JC2019

Anyone ever do an apprenticeship? Was it worth it?

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3 hours ago, JLSleather said:

It took me maybe a month to be making belts nicer than any around me - not YEARS.  By the time I was at it a year, I could DUPLICATE any of the designs in those books I mentioned, and often improved on them.  By the time I'd been tooling a year, I had more work than I could reasonably do by myself. 

I would have been willing to pay someone to help with the requests and orders, but couldn't find anyone who was both able and willing.  Those who were able weren't willing, much like Yin points out, "many of those still in it didn't want to share their skills or knowledge".  Which is a much nicer way of saying that they fear competition.   And those who were willing weren't able - many couldn't get past the idea of bopping some wet cow and smearing some 'antique' poo on it.  I DID manage to find a guy who draws and sketches incredibly well to do some of the design work for a while so I could tool and color the leather.

These days I see (hear) people watching HOURS and HOURS of videos about sewing two pieces together.  It's a SNARE people... you learn to sew by SEWING.   There's a WHYintheworld video for EVERYTHING... you can learn an entire trade without leaving the house.  Still need to put it into practice (which is called 'experience').

True.  Nor was the leather I destroyed learning to do it.  Also paid for the dyes, paints, threads, tools -- all of which I would have needed anyway.  MOST the books I bought were between $6-20 each.  So if somebody wanted to SHOW me what the book said, instead of me getting my own  book, then I wouldn't have objected to paying somebody that same amount to show me what the book said. 

But that wasn't possible.  The people who were 'doing leather' often didn't have the books, and those who did had basically resigned themselves to doing no more than absolutely necessary to get a dollar for what they called "leather craft" (most of them went the way of "craft shows" and "fairs", where cheap, fast, "commercial grade" leather work is passed off as "craftsmanship".

 

+1.  Very well stated.

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Thanks to joining this site I've already found way more resources that I knew existed related to shoe making which is great. I am going to give that $3 a month thing a try too. Now I am still looking for more information about exotic leathers and people who work in that space. I've been told it's not to different than working with other leather but I am not sure. Ruining some of that leather would be a bit more expensive. 

I think I need to go out on my own first and then get a list of problems and questions I encounter and then reconsider paying for instruction at that level.

 

So far I think I have enough for starting with shoes (I purchased the Jason Hovatter DVDs and will be buying others as I go through those).

If anyone has any good resources  on:

- working with exotic leathers.   @RockyAussie  How did you get started? Did you learn under someone or found any helpful guides/books? Trial and error?

- making leather jackets

 

Please let me know.

 

Thank you!

Edited by JC2019

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On 4/27/2019 at 1:12 AM, JC2019 said:

The other thing I find extremely hard to find even books on  are exotics. 

I cant help you there as I have not seen anything of use to date. That is one of the reasons that I joined this forum in my never ending search to improve where I can.

 

On 4/27/2019 at 1:12 AM, JC2019 said:

I may ask you some questions. I believe you are also interested in 3d printing and lasers (from your album)?

I am happy to answer any questions that may help where ever I can. The 3D printing and the laser are both turned out to be very worthwhile and are something I wish were around 30 years back. They make a lot of the prototyping and moulds etc way less time and costly to make. If there is a little part in a design that could be better it only takes a few minutes to correct. 

If you want to work with exotics as I have done over the last 30 years I would say a visit here would teach you more about working with these skins than any other I know or have heard of. I can only add that we have done more high end Crocodile and perhaps Ostrich than any other manufacturer in Australia for many years. As I said before you are welcome to visit and I would be happy to show you a lot (enough to get you started) for $0. AS far as your interest in shoes I can show you a little but I stopped bespoke making them nearly 20 years back but still have most of the machinery, lasts etc. I found the demand was way to much for me to keep up and the training of people too expensive and time consuming to keep up with it. Wallets purses bags and belts do not require the same level of attention to fit exactly and are therefore way easier train people to make.  Competition in the exotic area is very thin and is a reason that I like to help people to progress in this area. I love competition and when so many are doing such poor work it gets to be unexciting when there is such a low level to try and aspire to. I am sorry if this sounds like I am talking myself up as that is not my intention.

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6 hours ago, JLSleather said:

"fairs", where cheap, fast, "commercial grade" leather work is passed off as "craftsmanship".

