JC2019

Anyone ever do an apprenticeship? Was it worth it?

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8 hours ago, magelet said:

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

 

 

Great, sent you a note. I hadn't heard of the Crucible, will have to check it out.

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On 4/30/2019 at 3:45 PM, RockyAussie said:

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/

Thank you for the info will check them out, though I will need to figure out how to purchase.

 

I wanted to ask you if you have ever dealt with buying crusts of exotic leathers like crocodile or ostrich and experimented with dyeing? Any tips or advice? I think I saw Springfield leather do a video on dyeing crusts on your own and it's something I would like to research more.  It makes me wonder how the two tone crocodile belly is done (which is one of my favorites) and iridescent fish/etc is also interesting.

Edited by JC2019

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1 hour ago, JC2019 said:

wanted to ask you if you have ever dealt with buying crusts of exotic leathers like crocodile or ostrich and experimented with dyeing? Any tips or advice? I think I saw Springfield leather do a video on dyeing crusts on your own and it's something I would like to research more.  It makes me wonder how the two tone crocodile belly is done (which is one of my favorites) and iridescent fish/etc is also interesting

It is not something I have done in many years. When some of the tanning was done in Australia I had to do a lot of reworking and improving the colours and fixing the colours so they did not bleed and so on. Still have a couple of the tanning drums etc. It is worth knowing a little about mostly only so you can discuss with a tanner how some part may be improved in the process. For instance if you know the % of fatliquor used in the tanning you can advise if it is too oily or too dry if want it decreased or increased. Backstraps I prefer about 11% as it gives a good feel and still allows the glue adhesion and makes the bone tops highlight nicely when polished. Due to the cost of these skins and the reputation of the skins - and your own, it is not something I think you should waste much time on other than visiting some tanneries and asking them what things you need to know on how to advise them back if any improvements are needed. Buying well done skins from reputable suppliers is in the end the better option in my opinion. Getting friendly with a tannery can lead on to good leads as well. If you can do good work efficiently and they know you can, there is no need to advertise as they will be doing it for you sometimes whether you want it or not.:unsure:

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On 5/2/2019 at 1:08 AM, RockyAussie said:

It is not something I have done in many years. When some of the tanning was done in Australia I had to do a lot of reworking and improving the colours and fixing the colours so they did not bleed and so on. Still have a couple of the tanning drums etc. It is worth knowing a little about mostly only so you can discuss with a tanner how some part may be improved in the process. For instance if you know the % of fatliquor used in the tanning you can advise if it is too oily or too dry if want it decreased or increased. Backstraps I prefer about 11% as it gives a good feel and still allows the glue adhesion and makes the bone tops highlight nicely when polished. Due to the cost of these skins and the reputation of the skins - and your own, it is not something I think you should waste much time on other than visiting some tanneries and asking them what things you need to know on how to advise them back if any improvements are needed. Buying well done skins from reputable suppliers is in the end the better option in my opinion. Getting friendly with a tannery can lead on to good leads as well. If you can do good work efficiently and they know you can, there is no need to advertise as they will be doing it for you sometimes whether you want it or not.:unsure:

Ah, didn't realize you went that far. So the dyes that are used will usually rub off if I do it on my own? And acrylic paints might crack?

I also wanted to ask you if there is anyone else working with exotics you'd recommend I follow or checkout their work?

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1 hour ago, JC2019 said:

Ah, didn't realize you went that far. So the dyes that are used will usually rub off if I do it on my own? And acrylic paints might crack?

I also wanted to ask you if there is anyone else working with exotics you'd recommend I follow or checkout their work?

