their convenience in parking and inexpensive maintenance. But as convenient as they are, they are also quite dangerous and it's not uncommon to see accidents daily. I myself have been in 2 over the years, resulting in breaking a shoulder in each accident. I have since thrown in the towel and now drive a car with lots of airbags..! Regardless, these bikes have left a deep impression on my life and so I decided to create a luxury bag built around the properties of a scooter tire. Coming up with a design I really liked that would work well with the shape and weight of the tire was challenging at 1st, but eventually the concept came to life. The 1st challenge I had starting out was finding the right tire for the job. So, I went to a large motorbike shop and to my surprise after hearing about my plans to design a bag out of a tire they began to enthusiastically bring out every tire they had in their collection for me to choose from. This made finding the right tire a whole lot easier and they have my sincerest appreciation..! To make this project a piece of art and not just a bag I wanted to incorporate the use of a variety of exotic leathers, such as horse leather, gazelle fur, and fine Italian tanned leathers on different components of the bag to give it a richly exotic look and feel. To lighten the weight of the bag I have removed any unnecessary rubber from the tire and have used extra thick (3mm thick) Leather to provide the bag with strength and support for the tires shape and weight. Every component you see on the bag was cut, dyed, and stitched together by hand using only traditional techniques... The end result was better than I could have expected! After spending about 2 months coming up with a design I spent about another 50 -60 hours to build the bag itself! Since then I have come up with 3 distinct designs for the tire bag for both larger and smaller tires. If you'd like to see more pictures of this bag and some of my other leather artwork and designs, please visit my page at www.fischerworkshops.com Thanks!!!
  4. Using exotic leather on your leatherwork can give your craft a very eye-catching look and add value and interest in what you are making. In this video tutorial see how I use alligator skin to give a simple pencil case a whole new look and feel. If alligator skin is not your thing, then you could use a wide variety of other leather types or materials in it's place to make it unique. Regardless, what I love about handmade leather goods is that in the end you have something that will most likely be with you for a lifetime and carry a story with it. If you'd like to try your hand and making this project a printable PDF pattern with instructions and materials I used to make this project can be downloaded from my website at www.fischerworkshops.com To see how it's made just click here to view my video guide to making an exotic leather pen case
  5. This popular folding coin purse design makes for a great leather project. Small enough to conveniently store in your pocket or purse but able to store a large amount of coins in. It also opens up nice and wide so you can get what you need quickly and easily. To add value and beauty to the purse I have used several types of exotic leather for aesthetics through the circular cutout of the purse frame. I have used both alligator skin and gazelle hide as examples for this tutorial. A PDF pattern with a detailed list of leather types, tools, and products used in this project can be downloaded from Fischer Workshops. Just click on the following link to be directed to the download page...Exotic Leather PDF Pattern DownloadI have also published a video tutorial to demonstrate the step by step process I go through in making the purse. The video is only 10 minutes long, but it took me about 2 hours to complete this project. I chose to stain the leather by hand which is the longest process in making the purse. I suppose if you bought pre-stained leather you could finish this project in about an hour. To see the video just click on the link below... Thanks and Enjoy!