This can raise my hackles.  But it seems to be a successful business model, and sells lots of stuff for lower prices.  I am trying to not participate in this market niche if I can manage it.  I don't mind selling lower priced items, but not with shoddy workmanship.

I think if I ever did do an apprenticeship, it would be to learn the things "they don't teach you in books."  So an established individual that understands the business side, the tool side, the machine side, the construction side, supply/demand, materials sourcing, market, marketing, etc would be what I would be seeking to learn.

YinTx

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@RockyAussie  Thanks. I did have some questions that maybe you could help answer. Not sure what the best way to contact you is but here they are:

1) I've read that there are some pretty good prints for alligator belly these days. I thought about getting a few samples to see if I could even tell the difference between the real thing. Do you have any experience with these and any ideas of what leather makes the best prints  (maybe lambskin)? I have even seen some hornback made with cowhide listed on etsy. I want to be as educated about this trade as possible and I think knowing about prints could be important. 

2) I posted a thread about this but I was told by a leather distributor in the USA that it's pretty hard to get the shine / gloss back on a glazed alligator belly once it's gone  dull. I would love to try my hand at restoration even if just to learn more about the material. Any tips on this or ideas? 

Thanks for the offer on training, it is very generous. That will take me more planning and arranging for me. 

 

 

 

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4 minutes ago, JC2019 said:

@RockyAussie  Thanks. I did have some questions that maybe you could help answer. Not sure what the best way to contact you is but here they are:

1) I've read that there are some pretty good prints for alligator belly these days. I thought about getting a few samples to see if I could even tell the difference between the real thing. Do you have any experience with these and any ideas of what leather makes the best prints  (maybe lambskin)? I have even seen some hornback made with cowhide listed on etsy. I want to be as educated about this trade as possible and I think knowing about prints could be important. 

2) I posted a thread about this but I was told by a leather distributor in the USA that it's pretty hard to get the shine / gloss back on a glazed alligator belly once it's gone  dull. I would love to try my hand at restoration even if just to learn more about the material. Any tips on this or ideas? 

Thanks for the offer on training, it is very generous. That will take me more planning and arranging for me. 

 

 

 

Contact in regards to how to methods and the like I do prefer in the open forum here as the answers from my point of view I would like all to see and comment if they wish on. Sometimes some method or other may be new to me and worth while learning as well.

If it is of a more personal nature you can contact me via a pm here or if you follow the link to my web page you can find my email contact there.

As to skins that make good crocodile prints, the best I have seen are done on cowhide veg tan and as far as lambskin that I personally would not touch. As yet I have never seen any tanning with a print or not that on sheep skin/lamb skin that has the durability for me to want to use it. I will not even use it in a bag liner. I love the feel of it sometimes but if I can tear it open I will not use it. Never found any that I have had in trouble ripping. Mostly I only ever use a croc print to test out a new product to design and to train a new staff on perhaps.

Regarding the loss of glaze on alligator or crocodile ...getting it back is hard. There are very long labor intensive ways to get a high glaze but in every day working things like always working on towels and pre polishing and a few other steps help to stop the shine loss in the first place. Generally if I am refurbishing a product I will carefully use a fine brush to touch up any wear patches and then a coating of Nivea cream if the skin is dry. After this has been absorbed for a day or 2 this is followed by a good polishing with a beeswax stick (HooCo wax) with a soft mop on a finishing machine. This will be a slightly less glassy look but to most people looks better and no longer susceptible to water drop marks etc.;)

You may find this post I did awhile ago of interest. It gives you some idea of the typical construction techniques in making a prototype here.-

 

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1 hour ago, RockyAussie said:

Contact in regards to how to methods and the like I do prefer in the open forum here as the answers from my point of view I would like all to see and comment if they wish on. Sometimes some method or other may be new to me and worth while learning as well.

If it is of a more personal nature you can contact me via a pm here or if you follow the link to my web page you can find my email contact there.

As to skins that make good crocodile prints, the best I have seen are done on cowhide veg tan and as far as lambskin that I personally would not touch. As yet I have never seen any tanning with a print or not that on sheep skin/lamb skin that has the durability for me to want to use it. I will not even use it in a bag liner. I love the feel of it sometimes but if I can tear it open I will not use it. Never found any that I have had in trouble ripping. Mostly I only ever use a croc print to test out a new product to design and to train a new staff on perhaps.