There are a few on here that do a little posting occasionally but you may like to have a look at a forum started by Peter Nitz. It mostly deals with the high end work and much of it seems well put. . I have noticed a couple of members here including a couple of my followers on here have joined it. I have not joined myself only because I did not find any thing new for me to learn there as yet. I may do at a later stage perhaps. I look for a broader spectrum of interest which I find here better for myself. Here is a link - https://leathercraftcommunity.com/

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On 5/5/2019 at 1:52 AM, RockyAussie said:

There are a few on here that do a little posting occasionally but you may like to have a look at a forum started by Peter Nitz. It mostly deals with the high end work and much of it seems well put. . I have noticed a couple of members here including a couple of my followers on here have joined it. I have not joined myself only because I did not find any thing new for me to learn there as yet. I may do at a later stage perhaps. I look for a broader spectrum of interest which I find here better for myself. Here is a link - https://leathercraftcommunity.com/

Awesome thanks will check them out!

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On 5/5/2019 at 1:52 AM, RockyAussie said:

There are a few on here that do a little posting occasionally but you may like to have a look at a forum started by Peter Nitz. It mostly deals with the high end work and much of it seems well put. . I have noticed a couple of members here including a couple of my followers on here have joined it. I have not joined myself only because I did not find any thing new for me to learn there as yet. I may do at a later stage perhaps. I look for a broader spectrum of interest which I find here better for myself. Here is a link - https://leathercraftcommunity.com/

Hey wanted to ask another question. I've heard it's hard to make wallets out of caiman crocodile. But for other crocodile, is it possible to even use the "hornback" part if it's a smaller animal like 9-10 inches wide for a wallet? Or is it also too difficult to work with?

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Small or large it is possible but some good sanding equipment is required. To some degree you need to sand the bones out behind where you want to stitch. They are a fair bit of extra work and time to make. Also we normally don't do folded edges on these ones as in the first pic below.

IMGP6717_resize.JPG

This is the same model without the folded edges

IMGP6715_resize.JPG

This is a coin purse model

IMGP6710_resize.JPG

This one may show the edging process a little better

IMGP6704_resize.JPG

These crown style ones  below are very popular but there is only one possible per crocodile of course.

Making crown walletsIFB 2.jpg

 

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3 hours ago, RockyAussie said:

Small or large it is possible but some good sanding equipment is required. To some degree you need to sand the bones out behind where you want to stitch. They are a fair bit of extra work and time to make. Also we normally don't do folded edges on these ones as in the first pic below.

IMGP6717_resize.JPG

This is the same model without the folded edges

IMGP6715_resize.JPG

This is a coin purse model

IMGP6710_resize.JPG

This one may show the edging process a little better

IMGP6704_resize.JPG

These crown style ones  below are very popular but there is only one possible per crocodile of course.

Making crown walletsIFB 2.jpg

I see, so you sand from behind, on the "suede" side. How big are these caimans for these wallets usually? Not 25cm like for belly? Is 25cm~ about what you use for your belly wallets typically or it varies? Thanks

3 hours ago, RockyAussie said:

 

 

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6 hours ago, JC2019 said:

I see, so you sand from behind, on the "suede" side. How big are these caimans for these wallets usually? Not 25cm like for belly? Is 25cm~ about what you use for your belly wallets typically or it varies? Thanks

 

I don't work with caiman skins so I cant say what size they use normally. The size of the salwater crocodile (porosus) skins we use varies a lot but an average would be around the 40cm. The sanding is from the back when sanding the bones. A couple of pictures of some bags I made show this better perhaps -

This one shows that sometimes the skins can be very thick and as I said some good sanding machinery is needed.

DSC03015_resize.JPG

DSC03034_resize.JPG

Note that the bones are very carefully sanded out at the edges as much as possible.

DSC03155_resize.JPG

These are all, as I said before attached to a fabric to stabilise the skin behaviour

DSC03195_resize.JPG

Here you see that the inner curve section has to have a zipper sewn to it and the outer edge has to be able to curve over and be sewn into the back of the bag

DSC02963_resize.JPG

DSC02970_resize.JPG

DSC03636.JPG

 

 

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On 5/15/2019 at 2:55 AM, RockyAussie said:

I don't work with caiman skins so I cant say what size they use normally. The size of the salwater crocodile (porosus) skins we use varies a lot but an average would be around the 40cm. The sanding is from the back when sanding the bones. A couple of pictures of some bags I made show this better perhaps -

This one shows that sometimes the skins can be very thick and as I said some good sanding machinery is needed.

