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Awl. Beveler. Burnisher. Skiver. Maul. These are but a handful of tools one can use to craft something spectacular using a very special material that we human folk have been accustomed to for millennia—leather.
From the simplest keychain to the most intricate handbag, the artistry that is present in this age-old craft cannot be understated, and now, dear Pandas, we’re gladly sharing some of our favorites from the subreddit r/Leathercraft. Housing over 323k talented humans and leather enthusiasts, the community celebrates each creation and teaches beginners all the handy tips and tricks they could ever need.
Bored Panda got in touch with a hobby leathercrafter, named Jessie Mead, who was kind enough to share her insights and her story with us. It’s wholesome, it’s inspiring, and it’s incredibly important that you vote on your favorite entries. So enjoy! And if you’re craving more afterward, here’s one more, oh, and another!
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The feelings of joy you must have had tying these for the first time!!
With a plethora of different bits of fabrics and finishes to choose from these days, it’s easy to forget how much history there is in fashion, how much artistry goes into it, and how much forethought it takes to develop the trends of the future. But its humble beginnings can be traced back to one material—leather.
Jessie Mead, a hobby leathercrafter living in Alberta, Canada, got into the craft 11 years ago. “I have always had a love for leather and handbags, which eventually led me to the idea of making small leather goods to sell and make money to buy designer handbags,” she told Bored Panda. As her skills progressed, she found that she no longer needed to buy bags, as she could make them herself.
She continued to say that “ making a beautiful tangible item that can be carried, worn and used” is the best part of the craft; the creation becomes part of someone’s daily life and changes with time. However, the more challenging projects can bring with them a sense of frustration. “Success can be very rewarding but sometimes the pain of failure, though necessary, can really feel like a step back,” Jessie explained.
Omg why isn‘t this at the top
If we dive a little deeper into the history side of things, leather, alongside leaves and fur, helped shield our ancestors from the cold, the rain, and the peeping eyes of snakes in apple trees (we know what you did to Adam and Eve!). Scientists have never agreed on when humans began wearing clothes, and the estimates suggested have ranged greatly, from 40,000 to 3 million years ago, with the greatest likelihood lying at about 107,000 years ago.
The earliest confirmed leatherworking tools date back to the Stone Age in 5,000 BC. During this time, leather was used for shelters, clothing, and shoes. The oldest known pair of leather shoes were discovered in Armenia, dating back to 3,500 BC.
Leatherworking sees the use of such techniques as molding, dyeing, carving, stamping, and fabrication. Apart from being used for practical reasons, leather has also been used extensively for art. Decorated, painted, and embellished by ever more skilled leather workers, what used to be a purely practical material has turned into an artistic medium.
Ok...take my money...NOW
That was my childhood dream
The most important thing to consider when working with leather is exactly that—the leather. According to The Crucible, all leather differs in tannage, weight, temper, and finish. Leather made from cowhide is the most widely available and versatile type of leather; however, vegan alternatives are becoming more and more popular in the mainstream.
Vegan leather is a material that mimics leather but is created from artificial or plant products instead of animal skins. As explained on Leatherskill, there are six main differences between real leather and vegan leather: finish, durability, cleaning requirements, breathability, fire resistance, and manipulation.
Although Jessie herself hasn’t used vegan leather, she’s intrigued by the new development of mushroom leather called Reishi. “A craftsman at Hermes recently used it to make a bag,” she explained. “I would really embrace a high quality vegan leather (like Reishi) as it would give me an ethical and planet friendly alternative.”
As a chronic bow wearer, I now know what I want for Christmas.
take my money, take all my money
Upvote for the title, lol
Although it may seem that vegan leather is the future, one must also consider the sustainability side of things. The Environmental Profit & Loss, a sustainability report developed in 2018, stated that the impact of vegan-leather production can be up to a third lower than real leather.
“The impact of real leather is driven by land use and GHG emissions associated with animal agriculture,” Sandra Sandor, the creative director of Paris Fashion Week label Nanushka, explained to Harper’s Bazaar. “The livestock sector is the world’s largest user of agricultural land through grazing and the use of feed crops.”
However, despite vegan alternatives being thought to have a lower impact on the environment than the real thing, it does have clear drawbacks, particularly when it’s made from plastic. Sustainable designer Jourdan Norcose of Boyish Jeans believes that “Leather is a love-hate story.”
The most commonly used materials for synthetic leathers are polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU), which are plastic-based materials. “Vegan leather can be made from plastics which take years to biodegrade, so it’s actually worse for the planet than regular,” Jourdan explained. “People think it’s better because it says vegan on it, but that’s because people aren’t taking the time to really learn about what they’re buying.”
The details in this is incredible!!
Not going to lie... I thought this was a real lobster at first!!
I SEE AN OWL, I UPVOTE
Jessie encourages people to research the brands they’re interested in to make sure that they’re getting value out of their purchase. “There’s nothing that bothers me more than expensive, poorly made designer handbags,” she says. “Many big brands have cut the quality of materials and craftsmanship when they can coast on their brand name alone.”
If environmental sustainability is important to you, look into what type of leather the brand is using and be aware of the detrimental effects of plastic-based products. If you are opting for real leather, read up on the brand’s tanning processes to find out how they create their pieces and be aware of their ethical processes.
The most common types of leather—veg tan and chrome tan—have very different tanning processes. Veg tan leather is tanned with tannin-rich vegetable oils that have been extracted from tree bark. This type of leather typically takes a longer amount of time to create. It is considered higher quality in comparison to chrome tan. Chrome tan leather uses chemicals to tan and is a faster, less costly process.
So cute! I would lose it after a week
What kind of tools? Carpenter, leather work, etc...?
Although it may seem like a very particular craft that is full of intricacies, leatherworking is actually a great skill to pick up for beginners. The start-up costs are relatively low, and the basic techniques are easy enough to grasp before moving on to more advanced projects. Not only can it be a fun hobby, but it can also be used to craft usable items, such as footwear, clothing, backpacks, purses, furniture, and more.
According to The Crucible, there are a limitless number of possibilities when you are starting to plan out leather projects. But as a beginner, one should start with something relatively simple: a card wallet, a keychain, a pet collar, or a belt. It will teach one the basic skills of preparing, cutting, casing, dyeing, stitching, beveling, and burnishing leather, opening up pathways to more complex projects.
However, Jessie added a bit of a warning. “Many people become interested in leather crafting because they don’t want to spend $400 on that briefcase they saw at the store—they can just make one instead! This is good in theory but doesn’t take into account the tens of thousands of dollars in tools and materials and the many years of learning. To those people I suggest buying the briefcase.”
Big thanks to Jessie Mead for accompanying us on this voyage of leather crafting! If you’re interested in seeing some of her works, here is a link to her Instagram page, and a link to her website. As you continue your exploration of incredible leatherwork, don’t forget to comment and vote on your favorites, and let us know—would you ever consider taking up leatherworking? What would you make?
Have a good one and see you all in the next one!
We shall now name penguins leather polar berd
All the tiny detail's of the map is gorgeous!!
Excuse me partner? But can I borrow your person for a bit??
Your husband is one lucky man to have such a talented partner!! Your work is absolutely stunning!! Let him know he is very, very, very lucky to have a partner like you!! I keep going back and look at your work!!
This is AMAZING. Take my money! Take all of it!
Good job!! This could be sold in a store!
shut up and take my last bits of money
This us cool it looks just like a gingerbread house but its not stale food
You did a beautiful job. Your hard work paid off!!
Popular Women Wallet Is he a knight? Sir Loin?