Regarding the loss of glaze on alligator or crocodile ...getting it back is hard. There are very long labor intensive ways to get a high glaze but in every day working things like always working on towels and pre polishing and a few other steps help to stop the shine loss in the first place. Generally if I am refurbishing a product I will carefully use a fine brush to touch up any wear patches and then a coating of Nivea cream if the skin is dry. After this has been absorbed for a day or 2 this is followed by a good polishing with a beeswax stick (HooCo wax) with a soft mop on a finishing machine. This will be a slightly less glassy look but to most people looks better and no longer susceptible to water drop marks etc.;)

You may find this post I did awhile ago of interest. It gives you some idea of the typical construction techniques in making a prototype here.-

Awesome, thanks will check it out.   How hard is it to distinguish a good alligator print in veg tan from the real thing? I will need to find a supplier in the US and order some. 

Edited by JC2019

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29 minutes ago, JC2019 said:

 How hard is it to distinguish a good alligator print in veg tan from the real thing? I will need to find a supplier in the US and order some. 

For me toooo easy but on a made up article and to the general public it can be quite deceptive. NOTE : I would never try and make anyone believe that a print was the real thing and I would detest any one if they were to do so.

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12 minutes ago, RockyAussie said:

For me toooo easy but on a made up article and to the general public it can be quite deceptive. NOTE : I would never try and make anyone believe that a print was the real thing and I would detest any one if they were to do so.

Agreed on the last point. My main fear is buying remnants or a hide and mistakenly telling someone it's something else it isn't. For example, even caiman vs crocodile vs alligator. At this point I barely learned how to identify hornback from the scale patterns at the top near the neck area ( but I could not do that with a belly). 

From what I understand:2x2x2  = alligator, 4x2 = crocodile, 4x4x2 = caiman. Caiman being the hardest to work with and sew through.

 

I am still early in my research and I know there are tons of different types of crocodilians out there from different parts of the world. 

 

Do you have any tips for differentiating the bellies of these 3? Especially alligator vs crocodile. I know Caiman is supposed to have small dots in the scales sometimes?

Edited by JC2019

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Most of my work is with Crocodylus porosus (Saltwater crocodile) which is the best and most expensive in the world to use. It has the advantage that it has mostly the least amount of bone in it after the tanning process. It has a lot more rectangular shape scale than the alligator which is normally quite square. Alligator skin is generally tanned on the smaller skins due to the underlying bone that makes the bigger skins difficult to work with. Some tanneries can do a reasonable job with it though. Caiman is a terrible skin to work with and has a lot of disadvantages due to it having a lot of bone just barely under the top layer of skin and this leads to quick wearing out on many products. The tanning of these also shows the difficulty of getting the dyes to absorb evenly due to the bones as well and that is one of the ways that it can be identified at a glance. They also very commonly have a dishy shape scale in comparison to the others. It would be best to visit a seller of these skins to get used to the touch feel and look of these different skins and if possible try them out which will teach you faster than anything else could. Some crosses with Siamensis and porosus are getting hard to tell the difference between now and the differences between where they are tanned are the main difference. That knowledge unfortunately comes from seeing and feeling. 

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16 hours ago, kgg said:

I do agree that an apprentice needs to be paid a fair wage if the end work is going to be sold or charged for, otherwise it is just schooling. All education whether by seminar, weekend courses, college, trade school or university the student pays to learn a skill.

Oh how times have changed from the indentured apprenticeships like my grandfather done. Seven years paying, yes paying, every week to learn under a master before being able to become one himself, he was a master tailor. We had other "tailors" in the family who he scuffed at not because their work wasn't decent but he considered them to be "factory" tailors. In his eyes they had to use pre-made patterns, etc. to produce a good end product rather then a being able to it from scratch with just the bolt of cloth in front of them.

kgg

 

I totally agree with this, sadly a lot of the techniques a being lost as time goes by. This is not just the case with tailors, its also other crafts and trades.There may come a day when a lot of these skills will get lost in the mists of time. Modern techniques have a place if they improve and understand upon what's gone before.

 

Too many people in todays world cut corners and costs which equals less quality and job satisfaction.