DSC03015_resize.JPG

DSC03034_resize.JPG

Note that the bones are very carefully sanded out at the edges as much as possible.

DSC03155_resize.JPG

These are all, as I said before attached to a fabric to stabilise the skin behaviour

DSC03195_resize.JPG

Here you see that the inner curve section has to have a zipper sewn to it and the outer edge has to be able to curve over and be sewn into the back of the bag

DSC02963_resize.JPG

DSC02970_resize.JPG

DSC03636.JPG

 

 

Ah very nice. I dont have a belt sander right now but maybe I should get one or perhaps start with a dremel.

Have you ever milled leather? I have some alligator skin that is less supple than others. Is the process just badically a washing machine style process that tumbles the leather? I am wondering how long this process takes. I dont think I will ever do this but seems interesting.

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Yes I have in the past milled leather in a drum which is like a large tumble dryer or front loading washing machine. The time it takes varies on the skin or skins being milled. Often pieces of carpet and even old sandshoes get thrown in to help it happen faster. The falling action helps it to soften. There are a lot faster machines for normal leather which use a series of pegs on one drum with a series of holes in alignment on the other drum. These turn and pull the leather through and can be a very aggressive method. Either method if overdone will wreck the fibres eventually and the softening process should ideally employ some oils if possible along with or instead of. If the skin you have is glazed then I would not look at milling it as it would craze crack everywhere. Not knowing the skin and how it is tanned I can only suggest applying several coats of Nivea cream(the one without any alcohol in it)  and letting it soak in between applications. If it is a glazed skin a bit of quick rough sanding on the rough/flesh side can break the tension and make it a lot better to work with. This must be done so as to not let the sanding get hot in any one position or the skin can end up burned and harder. I think I may have shown a bit of this earlier in this post on some glazed skin cut for bangles. A dremel wont be of any help on this.

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On 5/17/2019 at 8:03 PM, RockyAussie said:

Yes I have in the past milled leather in a drum which is like a large tumble dryer or front loading washing machine. The time it takes varies on the skin or skins being milled. Often pieces of carpet and even old sandshoes get thrown in to help it happen faster. The falling action helps it to soften. There are a lot faster machines for normal leather which use a series of pegs on one drum with a series of holes in alignment on the other drum. These turn and pull the leather through and can be a very aggressive method. Either method if overdone will wreck the fibres eventually and the softening process should ideally employ some oils if possible along with or instead of. If the skin you have is glazed then I would not look at milling it as it would craze crack everywhere. Not knowing the skin and how it is tanned I can only suggest applying several coats of Nivea cream(the one without any alcohol in it)  and letting it soak in between applications. If it is a glazed skin a bit of quick rough sanding on the rough/flesh side can break the tension and make it a lot better to work with. This must be done so as to not let the sanding get hot in any one position or the skin can end up burned and harder. I think I may have shown a bit of this earlier in this post on some glazed skin cut for bangles. A dremel wont be of any help on this.

Thanks for all the great info. Non glazed just crusts. 

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5 hours ago, JC2019 said:

Thanks for all the great info. Non glazed just crusts.  

So you have to dye them yet? Are they veg (tan colour) or chrome (green grey) tanned or a retan?

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It costs to learn.  I learned to build saddles using 2 book series.  The Stholeman books and Harry Adams book.  After I built over 50 saddles, I went to work for a really good saddle maker for 9 months.  I didn't get paid much but if I had went to a school and learned as much, I would have paid a LOT of money. I have had a full  book for a lot of years since. 

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18 hours ago, RockyAussie said:

So you have to dye them yet? Are they veg (tan colour) or chrome (green grey) tanned or a retan?

The crusts? They are just white and I'm not sure what kind of tanning they went through.  One is an ostritch leg I got from springfield: https://www.springfieldleather.com/Ostrich-Leg-Crust

 

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I hope it's different in the leather business, but in the machine shop world Apprenticeships have another name - slave labor.

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