JCUK

15 hours ago, chrisash said:

For at least the first year the apprentice costs you money as they know nothing and take a lot of your time teaching the basics and correcting there mistakes

In the second year they can be trusted to help make the basic items for the master to finish off, the master still has to put time aside to teach new techniques and skills so maybe a 50/50 year

In the third year the apprentice is improving their skills and making the master some more money

At the end of the third year the apprentice is skilled and leaves the master and the overall training is balanced

Another point is that not all masters can teach or want to, they can show how to do something just like a video or book, but to actually teach, just like many youg school teachers, teaching and doing are not always the same thing

Also agree with this, especially the part about masters being good at their trade, but that doesn't mean they are good teachers/ communicators. This is a separate skill  - teaching and coaching. How many tops sportsmen have become top coaches in their field? Of course there is the odd exception but this is not the norm. 

JCUK

 

Edited by jcuk

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You may want to email Lisa Sorrell. She has an inlay overlay book that may cover exotics to a point. 

Then again, a trip down under to visit Brian may be the best investment one could ever make in leathercraft.

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It is really nice to see Jc2019 reach out as he obviously has the want to reinvest in himself too enhance his abilities and hone that skill set to become the best leather-crafter he can. I agree with bikermutt07 a trip down under would be a great investment. Reinvestment in oneself through education and equipment to further a skill will always pay-off in the long run.

kgg 

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12 hours ago, RockyAussie said:

Most of my work is with Crocodylus porosus (Saltwater crocodile) which is the best and most expensive in the world to use. It has the advantage that it has mostly the least amount of bone in it after the tanning process. It has a lot more rectangular shape scale than the alligator which is normally quite square. Alligator skin is generally tanned on the smaller skins due to the underlying bone that makes the bigger skins difficult to work with. Some tanneries can do a reasonable job with it though. Caiman is a terrible skin to work with and has a lot of disadvantages due to it having a lot of bone just barely under the top layer of skin and this leads to quick wearing out on many products. The tanning of these also shows the difficulty of getting the dyes to absorb evenly due to the bones as well and that is one of the ways that it can be identified at a glance. They also very commonly have a dishy shape scale in comparison to the others. It would be best to visit a seller of these skins to get used to the touch feel and look of these different skins and if possible try them out which will teach you faster than anything else could. Some crosses with Siamensis and porosus are getting hard to tell the difference between now and the differences between where they are tanned are the main difference. That knowledge unfortunately comes from seeing and feeling. 

Ah did not know. I was under the impression that it was always the alligator that was most desirable. 

Are there mainly two type of finishes? The glazed, almost plastic like feel and the matt, more supple? For exotics, particularly reptiles,  is there such a thing as "chromium" tanned, oil tanned, vegetable tanned, etc?

 

From what I can tell, glazed leather is used for things like bags and maybe even shoes? But not recommended for wallets? I assume it just doesn't bend nicely?

 

 

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10 minutes ago, JC2019 said:

Ah did not know. I was under the impression that it was always the alligator that was most desirable. 

Are there mainly two type of finishes? The glazed, almost plastic like feel and the matt, more supple? For exotics, particularly reptiles,  is there such a thing as "chromium" tanned, oil tanned, vegetable tanned, etc?

 

From what I can tell, glazed leather is used for things like bags and maybe even shoes? But not recommended for wallets? I assume it just doesn't bend nicely?

 

 

Traditionally crocodile was mostly veg tanned but many tanneries went on to doing a mix of chrome first followed by veg to make it faster but also enhance some of the properties in use. Most of the skins I have been given to use from France are Veg tanned and I find them harder and harder to work with when they are glazed.  The glazing process puts a lot of pressure and heat down into the leather as the glass or stone rubs over the skin. The Singapore tanneries mostly do the best tanning I have seen and worked with. They still get a fairly good highlight on the scale compared to ones that I used from Japan. There are various other finishes aside from Glaze and Matt and cost more generally. One I like is a semi glaze from the Chek Hong Tannery which has a beautiful feel and is very nice to skive and work with in general. They do many if not the most of the alligator skins in the world. Alligator is normally about half of the cost of Porosus and is normally a lot less desirable except that may be not so in the USA:dunno:. I am not an expert in the marketing of these things as I get the skins sent to me from a lot off places and I just make up the product and they get it back. The skins all come with tags on saying what type of skin from where and generally what country it was tanned in. All these skins have to have permits to export, permits to reimport after tanning and re export blah blah blah. They sell me a bit when I want it but mostly I prefer to let them take all of those headaches. We do make wallets and purses and aplenty from glazed skin but I do have a preference myself to the matt as the skin is easier to look after and stays looking good longer.

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1 hour ago, RockyAussie said:

Traditionally crocodile was mostly veg tanned but many tanneries went on to doing a mix of chrome first followed by veg to make it faster but also enhance some of the properties in use. Most of the skins I have been given to use from France are Veg tanned and I find them harder and harder to work with when they are glazed.  The glazing process puts a lot of pressure and heat down into the leather as the glass or stone rubs over the skin. The Singapore tanneries mostly do the best tanning I have seen and worked with. They still get a fairly good highlight on the scale compared to ones that I used from Japan. There are various other finishes aside from Glaze and Matt and cost more generally. One I like is a semi glaze from the Chek Hong Tannery which has a beautiful feel and is very nice to skive and work with in general. They do many if not the most of the alligator skins in the world. Alligator is normally about half of the cost of Porosus and is normally a lot less desirable except that may be not so in the USA:dunno:. I am not an expert in the marketing of these things as I get the skins sent to me from a lot off places and I just make up the product and they get it back. The skins all come with tags on saying what type of skin from where and generally what country it was tanned in. All these skins have to have permits to export, permits to reimport after tanning and re export blah blah blah. They sell me a bit when I want it but mostly I prefer to let them take all of those headaches. We do make wallets and purses and aplenty from glazed skin but I do have a preference myself to the matt as the skin is easier to look after and stays looking good longer.

I wonder how much of it is marketing with exotics  and rarity. For example, have you worked with pirarucu  leather? Is it good to work with? In general I'd be curious to hear your favorite exotics to work with and why, I assume it varies by application. When I went to checkout some exotic leather I was surprised that things I thought I would be impressed by I was not as much as other things. I guess I will need to form my own taste. The two exotics leather crafters I have talked to here in the USA have both said they prefer to work with alligator the most.

 

 

Edited by JC2019

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I have worked with some fish skins but I would not ever work with something that is not from a farmed situation of any thing rare as I would not ever want to form any temptation for anyone to have any reason to further endanger that species. If it were not for the farming of crocodiles here there would be little education to the public as to why we need to have crocodiles in our river systems. They have to as part of their licences provide education to the public in this regard. This I promote and will stand behind. I have never been convinced for me to want to work with Elephant skin to date. Ostrich skin has some excellent look and wear resistant properties and can easily be bought from farming operations. I prefer porosus for appearance but cane toad and bull frog is stunning as well. Some almost drop it when they find out what it is but it still sells incredibly well. On pen covering the toad easily rivals the croc ones in sales. Horback or the backstrap part of croc can be difficult to work with but often produces products I like a lot.

Here's a few examples might tickle the imagination

IMGP3685_resize.JPG

The belt and bangles are from croc skin I made in this pic below.

IMG_7249.jpg

DSC07550_resize.JPG

DSC07587IFB.JPG

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2 hours ago, RockyAussie said:

I have worked with some fish skins but I would not ever work with something that is not from a farmed situation of any thing rare as I would not ever want to form any temptation for anyone to have any reason to further endanger that species. If it were not for the farming of crocodiles here there would be little education to the public as to why we need to have crocodiles in our river systems. They have to as part of their licences provide education to the public in this regard. This I promote and will stand behind. I have never been convinced for me to want to work with Elephant skin to date. Ostrich skin has some excellent look and wear resistant properties and can easily be bought from farming operations. I prefer porosus for appearance but cane toad and bull frog is stunning as well. Some almost drop it when they find out what it is but it still sells incredibly well. On pen covering the toad easily rivals the croc ones in sales. Horback or the backstrap part of croc can be difficult to work with but often produces products I like a lot.

Here's a few examples might tickle the imagination

IMGP3685_resize.JPG

The belt and bangles are from croc skin I made in this pic below.

IMG_7249.jpg

DSC07550_resize.JPG

DSC07587IFB.JPG

Nice.

I will need to checkout the toad bull frog. I had an order with Springfield of various exotic remnants but sadly it didn't arrive but maybe it's for the best, I feel I've learned a bit more already since I ordered it.

 

For the buckles, are they glued with contact cement onto something else or they wrap around and stitch somehow?

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5 hours ago, JC2019 said:

For the buckles, are they glued with contact cement onto something else or they wrap around and stitch somehow?

They are onto an Ivan I think metal buckle blank. They have a leather backing on the other side which is about 1/8" oversize then a thin split leather is attached to the top then the croc crown piece is contact glued and attached and cut to shape then edged ironed edged etc. The edging colours are made up here to match. Sometimes I stitch them around but often the scoots get in the way and getting crowns to fit well makes the suitable for stitching ones nearly impossible. getting them apart is nearly impossible so the stitching is only decorative anyway.

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19 hours ago, RockyAussie said:

They are onto an Ivan I think metal buckle blank. They have a leather backing on the other side which is about 1/8" oversize then a thin split leather is attached to the top then the croc crown piece is contact glued and attached and cut to shape then edged ironed edged etc. The edging colours are made up here to match. Sometimes I stitch them around but often the scoots get in the way and getting crowns to fit well makes the suitable for stitching ones nearly impossible. getting them apart is nearly impossible so the stitching is only decorative anyway.

I see thanks.

For working with exotics, how do you normally deal with "splitting"? I assume some skiving  is still involved? What oz / mm thickness do you like to use for your wallets (and interiors?).   Do you often use something like veg tan to reinforce certain materials?

 

Thanks

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For splitting it depends on what skin type and even the tanner whether it is glazed or not what product is required and many other factors. Skiving is also normal and the method depends on what is being done. Sometimes by hand sometimes sanding and often a bell knife skiver is used. This below spliiter I have modified mostly for backstrap work on belts and has adjustable spacing rollers to do that work.

DSC07950_resize.JPG

This pic shows how it works

DSC07956_resize.JPG

The now split backstrap. This can also be done with a sanding machine.

2b.JPG

This sanding machine below can be used for the backstrap work but is also can be used for thinning belly skin and leather etc. Here I am using to break the tightness on glazed skin before skiving the edges on some bangles I make.

DSC09176_resize.JPG

Here the bell knife skiving is done

DSC09310_resize.JPG

What it looks like after the centre seam is stitched

DSC09182_resize.JPG

What a few look like prior to having the edges folded.

DSC09059_resize.JPG

Lousy pic but that's all I could find of what they look finished. Note: I make the plastic insert by injection moulding it here. Didn't have a 3D printer when I started making these.

4021.jpg

For wallets you asked - What oz / mm thickness do you like to use for your wallets (and interiors?). Depends on the skin etc but mostly with glaze croc .8 to 1mm and the lining pieces get split to .5 to .6 as any less can often lead to holes in the valleys. Likewise the skived edges are normally not under .3mm at the very outside edge.

You asked - Do you often use something like veg tan to reinforce certain materials?  No as veg is susceptible to shrinking and and heat and moisture affects it too easily for that. With croc it is good practice to apply/glue a fabric to the back and leave compressed/flattened a little overnight or longer before applying it to the product being made.The croc skin has a tendency to go back into its original shape and without the fabric it can end up quite wobbly looking. The fabric also helps the croc be controlled when it curves over in products such as these clutch bags in progress.

DSC04586_resize.JPG

DSC07952_resize.JPG

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11 hours ago, RockyAussie said:

For splitting it depends on what skin type and even the tanner whether it is glazed or not what product is required and many other factors. Skiving is also normal and the method depends on what is being done. Sometimes by hand sometimes sanding and often a bell knife skiver is used. This below spliiter I have modified mostly for backstrap work on belts and has adjustable spacing rollers to do that work.

DSC07950_resize.JPG

This pic shows how it works

DSC07956_resize.JPG

The now split backstrap. This can also be done with a sanding machine.

2b.JPG

This sanding machine below can be used for the backstrap work but is also can be used for thinning belly skin and leather etc. Here I am using to break the tightness on glazed skin before skiving the edges on some bangles I make.

DSC09176_resize.JPG

Here the bell knife skiving is done

DSC09310_resize.JPG

What it looks like after the centre seam is stitched

DSC09182_resize.JPG

What a few look like prior to having the edges folded.

DSC09059_resize.JPG

Lousy pic but that's all I could find of what they look finished. Note: I make the plastic insert by injection moulding it here. Didn't have a 3D printer when I started making these.

4021.jpg

For wallets you asked - What oz / mm thickness do you like to use for your wallets (and interiors?). Depends on the skin etc but mostly with glaze croc .8 to 1mm and the lining pieces get split to .5 to .6 as any less can often lead to holes in the valleys. Likewise the skived edges are normally not under .3mm at the very outside edge.

You asked - Do you often use something like veg tan to reinforce certain materials?  No as veg is susceptible to shrinking and and heat and moisture affects it too easily for that. With croc it is good practice to apply/glue a fabric to the back and leave compressed/flattened a little overnight or longer before applying it to the product being made.The croc skin has a tendency to go back into its original shape and without the fabric it can end up quite wobbly looking. The fabric also helps the croc be controlled when it curves over in products such as these clutch bags in progress.

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Thanks for the great explanation. What fabrics do you find works for reinforcing the wallets. I just put an order in for a fabrics swatch book used by fashion designers which will give me a taste for various materials. Sadly leather is not covered.

Edited by JC2019

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24 minutes ago, JC2019 said:

Thanks for the great explanation. What fabrics do you find works for reinforcing the wallets. I just put an order in for a fabrics swatch book used by fashion designers which will give me a taste for various materials. Sadly leather is not covered.

For reinforcing fabric an open weave cotton drill or any thing that holds contact glue well and resists pulling out of shape. I have used interfacing on some things as well ...depends on the product and the expected pressures on how you would expect it to be used. Some products like some purses and bags are further backed up with foams. For fabric linings and such check out the TABRU range in Italy as that is where we get a lot of the fabrics we use. http://www.tabru.com/

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I just put an order in for a fabrics swatch book used by fashion designers which will give me a taste for various materials. Sadly leather is not covered.


Most "fashion designers" do not actually understand fabric, let alone leather, they rely upon the artisans "to make it work"..and when , after much work by the artisans "it works, either in fabric or leather" the credit goes to the "fashion designer", the artisan is "hidden under the carpet"..You'll learn far more from most artisans working " in fashion", than you will from 99% of fashion designers..even the "couture names"..

One learns by doing, and watching ( others, ( and oneself ) whose work brings their experience to the atelier / table ) and especially "seeing" ( even "seeing" one's own work and processes ) understand what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what you wish to achieve..Will help you understand how to achieve it.

Head, hands and heart..

There are no "short cuts" , but there are techniques, some of which are learned through experience, others can give you the benefit of theirs, and intuitive leaps.

Take your time..use it wisely..do not waste it, ( often teaching or explaining to others what you have learned, will help you yourself ) it is all that you have, from the moment your are born and even before..

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On 4/25/2019 at 9:44 PM, JC2019 said:

Hi all, new here.  I've been starting to research and I was wondering if anyone here has had more "formal" training? What did you learn and how long was it for? What was the cost (if any)? Would you recommend it? 

What do courses typically cost? I am in the bay area if you could recommend anything. I've found a few classes that cost  $3k+ around me.

Thanks

Hiya, also from the Bay Area here.

Last year I temporarily (~3 mo, not a real apprenticeship) moved to Texas to train in an armorsmith atelier and was blown away by the possibilities when you're able to interact with someone who really knows the craft you want to pursue -- so would absolutely recommend getting mentored in some kind of arrangement that fits you. This instance was a trade (i.e. unpaid on both sides) where I was did minor consulting* on some CNC fab stuff and also I made lots of small pieces (probably 30 or so individual prêt-à-porter pieces**) that were sold in the shop (although the atelier was funded primarily by custom commissions).

I've taken a few ad-hoc evening classes at Amblard (not her full program, and I don't want to specialize in soft leather anyway), but the most useful class I took was a 2-day hard leather intensive at the Crucible where I filled out some gaps in my knowledge with basic projects. The final project was completely freeform; I had a very clear idea in my mind (and had failed at one attempt already), but having the instructor basically consult on how to construct it caused that piece to turn out stunningly. That class is really what started me off, after years of off-and-on trying to construct various pieces and failing miserably.

I'm now at the point where executing and repetition are the most helpful for my technique, but couldn't have gotten here without the aforementioned foundational experiences.

It's interesting how hard it is to package/disseminate some forms of knowledge. I'm an autodidact in a lot of things but leathercraft has been one of the most arcane things I've ever studied.

 

*(imo sadly not enough, we didn't have the right equipment on hand for it to be useful)

**these were the pieces I learned progressive technique on

 

 

Edited by magelet

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